I’ve wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for as long as I can remember. Even as I grew up and saw many moms working out of necessity, I still hoped & prayed their would be a way I could do it someday. When I met Marcus, he also shared the same vision for a family and wanted to work really hard to make sure we could make that a priority. I think many people believe staying at home with your kids means you are very comfortable financially. Since I’ve become a stay-at-home mom 5 months ago, I’ve had many people mention to me how lucky I am..they could never afford it! Friends, either can we!! My husband was a youth minister, and now he is a firefighter…neither professions are known for being high paying gigs! Our ability to stay home has much less to do with money and everything to do with choices. Since we both decided it was a priority for a family we knew where there was a will, there was a way. I knew that God was asking of it for our family and He would provide. My older sister once told me, when she was a new mama herself, that if God is calling you to stay home, He will bless you.
I should preface this all by saying so much of our ability to do this has been because of those blessings and some prep work we did. It takes a village… and Marcus and I have been blessed in huge ways. Remember the story of Trusty Rusty? and our Saturn? Gifts, both of them! Can you believe that? Who gives cars as gifts? Our generous family. We had so much help starting out. My in-laws gave us furniture to furnish our little place and I could spend the rest of this blog post sharing all the help we have been given. So it is not completely by our own merit that we doing this, but made possible by love & support of family and friends. Yes, it takes humility to accept this type of help, but it is our prayer that someday we will be able to bless others when they are starting out.
In order to set ourselves up as a one income family, we started by doing as much as possible when we were dating/engaged. Marcus worked really hard to pay off all his student loans so we could go into our marriage debt free. We both lived at home to save money, and had creative, free date nights instead of lots of eating out and movies. Once we got married, we set up our finances so we were just using Marcus’ income to pay the bills. My income went to savings, this way there would not be a huge shock/change to our budget when a baby came along. Then we made choices to live a more frugal lifestyle. Choices like:
1.) Make your own. Make your own bread, laundry detergent, shampoo & conditioner, all the cleaning products I use etc. First, I have to give to props to my older sister. Anything cool or frugal I have done..she did it first. In fact, if she had a blog, she would have 4593486792834 followers learning her awesome ways. I’m just a copy-cat. Also, I give myself grace. I don’t ALWAYS do these 100 percent of the time- but I try. It is all pretty easy. I’m incredibly lazy, so if I can do it…anybody can do it. There is a lot more DIY things I aspire to do.. such as making my own yogurt, laundry lint balls (that would mean no more buying dryer sheets), kitchen condiments, dishwasher detergent, just to name a few.
2.) We don’t go out to eat. Again, that is 99.9% of the time. We certainly attend birthday dinners, holiday meals with family at a restaurant, or a special date night. Other than that we just don’t. That means we pack food a lot! Going to the beach, going on a car trip, going to be out all day? Break out the cooler. Cheaper & healthier. And if my girlfriends want to meet for lunch I’m not ashamed to convince them to go to the park instead to meet up.
3.) Cloth Diapers. I can’t even believe how much money this is saving us. And it is easy, easy, sooo easy.
4.) Hurr cuts. Okay so maybe you are not impressed that I give Marcus his buzz cut-do every 3 weeks, probably saving us about 15 bucks. But you should be really, crazy impressed when I say he cut my hair and I am never, ever, ever going back to the salon. I mean, does anybody really enjoy the whole ‘What shampoo are you using?!’ and ‘You are going to need to buy this product for your hair. It is actually on sale here today for only 2395 dollars’ No, thank you!! A couple of you-tube videos, and a confidence that you can’t mess up curls…just call my husband Paul Mitchell.
5.) No more shopping. I remember when shopping was a pastime for me. Strolling the mall with my girlfriends, trying on dresses, the whole 9 yards. And of course that shopping led to lots of buying. I didn’t exactly perfect art of window shopping. Anyways, I try to be pretty content with the clothes/things I have and the one sure fire way for me to get the i-wants is to spend an hour or two at the mall or target. When I see all the pretties, I want them. When I am at home, I don’t know what is out there & I don’t care. If I need something or want something, I try to buy online to avoid slipping up.
6.) On cars & phones. used & dumb, y’all. Well, my husband does have a smart phone, but I’m not sure how long that will be lasting. He doesn’t need it for work anymore & we have two perfectly good computers for the internet we need. And a gps in the car.
7.) Grocery shopping. I’m sure you have heard it before- shop the perimeter off the grocery store-it has all you need! Beside the occasional detour for flour or some cans, we just stick to the basics. We skip out on the snack & the desserts and if we want them, we make them ourselves. It IS more work, but it is also much healthier.
8.) Give. No matter how tight money is, don’t forget to tithe and/or support charity. God truly does give back ten-fold.
There is plenty more I could/aspire to do. Things like couponing. I have not been huge into it since I don’t often see coupons for things we buy. But I could try a little harder & snag some deals on the staples. Also, I would be lying if Marcus & I are fabulous at making a budget. We have a serious hang-up here. We’ve sat down many times to do it, but we’ve always had better luck just sticking to our little financial ‘rules’ I’d still like to make one, to be better at saving for certain events/things. Additionally, I could get a lot more crafty to save money…sew our curtains & clothes or make hand made gifts, but I am so craft-challenged.
We’ve also discovered that frugality is not synonymous with cheap. As a family, you have to priority the areas where you are willing to put more of your money. One of those areas for us is food. We like local produce/eggs (I don’t care as much if it is certified organic as long as I know where it came from) and it is one of our goals to be able to buy our meat/milk from local farms here. We also don’t mind spending money to see relatives/friends/take trips. Those are two areas we prioritize a little more money spent. Sometimes with clothes, too-it is worth is to buy high quality…you’ll save money in the long run. A sweater from gap will last waaaaaaay longer than one from tjmaxx (but don’t worry, I have more than my fair share of favorite clothes from there) but if I was in need of a staple clothes item, maybe a black cardigan or kakhis, I’d probably spend a little more money.
Living simply is not hard or a burden or miserable, but a calling for our family right now. Truly we have so much and are so blessed that the little things we go without are just that- little things. If I worked I might make us more money, but I couldn’t justify the cost of not being with my son when I know that is right where God is asking me to be right now.