I Am About $500 Short Per Month From Coming Home

I had a reader mention recently that she was about $500 short per month from being able to balance the budget and stay home. I hope that this post will somehow help others see that you can make this work.

How much are you willing to sacrifice to stay home with your children? This is a question that I often have to ask woman when they ask me how I manage to be a SAHM on my husband's teaching salary. The other statement that I often get from people is "Oh, you are so lucky to be able to stay home with your children. Your husband must have a good job." I have to make sure that I am polite and say thank you I know I am lucky, but what I want to say to them is luck has nothing to do with it. I stay home by choice and I make choices daily that keep me there.

What are some of the luxuries or so called "needs" that you may have to sacrifice to stay home? I have decided to put together a list of things that my family felt we did not need and truly have not really missed. I realize that some of these things we may be able to have again in the future, but for this season of our lives they are not necessities.

I am going to put an approximate dollar amount to the things on this list so you can see how quickly you can "find" that extra $500 in the budget. It may not seem that you will have any material comforts left at first, but I think you will soon realize, just how little you really need to be happy. The Lord said that he will make sure that we have food to eat, clothes on our back, and a roof over our head. This is the ultimate picture of true contentment. To be happy with the simple things in life. I will not say that I am not still struggling daily with contentment, but I am trying.

  • Cable tv Total we saved $100/month going with minimal cable, phone and internet.
  • High speed internet (We do have DSL, but a slower version)
  • Call waiting
  • Caller ID (Ok this one I miss)
  • Long distance telephone service
  • Cut Blow money $50/month
  • NO eating out except special occasions $50-$100/month
  • Gym membership $50/month
  • OnStar $15/month
  • Budget groceries Depending on your family $100-$200/month
  • Try to get your electric and gas on an average payment plan For us this saved about $50/ month
  • Use less water, shower every other day. $5-10/month
  • Eliminate trash bill (A little radical, but it can be done.) $30/month
  • Cut back on your driving to save on gas (If you don't work this should be easier) $50-$100
  • Cut family clothing budget. Try garage sales and thrift stores. $25-50/month
  • Coupon shop or make your own cleaning supplies $10-15/month
  • Put a $5 limit on gifts. This can force you to be creative. With coupons I still am able to come up with some nice gifts. $25-$50/month
  • Cancel magazine subscriptions. $10/month
  • Come up with free or cheap entertainment. Keep an eye out for coupons or free events, or try having a family night at home. $25/month
  • Possibly sell one car $300/month
  • Before quitting your job eliminate debt. $100-$300/month
As you can see these numbers can very quickly add up.

Realize that some of these changes will not be permanent. They are just some things you may have to sacrifice for a season to make your dreams come true. You can eventually start adding some small things back in. See Crystal's post here about living on a very bare bones budget of $1000 a month. It is amazing.

Think of saving money as your new "job." You are not technically being paid for it, but you are sort of making money. Remember all the expenses you will no longer have by not working out of the home. The average mom only makes a couple of dollars an hour after all the expense are paid so she can work, unless you have a very high paying job. That hardly seems worth it to me.
  • Work Clothes $25-50/month
  • Dry Cleaning $25/month
  • Work Lunches $50/month
  • Daycare! $400-500 per child per month
  • Gas $100/month
Things you will gain as a SAHM...
  • Seeing all your child's firsts and not hearing about it from the sitter
  • Being able to go to all school events and field trips
  • Showing your children by example how to live a Godly life
  • Seeing those beautiful smiles first thing in the morning and knowing you will not have to leave them with someone else.
  • Being able to stay home with a sick child and not miss work
  • Home cooked meals
  • A happier family because mom is not stressed out
  • Time to plan a menu, shop, and save money
  • Quality time with your husband
  • This list could go on forever. You can add some of your own perks.
I would love to hear from you to find out if posts like this one are helpful or not. I have been getting the feeling lately that most of my readers prefer to just see coupon, deals, and grocery store post.
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Emily said...

This is an important part of deciding to stay at home. People compare having a salary to not having one and assume they can't do it but they don't consider the added expenses that come with working and how much they really can add up - not to mention expenses they can live without if they'd rather be at home. (I just posted about this same topic and I plugged your trash bill post!)

Lisa said...

Love, love, love your encouraging posts. Don't stop--it is one of your gifts.

Pearl said...

What a great blog. However, I think I may have forgotten to mention one major thing: My husband lacks the conviction that I should stay at home. Please don't think of ill of him because in his eyes we have the "perfect" setup:
1 - His mother, who lives on the next block, will be our sitter (I go back to work next week - without a miracle). Who better to watch his kids? In his mind, she did an awesome job raising him and will do the same for our son.
2 - I literally walk to work. The office I work at is across the street. I come home for lunch, and now will be able to also pump, and to feed our son on my lunch break.
3 - My job provides our insurance. We got our courtesy notice from the hospital notifying us that our son's recent delivery bill is near $15K. That alone is enough for him to want me to keep working for that insurance.
For him, all of these reasons do seem to make our situation 'perfect' for me to keep working. So not only am I $500 short, I need God to work a miracle in my husband. I know ALL things happen for a reason, and ALL things work together... I HAVE to keep my faith that God IS in full control here and this whole situation WILL work in a way that will bring glory to Him.
Thank you so much for this post. Your passion and willingness to help speaks so much to me.

Pearl said...

PS: I forgot to add - I would willingly give up all that and more to stay at home with my son.
Disposable diapers, my cell phone, restaurants, etc... this list could continue on and on...

fatima said...

We took a real leap of faith about 6 years ago and started our single income family in the red each month. It was hard. Really, really hard. God did provide everything we needed. Some of my "wants" are still wants. It may be a long time or never before I finally get "Grown-up" bedroom furniture that matches and isn't someone's throw-aways. That's all right. In the meantime, I've been blessed with more than I NEED and 3 beautiful children and one on the way.
Dave Ramsey has some great ideas and tools for budgeting and living debt free. We are debt free, except for our house. My van drives so much better since we sent in the last payment!
Also consider what you may save if your income bumps your family into a higher tax bracket. We did some research and found that my piddly private school teacher salary of $20,000 only netted us about $5,000 per year. That was without childcare expense.
Go for it! Staying home is worth the sacrifice.

Andrea said...

Thank you for writing this. I don't have kids yet, but I am turning in my notice next week so I can focus on home. My husband just told me that I can be a better homemaker and save more money if I am at home and concentrating on it. It's refreshing that there are still some SAH Moms out there!

Melinda said...

Thank you for this post. I have recently debated on whether or not I should go back to work. It's hard, but I still think we are better off with me as a SAHM. Thank you for the encouragement.


Suz said...

We figured our expenses for my working after I was forced with the option of working full time or quiting (I was part time). I chose to stay home and we haven't looked back.
We didn't realize how much we were spending for me to work, not to mention not having time for each other. Now our home is a home, not just where we stay and our finances are almost the same as they were prior to my leaving my job.
We have only cut out a few things that we don't miss at all... processed foods (which are more expensive, but were faster to prepare), less driving... I plan my shopping trips with the little ones preschool, and less eating out... now I have more time to prepare for meals and we enjoy them more.
I encourage anyone who thinks their income is necessary to put it on paper and see for sure... You might be surprised! You could be missing out on so much...our kids and your family!

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Great post!

I'm hear for the first time from WFMW, but from my point of view (for what it's worth as someone who isn't one of your "regulars" yet) the coupons and deal alerts are only so valuable without insight as to how to apply them optimally!

I'm a naturally frugal gal, and I love hearing how other moms are saving money and applying frugal principles to their lives. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

When we were really poor and had littles I babysat another child part time and that was what made up the diference in our budget. Even after cutting everything we were still short so I needed to find a way to increase income but still be at home. But when my husband's salary increased enough I quit babysitting.

Delighted Mom said...

I LOVED this post! I currently stay at home but will probably have to go back to work next year. My husband is a teacher and I now know that it IS possible to stay home but we have quite a lot of debt that we are going to have to pay off before it's possible! Thank you for writing about this topic though!

Jennifer said...

We have lived on my dh's teacher's salary for 9 years now. It certainly isn't easy, but I agree that if you really want it then you will make the sacrifices to get it.

Donna(mom24boyz) said...

Great post, so many people think you have to be rolling in it to be a stay at home mom. That is not true. I have been one when we made just a little over 20,000 a year. So it is doable. It is usually a question of what we are willing to do without.

Plain and Simple said...

What a great post.

8 years ago my husband & I decided that I should stay home and be mom to our kids. At that time we only had one. When he was fist born, I did go back to work but couldn't handle the fact that someone else was raising my son. I knew in my heart that God wanted me to stay home.

So my family went from have an annual income of 56,000 plus a company car (including 100% paid for gas, mechanical work, insurance, etc.) to 19,000. It was indeed a stretch!

God took us to a very low point where we had to search our hearts to see what was really a need versus a want. Your post was right on about that. Some of what we thought we couldn't live without, well, we are still alive today.

Since making that decision, I have felt such peace and blessings. Our socks have been blessed off by the Lord. On paper the numbers didn't work but the money was always there when the bills came due.

Now we are up to a 23,000 annual salary and we are just as happy. Material possessions don't buy happiness but having kids and a family that live for the Lord does.

If I had to do it over again, I would in a heartbeat. Thanks for the post.

Jordan said...

You forget a big work expense-- taxes! That extra $30,000 a year can bump you up into a higher tax bracket!

Not to mention that you can do a little babysitting, tutoring, crafting, or elancing from home to help bring in a bit more if you really need it.

Marcy said...

I can so relate to what you say about the assumptions that people make about your husband's salary when they find out you stay home. And also the part about turning the desire to save money into a "job" of sorts. This is a GREAT post. Thanks for sharing! :-)

The Urias said...

Great job! I am a sahm as well and have to live frugally to "make it". While others are paring down debt and sacrificing their children in daycare where they are always sick and the parents themselves both run down, we are debt free with 2 paid off vehicles, just bought our first house and have one child in private school! People wonder how we make it (hubby works for a church) and budgeting, cutting out the extras and discipline is the answer. We learned a LOT by taking Dave Ramsey's financial class and learning those principles. I love staying home and wouldn't have it any other way. I'm blessed to have such a supportive husband.

Hey and check into vonage. We never pay more than $30 a month on our phone bill and that includes long distance! I also got rid of my cell phone plan and just have a tracfone pay as you go for emergencies (which I RARELY use so it lasts a while).

Anonymous said...

The problem w/gas/electric AVERAGE budget is you still HAVE to pay what you used, but weren't billed for. Typically you are billed the next year. It will be tacked onto your budget. Check the bottom of your bills it will say how much your budget is behind.

It does NOT save any money.