Sunday, August 25, 2013

How I Became a Stay-at-Home-Mom

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Baby #1 on the way

Being a stay-at-home mom nowadays is rather tricky business. Our society is definitely set up to serve dual-income families. Things are just so gosh darn expensive (I'm getting good at "gosh darns" with little kids around!). Even if the economy was booming it would still be hard to just wave bye-bye to half your income and blow a kiss to your previous career to stay at home with the babies.

I can't believe we were able to do it.

Here's my story. It is a very honest one and I hope if you desire to be a stay-at-home-mom and you're thinking it's impossible, that this gives you the hope you need to see that it can be possible for you. I understand everyone's circumstances are different, but if it moves you closer to your goal than I'm glad you found my little blog to help you take those steps forward.

Now, flash back just a few short years with me.

I remember sitting in our guest bedroom with my husband, we had papers of bill receipts all over the bed. We had a calculator, notepad, and laptop, going through all of our expenses. We totaled how much my husband and I both made, and then totaled all our bills plus food, gas, and other things. Then we cut out my salary and stacked up our monthly expenses against what my husband made. I remember holding my five month pregnant belly with an anxious heart as he shook his head saying, "I'm just not sure we can do it." I could see the determination as he crunched through the numbers again, this time, explaining how much we need in addition to his salary to cover all our costs. He and I both agreed that we wanted our son to be raised by me, a soon-to-be mommy, and we would figure it out somehow. I'm not sure if I got emotional or not, realizing that my dream of being a stay-at-home mom with my baby may not even be a possibility. I have to say, my husband was supportive and willing to work as hard as it would take. I love him more every day for his sacrifice of taking on the full burden of providing for our family.

So we cut way back on things.

First, my husband took a very drastic measure. He sold his beloved Ford F150 truck. Oh man. My husband loved his truck. He sold it, took the money he made in profit and purchased a very old Jeep Wrangler from a guy off Craigslist. I remember when he pulled into our garage in that jeep. It made all kinds of rugged sounds. It had a big crack in the windshield. It didn't have AC. My husband got out of the jeep, shut the door, took a look back at it and said, "I can't believe I just did that."

I shared that story first, because, lets be honest, that is a very extreme way to cut back your monthly expenses. We had previously talked about selling one of our vehicles to lessen the burden of car payments. But it's a tough pill to swallow. Nobody wants to go from a shiny, newer vehicle to a clunker. But you gotta do what you gotta do. It was just what we needed to get us closer to our goal of living off one income.

We then called the cable company and cancelled our cable. Kept our internet, but got rid of all the channels. Saved another $50 bucks a month doing that.

We refinanced things. My car, our house. We shopped around for better rates on our insurance companies. Consolidated my student loans and asked for better interest rates. We made a grocery budget. I began couponing. I have learned to cook better meals to prevent eating out as often as we were.

We got rid of credit cards. Cut up my Victoria Secret card, Express card, and others. We paid off smaller debts and continued making those payments in addition to other debt payments to pay them off sooner.

We switched cell phone companies and took a closer look at our monthly plan to reduce that expense any way possible.

We said good-bye to our gym membership and took up running.

Turned off more lights, fans, showered less (just kidding) and were more aware of ways to be less wasteful.

We saved as much as we could during my pregnancy. We both took on extra jobs and continued to pay off debts or save the money.

Sacrifice. Sacrifice. Sacrifice.

I went back to work after my maternity leave when my son was 3 months old. I wanted to finish out the school year in my teaching position. It was hard to be away from my baby when he was so small. Not to mention, I was nursing and he wouldn't take a bottle. It was a rough few months, but we made it to summer and that fall I began my child care leave.

We took the plunge with both feet in and with lots of prayer behind us. I think the hardest part adjusting has been when I am with my longtime school friends out to dinner or shopping. Things just aren't the same for me. I can't indulge in whatever I feel like. I check prices and count my dollars.

But it's worth it.

Baby #2 on the way

No matter how you look at it sacrifice is involved. When you have children, you give up a lot of yourself, your time, things you love, and your independence. It's a short time in your life when they are so little. My son is turning three this year and will be heading off to school soon enough. It's unbelievable. And I can honestly say, I could really care less if my manicure was less than perfect at this time of my life so I could be there to raise him. It had always been my desire to be a stay-at-home mommy. I appreciate it and soak up every day.

So hang in there momma (or soon-to-be momma). If there's a will, there's a way. Keep your eye on the prize and save those pennies. You will figure it out.

Here are a few posts I created to guide you toward frugal living. I definitely practice what I preach and although it is a humble lifestyle, I feel so richly blessed.

Money-savings Tips for Stay-at-home Moms

Couponing for Beginners

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