Sunday, June 28, 2015

10 Tips if you're planning to become a ONE income family

Since 2012 our family has been a one income family. The day that I found out I was pregnant with Annabella, Jonathan and I decided I would not go back to work after she was born, unless it was absolutely necessary. I was determined to be a stay at home mom to my girls. Working mothers have the absolute hardest jobs of all. They have to juggle their jobs, homes, children and husbands all at the same time. Jobs are not flexible for mothers and the guilt is overwhelming. So working moms, I salute you and I feel for you. And if you choose to work, I applaud you and you have my total support. Staying home has it's benefits, but it definitely has it's challenges. The number one challenge being the lack of money. Losing my income was a huge hit for us and we had some serious adjusting to do afterwards. I've learned a lot in the past three years and now we're a family of FIVE living on one income. If you're interested in becoming a stay at home mom or if you're struggling, read the tips that I've put together below. This is how we have survived the last 3 years.

Tip #1- Save up BEFORE you take the plunge
In our situation, we had a built-in timeline. After the baby was born I would go on maternity leave and towards the end of maternity leave, I would resign. We wanted to wait until after the baby was born and we had adjusted to living on one income for a couple of months before we made it 100% final with my job. My boss knew that I was up in the air about returning, so it wasn't a complete shock when I resigned. We had about 7 months before I was leaving work to save money. That meant cutting back on spending significantly, which ended up helping us learn to live without spending immediately. It's amazing how little money you actually NEED to live. If you're trying to make the decision to stay home, set a goal with your husband. Plan to pay off some debt to reduce your monthly spending before you resign your job, or take your income (minus gas money and lunch) and put it in savings, living like you aren't even making the money. Make sure you have a nest egg before you quit-a couple of months worth of money at least. 
Challenge: Write down everything you spend for a month. Or print it off of your online bank statement if you exclusively use a debit or credit card. Color code your spending by food, gas, personal, etc. Add up the money you spent that you could have avoided spending. Notice where you spent the most money and put a plan in action to spend less in that area also. 

Tip#2- Grocery shop SMART & meal plan
Most grocery stores offer store cards that give you extra savings. Kroger offers a gas point for every dollar you spend and on the weekends you get double the points. Once you get 100 points, you receive $.10 off of gas, so you're saving on gas and groceries. Publix offers weekly BOGO offers on a large variety of items. Sunday nights I check their BOGO offers and go to strictly shop their sale items the next day. Take the time once a week to go through your local grocery store sales items online. Make a grocery list by store and go crazy on BOGO, especially if it's items that you use regularly. Stock up! It'll save you when you're having a tight week. A lot of grocery stores offer digital coupons, too. 
You also definitely need to meal plan. I have written out a list of all of the meals that I cook. Then I put those papers in page protectors and go through with a wet erase marker and decide what meals I'm going to cook for the week. Buy everything at the store in one trip and that will reduce your trips to the store, reduce your gas used and reduce eating out. If you already have meals planned, there's less chance for eating out because you're unprepared for dinner.

Tip #3- Evaluate your utilities and insurance
Going from two incomes to one is the time to see where you can decrease your spending-in all areas. Maybe you can cancel that expensive cable bill because you can survive off of Hulu and Netflix (less than $20/month verses $100/month). It's also a good time to rate shop insurance. You can bundle car and home insurance for a discount, and there may be other discounts that you're missing out on through your insurance companies. Do your research, don't pay for something if you don't have to.

Tip #4- Be mindful of wasting utilities
By this, all I mean is don't waste power and water. Turn off lights, unplug TV's, go easy on the AC and use ceiling fans, open the windows in the fall, take baths instead of showers, etc. The biggest way we save on our power bill in the summer is by barely using the AC. We live in Georgia, so it can get pretty hot. But the kids and I are home all day, so we use the ceiling fans, dress lightly and play in the water outside. I don't ever turn the AC lower than 77. EVER. Our power bill certainly reflects that sacrifice.

Tip #5- Have fun for FREE
I have three kids and they love to go out and do stuff. Since they're 5 and under, they're not too picky on what it is they're doing. Your local library probably has story time in the mornings, as well as other fun events during the summer. You can also get free family passes to various attractions throughout your state, including your local zoo at Pines libraries. In the summer and fall our town has a farmers market and we take the kids every Saturday. Free concerts are also a lot of fun in the warmer months and in the winter, your town may do a lot of fun, free events like ours does. You can always take them to parks, book stores, fast food playgrounds, find a mommy group, etc. Look online and find restaurants that offer kids eat free evenings-lots of restaurants have a day a week that they do that.
Something that I've recently started doing is becoming a secret shopper. Lots of businesses look for secret shoppers that they pay to visit restaurants and other attractions for a clear understanding on how their employees are doing. I'm a secret shopper for Stone Mountain Park and they pay for all of our attractions, parking and food-for up to 6 people!

Tip #6- Hustle! 
Chances are, you have a talent that you can share with the world. Start a blog or an Etsy shop, sell at farmers markets and craft fairs. I started Madsy Bella Boutique on a whim and I have been in business for over a year now. I have an Etsy shop, Facebook page, I sell at our Farmers Market in the summer and fall and I participate in events throughout the year with other local artisans. 
If you aren't artsy or crafty, you probably have a ton of crap in your house that you could stand to get rid of-especially of the baby variety! Our town has a flea market Facebook page where locals sell their gently used, unwanted items. Then we meet in a public place to complete the transaction. Craigslist is another idea-but much riskier, so be careful!
I've also taken online surveys through Opinion Outpost. You receive points for every survey you take and after a certain amount of points, you can cash them in for a variety of things. I usually go with $10 in an Amazon gift card and use that money for Amazon Pantry items or things for my business.

Regardless of how you earn extra money, it always feels good to make your "own" money. Save it for Christmas or put it toward bills when you have a rough month.

Tip #7- Join a church or participate more if you're already a member 
If you get stir crazy and need to get out of the house more, joining a church is a great way to get out of the house and spend time with like minded people. Churches have so many needs and are always asking for volunteers. Our church offers fun things for the kids to do throughout the summer also. If you are already a member, participate more! 

Tip #8- BUDGET! 
This is kind of a given, but you must budget. Budget money for going out too, you and your family need time out. Eating at a favorite restaurant or seeing a movie is a fun treat. I use the previous month's income to pay the current month's bills, so we always have money in our checking account, in case of emergencies. We no longer use any credit cards, but we do have one for emergencies as well as a savings account. Budget down to the smallest thing and save the rest of your money. You'll need it. I promise.

Tip #9- Support your husband 
Support him when he has to work late, encourage him and always have his back when he's working. He doesn't want to be at work longer than he has to any more than you want him to. But he's doing it for you and if he gets overtime, that's a bonus! We made a big sacrifice after Madelynn was born and Jonathan made the decision to go back to school. He took online classes and he's currently working on his master's degree. It's expensive. It's time consuming and it's stressful for him and for me. BUT, it's all for the greater good of our family and his career. School is temporary, but it has lasting benefits. If school isn't your husband's thing, encourage him to climb the ladder at his current job or to take the plunge and get a new job! Don't let him settle. Don't let him work in misery. Jonathan left his job of TEN years on a leap of faith. We were terrified. There's truly no "job security", but being at the same job you've worked at for ten years feels much more secure than leaving it for a place you've never heard of when you have two children and a pregnant wife. Especially when your health insurance won't kick in until after her due date. My point is, there is never a good time to get a new job, but if your husband isn't using his full potential or making the money he could, encourage him to step out on faith and try something new. Talk about it together, pray together and find a solution you're both comfortable with. But most of all, love him and let him know how much you appreciate him. Seriously.

Tip #10- Have faith and tithe 10%
Quitting your job, losing a ton of money and becoming a stay at home mom is a HUGE leap of faith. Only God can bring you from living a life with two incomes and barely enough money to a life with one income and enough money for your family. It doesn't make sense, but He did it for us and He'll do it for you. The Bible tells us to give our first fruits to the church, 1/10 of your earnings. (Proverbs 3:9-10) Put tithe into your budget so you're already taking it out of your earnings before you accidentally spend it. I PROMISE if you tithe your money, God will absolutely bless you. The Bible promises it. The Bible does NOT lie. TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH, FRIEND.

I hope this blesses you with the courage to follow your heart and change your life. Do you have anything to add? Is there anything that you do that is saving you a TON of money as a SAHM? Do you have any questions about any of my tips? Let me know in the comments!! 

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