Deciding mom would be staying home was a complex decision for us as a family. My husband and I both desperately wanted our children to be able to grow up with their mother able to be staying home. We both grew up with our mothers staying home in our early years and we saw the value of that investment. We both hold the Christian conviction that the mother plays a unique and important nurturing role in her children’s lives. We both wanted me to have the time and flexibility as a mother to focus on that unique and important role.
I wholeheartedly respect the sacrifice and hard work that it must require to be a working mother. I can’t even imagine how difficult it is to balance the stress of work with the stress of the home and a mother’s desire to be with her little ones. I know sometimes there really is no other choice or that deciding mom will work is the best choice for the family. Every family and their priorities are different. For our family, my husband and I both felt a deep conviction and desire for me to be staying home with our children.
However, when I became pregnant with our first daughter we didn’t think deciding mom was going to stay at home would be financially possible. We still had massive amounts of school debt and overwhelming medical bills from the pregnancy. The numbers just didn’t add up for us to afford life and a little one without some income on my part.
After our daughter arrived I quit my part-time job and pursued a few more flexible job opportunities to try to allow more time with her while still making a consistent income. I nannied for a family in our home for a few months. I connected with my former company to do some contracted work from home during my daughter’s naps. I explored some online freelancing work opportunities. However, with each job I tried a strain remained between my investment in my home and the job (even if the job was something I accomplished in my home). I felt overwhelmed, stressed, and torn in multiple directions. Deciding mom should stay at home seemed all the more appealing, but we still couldn’t figure out how to make the finances work.
My husband and I prayed about the decision and finally decided that what was best for our family was for me to be able to 100% focus on my role as a homemaker and mother. The numbers didn’t add up on the day that we made the decision last spring, but God has consistently provided for our family in unexpected and faith-building ways. Upon deciding mom would stay at home we also made a few practical changes to tighten our budget and financially allow me to invest in the role.
Deciding Mom Would Stay At Home – 6 Practical Changes We Made
Below is a list of some of the changes my husband and I implemented to ease the financial strain of deciding mom would stay at home with the kids.
1. We downsized to own only own one vehicle
Before our first daughter arrived my husband and I both owned cars that we each had purchased before we were married. Shortly after deciding mom would stay at home we sold his older car to save on the insurance, maintenance, and gas expenses. We were also able to pocket the profit from the sale of the car to help us through a few challenging months after I stopped working the occasional jobs that I had picked up after our daughter was born. So selling the car saved us some long-term ongoing expenses and also gave us an extra boost of income in the month that we decided to sell it.
After selling my husband’s older car we also upgraded my small car to a minivan to accommodate our growing family. This saved us a small bit of money since we bought a used and very reasonably priced minivan that actually reduced our monthly loan payment from what we had been paying on my car. You can read more about our decision to buy the minivan here.
Obviously, it’s not necessarily feasible for every family to operate on only one vehicle. Since my husband’s job is only a 15-minute drive from our home it has worked out great for us. Since I don’t work I don’t need the car every day and when I do I simply drop him off in the morning and pick him up from work in the evening. With a child at home to care for we rarely both go out separately in the evening so there hasn’t been much conflict with driving arrangements in the evenings or on the weekends. I’ve surprisingly enjoyed the unity of being forced to travel together to many everyday functions and activities! We do not regret our decision to transition to one vehicle though I was nervous about the adjustment at first.
2. We shop discounted groceries when possible
I hesitate to categorize this one as a change since I loved discount grocery shopping even before deciding mom would stay at home! However, we did crack down on making discount grocery shopping a regular part of grocery planning after I stopped working.
This may not be available depending on where you live, but we are fortunate to live in an area where there are several different bulk and discount grocery stores. My favorite is one that sells overstocked, dented, and expired groceries at VERY steep discount prices! It takes a little bit more effort to shop at this store since it is necessary to check the dates on the items and the stock of available products is constantly changing, but doing so has saved us a lot of grocery expense!
Until I became sick with my second pregnancy my husband and I went to the discount grocery store once a month and stocked up with two carts full of all of the items we knew we could use in the month. We have an extra freezer and would freeze many of the groceries to thaw and use throughout the month – including veggies, meat, lunch meat, sliced cheese, flour tortillas, bread, and more.
3. My husband took on an additional weekend job
To help us make income to meet our monthly expenses after deciding mom would stay home, my husband also took on a little bit of additional work. Again, this may not be possible for everyone but my husband is blessed to work in a field where he can fairly easily pick up weekend work and earn time and a half to do so.
After the birth of our first daughter, my husband started to work one Saturday a month at a second job to supplement our income. It’s not a huge amount, but because it’s flexible weekend staff work he is able to make more than his usual wage doing it and it is just enough to help balance out our budget each month. It was important enough to us for me to be able to stay at home with our kids that he was willing to make the sacrifice of working a little bit extra.
4. We prolonged the payment schedule on one of our student loans
This change is not necessarily one that I highly recommend, but it is a change we made to add a little bit of extra buffer into our monthly budget. My husband originally had all of his school debt on a 10-year payoff plan before we married. However, to reduce the monthly payment owed on one of his loans we did decide to increase it to a longer payoff plan. We still hope at some point that we can make more than minimum contributions to eliminate it quicker, but to sustain our budget in this season (especially with additional medical bills for pregnancies) we decided to lengthen its payoff period for the time being.
Note: I do not highly recommend this simply because it’s always good to be able to eliminate debt and it will increase the total interest we pay over the life of the loan. However, as an urgent short-term solution, it does add some buffer to the immediate budget.
5. We conserve as much as we can on extras in the budget
In deciding mom would stay home, this is probably the most vague and simple of the changes we’ve made. We simply try to spend as little as necessary on extras in the budget such as eating out, recreation events, non-essential shopping, etc.
We still buy dinner out on occasion, but we are careful not to make it a regular habit. We still buy some products for recreation, but we are very cautious about how much we spend to do so. We do sometimes turn down invitations to participate in particular events that we enjoy due to the expense. It’s become easier and easier to do as our lifestyle has shifted over the past couple of years and we reap the more priceless enjoyments in life.
We don’t deprive ourselves of every unnecessary enjoyment that costs money and we don’t have a firm process in place to evaluate which enjoyments to spend on and which to conserve. However, we are simply more attentive to the price tag attached to various extra budget items and we both seek to minimize them when possible. (For example, I no longer get my hair cut or colored as often as I’d like, I don’t often indulge myself with new clothing, and my husband doesn’t attend many of the sporting events he’s invited to.)
6. I shop at yard sales and thrift stores for household and clothing needs
This is again something that I already enjoyed doing before deciding mom would stay at home, but shopping at yard sales and thrift stores saves us a lot of money! Again, this isn’t something that everyone can do depending on where you are located. We are blessed to live in an area with a lot of yard sales every spring and fall! I spend many spring and fall Saturday mornings waking early to shop the driveways of homes in area developments. I’ve been able to save a lot of money on kitchen and household goods, children’s clothing and shoes, clothing for myself, and baby items this way. I even sometimes find great deals on pieces of furniture like dressers or chairs!
For me going to yard sales is a fun hobby that I would probably enjoy even if I wasn’t a stay at home mom, but the extra thrill of knowing how much money it saves us when I find a quality item we need makes the hobby an extra satisfying one! If you live in an area that has yard sales or reasonable thrift stores, I highly recommend shopping at them for some of your essential clothing and household items. It does require being okay with living off of second-hand items, but doing so can save your family a lot of shopping expense. (Kids grow out of clothing so quickly that sometimes the items I find at yard sales still look like they are almost new!)
If you are in the process of deciding whether mom could stay at home, I hope that reading about the adjustments we made may help you evaluate your own situation. I don’t write any of these items assuming that they work for everyone or that they are the best way to go about structuring your lifestyle or finances. I simply write them to share what we have learned in our adjustment to keep me at home in case they spark an idea that helps someone else in a similar season!
While I do fully stay at home now with my kiddos, I am still pursuing a supplemental income stream through the blog you are reading right now! It’s as much a hobby for me as it is an income pursuit and right now does not make a significant enough dent in our budget to mention above, but I note it simply to say that I am still pursuing a way to make some money from home.
Working to make money from my blog is completely flexible and owned by me with no accountability to a boss or external schedule. I find that rather than draining me from investing in my home and children, maintaining my blog serves as a refreshing hobby for me – with the potential to help our income stream down the road! So it’s a win-win rather than a stressful strain like some of my previous jobs after deciding mom would stay home.
You can support my efforts to earn income through my blog by reading and sharing my posts!
Have you made any changes to your lifestyle or budget that have helped you afford to stay home with your children? I’d love to hear your ideas below!