Our family’s decision to try to live off of one main income did not happen over night. Being a Stay at Home Mom was always on the back of my mind after our second child was born. I had always worked part-time since Ariana was born in October 2011 and only went back full-time in September 2015 when our second child Averie was almost two. Working full-time and the opposite shift as my husband Justin was not ideal though and we struggled to find quality time as a family. Ariana was constantly asking when Family Day was (our only day off all together, Sunday) and it broke my heart to hear her say we never spend time together. It was time for a change, but first we needed a game plan to be able to have me home with the girls.
I am a little crazy when it comes to our finances. Throughout the day I am checking our funds and where they’re going and to make sure we have enough. There has been times in our relationship where we have had to beg, borrow (from family) and steal (from our own savings) to make ends meet. We never wanted to be in that place again, but we knew that if we didn’t manage our money better and be prepared for a job loss, car repair, or medical bill we’d be right back where we started. Those major life events are always a threat though, for anyone I think, but with a few life style changes we’ll be more prepared.
In January 2016 I took a look at our bills for each month and what income we had. At that time we both had great jobs that blessed us with a good paycheck. We’ve had that before kids too when I was working full-time, but this time I was watching where that excess money was going. We both had credit cards that needed to be paid off and my final student loan so I set my goal on the lump sum of those three. With those three monthly bills gone, we could free up a lot of money each month that could count towards my “income” (keeping the girls home from daycare also counted towards my income). Next, I set a goal. We still needed to eat, play, pay for gas and all of our other bills, but any additional money went towards those three bills. I set a nine-month goal to get out of that debt. My strategy was pretty simple: divided the remaining balance by nine and that’s what we needed to pay each month. Sure it won’t work for everyone, it all depends on the amount of debt you have and income of course, but I do believe it could help loosen your boot strings a little!
In hind-sight it was simple. Sure we might have missed out on a few outings that we didn’t have the funds for, and a toddler’s request for a new toy or dinner out was turned down, but we survived. You will too. I started looking around our house during that time and seeing how blessed we already were! God has treated us to a beautiful home, healthy bodies and food in our tummies. Really, what more do we need?! Skipping dinner out twice a month (easily $60 if not more), driving past liquor store and cutting back to drinks on the weekend (sure, we cheated and had a glass of wine after work here and there), having fun in our own backyard vs. our usual trips to a hotel in the cities ($200+ every few months!), and countless other tweaks to our daily life affected our success. We all have activities, vices and hobbies we could cut back on and still live a life of adventure and fun.
Browse through your online banking statement (your bank might even break down where your funds are going in a handy graph or grouping so you can really see) and highlight/mark down all your “fun and frills” items and see if any of those could be replaced with a night in, reworking what clothes you already have, or rotating the kids’ toys to keep their interest alive with what they have. Set a goal for yourself to help ease some of your debt, even if it’s a $300 store card.
We don’t live a glamorous life just because we are able to live off of one main income (that I do supplement with some part-time childcare) and we don’t live like hobbits either. Living within our means and decreasing debt has been our success story so far. I hate being a pessimist, but it’s only been a month so our success may fluctuate, but I think that’s okay. Leaving my full-time job was a leap of faith in what God has in store for me and our family. But I love a good challenge. And I challenge you to set a goal for yourself too- not so you can fly the coup at your job (but maybe????) but at least breath a little sigh of relief when you see your bank statement.