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"Operation: Fiscal Jackhammer"

Carrisa (who has a cute baby that I need to meet!) and Kiana from Glitter & Donuts asked:
Financially, how have you been able to be a stay-at-home mom with Spouse Unit in school full time? ...Maybe just some motivation or suggestions for a change in mindset...for moms who want to stay at home but don't think they can financially?
...I am wanting to start saving as much money as we can now so that we won't have to budget as much when we are living off just my salary. Do you have any tips? I know we struggle with grocery shopping/eating out... I try to cut back and make cheaper meals but I can't!

Just a heads up: All of the following opinions are mine. I'm not getting paid to write my blog, but that would be awesome if I did.
We definitely have a cheapskate mindset. It's a blessing and a curse. We live very lean. We are in a one bedroom apartment. We own exactly one car. It is 14 years old and paid off. Before that, we had a 20 something year old sassy grandma car that I bought for $1 from my Mombie. Spouse Unit bikes to school. We don't have Netflix. We don't have credit cards. I meal plan (which I talk about here), cook dinner every night, and Spouse Unit takes the leftovers for lunch the next day. We eat out maybe twice a month (how we save on eating out here). If we do or buy anything fun, we save for it. I try to babysit as often as possible, we rarely buy clothing, I make my own laundry detergent (recipe here), and we are a big fan of budgeting!

That being said, we are living on student loans and receive government assistance for food and insurance to make ends meet. I'm not going to pretend that everyone will agree with our decision. We are grateful for the resources, because right now they're necessary, but we really don't like that we have to use them. We want to be self-sufficient.
My mother worked full-time when I was growing up, and I have the utmost respect for working mothers, but we don't think it's the right choice for our family right now. 

Everyone's situation is different, so don't feel bad if you have to/want to work. If you want to work, you will find a way. If you want to stay home, you will find a way. You can take up couponing (I know some awesome couponers if you need help getting started!), babysitting or running a daycare, or working from home. What are your talents? Can you make money off of them? You might be surprised! You can pray to find other ways that will make it possible for you to stay home, too. Don't leave Heavenly Father out of your plans.

Whether you stay home or work, I do think that everyone should try to live as frugally as possible and use a budget. Dave Ramsey says something to the extent of "budgeting is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went." That doesn't sound boring, right? I promise you can still have fun on a budget and do it without feeling guilty. You can set aside $1000 a month for your llama herd fund if you want, just budget for it!

When Spouse Unit and I first got married we went to a financial advisor and told him our hopes and dreams (just kidding, but not really). We were told we should take Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey, and we did. It was $100 and it was pretty life changing. I would recommend it. He teaches you how to do basically everything related to finances. It definitely takes some self-discipline but his advice is doable!

When we took the class, we learned that he offers a free budgeting website called EveryDollar. We love it! It takes a lot of the work out of budgeting and the layout is easy on the eyes and the brain. There's even a free app for it, you can have several devices linked to one account, and it updates instantly! Yay, now you have no excuses get out of budgeting.

How it works: You put in your different sources of income and how much you expect to make each month. After you have your monthly income, you create categories of expenses, savings, donations, debt payments, etc. and then decide how much money you want to spend in each category. It'll let you copy your budget to the next month and you can just adjust it as needed. How nice, right? 

If your monthly expenses add up to your monthly income, it'll tell you that you have an "EveryDollar Budget!" and give you a green check mark, which makes you feel good inside. If they don't add up, it'll tell you how much over or under budget you are. Now, mind you, this is only what you plan on spending. Now comes the work. But not much.

Throughout the month, you'll enter your transactions in each category and it'll let you know if you have more money to spend or if you've gone over. If you go over, don't fret. Just try to do a little better next month. The most important part is that you're actually keeping track of your money! If you are under, that's great! You can fine tune your budget for the next month by reducing the amount of money in the categories you underspend in and increasing the amount of money in the categories you tend to overspend in.  

There's tons of resources on EveryDollar, too. If you want to, you can pay to get the Plus version and you can link your bank accounts to it. We just use the free version because we're cheapskates.

As far as sticking to your budget when you feel like you can't, try paying cash for everything possible. Dave Ramsey says that paying with cash makes you "feel" your purchases more. Using a card doesn't have the same effect as handing over your hard earned Washingtons, or Lincolns, or whatever you make.  

You can use an envelope system, too, which is pretty easy. Get a bunch of envelopes, label them for different categories such as transportation, food, utilities, fun money, etc., then withdraw the necessary funds for the month and put the correct amount of money in each labeled envelope. When the money runs out in that category/envelope, you're done spending. It seems inconvenient, but it really does work. And don't cheat by going to the ATM or moving money from one envelope to another unless you absolutely HAVE to or it's the end of the month and you're starving or something. 

I could probably go on and on (or Spouse Unit could. He keeps telling me to add more stuff), but I won't. If you have more questions, feel free to shoot me a line. I'm still perfecting the art of the budget and being thrifty, nifty, and thriving, but I'd love to help however I can. If I can't help you, I'll at least point you in the right direction!

Okay. I'm done now. I hope this all made sense.

Thanks for reading! Hasta la pasta, ya'll!




  1. We've been using EveryDollar for about a year and a half and we really like it!
    I remember in 7th Ward a lesson in the marriage and family class was on finances and the high councilor mentioned budgeting and how you track everything in categories, etc.
    At the time we were so frustrated because every time we would budget for the month, several things would pop up throughout the month that we hadn't thought of and it threw everything off! It drove me crazy and I never felt like a success.
    He said that you had to be consistent and do it every month and after a long time you would finally get really good at estimating/tracking expenses.
    He was right! It's taken me a year and a half and I can finally say that budgeting is MUCH MUCH easier for us! EveryDollar is a HUGE part of that, but it also comes from just sticking with it, month after month and not getting discouraged when you fail one month, because you learn what to add to the budget the next month!
    Now I keep a list as the month goes on of expenses that may come up the next month (wedding gifts, we need toilet paper, I need maternity unders, etc) and I can budget for them on the 1st (or around then) of the next month.
    Also, for us, bi-weekly budgeting was a nightmare, because I just wasn't motivated to budget 2xs a month. We were fortunate enough that we had enough in savings when we started EveryDollar that we just started paying ourselves my full months income (I'm blessed to be salaried so we always know what we'll get the next month) and letting the paycheck that came in 1/2 way through the month be part of our payday the next month (if that makes sense). That way what we earned LAST month is our income for THIS month so we know exactly how much we have to spend.

    WHEW. Looks like I need to do a post too. But you're awesome-er than me and I'm glad you did this.

    1. You should! I would love to feature a guest post by you!


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