Hey everyone! A few days ago I posted about how we save money and budget (read it here). My friend Anndee from Anndee Between the Lines was so gracious to pass along the frugal love by writing about how she was able to transition from working to staying home with her cute little boy.
|"Chaaa! [Anndee & Dayen.] The best." Name that movie.|
She was able to put into words what I wish I would've been able to with some of the things in my last post, and it's fun to hear the path that other people take to reach the same destination! So, without any further ado, here's "The Decision to Stay Home: A Guest Post by Anndee!"
Growing up, I spent an unnecessary amount of time at an age we don't need to speak of taking care of my dolls. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom, but for some reason, I never really thought it would happen. I guess as I got older and started working and realized how expensive life was, it just seemed like a goal that was totally out of reach. I figured the only way I could stay home was if I was willing to give up buying anything ever, and considering the size of my closet at the time, that didn't really feel possible.
But my decision to stay home really happened when I found out I was pregnant the first time. I was working at a job that I liked, but the more obsessed I became with that little bean growing inside me, the more convinced I was that I didn't want to leave the little bean at daycare all day to go to that job. I knew I would hate it. (The job, not the bean. I liked the bean.) I also like to consider myself modern and hip and all that, but I just felt this strange, incessant push to stay home. I felt like taking care of my home and family was what I was supposed to be doing. A few weeks later, I ended up having a miscarriage. I was heartbroken, but I decided to turn it into a positive situation as much as possible: now I had a chance to get out of that job before I saw that blue plus sign again.
A few months later, I was able to quit that job when I found an awesome nanny job just five minutes away from my house. I have been a nanny since High School, so I had a lot of experience and was able to charge the same as I was making at my other job. It was a dream come true!
(Side note: for those of you interested in nannying, I have always used care.com. Feel free to message me any questions and I will be happy to help any way I can!)
For me, nannying for this cute family was the next best thing to staying at home. Even though I would have loved more time to keep my house clean or sleep in when my baby did, I felt so, so lucky to be able to bring my little one to work with me everyday. It was somewhat unconventional, but it worked for us.
About a year after Dayen was born, the family I was working for had their second baby. She had some time off work, and I was trying to decide if I should find a new nanny job or just stay home. We were worried that we couldn't afford for me to stay at home, and I was trying to fudge our budget every way possible to make it happen. Then, out of the blue, my husband got a new job! The job paid just barely more than what we were making combined, so we decided the time was right for me to stay home.
Now, obviously this is just our story. Everyone's circumstances are different, but there were certain choices we made that finally led to me being able to stay home, and I think most of them are applicable to a lot of people. Also, I recognize that lots of moms would prefer to work, and to them I say: you do you! I don't have any problem with that. But this post is written specifically for the working mom who would like to transition to staying home.
#1: Buy a House
I know there are a lot of people who will disagree with me on this one, but for us, this was one of the biggest factors that led to me being able to stay home. I know it seems counter-intuitive, and that many people are working and saving to buy a house someday in the future. But we bought our house right when we got married. We were both working part-time as servers at Maddox, so we didn't qualify for much. We bought for even less. We have put a ton of time and sweat into fixing up this house, and I'm happy to say we have a bunch of equity in it now. Basically, we've been paid to live here for the last 3 1/2 years. We will now have that much more money to go towards our next home, and we've paid less than typical rent in our area.
I will say again: I know this isn't the right decision for everyone. But it's something to look into and discuss with your family, because it really can make a huge difference.
#2: Utilize Your Talents!
#3:Get Out of Debt
This is another huuuuuuge one for us. When I was young and stupid and decided last-minute to go to college, I took out loans for everything. I literally paid my rent for 2 years with student loans! I know we're all supposed to pretend if we could go back in time and change something we wouldn't, because we learned something valuable from even our mistakes. But if I could go back in time I would slap 19-year-old me silly for being so dumb.
Anyway, we decided early on to get those debts out of the way. The worst part about my school loans was the minimum monthly payment barely covered the interest! I was paying for years and not getting anywhere! So we started by saving a set amount every week. After about a year of that, we were able to pay off both our cars. Now, we live off what my husband makes and everything I make goes towards debts. It took about a year of saving religiously, but last week I paid off my last school loan! Just from paying off debts, we have given ourselves about a $520 monthly raise. Now that we don't have any debts outside of our mortgage, everything I make can go towards saving for things like a new car, so that hopefully in the future we won't accrue any more debt than necessary.
To be honest, I am not the greatest budgeter. (Budgeteer? Budgetist?) If I finally find a cute dress that I love, I'm probably going to buy it. And if I'm jonesin' Oreos, I really don't care if they are on sale or not. I'm buying them.
Instead of setting a specific amount to be spent in certain areas, we just do a monthly review. My husband keeps a spreadsheet of our spending and updates it once a month. It's really helpful to see things like, "Wow, we ate out twice as much as usual!" It also makes it more of a game for me. Rather than limiting myself on what groceries I can buy, I like to see if I can spend an insanely small amount one month just for the challenge of it. That way, the extra money saved isn't going towards something else: it's just being saved. We also try to identify the problem areas (usually for us it's too much eating out or too many random Amazon purchases) and set goals to fix them for the next month.
Ultimately, this works for us because we aren't living in the red. We have enough to live off month to month, and we don't go outside that. But we're also happy to spend less and save more whenever we can.
#5: Pay Your Tithing
For all my Christian peeps, I can't stress this enough: pay your tithing. I know, I know, you hear this at church week after week, but I can honestly say after nearly 4 years of marriage, I don't know how we've survived on what we've made. Mathematically, it doesn't make sense. But it worked, because we paid our tithing. And on that note, if you want to stay home and can't seem to find a way, then pray about it. That can open up doors that you didn't even know existed.
Overall, if staying home is your goal, then be patient. The path to being a stay at home mom is different for everyone, but it usually doesn't happen quickly or easily. There are a lot of different paths you can take, so if you're serious about it, get started! I recommend sitting down with your spouse and looking over your income versus your spending. Decide exactly how much you alone have to make, and then figure out if there is a way you can make that money while still staying home with your little ones. Start your at home business now while you're still working, and you might be surprised how soon it offers you the chance to stay home!
Isn't she awesome? She is. That's the correct answer. If you're interested in writing a guest post on my blog, contact me. I'd love to hear from ya!
Thanks for reading, and hasta la pasta, ya'll!