How to Afford Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom

How to Afford Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom

I’ve been asked a few times what changes we are making as a family to afford my taking a step away from the workforce to be home more. After all, we will soon be living off of less than half of our annual income. We are very fortunate in that my husband’s salary is now enough for us to live off of without mine; that hasn’t always been the case. That being said, there are still changes we need(ed) to make in order to adjust to a new lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve never lived lavishly by any means. Being millenials, we’re strapped with a whole lot of debt, mostly from Sallie Mae, who just so happens to be my arch nemesis and owns my soul until 2032. So, while these decisions are never one-size-fits-all and our situation may be vastly different than yours, today I’m sharing the changes we’ve made to make one income work for us.

Plan in Advance. We made the decision for me to leave my company way before the loss of any income occurred which gave time to research, strategize, and save. The decision to live off of one-income should never be taken lightly.

Eliminate Credit Card Debt. Thankfully, we didn’t have a ton of this – mostly just a couple of big purchases we made before making this decision (new mattress/bed and kitchen appliances). Be sure to pay off the debt before eliminating the income.

Cut the Cable. We invested in a Roku with Netflix and Hulu and kept a very basic, non-HD cable package only because our provider gave us a great deal. We already have an Amazon Prime membership so we can stream through there, too. We also kept WiFi, of course. This was a $100/month net savings.

Refinance the House. This may not be an option for everyone but it was the make-or-break in our situation; everything hinged on this working out. We bought our house at the end of 2011 when the housing market was the lowest it ever got and so our house was a steal. Since then, the value of our home has increased significantly. We capitalized on the appreciation by refinancing our home with a cash-out option. We used the cash to…

Pay Off a Car. In 2014, for the first time in my life, we bought a brand new vehicle – an SUV for me. Later that year, Todd got a new car, too. As you can imagine, two new car payments are expensive. We considered downgrading our vehicles to afford the monthly payments on one income but we were still coming up short. Being able to use the cash from our refinancing to eliminate the monthly payment altogether was a huge blessing. We decided to pay off my car only and use the rest of pay off a student loan that had an interest rate higher than the loan on my husband’s vehicle. Some families decide to sell one vehicle and share the other but that isn’t a viable option for us.

Gas. Eliminating my 66 mile round-trip commute per day was financial savings in itself of at least $150/month or so. Be sure to factor gas and resulting maintenance savings as a credit to your budget.

Cleaning Services. Sadly, we will be retiring our monthly cleaning service which will save us $100/month. This one hurts me the most. It’s a luxury, I know, but one that I love.

Groceries. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I’ve always been one to pay for convenience. That said, spending more for groceries at Publix and Target has never been an issue for me because they’re closer to my house and shopping there really is a pleasure. From now on, though, we will do most of our shopping at Aldi (do you know they have a ton more organic stuff now?) and I’ll start coupon clipping again for other stuff when I can. I’ll have to make more trips to Wal-Mart vs. Target, too. It’s definitely not as convenient and we won’t have name-brand everything (we actually buy a lot of Publix and Target brand stuff now) but it’s worth it. We anticipate about $125/month savings or more from this. Groceries is the one bill that you have 100% control over, so this is where you can really get the most bang for your buck.

Eating Out. We don’t do this a whole lot (because kids) but we’ll do it even less frequently now. The great news here, though, is that Todd works at the HQ for a restaurant chain and so we eat there for free. So, if we ever get the urge to dine out, we’ll always consider going there first. Then we’ll run through the list of places where kids eat free… but Todd hates all of those places so we’ll end up eating at home. That said, it’s a no brainer that eating out as a family of 4 can be costly; this is an easy expense to cut.

Pre-School. My 4 year-old was in preschool 5 days/week and is now going 3 days/week. This change saves us about $150 per month. However, even with the savings, her preschool was the one thing Todd told me would have to get cut completely because paying for it would have made things too tight for us. So, I found a way to make sure it was covered which was…

Find a Side Hustle. You’re looking at mine. While it was never the intention, the partnerships I’ve made with this blog have already provided the extra we needed to pay A’s 2017 preschool tuition and I’m so thankful for that. In the fall, she’ll be old enough to go to GA Pre-K (which is free). Todd’s income will pay for all of the necessities and any blog income I make going forward will help fund the “extras” like dance classes for the girls and vacations and whatnot… and, maybe even a cleaning lady if I hit the big time! Other moms I know plan events, do online surveys, work as Virtual Assistants, do photography, run Etsy shops, provide in-home daycare, and even clean houses on the side. In addition to blogging, I plan to pick up consulting jobs and part-time contract work here and there; I’m not counting on it as income, though, since it won’t be guaranteed.

Practice. Start trying to live off of one income before eliminating the second. Treat the second income solely as savings and use it to pay off any outstanding debt. See how your new lifestyle works for awhile before taking the plunge.

We’ll, of course, have to temper our day-to-day spending but that’s a given. So, tell me – how do you make living off of one income work for your family? Share your tips below!

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95 Comments

    • Shannnon
      June 30, 2017 / 12:06 pm

      Thanks!!

  1. May 24, 2017 / 1:52 pm

    Girl…..i read this post before but i came back to read it again because it’s that good! Definitely puts spending in perspective. Cable is killing me right now ………..i need to get rid of that for real. Also what you said about cred card debt. I only have about 3k total but still ….the monthly payments alone …sheesh. Hopefully in the next year or two i will be able to make the transition from working outside to WAHM!

    Erica Valentin
    http://www.EricaValentin.com

    • Shannnon
      May 25, 2017 / 12:47 am

      Aw thanks! You can totally do it! And honestly, I don’t miss the cable!

  2. February 26, 2017 / 9:18 am

    This is awesome – I am on this same path and feel good knowing Ive taken many of the steps that have worked for you (we are on target to save almost 400 a month!)

    To save going forward I learned how to can (not actually that hard!), we got a food saver so we can freeze stuff, we will spend about one weeks worth of grocery money on garden starters and grow a ton of food, I use an app called checkout 51 that will give me (small) rebates when I upload my grocery bill (I’m sure there are lots of other apps like that), and I buy everything on my Amazon card so I get the points which add up and I can use when I shop on Amazon.

    Finding the side hustle is the next step!!
    Thanks for the awesome blog – gets me inspired!!

    • Shannnon
      February 26, 2017 / 10:41 pm

      $400 a month is awesome! Thanks so much for the extra tips! I need to check out those apps — all of your ideas are great, though! Thanks for reading!

    • Shannnon
      February 15, 2017 / 2:52 am

      Thank you for reading! I’m so glad you liked it!

  3. February 5, 2017 / 11:38 pm

    This is really great Shannon!! You’re hubby is lucky to have a women with a good head on your shoulders ;)Though I’m not looking to quit my career any time soon I will have to take all these tips into consideration. Less is sometimes more 💖

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:29 am

      Aww, thank you Heydy! I appreciate that so much!

  4. Faith Zapata
    February 4, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    Does your Walmart and Kroger have clicklist? Game changer for moms AND helps with overspending on groceries since it’s all planned out and no browsing with the poential to pick up extras!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:29 am

      I have no idea but I will need to look into that! Thanks for reading!

  5. February 3, 2017 / 7:35 pm

    I can totally relate to this article! I am also a SAHM and these tips could come in handy.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:30 am

      Oh, I’m so glad! Thanks for reading!

  6. February 3, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    These are great tips! I totally love being a stay at home mom, and agree with the side hustle thing. Especially to keep being creative and not lost your sense of self.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:30 am

      Yes! So much yes! Thank you!

  7. February 3, 2017 / 12:48 pm

    Love this!! Great post!! Sent it to my hubby!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:30 am

      Oh yay! Thanks, girl!

  8. February 3, 2017 / 10:03 am

    Great tips! We paid off my car as soon as we found out I was pregnant to cut that cost. I also shop at Walmart but make a biweekly trip to Target to save my sanity!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:31 am

      Yes! So wise!

  9. lesleysullivan4
    February 3, 2017 / 8:46 am

    Great tips Shannon! We are also very fortunate that my husband is able to support our family of 4, but it took some time getting used to. We made a lot of changes to adapt to our new lifestyle, but choosing to stay at home was overall the best choice I’ve made.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:31 am

      I hope it turns out that way for me, too! I think it will. Thanks for reading!

  10. February 3, 2017 / 8:42 am

    Great tips, could also be used if you are getting ready to retire as well (like we are)! We have 2 more years until retirement and we plan to eliminate all debt (except the house) by then as well as have a 1 year living expenses fund. We cut the cable a long time ago (no body in our house watches TV) lol.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:32 am

      That’s AWESOME!! Congrats!!

  11. lovelyluckylife
    February 3, 2017 / 12:17 am

    These are such great tips! We need to cut the cable cord ASAP

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:32 am

      Yes, you do! There’s so many other great options out there now!

  12. February 2, 2017 / 11:10 pm

    I love all of these tips! We have always lived very frugally so I like hearing that others are doing it as well!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:32 am

      I do, too! Any tips?

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:33 am

      That’s so exciting! And, I know the feeling! Good luck!

  13. February 2, 2017 / 10:24 pm

    Definitely practicing living off one income truly helps. You see the reality of what you will be facing.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:33 am

      Yes! I agree! I feel it’s so important to make sure it’s actually feasible first.

  14. itsahero
    February 2, 2017 / 10:19 pm

    Girlfriend, these are awesome ideas! 🙂 We ended up ‘accidentally’ on one income. And we’ve done similar things to cut our costs!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:34 am

      I’m glad to hear it! Thanks for reading!

  15. February 2, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    These are such great ideas that we do a lot of.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:34 am

      I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks!

  16. February 2, 2017 / 8:13 pm

    Amazing tips and you’re doing great w blogging! So happy you were able to make this transition!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:34 am

      Thanks, my friend!!

  17. February 2, 2017 / 6:34 pm

    Love these tips and thank you for being real with how much you’re actually saving in each area!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:34 am

      Thanks so much for reading!

  18. February 2, 2017 / 4:51 pm

    I loved all of these ideas! I just made the leap myself so it was perfect timing to be able to read this! Proud of you!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:35 am

      That’s so awesome!! Congrats!!

  19. February 2, 2017 / 4:07 pm

    These are great tips. I think a huge one is debt. The amount of debt that most people have and they think is totally normal is mind blowing to me. We also refinanced last year to pay off all my husband’s student loans from dental school (those were quite hefty, lol). I agree that it’s not for everyone but it definitely made sense for us!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:35 am

      Yassss, girl!! We have so. many. student loans. We’ll be paying the forever!

  20. February 2, 2017 / 3:07 pm

    How do you get paid to blog? I would love to go down this path. Any help is appreciated. Thanks! – Julie.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:36 am

      All of my blog income so far has come from doing sponsored posts. 🙂

        • Shannnon
          February 6, 2017 / 7:10 am

          Look for influencer networks (check out the “Memberships” menu on my sidebar (on desktop; scroll to the bottom if you’re on mobile) and join some of those. You can also email companies you want to work with and ask to collaborate. Many of my partnerships come from the companies finding my blog and contacting me. There are lots of great resources on Pinterest to help with monetizing your blog. Good luck!

  21. February 2, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    This was a great read. As a momma that’s at home with my kiddos you are so right with all these tips. The credit card one is a big one for sure!!
    Angela

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:36 am

      Yes! It’s so unnecessary! Thanks for reading!

  22. February 2, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    Exactly! So many of these are things we did/doing. Specifically the cut cable and pay off car. We did the same once I left work. You’ve got this! Love hearing your updates on how you are feeling about it all. It is a transition for sure.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:37 am

      I’m so glad to hear that! Thanks for reading and for the support!

  23. February 2, 2017 / 1:45 pm

    These are some amazing tips – even for those people just wanting to say some money.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:37 am

      Thank you so much! And yes, you’re so right!

  24. 21flavorsofsplendor
    February 2, 2017 / 1:30 pm

    Great tips! I have been a SAHM for over 4 years now and it definitely took some planning in the beginning. You also have to make adjustments along the way because you cannot plan for everything. My biggest tip is once you make a budget, stick to it.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:37 am

      Great advice! Thanks so much!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:37 am

      Thank you!

  25. February 2, 2017 / 11:51 am

    Great post Shannon! Every one of your points were utilized in our situation as well and it made the transition so smooth. Enjoy your SAHM life. 🙂

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:38 am

      Oh I’m so glad! Thank you!

  26. simplelifedreamer
    February 2, 2017 / 11:48 am

    I think staying home with your kids is SUCH a great thing and these are really great tips!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:38 am

      Thank you! It’s exciting!

  27. February 2, 2017 / 11:29 am

    These are all great tips. I just recently started training myself to save a little for when I go on maternity leave. I started implementing the cash envelope system and only allowing myself to touch the cash inside my envelopes for that month. If I run out, well, too bad! It’s hard not being able to swipe with the credit and debit cards but I already see a significant difference in savings.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:39 am

      That’s so smart! I haven’t reached that level of discipline yet but I need to get there!

  28. February 2, 2017 / 10:49 am

    These are incredible tips!!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:39 am

      Thank you for reading!

  29. February 2, 2017 / 10:32 am

    I’m a (happily) working mom whose daycare costs are tripling this year (!) so these tips are helpful for me too :-). Thanks!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:39 am

      Eeek! Daycare costs are no joke. Good luck!

  30. February 2, 2017 / 10:29 am

    Loved this post! We are living on one income also and have had to re-evaluate what’s really worth spending on and what we can cut out to save a few bucks. A little goes such a long way.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:40 am

      It really does! Thanks for reading!

  31. February 2, 2017 / 10:19 am

    Loved reading this. 🙂 We cut our cable a while ago, and this is a big money saver. We watch how much we eat out and have our car paid off too. Great thoughts and tips!!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:40 am

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad to hear we’re on the right track!

  32. February 2, 2017 / 10:17 am

    You are definitely on the right about all of these. My husband and I decided when we found out we were pregnant with our second child that it would be better cost wise for me to stay home, so we cut out and cut down on just about everything on your list (including paying off a car). Eight Months in and it gets easier and easier everyday. Unfortunately sneaky things happen that you aren’t expecting (Taxes, car trouble etc) so I am now trying my hand at living healthier and more natural for my family by using DoTerra oils. By doing this I am able to continue to stay home with my daughter, attend school functions for my son and help contribute to a family vacation this summer and still earn extra money! GO US!! Thank you for this post 🙂

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:41 am

      I’m so glad you found something that works! Thankfully my husband thinks ahead to those unexpected costs and so we’re building some savings just in case.

  33. February 2, 2017 / 8:50 am

    All of these are great tips and doable. It helped so much when my car was paid off last year, but the groceries are still so expensive. Any little cut backs help!! I’m the cleaning lady in this house haha.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:42 am

      I am now, too! Haha!

  34. February 2, 2017 / 8:38 am

    I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to contribute to our income by blogging and becoming a work at home mom!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:42 am

      And you totally rock at it, girl!

  35. February 2, 2017 / 8:00 am

    Only blogging is totally a full time job and then some haha! I like using the Flipp app to save money!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:42 am

      Ain’t that the truth?! I need to check out that app!

  36. February 2, 2017 / 7:52 am

    I love that I have been able to turn blogging into a job for me. It’s hard work but so rewarding!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:43 am

      I feel the same way! Thanks, girl!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:43 am

      SO important! Thanks for reading!

  37. February 2, 2017 / 7:33 am

    Aldis is a huge saver!!! We made the switch about 2 years ago and I can’t believe how much money we save!! Our typical grocery bill for a family of 5 is $130 a week!! That would be double at a different store. I wish we would have switched sooner!!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:43 am

      Wow! That’s amazing!! We used to shop at Aldi a lot but then got lazy. Haha!

  38. Momma To Go
    February 2, 2017 / 6:31 am

    These are great suggestions. I’m in a similar boat- quit my horrible job! Did you refinance at a better rate? We bought our house when rates were so low! Not sure if that’s an option

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:44 am

      Aw I actually love my job but needed to take a step back for awhile. Our initial rate was amazing, we landed in the same ballpark during refi.

  39. February 2, 2017 / 6:10 am

    All great tips! Planning in advance and realizing you can’t have it all is a big part of this. Glad you’re able to do something that makes you happy!

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:44 am

      Thank you, Jacki! It’s going to be a huge adjustment!

  40. February 2, 2017 / 2:14 am

    I love this. Of course I’m not a stay-at-home mom but I do plan on being one in the near future. This has inspired me and helped me in advance for when I am ready to start a family.

    • Shannnon
      February 6, 2017 / 3:45 am

      I hope you can make it work! Good luck!

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