When I had my first daughter I desperately wanted to stay home with her. I couldn’t fathom the thought of leaving her with someone else. Maybe you feel the same about your child?
Whether you’re a first time parent or a working mom of little ones there is a way to afford to stay home with your kids. If you’re serious about this and are willing to make some temporary sacrifices here are some steps you can take.
Talk with Your Spouse
First thing’s first. Unfortunately, as bad as you may want to stay home your spouse might not be on the same page.
You need to come to an agreement with your spouse that makes both sides happy. For some of you this part will be easy, for others talking to your spouse about your needs and desires can be quite painful. Either way, you need to have the talk.
Make sure that your spouse is on board and you share mutual goals before making a plan of the “how” of affording to stay home with your kids.
Put Money in the Bank
Before you up and quit your job, especially if your income covers your living expenses, you need to give yourself a timeline. This timeline should be long enough for you to reasonably save up some money.
If you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck or are in debt this step becomes even more important.
Once you make your timeline do everything you can to stash away as much money as possible. If you’re pregnant or have small children chances are you’re not willing to work more hours. (I don’t blame you!) Instead, you’re going to have to focus on spending less.
Cut Your Spending
I find that it’s only in times like these, where you have a strong desire to do something that you’re willing to really cut back on frivolous spending. I guess this is a good thing because cutting way back may be what you need to do.
Start by looking at the big budget areas:
Housing is typically the largest expense and can be one of the hardest to cut. Your first option in reducing housing costs is to move to a cheaper place. If that’s not possible other options are refinancing your mortgage to a lower rate or getting a roommate. If your housing costs are already relatively low and you’re not willing to make any of the other changes you’ll need to heavily focus on reducing other expenses.
Food is another big expense but is one that is relatively easy to cut back. (Here’s how to save lots of money on food.)
Utilities are another cost, that while high, can be easy to save on. Call around and see if you can get lower prices on TV, internet and your phone. (Here’s a list of cheap phone providers.) You should be able to lower these expenses by $100 per month or more by asking for a lower price or switching to a less expensive carrier.
Debt. Debt is an unfortunate expense that is much harder to get rid of. If you’re planning on quitting your job to stay home with your kids you need to be putting as much money as possible into savings while still meeting all of your debt obligations. With less income coming in it’s going to be harder to eliminate your debt but there are still some things you can do:
- Get rid of expensive vehicles – If you can’t afford to stay home with your kids but are making payments on a $20,000+ car, get rid of it. Sell the vehicle and buy yourself something much cheaper with much lower (or no) monthly payments.
- Ask credit card companies to lower your interest rates – If you have credit card debt you need to pick up the phone right now, call your credit card providers and see if they will lower the interest rate they’re charging. While there’s no guarantee of getting a “yes” it’s worth a shot.
- Avoid any more debt – Do NOT take on more debt. You don’t need any more payments or any more financial stress added to the mix. No more debt.
Find Home-Based Work
While working from home and raising little ones isn’t ideal it is a meet-in-the-middle type of situation. This type of work is especially useful if all you need is a few hundred dollars per month to be able to make it.
Alternative: Work Part Time
Maybe working from home isn’t your thing. That’s totally fine.
If you aren’t able to completely quit your job to stay home could you work part time hours instead? If you focused on cutting back your expenses you could reduce the hours you’re working now.
What If It Doesn’t Happen?
Sometimes we just don’t get want we want.
As bad as I wanted to stay home with my oldest daughter it didn’t happen. I’ve now put myself in a position where staying home with my future children will be an easy choice to make without much sacrifice.
If for some reason you aren’t able to make your dream of staying home with your kids come true don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep working on improving your financial situation so that you can set yourself up to be a in a better position in the future. And know that your kids will still grow into happy, smart and capable human beings.