Being a stay-at-home mom is my dream come true. It’s also utterly terrifying from a financial perspective. It means a tighter budget and virtually no wiggle room. Let me tell you, I’m nervous! But as it gets closer and closer to becoming a reality, it’s feeling more and more possible. I know that reason my family is ready for this giant move is because we’ve been planning ahead for this for over a year. In this post I’m going to tell you exactly how my husband and I planned for this huge change and the steps that we’ve taken to make this dream of ours possible.
5 Steps to plan ahead to become a One Income Family
First things first
As with any other huge financial endeavor, it’s important to understand your reasons and use them to motivate you. For me, being able to stay home and take care of my baby is the thing I want the most in the world. It’s also important to my husband. Wanting this so badly is what made the rest of the steps that prepared us for this possible.
Maybe your situation is completely different. But there’s probably something you want most in the world. Understand your reasons. Use them to motivate you.
Here are the actual action steps that my husband and I took to plan ahead to become a one income family:
1. Dream on
When we first started talking about having kids, the idea of me staying home to take care of them didn’t seem remotely possible. I was bringing in a solid portion of our income. Plus, I’d racked up some gigantic students loans that had made my career possible.
We assumed we would go the daycare route. And we basically assumed that was the only option we’d have.
But we kept thinking about it. Anytime it came up, Husband would say “Of course, it’d be better for you to stay home.” And I’d say “Too bad that’s impossible.”
As I kept dreaming about the idea of staying home, my thinking eventually changed from “That’s impossible” to “How can we make this possible?”
Once my thinking changed, our conversations changed. We were able to look at things realistically and figure out a way to make it work. But we would not have been able to make it work if we didn’t believe it was possible.
2. Adjust your plan
Our original plan was to start trying to have our first baby when we’d been married for one year. Then, I quit my job. Our financial situation changed and our plan had to change with it. We decided push back starting to try for a baby until we were in a more solid place financially that would allow me to be able to be a stay at home mom.
It ended up working out pretty well for us. I got a great temporary job. It turned out that we only had to wait 6 months. Those 6 months made a huge difference for our financial situation (more on that below) and we were in a much better place than we would have been if we hadn’t waited.
The moral… sometimes things don’t work out exactly as you planned. That’s ok. Adjust your plan and keep working toward your goal.
3. Get used to living on one income
For the past year, we’ve only used my husband’s income for living expenses. All of our bills, spending, and minimum debt payments come from his paychecks.
My income has goes straight to debt or savings. We’re overpaying our debt significantly (read more about how we’re paying off our debt here). So, if we need to switch to only paying our minimum payments during hard months while I’m not working, we’ll be able to do that on my husbands income.
By getting used to living on one income as far ahead of time as possible, it’ll be much less of a shock when there really is only one income coming in.
4. Cut back as much as possible
It may seem obvious that spending less money goes hand in hand with bringing in less money. But you may be surprised at how many ways you bring your expenses down.
There are a ton of resources on Happy Humble Home to help you lower your expenses. A great place to start is with my Beginner’s Guide to Cutting Expenses.
The sooner you start cutting back, the better off you’ll be. I encourage you to start today. Just start with something small and keep building on it everyday.
For my husband and I, obviously we’re already pretty frugal. But, we’re still looking to cut our expenses in any way we possibly can. I’ve been so strict about our grocery budget and I try to come in under budget as much as possible. I’ve also been driving less to save on gas. We’ve been returning bottles (it’s basically like a coupon off your groceries, people!)
5. Build Savings
I know it’s not an easy thing to be scrimping and saving and paying off debt and then to try to tuck away money in savings on top of everything else.
The truth is anything that you can put away in savings now will benefit you later on. Of course, debt should be a priority but if you’re about to be seriously decreasing your income, it’s a good idea to bulk up your savings where you can.
For us, we’re about to be having a baby. So, our health savings account is one of our priorities. We’re going to have a birth to pay for, after all. My husband has our HSA contribution deducted directly from his paycheck. As soon as we found out that we’re expecting, husband doubled the amount of our contribution. It works well for us because, since it comes directly from his check, we never actually see that money and therefore, we don’t miss it.
We’ve also done some creative things to increase our savings. For example, I collected all the spare change we had in the house and deposited it right into our savings account. It was over $80! For spare change that were just sitting around, I was pretty excited about that.
As I mentioned above in #4, I’m trying my best to come in under my grocery budget. I keep track each week of how much under budget I am, and then at the end of the month we transfer that amount into our savings account. It’s money we would have spent anyway and now it’s going toward a purpose.
If you look for ways to add to your savings, you’ll find them. You just have to look.
Believe you can do it!
My husband and I are willing to do whatever we have to in order to make this work. It’s scary, but oh will it be worth it when I get to be the one taking care of our baby each day.
If you’re planning to transition to a one income family, I encourage you to adopt a similar attitude. Be willing to do whatever you have to do. If you follow the steps in the post, I believe you can do it. You need to believe it too!
How are you preparing to become a one income family? Let me know in the comments below!
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Tuned In Parents says
Pinned and tweeted these practical tips for practical parents. Thank you for sharing!