Baby on the way?
Want to be a stay at home mom?
Considering going from 2 incomes to 1?
Convinced you can do it if you budget?
You can! The Budget Diet girl will make it possible!
Yesterday, my article “Beginner Budget Woes” followed a family in this exact situation, and they quickly discovered that it’s easier to spend than save.
Nearly 16 years ago, we cut our household income in half when I left my job to stay home with our 3 children. Of course, I didn’t want to change our lifestyle and more free time meant more time to shop, but how would shopping be any fun without money? I quickly discovered that the stay at home mom job description included more than just play dates…I was now the CEO of the family and also the maid, the cook, the coupon queen and yes, the bargain shopper. We’ve learned a lot about frugal living over the years, and The Budget Diet is all about sharing those money saving tips with you!
Beginner Budgeting Tips
- It’s a game of give and take. If your husband gives up his lunches out, it’s only fair that you kick your Starbuck’s habit.
- If you reduce your income, you must reduce your expenses. No surprise here, but remember many expenses will be reduced or eliminated when you’re not working. There won’t be any need for child care, your gas guzzling SUV shouldn’t need a weekly fill-up, and you’re trading in your fancy work clothes for comfy sweats!
- A stay-at-home mom really is a full time job. Think beyond play dates, and think about cutting your grocery bill in half because you’ll have time to shop around and clip coupons. Nap time becomes cooking time, cleaning time and laundry time. You’ll even have time to shop around for the best cable TV rate!
- Come up with a weekly “allowance” – this is simply the amount that you live on each week, and it’s used for food, fun, dry cleaning and all those sundry errands. Even better, take out your weekly “allowance” in cash at the beginning of the week, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.
- Write every expense down…every drive-thru donut, every late afternoon latte, every everything. If you’re going over budget, this little piece of paper will tell all. In the case of the family we followed, they were shocked to discover that they spent $440 eating out each month. Think about it, $4 a day at Starbucks x 30 days = $120 that you could be saving.
- Dinner out becomes a date night rather than a haphazard run to the drive-thru. Savor the moment, and don’t forget to save money on that dinner with a Groupon!
- Create a “slush” fund for each of you. Maybe it’s $50 a month or even $100, but it’s your money to spend on whatever you wish…no questions asked. Your husband might use it for a golf outing, and you might use it for a pedicure and a new outfit (from the consignment shop, of course!). It’s important to have a few things you can splurge on because budgeting is like dieting…if you don’t allow yourself an occasional dessert, you’ll likely scarf down the entire Golden Corral dessert buffet.
- Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. If you’ve never really cooked, go to “cooking school” via You Tube. Learn how to paint that dresser you bought for $25 at a garage sale. Instead of hiring a plumber, try the DIY approach with a little help from the internet or your local hardware store.
- Time is money. We’ve all heard that expression, and you’ll really understand the meaning when you’re a stay-at-home mom. A baby or toddler will keep you very, very, very busy, but you will have free time. Make to-do lists each week, and enjoy the satisfaction of checking items off your list.
- Re-evaluate your budget at least once a year and be realistic.
- Look at your baby’s smiling face whenever you need a reminder about why you decided to stay home.
Please leave a comment to share any challenges you’ve experienced when going from 2 incomes to 1.
P.S. – My most popular article, “Cut Your Spending by $400 a Month” is a great place to begin your frugal living quest.