Inside: Find out how becoming a stay at home mom can actually save you money. I’m sharing practical tips to save you thousands of dollars a year on everyday household items and bills. No extreme couponing, money-making schemes, or time-consuming tasks required!
Becoming a stay at home mom, or full-time mom is not easy. And that’s a definite understatement.
Going from two salaries to one, and zero kids to two, can be really straining on an already tight budget. And that’s an even bigger understatement.
I often get asked by friends and other new moms how I am able to stay at home with my kids.
And the answer is…well, the answer is not that simple. It took a lot of financial planning before our first baby was born and since then, we’ve had to cut back in A LOT of places. But also, more importantly, we’ve had to get creative with where we find our savings.
Today I’m going to share with you how you can save thousands of dollars, and maybe more, so you can afford to stay at home with your kids.
If you’re struggling with the decision of whether to go back to work or to become a stay at home mom, I highly recommend this (apparently) controversial, but nonetheless stellar book.
Even though I read it after I was already home with 2 kids, it’s one of those books I wish I would have read before I had my first baby.
The purpose of this post is not to convince you to quit your job and stay home with your baby, but rather, to show you how becoming a stay at home mom can be achievable, with some creative financial planning.
Before we dive into the details, I fully realize that everyone’s financial situation is different. What works for my family might not work for yours. I am not a financial expert by any means, I’m just a mom like you!
Some food for thought for those considering becoming a stay at home mom:
- The cost of living keeps getting higher every year, but not all salaries account for increases in the cost of living.
- In some cases, going back to work may cost you more than staying home. For our family, once childcare, gas, and a dog walker were accounted for, I would actually be losing money by going back to work.
- Some recent studies estimate that if stay at home moms were salaried employees, they would earn over $100,00 per year.
How to Afford to be a Stay at Home Mom on One Income
Several years ago I was chatting with a friend who had just had her first baby. She always knew that when her baby was born she would quit her job and become a stay at home mom.
My first question: How was she going to afford it?
And that’s when she told me something that was so genius, I couldn’t believe the thought never crossed my mind.
Months before she was even pregnant, and all through her pregnancy, she and her husband lived like they only had one income. After paying all of their mandatory bills, they really cut back on going out to eat, movies, etc. and put away as much money as possible every month.
As a married couple with no kids (yet), they had few expenses and were able to live frugally and save thousands of dollars before their first baby was born.
This money was solely dedicated to helping pay bills and baby expenses once their baby was born and they were truly living on one income.
While everyone’s finances are different, and not everyone can afford to sacrifice X amount of dollars per month, ANY amount of money you stow away is money saved and money that can be used toward bills and expenses at a later date.
Amazon Subscribe & Save
Like most busy moms of little ones, I heavily rely on Amazon to bring me all of the things. This serves several purposes:
- Having items delivered means I won’t spend extra money on random things we don’t need at the store (AKA the black hole that is TJ Maxx)
- I don’t have to load up the kids and go to the store
- Set it and forget it: one less thing I have to worry about
Ordering things on Amazon is a daily activity for most of us, but setting up a subscription for your most used items will save you time and money in the long run.
Most people are in shock when I tell them the amount of things (and the types of things) I subscribe to on Amazon in order to save money.
While every family’s needs are different, below I’ve shared every single item I subscribe to, as well as how often the item is delivered. If I were to purchase all of these items at the store, or even as a one-time purchase on Amazon, I would be straight-up loosing money.
Amazon Subscribe & Save Items
- Huggies Diapers – Every 2 Months
- Huggies Overnight Diapers – Every 2-3 Months
- WaterWipes – Every 2 Months
- Diaper Genie Refills – Every 2-3 Months
Notes: While I have cloth diapered both kids to save money, I also use disposables at night and when I’m out of the house (you can find out how to easily cloth diaper in this post).
- Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Dog Food – Every 2 Months
- Doggie Dailies Glucosamine – Twice a Year
Kitchen + Laundry + Home
- Method Dish Soap 6 Pack Refill – Twice a Year
- Method Hand Soap 6 Pack Refill – Twice a Year
- Grab Green Natural Dish Detergent (I get the unscented one) – Every Month
- EveryDrop Whirpool Refrigerator Water Filter – Twice a Year
- Affresh Washer Machine Cleaner Pods – Twice a Year
- Filtrete Healthy Living AC Filter (2 Pack) – Every 2-3 Months
Notes: I have done many different experiments trying to figure out the best ways to save money, while also using natural products around our home.
For a while I was making my own dish soap, but found that the cost was comparable to purchasing the refills from Amazon.
Pantry + Vitamins
- King Arthur Organic All-Purpose Flour (6 – 5lb bags) <— we do a LOT of baking from scratch – Twice a Year
- Spectrum Essentials Organic Ground Flaxseed – Every 2-3 Months
- Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins – Twice a Year
- Jarrow Formulas Vitamin D3 – Every 2-3 Months
- MegaFood Zinc Tablets – Every 2-3 Months
Notes: Vitamins are crazy expensive in the store, and much cheaper on Amazon. The 3 vitamins listed above were recommended by my midwife for pregnancy, postpartum and breastfeeding.
- Avalon Organics Vitamin C Moisturizer – Twice a Year
- BioTrue Contact Lens Solution – Every 2-3 Months
While every family’s needs are different, I wanted to give you an idea of the range of products you can buy online to save time and money.
I actually have a love/hate relationship with getting the mail, because while I love getting my new Magnolia Journal magazine, I hate any and all bills that randomly show up. Bills just give me anxiety, but like taxes, they must be dealt with.
But here’s a secret some people don’t know, most bills are negotiable. There is almost always some kind of discount available, you just have to know how to ask.
Most contracts are yearly. Right before a bill’s contract is about to renew, I call customer service to see what discounts, deals, or renewal offers are available.
Things to Remember:
- It never hurts to mention that you are a stay at home mom of X amount of kids, and saving money is an absolute necessity
- If you have been a customer for so many years, ask about a customer loyalty discount
- You can often receive discounts for bundling services
- Some companies offer discounts to teachers, students (college or grad school), active military, veterans – you never know until you ask.
- And if they’re not willing to work with you, you can always say you will cancel the service and switch companies, and whether you’re bluffing or not, that usually works!
Here’s How I Save on Bills:
TV & Internet: Several years ago we cancelled our cable package. Now we only pay for internet and Netflix.
Electricity Bill: In most states, after you’ve lived at your property for more than 1 year, you can sign up for a Budget Bill. The Budget Bill evens out your payments throughout the year so your payment doesn’t spike in the warmest and coldest months of the year (which makes budgeting much easier).
Insurance: If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to bundle your car and home owner’s insurance with the same company. When you call, ask how you can play around with your deductible in order to have the lowest monthly payment possible, but also maintain good coverage.
Car: Before our first baby was born, my husband and I shared a car since we worked at the same place. I fully realize that this won’t work for everyone, but it’s one of the ways we’ve been able to save money. After she was born, my husband bought an inexpensive car off of Craig’s List (not my favorite idea, but it worked out). Having only one car payment has been one of our biggest money-savers.
Pets: As noted above, I purchase almost all of the dog’s things on Amazon. I also purchase their flea & tick and Heartguard meds on 1-800-PetMeds. Before purchasing, I always check RetailMeNot for a coupon. This has worked out to be less expensive than purchasing directly from the vet.
Being a stay at home mom means I also don’t have to pay anyone to walk the dogs or let them out back while I’m at work.
Groceries: Next to our mortgage, our grocery bill is our largest monthly expense. Feeding a family of four is not cheap!
Here’s how I save on our grocery bill:
- Digital Coupons: our grocery store has digital coupons in their app. It’s something I can do quickly, and it doesn’t require any extreme couponing to save money.
- When a product that we regularly use is on sale or BOGO, I stock up!
- Before I head to the store, I take an inventory of everything and I decide what needs to be purchased at the grocery store, big box store, and on online in order to save the most money possible.
- If you can, leave your kids with someone else while you grocery shop. I almost always spend more money when I shop with other people, my husband included!
- DIY Garden: We have a small garden box in our backyard where we grow various herbs. Anything that you can grow yourself (and keep alive) is money saved.
- Avoid pre-packaged convenience items. These items are almost always more expensive than making something from scratch. For example: a bag of frozen sweet potato fries is over $4, but I can make the same amount of sweet potato fries from 2 whole sweet potatoes for under $2.
- Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. When meals are planned and a grocery list is made, food generally does not go to waste and money is saved all around.
If you are interested in how to make meal planning easier, check out these resources:
Buying & Selling
Before I became a mom, I had no idea about these online communities where moms buy & sell their baby items. As a new mom, you have this idea in your head that everything you buy for your baby has to be brand new. But honestly, once the packaging is removed, most baby & toddler items will loose their “brand new” status within minutes.
- You can find dozens of Buy & Sell groups on Facebook, or you can even use platforms like Poshmark, Letgo, or the good old standby, Craig’s List. We’ve made extra money using all 3.
- If you’ve built up collections over the years (books, cookbooks, old CDs, pretty much anything with a UPC label), you can sell it on Amazon with an Amazon Seller Account. It only takes a few minutes to create a listing, and you’d be surprised – stuff sells pretty quickly! We’ve been able to make a solid amount of extra money just selling books we’ve already read, my husband’s old CD collection, etc.
To Blog or Not to Blog?
Some websites suggest starting a mom blog as a way to afford staying home with your kids. If this works for you – power to you, mama.
However, I have learned that it takes a long time to earn the kind of money you’d need to replace a whole income. It took me about 2 years and A LOT of hard work to even begin to make money blogging.
The ideas listed above have been far more instrumental in allowing me to become a stay at home mom.
And remember – you don’t have to do all the things to try and save money.
The point of being a stay at home mom is to be present for your kids.
So if you’ve gotten to the point where you’re constantly stressed about bills (been there) and trying to figure out every possible way to make extra money (yep, been there, too), just remember, a little bit of debt is a little bit of debt, but your baby is only little once.
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