The Back Story:
The decision to become a stay at home mom did not happen overnight even though I knew it was what I wanted most. The major objection was financial. Looking at our budget it seemed downright impossible, and so I worked part time for the first year and a half of Drake’s life. It seemed to be the only way. I told myself it was the best of both worlds. I would get more time with Drake than if I worked full time, but I’d also earn income. This held true in some ways, but while it may have offered the best of both worlds. It also offered the worst.
I didn’t like my job, and I never had enough time to get anything done. I was trying to keep too many plates spinning, and they were all crashing to the ground. Because I was “only” working part time, I thought I needed to do more on the home front to make up for the lack of income. Leaving Drake was painful, and I was stressed and tired. When Devin came, I knew that my desire to be home with my kids would be even stronger and that the duties of motherhood, home making, and work would overwhelm me.
Things came to a head after Devin’s arrival into our lives. Damian had just started his first semester of school. Our child care situation was getting complicated as Drake’s grandma made some big life changes. I had a newborn to care for, a very busy husband, and a job I didn’t care for despite it paying well and giving me benefits.
I crunched so many numbers I felt like a human calculator. Could we afford for me to stay home? No. Could we afford child care? No. Could I change my work schedule? No. Could I make anything even close to what I was making if I changed jobs? No. There was no good answer.
Then we got Drake’s Autism diagnosis. After months of wondering if Drake’s quirkiness and language struggles were Autism related, we finally had an answer. The answer was yes, and we were relieved to know. Damian and I decided that we needed to look at how to make my staying home work financially because now I had therapy to schedule and strategies for helping Drake to implement. We also believed that having the consistency of one parent at home would benefit Drake.
The Financial Changes We Made:
I went back to my numbers, calculating tax returns, and gathering resources. It turned out we could make it work if we made some serious sacrifices.
In our monthly bills, we cut cable, lowered our internet speed, dropped my cell phone data plan, went down to one car, dropped anything entertainment related like Netflix and music subscriptions, cut back our grocery budget, paid off debt, switched health insurance plans, and use our tax return to make car payments for the year.
We eliminated many annual and inconsistent expenses by getting rid of our second car and switching the kids to a different health insurance which has no copays. Damian dropped gaming subscriptions he wasn’t using because he was so busy with school. (Although we kept Amazon Prime for the kids shows and diaper savings.)
The lifestyle changes have been the most difficult. We had to stop eating out, getting coffees on the go, shopping for fun (curse you Target!), and planning vacations. This is the area of our budget that we are still struggling with. Old habits die hard, especially when life gets crazy busy or we all fall ill. We have become better over time, and I believe we will improve even more. The good news is that when we pay off our debt (1 big credit card, 1 big car loan, and student loans), this area will be more flexible. By then, we probably won’t even miss the Dunkin Donuts...maybe.
Some lifestyle changes have been easier. I cut all of our hair myself, cook from scratch, use homemade cleaners, use rags instead of paper towel most of the time, buy cheaper diapers, ditched paper plates. These things may not seem like they are saving us much money, but they add up to be significant.
Like I said, we are by no means perfect, but we are making this work because both Damian and I believe it is best for our family. We have made sacrifices, but those sacrifices are well worth the benefits to our family. It is not true for every family, but it is for ours.
Welcome to the family!
We are a laid back, fun, family of four living on a dime in 700 square feet. Life might not be perfect, but every moment of every day, it is beautiful.