Monday, March 11, 2013

Simple Steps to be a Stay At Home Mom :)

After having several conversations with friends and acquaintances regarding how my family has come to manage me staying home to raise our kiddos, I thought I'd share some simple steps we've taken to make this a reality for us. 

These are very basic tips you probably are already putting into practice but they have really made a difference for us so I thought I'd share!

The first thing to address I think is how important it is to YOU to be able to stay home. For me there was literally nothing material I wouldn't sacrifice to make being a stay at home mom possible because that's how we want to raise our kids......but every family is different and has different needs. Some have husband who make so much it's not even a question, some have husband in ministry (enough said lol) and others WANT to work in order to maintain their lifestyle or provide more for their kids. So these tips are not here to make you feel guilty if you aren't able to fully stay home or for you to feel "holier than thou" if you are, they are just something that may help as we ALL work hard and raise our kids.

SACRIFICE -- I know it should go without saying but this really is the base and root of being a stay at home mom. If you're like my husband and I your journey together started out with all kinds of fun, extravagant, and memorable dates. I love all those memories! But then you got married and realized what finances were (ok maybe not everyone got married at 19 like me but hey!) and realized you both had to work hard and a lot in order to pay for everything. 
So we both worked lots and lots believing we were barely getting by.....ha! Who knew :) Our lifestyle was much the same as when we had dated ---- several nights a week of dinners out, I could drop $75 at Target buying clothes I thought were cute, he went golfing and out with his friends a lot, and a "date night" meant dinner, a movie, coffee and dessert. 

So the obvious first step is to realize that if that is still very much how you are living and you WANT to be able to stay home but can't figure out how to afford it.......sacrifice of the lifestyle you are used to will be the first step. 

The basic application is that all non-essential things get CUT OUT! So here is my quick and briefly described list!

1. Plan your meals! You do this so that you're not tempted to grab take-out because your tired or not prepared and it's 6:30. Cooking IS cheaper! Trust me! Especially when you plan your meals out. When we first got married this was another things I was terrible at. I wanted to impress my new hubby so almost every night on my way home from work I'd stop at the store just to "grab a few items" I had forgotten. That adds up as well so be careful. Learn to watch for deals and use coupons, don't just buy items that are ten times as expensive because you don't want to make another stop. 

2. Make coffee so you won't need to go to Starbucks or around here Dutch Bros :) I also find that having iced tea or other drinks on hand make it easier to have something with you when you go

3. Have lunch stuff prepped so your husband (or you) doesn't need to buy a lunch

4. Cut the CORD, the cable cord........and enjoy some family time! Go outside and throw the ball around or go for a walk. I know that TV seems like an essential but it REALLY isn't if you're desperately trying to cut costs. If you need a downgrade go to something like netflix or renting a redbox here and there :) 

5. Research to make sure you are on the cheapest phone plan possible -- for us that has always meant no smart phones. And while I pretend I don't want one, come on, I do! But I just don't need one and can't spend that much on my phone every's a phone!

6. Educate yourself on good "deals" for food so that you won't be caught overpaying for things -- this was important for me in the beginning when people would say things to me like, "Wow! Chicken is on sale here for $1.79 a lb"....I would respond with "wow!" but honestly had no idea if that was a good deal or not!

7. Have friends over or meet for a picnic instead of dishing out $40 for a dinner or lunch. If you do need to go out to meet your girlfriends for coffee or birthday dinner opt for water and appetizer

8. Be smart with your car choices -- after I promised I never would ...........I drive a van. An OLD van so that we have no car payments

9. Check out thrift stores or outlets if you need clothes instead of heading to the mall. This is especially true for kids clothing, always go to a second hand store where the items are .50 cents each! You can also find great toys and baby essentials there like bouncers and play mats or borrow from a friend. Those things are $40 dollars in store!CRazy!

10. BEWARE of Target -- it sounds silly but there you are at checkout and the cashier says "your total is $85.43".....say what?!?! All you stopped in for was some detergent, diapers and conditioner! 

11. Price shop! Find the best deals on pretty much everything you are buying! Diapers, clothes, food, etc. 

12. Find cheap ways to enjoy your hobbies --- you don't need to necessarily give up all your hobbies to save money. For me, home decor and crafts is an area where I have to really be careful. I could win a $2000 gift card to Hobby Lobby and spend it in an hour trust me...but there ARE ways to make your home look put together without emptying your wallet. Buy yourself some dirt cheap burlap and teach your little domestic self how to sew! Don't buy into the lie that you HAVE to have nice things in order to have a nice house. You can easily redo furniture and copy styles you love :) 

13. This may be obvious -- but self indulgent things like massages, manicures, pedicures, hair, clothes, jewelry, etc etc etc I pretty much toss into the non-essential pile! I know everyone's standards are different but it's not like I go around in sweat pants and a ponytail......not ALL the time! haha. Do your own nails, plop your toes in the tub while your child plays (truly like a spa right?) and find blogs that TEACH you how to do your hair! The Small Things Blog is amazing and I have used so much from her site!

14. Get out that stroller and hit the trails -- save yourself the $100 a month gym membership and enjoy the outdoors! If it's winter use something from youtube like this video.

15. Utilize your talents! This is a big one. Remember all those hours of dance class, piano lessons and whatever else you did? USE them! I'm sure there is something you are good at that you can teach to others. This can mean anything from making cards or headbands to sell online, teaching piano lessons in your home with the baby in the bjorn, to tutoring or coaching or renting an annex for dance classes. Your parents paid for those skills now you can use them! :) 

There's my 15 tips for you to consider! 
Again! This is only for those who really want to try and stay home and need practical ways to do so. Some people have no option but to work and hopefully these are still helpful to you, but I have hard time when I talk with people who say they wish they could but simply can't afford to stay home with their kids while their manicured hand holds a frappuccino and smart phone. If you want to, you personally will need to sacrifice a lot and also a lot of times as a family as well. But I would challenge you that no amount of money is as good for your kids as your time with them!

Plus.....nothing is as sweet as those post-nap time cuddles!

Happy Savings! 

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