Today’s read is a guest post from my IRL friend, Meghan Butte. Meghan and I actually went to high school together and reconnected recently through Facebook after she started following/commenting on my freelance writing journey. She’s looking to break into the world of writing for the web too.
Wade and I can relate to her decision of becoming a SAHM. My husband started staying home with our two toddlers after our second was born and I returned to work. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for us! Take it away Meghan!
From the moment I laid eyes on my son I knew I wanted to fully devote myself to caring for, teaching, nurturing, and encouraging him.
The decision to become a stay-at-home mom was not a difficult one for me. Ushering my baby off to daycare for more than 10 hours a day for over a year was killing me inside. There were so many days I cried as I pulled out of the daycare parking lot—I wanted to be the one to raise my son.
The emotional side of me wanted to quit my job and run home to be with my little guy. The rational side of me (my husband) wanted to make sure our family would be able to afford to live with only one income before I acted too impulsively.
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It took us a few months of examining our budget before we felt comfortable with me giving my notice at my job.
Though I tend to act more impulsively and emotionally than my husband, I am rational. I knew it was very important for us to consider every expense we had and to consider the type of lifestyle we wanted to live. We weren’t willing to take away from our already conservative lifestyle, so we had to make sure that all expenses would be covered by my husband’s paycheck.
We have always kept a spreadsheet of all of our bills and expenses. This list changes continually as we pay down debts and change priorities. Somehow my husband can spend hours scrutinizing our budget. I like to look at it only after he feels it accurately reflect our expenses!
Here is a list of all the monthly expenses we had to make sure we covered with my husband’s paycheck:
- Mortgage (including taxes and insurance)
- Cell Phone
- Car Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Roth IRAs
- Car Payment 1
- Car Payment 2
- Energy Provider
- Student Loans
- YMCA Membership
- Entertainment (eating out, Netflix, zoo visits, amusement parks, vacations, etc.)
Our list of expenses no longer needed to include daycare expenses (woohoo!) or too much for gas. We understood that Roth IRA and a YMCA membership were items we chose to spend money on. They were lifestyle choices we wanted to uphold.
Budget for Every Expense
If you are considering a major lifestyle change, whether to be a stay-at-home mom or to start a new business, it is so important to try to consider every expense that may come up and plan for a worst-case scenario. Don’t pretend expenses don’t exist or estimate low just to make your budget look more friendly. Be realistic.
Try to act rationally. Don’t quit your reliable job until you know you can live off of your new, adjusted income. I can’t stress enough how important it is to consider the lifestyle you want to lead. If you cannot live without designer clothes or Starbucks coffee, put those expenses into the budget! The point of a career change is to make your life better, not more stressful.
Paying Off Debt Quickly
It has been two years since we became a one-income household. We’ve been steadily paying down our debts even faster than when we had two incomes. We’ve challenged ourselves to pay more than required on many of our loans in order to pay them off faster. We are paying down loans by taking the amount from a paid-off loan and adding it to another loan. It’s a fun challenge.
We plan on continuing to ‘snowball’ all of our loans until they are completely paid off. We don’t notice the difference in our budget either, because we are already designated that money for required expenses. We decided we’d rather live on a tight budget now and have zero debt in the near future and more flexibility later.
Here is what our expense list looks like now:
- Mortgage (including taxes and insurance)-paying extra
- SAVINGS (ours and our son’s)
- Cell Phone
- Health Insurance (including a health savings plan)
- Car Insurance
- Roth IRAs
- Kitchen Loan (we completely redid our kitchen a year and a half ago)- paying extra
- Car Lease
- Energy Provider
- Student Loans- paying extra
Finding Value in Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
It was easier to see my value as a mom and wife when I could associate it with a number on a paycheck. Since I no longer earn a paycheck, I have to measure my value differently. I am able to provide so much more than money for our son now.
For me, being a parent is the most important job in the world. It is imperative for me to go to bed at night knowing I did the best I could that day. Having the peace of mind that our family is financially sound, with our careful budget considerations, is a big part of my responsible parenting.
Having a budget has helped open conversations about money and spending in our family. My son is too young now, but someday he will also be included in some budgeting discussions. I hope having open conversations and an understanding of money will promote healthy money habits for my son.
Time together is worth so much more than any paycheck could provide. I know my little guy so well! I take comfort in knowing that I am the one molding him into the person he will become. I do not want to leave that job to anyone else and I don’t want to question whether he is getting all the attention and love he needs. I can see my value through the way I am able to raise my son.
I am so able to relate to a lot of what Meghan and her family have experienced. Wade quitting his job was the first step for us to live life on our terms (rather than listen to how society told us to live) and me recently quitting mine to freelance full-time was the second.
Both of these big decisions involved many budgeting meetings – in fact, that’s where we started the conversation!
Are contemplating quitting your job to become a SAH parent or to freelance full-time -or- have you done so in the past? Have you dissected your budget in the process?
Meghan Butte is a freelance writer, dreamer, designer and mother. She is an organizing and DIY enthusiast. Along with her very patient husband, she has spent the last 6 years completely remodeling her old house. Making her house a home has been her number one priority since her son was born in late 2011. Connect with her on Facebook or Pinterest.