wonderfully made: 5 steps toward becoming a SAHM

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 steps toward becoming a SAHM

Sometimes I think of myself as some sort of self-help guru. I don't really know why...no one has ever lauded me for all of my helpful advice, I guess I just get a kick out of offering unsolicited help? Be that as it may, I wanted to share the 5 steps we took in order to transition from two incomes to one so I could be a stay-at-home-mom. Maybe some of you need the advice or maybe some of you are just curious, so here are my tips on how we did it! (this was our success story based on our personal choices for our family - every family's desires and goals are different!)

(for the record - we are firmly in the middle class, maybe even lower middle class. Mark and I did not have high-paying jobs to begin with. We have always been somewhat frugal with our money, but it's not like we were loaded OR spend hours clipping coupons.) 

step one
pay off debt

One of the best things we did was pay off our debt. We did it mostly because we didn't want to have the burden of any debt (other than our mortgage - which we would love to pay off someday), but it was also a good thing to do to get the ball rolling on considering parenthood. I wrote all about our debt story here, so please read it and email me with any questions!

step two
be smart with your purchases

Even before we paid off our debt, we tried to think ahead. My car (that I had planned to drive into the ground) was totaled in an accident about 3 months after we got married and we were forced to replace it. We were caught off guard and didn't have a huge savings account so we took out a loan. We did, however, think of the future and assumed that we would drive the next car into the ground. With that in mind, we researched the highest ranked SUV's on the market and purchased a used KIA so it would be cheap to drive, cheap to fix, safe to drive, and fit a couple car seats. 

 Shortly after buying my car (about 4 months later), we decided to buy a house. We were pre-approved for a decent amount, but ended up buying about 15% below that amount. We didn't want our mortgage to be overbearing; plus, we had other debts at the time. In doing that, we essentially bought our house so that we could afford it even on one income. That was one of the smartest moves we made. 

step three
budget, budget, budget

Shortly after we were married, we set up an account on Mint.com. It was Mark's idea, but it slowly morphed into my territory and now I'm the one that manages it (along with our bank accounts, taxes, and other important things - no pressure). I can't tell you how many times I've changed the filters and budgets on Mint, but it is good because I always know how we spend our money and how to plan for the future. It takes a good 12 months to get your budget in line and I highly encourage signing up just so you can see where your money is going.

step four
live on one income/build up your savings

Our timeline of paying off debt and getting pregnant lined up pretty perfectly. In order to put ourselves to the test and see if the stay-at-home-mom gig was for us, we started living on Mark's income the month after we found out we were pregnant. Our savings was pretty sad looking after we had ignored it during our debt payoff so it felt really good putting my entire paycheck into it. It bulked up quickly and we learned that we could live a little even on just one income. 

step five
research your options

In all of our planning, I had to think about health insurance, ways to cut down on other expenses, and creative ways to bring in a little extra money. I've shared about ebates here (where I've earned more than $300 just by shopping online) and I am always shopping consignment, finding the best deals on everyday expenses (like switching to Gexa Energy - our electric bill was $19 last month), and earning cash back as much as possible (we bank with Chase and have funded vacations using only the cash back from our Freedom card). My etsy shop and this blog bring in a little more money and they also let me take part in creative endeavors that exercise my mind and keep me in touch with the outside world.


We're four months in and life has been pretty good so far. I mean, look how much fun we get to have every day!

Even with some major unexpected expenses and hefty hospital bills, we've stayed firmly above water and I think we both enjoy the benefits of our huge shift in life. If you have any questions about how we got here or what it's like being a stay-at-home-mom, please feel free to email me and I'll get back to you as soon as little bit goes down for a nap! :)

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