Making the Transition to Stay-At-Home Mom
by Shelly Burke
Confessions of a One Income Family
My Story: Living on One Income
A Decision to Stay Home
Perhaps you're hoping to make the transition from working full-time outside of your home to working part-time, or staying home full-time. With the Lord's guidance and help and the commitment of yourself and your husband, you can be home with your family!
But you must plan for the change. The first thing to do is calculate your expenses to see what changes you'll have to make to get by on one paycheck. Go through your checkbook and list all the expenses and bills your family has every month. Don't forget once-a-year and irregular expenses like doctor bills, taxes, car licensing, insurance, holiday gifts, birthday presents, and school supplies. As you list your household expenses, you'll see that some will decrease when you're at home full time. You might be surprised to see how much of your take-home pay goes to work-related expenses like day care, gas for your commute, work clothes, meals at work, or convenience foods and take-out meals you picked up because you didn't have the time or energy to cook.
Next, think about how you'll spend less when you're home. You'll be in a lower tax bracket with just one income, and therefore pay less in taxes. You'll have the time to decrease spending by comparison shopping, using coupons, and planning meals to take advantage of sales and leftovers. You'll have the time to shop at garage sales. You'll also be able to fully support your husband in his work. He might have the opportunity to work overtime when you're home and he doesn't have to worry about picking the kids up from day care, or caring for them when you're at work, or seeing you during the limited amount of time you're both home.
Now compare these numbers to the amount of money your husband earns, and you'll be able to see what you have to do to make ends meet so you can stay home. Many families are surprised to see that there's not a big difference between the amount you'll have coming in and the amount of money you need to meet monthly obligations when mom stays home. Pay off credit cards and vow not to use them unless there's an emergency (agree with your husband on the definition of emergency!). Consider moving into a cheaper house, selling an extra car, and possibly refinancing your mortgage. These may seem like drastic measures, but are worth it if they enable you to stay home with your children!
Planning ahead is vital for success. At the end of the school year, Carol and her husband Bob decided that she wouldn't go back to teaching third grade the next fall. Carol had wanted to stay home for several years, and after looking at their expenses and Bob's income, they decided it was time. Unfortunately, they hadn't planned ahead well enough, forgetting to factor in payments on their substantial credit card debt, and once-a-year expenses like vehicle and property taxes. During the summer, their son broke his arm, adding to the mounting bills. With no savings account to draw from, and bill collectors calling constantly, Carol had no alternative but to substitute teach much of the next school year.
There is a happy ending to Bob and Carol's story. Bob and Carol worked hard to cut expenses and pay off their debts. They were so committed to Carol's being home that they moved to a slightly smaller home that was closer to Bob's workplace. This cut their house payments, commuting costs, and the time Bob spent away from home. By the next summer, Carol and Bob had their credit card bills paid off and had budgeted for regular payments on all of their other bills, including irregular ones like taxes and gifts. Carol worked as a tutor during the summer (she made her appointments for late afternoon and evening when Bob could be home with the kids), and put the money she earned in their emergency savings account. Carol was overjoyed to take her kids to the park on the first day of school the next year rather than take them to day care.
Take a good look at your finances, do some planning, and you, too, can live your dream of staying home with your kids!
Shelly Burke, RN, is the author of Home is Where the Mom Is. Home is Where the Mom Is is the most comprehensive resource for all moms, especially at-home moms. The above article is an excerpt from Home is Where the Mom Is. Shelly believes moms need to care for themselves, first, so they can better care for those around them. Shelly's next book, What Should I Say? is also available.
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