Party? What party? I'm going to talk about how to save money/live simply/etc. This may not qualify as a party.
ANYWAY, I have had a request to re-post this because more and more moms I know are trying to figure out how to spend more time with their kiddos. Whether you're trying to figure out how to stay home full time or part time, I think it's world-changing when mamas understand how important their job is and want to do it well. If you don't have kids, you can skip this. ALTHOUGH, I think that, even if you're single, we can all benefit from advice on how to save money/live simply...right? Please feel free to leave your tips in the comments. I love hearing how other people do it!
**Before I add any new advice, I'd like to say that the most radical and efficient thing we've done to save money is the number one item on my previous list: owning one car. We currently have two cars, for which I feel truly blessed. But, at this time last year, we only had one. We did that so that we would have one car payment, (and one car on our insurance bill) We could pay down some debt (think about how many hundreds of dollars that frees up per month!!) and we could save to pay cash for a second car, which we did. I think it was the hardest one for me to give up, but if you have a husband who works an 8-5 job in the same town that you live, it wouldn't be so bad. My thought was always that if we could work it out so that I had the car 2-3 days/week, that was enough for me to not get cabin fever.
I also want to reiterate how important it is to have a husband who is not only on board with this idea but who is driving this whole operation. I can't say enough about how amazing Joe is and how thankful I am that he has made it his priority for me to be at home. It would not be possible if he wasn't working hard to make it happen. Having one person at home requires sacrifice from everyone involved. (But it's oh so worth it!)
Oh, so worth it.
I wish I could say that there's some magic formula here or that there's just one key thing you need to get figured out to be able to stay home, but sadly, it's not that simple. Obviously there are a million factors. But, I really think just having a very specific why really drives the how. Not just "I want to stay home" - but why do you want to? For me, I have a few very important and specific reasons for staying home.
1. The littles are only little for so long...and it is SO fleeting!
2. If there's one thing I want my kids to learn before they leave my home it's how to know, love, and serve the Lord. I think that I'm the best person to teach them that. Not because I'm awesome, but because that's the God-given purpose of a parent.
3. I'm the primary educator of my child (just as you are yours - regardless of whether or not you're home full time) and so if it's possible, it seems like the natural thing to do.
Keep your eyes on your why! As long as you can focus on the why - you'll figure out the how.
SO....here we go:
- Make your own. I mentioned that we made our own wipes for a while. Since Silas arrived, I haven't been doing that, but I did like them. What else can you make that will save you money? How about laundry detergent? (that's going to be my next experiment!) Google how to DIY almost anything and you'll find tons of options. How about other cleaning supplies? Skip the expensive clorox wipes and use vinegar and a washcloth on your counter. Natural and Cheap. How about cleaning the shower and toilet with baking soda? Works better than bleach, in my experience. Not toxic and, again, cheap.
- Ask for gifts that keep giving. Okay, I'm not so much one to ask for specific gifts, but if Grandma and Grandpa are looking for ideas for Christmas, ask for a zoo/science center/pool pass. Then you have free entertainment for the year instead of a toy that will get boring after a week.
- I have promised Joe that I will not buy anything just because it is on sale. This is a hard one, but it's necessary. Too many people get sucked into the "I'm saving money because it's on sale" trap when, in fact, that is money that absolutely doesn't need to be spent in the first place.
- Don't ask: Do I have the money? Ask: Is this a wise purchase? Let's say you have the money to buy something, or even that you've budgeted for it. That doesn't always make it the right time or the right item or the right price. Is it wise?
- Tithing. I am not proud to tell you this, but we haven't always been the best about tithing. We seems to go in phases, which is dumb. It's clearly not optional. (Malachi 3). Now, I'm not saying that you should tithe because somehow God is going to make you rich if you do. Not saying that at all. I'm saying that it's a command and we should do it because we love Him and we want His kingdom to come, not our own. When we tithe we remember that He is in control, and that He is our supreme good. When we tithe we remember that He is enough and that nothing is more important than more of Him in our lives.
- Don't compare. I don't feel like I need a bigger house or a better outfit or a newer car, until I see someone else that has that. That's so dumb. Stop it. If you're going to compare, compare to the majority of the world who lives on just a few dollars a day.
- Simplify. Do your kids need lots of toys? Absolutely not. Especially if you're at home, the best thing you can give your kids is YOU. Face time. And you can come up with plenty of educational and fun activities from the odds and ends around your house. Again, Google is your best friend. Do you need vacations? I would SO love to say yes right now. But the answer is no. Do you need...(insert so many other options here)? It's not that you can never do any of those things again, but what's most important to you? Can you delay the dream vacay for a few years in order to do what's most important now?
- Plan ahead. Think annually and monthly. Budget accordingly. If you want to visit the family for Christmas (And yes, yes we do!), we are going to have to have that insurance bill paid, we are going to have to save money for travel, and we'll have to take into account the fact that, for commission-based jobs, the holidays are a slower time. So, we have to start thinking now about how we'll do all of that.
- Examine your heart. Usually when we're talking about money, and how we spend it, we're talking about the following things: Greed. Gluttony. Idolatry. I know that sounds harsh, but let's be honest. Most of us live ridiculously abundant lives. Two-thirds of the world is struggling to find clean water. We can probably do without another pair of earrings. I'm not saying that I/we are never going to go shopping again. Obviously we are. But, we can sure re-prioritize. (This is also easier to do when you're at home and would have to haul the kids into the store to make that self-indulgent purchase!) It's not that I don't want to, it's that, thankfully, it's kinda hard to try clothes on with three munchkins in tow.
- Set a challenge. I don't remember where I heard this idea, but it's a good one. Each month, challenge yourselves to one radical task that will save money, and use the money saved to pay down debt (Although we don't agree with all of his advice, See Dave Ramsey "snow ball effect" for how to successfully pay down debt). I.e. September: we give up coffee, October: we give up eating out. November: we give up dessert. (Do you like how all my examples revolved around food? What does that say about me?)
- Speaking of Food... I heard John Piper talk one time about glorifying God in our lives and he said (and I paraphrase) How can we use money to show that God is our supreme good? That, to us, money is nothing compared to Christ? How can we use food to show that it is nothing compared with Him? This is a great question to keep us from being gluttonous and greedy.
- All of this goes for your husbands too. Again, Joe is a rock star. He literally wore his last pair of dress shoes until their was a hole in the bottom. I'm not sure how many years that was, but I'm so thankful that he's so selfless.
- This final comment is from Joe: As a Financial Adviser people always ask me how we have managed to have Ruth Ann stay at Home. My usual response for humorous reasons is that we just got used to being broke! I truly believe it is easier to have your wife stay at home if you start out on one income and never get used to two incomes. If you can survive on one and you don't know any different, then staying on one income is easier. When working with people I can see how going from two incomes down to one is a scary thing. Typically the two income scenerio provides a lot of luxuries... But in all truth are those luxuries worth it at the expense of qaulity family life? I truly believe that if you put your faith in God and trust that he won't let you starve (You might be eating Ramen Noodles and Pancakes sometimes but it is still food) he will provide. We have been in some tight stressful situations and we have been in abundant situations but we are still here making it happen. The greatest thing about my job is the upward mobility it has provided me. When we had Roman I was a Financial Adviser which was enough to live off of. When we had Judah I became a Managing Partner and now run a District Agency which provided more income. Now that we have had Silas we are again moving up. Right now discussions are being had about becoming a Regional Director somewhere in the United States. God is good and makes all things possible! As we have followed His plan for our lives He has uncovered opportunities to keep us moving forward! So I would say the real answer to the stay at home question is faith! I promise you it will be hard! I promise you will have sleepless nights due to financial stress! But life isn't about money it is about completing your vocation and if that is marriage that means your role is be the domestic church to your family! My Dad said it best when he said the primary role of a parent is to get their kids into Heaven. Take the time to discuss this issue with your spouse and discern what is right for you. I'm not saying everyone can or should stay at home. Just take the time to discern and do what is right for your family whatever that may be! Have faith!