If you stay at home and think your job isn't worth much, click the picture above.
It is my job to be frugal. So many people today say there is no way a family can survive on one income. I say that's not so. The more members you have in your family, the harder it is, I grant you. but it can be done.
It's my contention that children should be homeschooled or at the very least kept out of the public school system. If you have no children, I still think you need to be at home being about the business of your house. I just have one 17-year-old son living with me, and there are days when I'm still just too busy to work.
Being at home is a woman's job. It's not demeaning or less work. Sometimes you get less recognition, but it's not less important.
So let's see what we can do to make it so we can afford to stay at home. Your husband makes what he makes. Occasionally Daniel does pull side work and has even held a second job, but for the most part he only works the one job and it's enough because there is mandatory overtime there. The point to saying that is, me staying home is a priority for both of us. It is a lifestyle affecting him just as much as it affects me. Also, there is only so much money coming into the household. You cannot pretend to be the Federal Reserve and just print more money when you run out.
Change your mindset as you live and breathe. When you leave a room, turn the light off. If it's daytime, turn the lights off. It may not seem like much but if you are only saving a dollar a day, then that's a dollar you can put towards something else. I'm not going to pay a dollar for having a light on simply because I'm too lazy to shut it off.
What Can You Cut?
First of all, for a month I want the two of you to save ALL your receipts. If you pay a bill online, write it down. Include what the bill was, the date, and the amount paid. If you buy a coffee from the gas station, save the receipt. Every single day, go through your wallets, take your receipts out and put them in an envelope. At the end of the month go through them and see where you can save some money. Child care will be able to be cut out completely. Your gas to and from work can be cut out completely. Lunch out can likewise be cut.
Perhaps you'd like to plan for this change and I think that's a good idea. Sock some money away if you can and start making what cuts you can right now. Put a fairly firm date on your goal and set about accomplishing this monumental life change.
The post before this one I wrote on how to stretch your food. The grocery budget is usually the first thing cut in times of crisis. This isn't a crisis, but perhaps you could eat beans one or two nights a week in lieu of meat. Maybe instead of buying chips and cookies you could start making snacks and keep more popcorn on hand.
At the very least grow your own tomatoes and bell peppers. With these you can make tomato sauce and salsa. Try to get enough that you can can enough for the year. In tough times you'll only need some flour and water to make noodles or tortillas.
Buy heirloom seeds and plants and practice making your own seedlings. Learn how to compost. In this way, eventually your garden will cost you next to nothing.
Don't run all over God's creation. It's that simple. I don't know what else to say about this. If you absolutely must run errands, do it on grocery shopping day and plan your route so you save as much gas as possible. Perhaps walk to the corner store instead. More and more people are going green and riding bicycles.
A manual transmission is great on gas. If you live in a mountainous region, throw that bad boy in neutral on every down slope. You'd be amazed at how much gas you'll save. This may seem insignificant, but at the pump lift up on the hose after filling up so you get every drop you paid for. The mindset of saving pennies to make a dollar permeates our lives and I'm able to stay at home, in part, because of this.
Get rid of the car payment. I cannot stress this enough. You are paying full coverage insurance and paying interest. Get rid of that junk. You don't need it. Our car cost us $400.00. Yeah, it breaks down about 3 times a year, but Daniel fixes it and the repairs have only cost us about $500.00 or so this year. Pay that car off or get rid of it altogether. Sell it and pay it off. Something. Get it out of your pocketbook.
EDIT: 11/3/2015 We no longer have this car. In our time of need a neighbor Daniel helped out gave us her second vehicle. She gave it to us for free because we were good to them. Just a quick note here to remember to take good care of your neighbors. You may need them and you'd be amazed at how eager they are to repay you.
We do not have a second vehicle. I don't need it. There has never been a time where I've needed it throughout the day. I understand emergencies happen, and I suppose if one came up where I just couldn't wait for him to get home, he would come home. Also, I know my neighbors and one of them would happily take me, for I constantly bake things for them and so forth. (Take care of the people around you. One day you may need the reciprocation and it's nice to be on good terms with your neighbors.)
This is the second biggest thing you can do to cut your budget. The first is your living situation.
Be up early and open the door in the morning and decide if you can open the windows so you can cut the air conditioner off. Right now at 5:00 in the morning I can have my windows and front door open. I have to shut them anywhere from 10:00 to 2:00, but for a few hours the air conditioner isn't running and the house is getting aired out. If you can, run a fan or two instead of the air. Put one in a window and see if that doesn't help some. The minute you don't need it on anymore, shut it off. Drink a lot of ice water and have some freezer pops on hand or make homemade Italian Ice (recipe in sidebar of this blog). Keep your air set at 70° or 72° instead of 68°.
Let us not forget that there are greener, cheaper ways also. Maybe you are lucky and have running water on your property. Install a water wheel. Maybe you live in a windy area. Install a windmill. Even if you have both or neither, purchase some solar panels and make a battery bank. Don't know how to do any of this? Google is your friend. People have done it and are living this way right now. They have made YouTube videos to show people just like you how to do it. It's possible to generate so much that the electric company will cut you a check.
Cut the cable and internet. Stop the Netflix. Get rid of the satellite radio. These are bills you don't need and to be honest I think people spend too much time immersed in a fantasy land anyway. I love watching a good movie (see Movie Night in the sidebar of this blog), but if you're family comes home and watches 4 hours of TV every night then it's time to pull the plug and learn what life is really all about. Likewise if you spend hours on the internet every day, pull the plug. If you can't afford it, you just can't. (If you are homeschooling, I'd say try not to cut this, as it is the most useful tool out there for the money.)
Anything that takes cloth or fabric you can do something about.
It's more money in the long run to buy a sewing machine and notions, but there are a lot of patterns for free online and you can likewise find material online. Here's a tip: flat sheets make great material and are usually cheaper when you figure by the yard. A king size flat sheet yields a lot of material to work with. Begin sewing some cloth napkins for your table. Then move on to something more complex, like an apron or curtains. Soon you'll be sewing skirts and jumpers.
Learn to crochet and knit. This is something that doesn't really cost a lot to get into. You'll be able to crochet blankets and warm hats, and knit nice, warm wool socks. My mom was into macrame and she would make these pretty plant hangers.
I know we love our pets. I have a dog and 2 kittens. But if it were between them and me staying home, they would have to go. Litter and food costs money. The vet costs money. Flea and tick drops cost money. The groomer costs money (unless you buy some nail clippers, baby shampoo, and some hair clippers and do it yourself). If they are draining your household budget to the point you cannot stay home and there is nothing left to cut, the pets have to go.
I know we love our children. But if it were between them and me staying home... LOL Just kidding. Don't put them in a box in the yard with a "Free To Good Home" sign. Keep the kids. :) Look at what you can do to save money in this department also, though.
If you homeschool, don't buy the most expensive curriculum on the market. Have some faith in your creative ability. Purchase a good math one (like Singapore) and a good English one and do the rest yourself. Educate yourself properly and then educate them in fun and creative ways.
Let them run barefoot in the summer as long as they aren't out and about in the world. If they are in your own backyard, let them run in ripped up clothes with no shoes on. It will save on footwear and you'll be able to hand those shoes on down. Just make sure they wash their feet before bed. Laura Ingalls did it, and I'd say she turned out just fine.
Instead of store bought snacks make some yourself. Keep popcorn around at all times. Look up cheap homemade snacks on Google and you'll see you are definitely not the only searching for those recipes. Banana bread is good and filling, as is Dutch Apple Bread. Both of those recipes are in the sidebar of this blog.
Cut their hair yourself. If you have a garden, sprinkle those clippings around the perimeter. This does nothing for the deer, but your rabbit problems will be solved.
Here's one I could use some work on. Sometimes I wear 2 outfits a day. I know it's sad. If we would but wear our jeans for 2 days (if you've done little work outside this is possible), we would save in so much laundry money. If everyone has their own towel and uses it all week, you will save money. We go to the laundry mat, but we are working on saving money to get a washer/dryer combo. If you have not money for laundry, there's always hand washing. Get a bucket and use a clean toilet plunger and move the thing up and down with your article of clothing inside with some soap. Your laundry will get clean.
Install a clothesline. Hang your laundry to dry. If you can't do this, hang it on hangers throughout the house. We have done this and more than once.
Sell Your Wares
If you crochet you can sell your blankets. If you make jelly you can sell those jars. If you make it, they will buy it. Women back in the day used to "take in laundry" and sew buttons on clothes. They sold eggs and quilts. Today, too, people are looking to buy your homemade wares. They will buy your homemade laundry soap and fudge. Take a look here!
This is one most people are loathe to give up, but we all have our priorities. If the structure you are living in is a higher priority than you staying home, okay. If not, then move. More and more people are living in RV's full time. We actually live in a 2007 Montana fifth wheel ourselves. You can buy RV's pretty cheap from owners. My neighbor bought hers for something like $5000.00. My other neighbor bought hers for something like $2000.00. They both live in them full time. Every RV park that I've looked at charges flat monthly rates that are about half of what a one bedroom apartment is here. Our lot rent is $350/month. If that still sounds like a lot, let me tell you we get our electric, water, sewer, and high speed internet for FREE. Also, every once in a while the owner needs things done and will call on Daniel and he takes it off the lot rent. I'll make a post about RV living very soon. We thought we weren't going to really like it, but as it turns out we absolutely love it and now will never live any other way.
In short, do it and you will come up with a way to stay at home. For us, if we had to live in a tent I would stay home. It's that big of a priority. Learn some basic skills like sewing, cooking, and budgeting. Decide on your priority level. I'm hoping you come to the realization of how to live life with a purpose, not just push some paper for 40 hours a week. I may sound harsh and unforgiving, but it is only out of concern for my fellow women. I am anti-feminist. Most women I talk to WANT to be home. They think they can't. And that hurts my heart. They are slaves trapped in a life they are not happy with. For, 40 hours a week is a large chunk of life.