I recently read a question posed by a reader on Mamapedia.com. “Can I afford to stay at home?”, she asked. I’ve been thinking about her question. I just couldn’t get it out of my head.
I am a stay at home mom. I would be lying if I said that it was not hard on my family financially. We are a family of four. My husband is the breadwinner around here. He works hard to make sure that we don’t go without. I appreciate that. I respect that.
I would like to go back to work. I would like to not have to pinch and scrimp. BUT, I also want to be here for my kids. I WANT to fix their breakfast and see them off to school every morning. I WANT to be here when they arrive home in the afternoon, to fix their snack, to help with home work. I WANT to fix dinner for my family every night. Ok, well, maybe not every night… but you get the point.
“In this economy” is a phrase that is fairly overused in my opinion. The reality is that these are the times we are living in. If we’re ever going to overcome “this economy” we have to learn to adapt. We have to adapt for our children. I feel that having a parent be a “stay at home” parent is important.
I said before that it is hard financially. Let’s face it, money IS the root of all evil. To make this situation work for us, we have had to make changes.
-Utilities. We have to have them. There just is not any way of getting around this. Unless you plan on living pioneer style. Simple things make huge differences.
- Buy a programmable thermostat. Most homes already have these, but if yours does not, go buy one. They range in price from $20 to $200. Find one that is the right fit for your home. Visit the Energy Star website for more information about programmable thermostats.
- Adjust the temperature on your water heater. Dropping the thermostat down to 120 degrees can save you about 12% a year. I am yearning for a tankless water heater. Their price range is any where from $250 to $1,500, but are well worth their purchase price in the long run. You save electricity by not heating water you aren’t using and you save water by not letting it run until the water is hot.
-Amenities. Stuff we don’t have to have, but we want. Saving money on these non-essential items can be hard, but it can be done, too.
- Down size that satellite package. Do you really need to have every station available? How many channels can you watch at one time? We were looking at our bill one month and realized that we were not watching half of the channels we were paying for so we downgraded. We haven’t missed those lost channels at all.
- Four words: FREE MOBILE TO MOBILE. We piggy back on my mother-in-law’s cell phone service, but we pay for our own phones. If your cell phone package does not have free “mobile to mobile” minutes, change your plan! This plan has saved us hundreds of dollars. There are 5 phones in my MIL’s package and between us all we barely used a quarter of our “anytime” mintues for the whole month. Nearly everyone we call uses the same carrier!
- Shop at second hand or thrift stores! My friend, Cam, taught me this. She would show me some skirt or cute picture frame she had found and then gush to me about how she got it at a second hand store for a buck. You will be surprised at the things you can find.
-Grocery shopping. I don’t clip coupons. I buy the store brand of most things. You will find that most of the time (occasionally I have found store brands that were yucky!) you will find that the name brand is much more expensive and that it isn’t much better. And if your kids do not see the label, they will not know the difference! I make a list and I stick to it. We do not eat four course meals around here either, but we do eat well. I make a menu for the week and write out my list accordingly. I have also found that by doing this we actually eat better.
-Cut back on eating out. Try only eating out once a week. If that’s still too much, try once a month. And do you really need that $5 cup of joe? I visit the coffee shop once a month. It becomes a treat to yourself and not just another cup of coffee.
-Gardening? I’m still new to this one myself, but I am very excited about having a garden this year. Planting a garden can help financially as well as becoming a great activity to do with the whole family.
This is how we do it. It can be a struggle sometimes, but I know that I am teaching my children to be smart about how they spend their money and to value all the things we have in this life.