thoughtful ethnic woman sitting with baby and working on laptop
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From the moment I learned I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. That feeling only strengthened when my beautiful daughter was born. I took one look at her and wondered how I could ever give up the opportunity to spend each and every day with her, watching her grow and learn, and exploring the world for the first time through her eyes. But there was a problem. We were a two-income family. How could we possibly afford to eliminate one of those incomes? Well, there are a lot of answers to that question and I’d like to share the ones I found with you.

The first thing I looked at when determining “what we can afford” is how much money we made. I was wrong. What I really needed to examine was our expenses. So, the first step I took in my quest to stay home was to list the expenses I would incur in order to work, versus staying home. This is what I came up with: professional clothing (your kids don’t mind that you wear sweats!); transportation costs: fuel, tolls, public transit, parking, etc.; those “must-have” coffee and/or donut stops each morning; lunches with coworkers; gifts for coworkers (holidays and special occasions); CHILDCARE – it’s in bold print for a reason. If you haven’t priced this one out yet, do it now. This will easily be your greatest expense. And, it only goes up with each child. ***SIGH***

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Go ahead and add up all these expenses. Don’t be too depressed, because there’s good news: these expenses represent your “instant rebate” for staying home. You’ve essentially just eliminated the need for a good portion (if not all) of your income. Need more savings? Keep reading!

How many times per week are you dining out at restaurants, getting take out, ordering in, etc.? By staying at home, you have the time to go to the grocery store and prepare a wholesome and much more economical meal for your family.

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Eliminate (or at least cut back) on your little luxuries. Manicures, pedicures, massages, hair highlights, 300 television channels, 2000 cell phone minutes. You get the picture.

Clip coupons. I actually started buying the Sunday paper each week just for the coupons! You may have never seen the need to do this while you were working, but if you take the time, it will save you money. There are also plenty of online sites that provide coupons.

Examine your bills carefully. When we had 2 fulltime incomes, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I rarely looked at any bill in detail. If there was an amount due, I paid it. I never looked at it, never questioned it. Now I go over every health insurance summary, utility statement, etc. with a magnifying glass. And, I can honestly say in the past 2 years I have caught almost $1000 in billing errors. That’s $1000 more for my family.

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Make this a team effort. If staying home only appeals to you and not your partner, your chances of success are greatly diminished. Making adjustments to the family budget will affect the lifestyle of all those involved. This transition will be much smoother with the support of your significant other. In our case, I have been at home since my oldest was in kindergarten, so about 20 years. The plan was for me to return to work after my youngest was in kindergarten, but at around 4 years old our son was diagnosed with autism. Everything changed and our parenting advocacy began. So staying at home has become a way of life for us. I can’t imagined where our son would have been if I decided or had to start working outside the home.

And last, but certainly not least, follow your heart! If you feel called to stay home with your children, then do it! All it takes is the determination to succeed and the willingness to reduce expenses. Best of luck to you!