A couple of days ago, I wrote an article about how we can afford to be stay at home moms.
In this post, I mentioned that our family has paid off over $260,000 worth of debt within the last three years and have received just a tad of push back. Because of this large amount of debt payoff, it has been assumed that my husband’s income must be quite large and I’m not exactly qualified to talk about sacrifices that could be made to become a stay-at-home mom. Most of this payoff has been accomplished by downsizing twice and using the equity money to pay down our debt.
I came from quite humble beginnings. Both my husband and I are the product of divorced parents. My husband’s father was addicted to drugs for most of his life.
I’m so grateful for God’s grace, mercy, and deliverance. It is only because of this that we have decided not to be victims, and to give a better life to our children.
I don’t feel like I need to give exact details about our financial situation. We are all in different places. In different ages and stages. Since my husband and I are 40 and 39 respectively, our financial situation looks completely different than a younger or older couple’s scenario. I would like to mention that no, my husband has never made close to $100,000 gross (including overtime) per year until very recently. (Like within the last few months recently.) He does not have a college education, and is not what you’d call “educationally minded.” But he is a steady, hardworking guy, who has worked in the same industry for nearly 20 years now, and he supports our family of ten well.
When I was 22, I was widowed while expecting my third child. By God’s grace, I’ve never had to work outside of the home. My young children and I lived off of social security income, and I was able to stay home! I learned to be thrifty, and made it work.
I have stayed home ever since, during times of plenty and during times of want. Only God!
Three years ago our debt free journey began. We have now lowered our necessary expenses (excluding our mortgage) to around $1600 monthly for our family of ten. I hope to give you a breakdown of this amount in just a minute.
But first, I’d like to share some of the sacrifices I’ve made to get us here. Even though our lifestyle has changed, we still live a life of abundance compared to most of the world. It is helpful to always remember this and be grateful for what we have.
Ways we have lowered our monthly expenses…
- Three years ago we lived on 12 acres in a 3200 square foot house. Now we live on 1.5 acres in a 1900 square foot (including finished basement) house. The loss of our land has probably been the biggest sacrifice for me. I miss it so much, but I have to remind myself that we were completely house poor three years ago. Lord willing, perhaps one day we will own a piece of land again.
- We both drive cars with over 200,000 miles on them. Oh, and the heater in my van doesn’t work either.
- We sold our paid off travel trailer. This was hard for me, too.
- I didn’t purchase any clothing for 1.5 years. After purchasing a couple of items during my pregnancy, I’m back to my no-spend clothing mindset. Right now I’d really like some maternity leggings to wear underneath my skirts, but am making due with shorts since my due date is so close. Brr!
- I gave up make up and hair color.
- I plan on using cloth diapers for our newest addition, and am trying cloth feminine products for myself.
- I like to line dry clothes to avoid using the dryer.
- We have lowered our meat consumption considerably.
- My husband and I have given up our privacy. We have to walk through our daughters’ room to reach our own in our new home, and our washer/dryer is in our bedroom. We have lots of visitors throughout the day! Our home technically only has two bedrooms, so we have gotten creative with our sleeping space.
- We are careful about our gas spending.
- We keep the heat set at 65 degrees during the winter.
- We currently do not have cell phone service inside of our house, and we do not have a landline. We haven’t made the switch to a more suitable carrier since we moved in June, because I haven’t found a different plan similar in cost yet.
- We cut cable, and watch free Amazon Prime and YouTube offerings.
- We shop at consignment stores and sales when there is a need for our children.
- I have learned to love staying home, and that godliness with contentment is great gain.
I am by no means perfect, but the Lord has grown and stretched me in this area so much over the past few years.
By employing these strategies and paying off debt, we have lowered our expenses (excluding mortgage) to around $1600 per month.
Learning to live below your means isn’t only helpful while paying off debt, it can help moms stay home with their children. While paying off debt is important, staying at home with our children is even more so.
Once our mortgage debt is paid off, the plan is for my husband to lessen his overtime load and to still live off of half of his income, Lord willing. I would like to mention that sometimes our husbands do need to work overtime, get a second job, or find a bit of side work to support our families. This is their noble calling, and their willingness to work can help us to stay at home with our children.
A breakdown of our current expenses…
- $800 grocery/household budget.
- $200 gas budget. My husband’s new job includes a drive home vehicle. A first for him, and this has lowered our gas budget considerably.
- $106 cell phone budget. This is for 4 lines through Pure Talk.
- $116 vehicle insurance coverage through Geico.
- $76 internet budget.
- $250 electricity budget. This probably is a little high, but was the average for us over the summer. I expect it to go down in the fall and spring. Temperatures have just turned fall-like where we live.
- $8 trash budget. Instead of using a trash service, we take bags to local convenience centers ourselves. The cost is $1 per bag, and we use large lawn bags to condense our garbage before drop off.
- $80 violin lesson budget. We found a local homeschool group which offers lessons. This cost is for four of our children.
Not included in our monthly expenditures:
- Health insurance. My husband’s employer covers monthly premiums.
- Water. We utilize well water.
While I am by no means an expert, I hope these few ideas have encouraged you. Things really started to change for my family when we searched the Scriptures and decided that we were willing to sacrifice a bit of our comfort to do what we believe the Lord was calling us to do in regards to our finances.
I hope the rest of your week is blessed!