A few years ago I found myself in a situation where I suddenly became a stay at home mom without little to no preparation. It was a scary and uncertain period for our family, but I can still remember how at peace I was with everything.
However, after working since the age of 15 and often full-time hours during my teens, it was hard to no longer contribute to our household financially. I was not able to prepare in advance, but looking back there are several things I would have done differently to better prepare our finances for the big change.
Preparing Financially To Become A Stay At Home Mom
Save For Emergencies
This should be an obvious one, but I know that personally if I’m paying off debt or bills I’m not focused on saving money. I simply prefer to put my energy towards one thing at time. However, looking back I wish I had built up a nice cushion to get us through the rough months that followed my job loss. Things like car repairs, medical expenses and home repairs will happen at some point or another. So it’s best to prepare for these things in advance and start an emergency fund early on. I suggest saving at least a couple of months worth of expenses, but if you have less time and money to work with like I did, make it a point to have at least $1,000 stowed away for emergencies only.
Pay Off Debt
This sounds like a no-brainer, but I find that people tend to save before getting rid of debt. I understand that having money saved is very important, but if you want to afford living on one income you have to reduce your current expenses including your debt. Start with the smallest loan or debt you owe and put all of your extra income towards it. Continue with the next one and so on until you have most of your debt wiped out. I understand that you may not be able to pay off all of your debt depending on the timeline you have, but even if you only pay off a credit card or two you’ll be ahead of the game.
Change Your Spending Habits
Realize that going from a two income household to one is going to drastically reduce your income. This also means you have to change your spending habits to align with your family’s new finances. Cutting coupons, shopping at thrift stores, swapping things with friends and cooking every night will all help keep your expenses low. Think of the benefits you’ll gain from being able to use your creativity to make your dollar stretch. I never thought I would be making my own laundry detergent or making homemade gifts, but it was truly a blessing for my family that I was still able to contribute in some way or another.
Have A Plan B
Always have a back up plan. A back up plan can be a sideline business that you or your spouse can take on if the need arises. Yes, I believe that we must be optimistic of how things will turn out and I’m a huge believer that God will provide when times get rough. However, we had moments when my husband’s business was slower than normal and I was able to help supplement our income with my virtual assistant jobs. I didn’t plan on being a work at home mom, but knowing that I had the ability to make a small income to help our family was worth the planning and effort. I could easily take on several clients if money was tight or take on none if I felt we didn’t need it.
This is just some basic ways to help you prepare yourself if you know you’ll be staying at home with you children in the future. I encourage you to start implementing changes now so you can get an idea of what it will be like to live on one income.
Are you thinking of becoming a stay at home mom? How are you preparing for the big change? I would love to hear your thoughts!