Can You Afford to Stay at Home, Mom?

Can You Afford to Stay at Home, Mom?

We're a military family with four children ages 4-10. We recently purchased our second home, drive an SUV and a newer 2013 car that I drive to/from work, own a boat, two +Harley-Davidson motorcycles (that run), a +Campo YMCA membership, home-school, and have one income; mine. How do we do it?! By the grace of God and budgeting...

My wife sent me an article from Erin @ The Humbled Homemaker, entitled Staying at home with your kids when you can barely afford it. It pretty much sums up our lifestyle with a few modifications. To begin, we're not debt free, yet. We have been and it was an amazing experience! But, we moved, "needed" more clothes, purchased school supplies, etc. and basically got ourselves "caught" again. It happens. Her first point is to live on a budget and I couldn't agree more. I've mentioned it before and highly recommend it for everyone you know... +Dave Ramsey has an outstanding program called +Financial Peace University that, when applied, works! Therein lies the problem though, doesn't it? If we had self-control to begin with we wouldn't be in debt now! Nonetheless, budgets are a must!

Second, buying used... I'm more 70/30 on this because my wife and I discovered that our son would go through three pairs of WalMart jeans in the same amount of time he went through one pair of Ralph Lauren. Basically, you get what you pay for. In the "used" case, you typically get what you pay for. Other than clothes, I'm always down for someone else's trash :0) I love RC aircraft and recently picked up a giant-scale aerobatic plane for $80 at a thrift shop. God bless whoever threw that away!

Shopping sales is never a bad idea either however, be wary! For example, a large portion of the recent "Black Friday" sales have seen lower prices during other promotional sales or alternate holiday sales. Remember, it's business and they're not going to lose money on anything you buy. It's all profit to them. Unless you absolutely need it, wait.

Erin also says she chooses free and cheap entertainment. This is a no-brainer to me but then again, I still like shooting BB guns in the back yard. When my wife and I had just the one child we thought the world was upside down-crazy! When we had three and now four we lament "Oh, if we only had one kid we'd..." Well, we've often had babysitters and you know what we did? We went to the bookstore, splurged on "fancy coffee" and read the magazines. Wow, aren't we soooo entertaining?! But, we had fun and it cost us a babysitter and coffee. Much cheaper than our dating-days.

Finally, using your talents to supplement your income. Got junk? eBay it! Have a garage full of everything but a car? Get rid of it! Organize your life, prioritize it even, and decide if the "heirloom" in the garage is worth the trouble and space or would the extra $20 be sweeter? I hate clutter and if I haven't used something in the past 6 months, it's gone!

The biggest thing we DO is budget. It gives you a visual reference for when we fail because let's face it, it's going to happen. It also shows us how we've made baby-steps, financially, into giant strides. It also helps if you enjoy the company you keep, a.k.a. your family. When was the last time you started a water balloon fight? How 'bout a rousing game of tag (not shove)? How about anything but sitting on your tail, reading through blogs on self-improvement and NOT actively participating in their advice?!

Honestly, we couldn't survive if my wife hadn't left military service to keep our home. Her income would cover child care and the "To-Go" meals we'd have to eat every night! How much is your time really worth? Is it worth missing your kids to have an "identity"? When did being a trophy-wife turn into a bad thing? My wife used to struggle with her identity after the military; then she became a mother. I find it quite humorous when people ask what she does and after telling them she's a stay-at-home-mom they almost always answer "oh, so you don't work". I look at her and laugh because it's the most ignorant thing I hear people say, especially to her! She has perfected a look, after much training, that says "idiot" in about a dozen languages. It's the same look she gives people when they make comments like that.

So, could you afford to stay at home, mom? It might mean trading your job for living within your means, caring for your own children, relying on your husband to be the man God has called him to be, and accepting reliance as a form of leadership (it's a real thing). It works when you want it to.

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