THIS IS A RE-POST FROM MY ORIGINAL BLOG, AMERICAN HONEY.
In November of 2012, I took the leap of faith and started a new career as a SAHM (stay at home mom). As much as I loved my job, I just could not shake the feeling that my heart was at home with the little Bean. Mom always said I liked to “jump and the net will appear.”
The question hung in my mind for over a year: How does one go from relying on two full time incomes to just one? Can it be done without downsizing our house? Can it be done without sacrificing the quality of food we eat? I came across tons if information, but it all boiled down to “if you want it badly enough, you’ll figure it out.”
How frustrating is that sort of advice? Super frustrating until you make it happen. Just in case you are wondering about that bit of magic that helped us reach our goal, here is what we did in the 12 months leading up:
- Refinanced our rental property (which we had always been told was not possible, luckily we found an AWESOME loan consultant in Raleigh)
- Refinanced our main home under the new FHA Streamline program
- Switched car insurance to the same as our home insurance to save $$
- Paid off my grad school loans (good riddance!)
- Saved like heck to build our emergency fund
- Took advantage of the FSA daycare allowance so that we essentially got pre-tax money back for what we paid in daycare costs
- Put new windows in the house in 2011 to save on our heating/cooling costs, then paid off the loan on the windows this past summer
- Started using a monthly budget. I highly recommend the MINT app (I use it on my iPhone every day) to track where you are in each category.
- Started paying for items in cash where we previously used our credit card. We still use the card for certain purchases (ie gas) but not having that giant bill each month has helped us be more conscious of where our money goes
- Tallying up grocery costs in my head as I shop so that I can stay under budget. Along with this task is the task of meal planning. Every week we figure out what we will cook and the ingredients, then buy accordingly.
- Bought a Costco membership (2016 edit: now that we have 2 kids eating a ton of food, we almost exclusively shop at Costco. And we eat Paleo. It helps big time)
- I put my love of surfing and art to good use and began to create decorative wooden surfboards. I now sell them on Etsy (www.surfpixie.etsy.com) and while I don’t make tons of money, I sell 1-2 a month for a little extra income. This step honestly ate up every single evening of my spring and summer last year, I dragged the Bean downtown with me on numerous occasions trying to get a business license, to the hardware store for lumber, I cut wood during her naps, drive to Fedex at 11pm some nights.
- And perhaps the BIGGEST item is the eventual adjustment to our taxes. The addition of a child (or two) plus the loss of my income means we are in an entirely different tax bracket and saving a not-too-shabby amount of money. Not sure where you would fall? Try the IRS calculator or Your Money Page
Good luck! And I’d love to hear more ideas about what worked for you.