“Behind every good man is a better woman.” That is a saying I firmly believe after being married to my wife for 11 years now. After our first child was born in 2004 my wife and I decided to have my wife be a stay-at-home mom from that point on (or at least for one year). One year has turned into eight, and all along the way, we are making it work financially. That doesn't go without saying that we haven't had our fair share of struggles and that organizing our finances takes a lot of work.
During our first year of trying to live on one income, it was much harder than we thought. We were about $1,000 a month short on our living expenses vs income. However, since we had saved up enough money the year prior we were able to make up the monthly difference. The key though was that we needed to stick to our budget every month and couldn't go on any spending sprees. :)
Over the last eight years, we've realized that there are many ways we've saved money with my wife staying at home. Here are a few of the tips we've picked up along the way. **Again, I realize that this is a very personal topic for many families, and living on one income may not be an option for you. I'm not saying being a stay-at-home mom is any better, but merely offering a few tips for potentially saving money.**
- Daycare – one obvious saving is the fact that you won't have to pay for daycare. Across the US the average cost of daycare varies a lot depending on the state you live in from $300 to $1564 monthly. The states with the lowest daycare costs are Mississippi, Kentucky, and South Carolina and the most expensive states are Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Illinois, Washington, and Wisconsin.
- Garage sales – not working 9-5 in a corporate office will allow you the opportunity to drag the kids around to all the Thursday/Friday morning garage sales to get first dibs. Many a time I remember my mom trucking me around town during the summer going to garage sales. **The worst though was when my mom bought a jacket of a friend of mine at his garage sale (not knowing it was my friend's house), and I wore it to school on Monday. I got laughed off the playground when my friend realized this was his old jacket. It had his name on the inner liner of the coat to prove it! DOH!**
- Insurance – through our insurance agency (State Farm) they offer a low-mileage discount for cars that drive less than 7500 miles per year. You can save anywhere from 12-18% if you fall into this category and apply for the discount. Call your insurance agency today.
- Gas – the national average commute of people in America today is about 16 miles (one way). Based on this national average you could potentially save about $1400 a year on commuting alone (based on a vehicle that averages 20 miles per gallon).
- Couponing – when our third child was born we got hooked on couponing, and the potential to save a lot of money. Staying on top of this takes a lot of work, but will pay huge dividends in stretching your dollars.
- Laundry/Drycleaning – keeping up with laundry can be hard, and for a stay-at-home mom it's no difference. However, the potential is there to do your own laundry more often and save on potential dry cleaning expenses.
- Work attire – On average people spend about $125/month on their work attire clothing. These costs can especially add up if you have to wear suits or more formal attire on a regular basis.
Living on a single income in today's economy is definitely a challenge. One that takes a lot of creativity and teamwork in every family. In our family, we've primarily focused on a few keys items that are allowed us to stay living on one income. They include:
- Not spending more than we make each month
- Not getting in debt up to our eyeballs
- Making sure your fixed expenses and debt are less than 50% of our income
What are some ideas you have for saving money as a stay-at-home mom?