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Stay at home moms: What is your DH/SO's vocation? Does it pay the bills?

Posted by on Feb. 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM
  • 33 Replies


People often ask how I can be a stay-at-home mom when we can barely afford it.

“Rice and beans,” I tell them. â€śRice and beans.”

But in all seriousness, to use the old cliche, when there is a will, there is {often} a way.

I won’t pretend it’s easy. My husband is a high school teacher (and a pretty amazing one, I might add!). He makes a true difference in the lives of his students. But the pay is slim. He gets paid the end of every month, and some months, our pantry and fridge are mostly bare those last few days.

Staying at home on a moderately low income means that when our third child was bornwe decided we’d continue to live in the 2-bedroom townhouse we rent instead of paying several hundred more dollars a month for a 3-bedroom. That’s just beyond our means–and we strive to live at or below our means.

Staying at home means that we wear our clothes until they wear out–or we grow out of them (ahem, baby weight?).


It means we don’t drive new cars, and, instead, we try to maintain the ones we do drive, so we can drive them as long as possible.

It means forgoing Earth Fare groceries and buying from the clean 15 at Aldiinstead.

It means I skip most mom’s nights out and direct sales parties. And date nights might be coffee together instead of dinner and a movie.

It means we don’t take elaborate vacations–or vacations at all. (Although we do splurge a little to go see my husband’s family in Mississippi about once a year–no hotel required!–and we make a point to take a babymoon every time I’m pregnant.)

And you know what? That’s all OK. I get to spend every day at home with my babies, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So what are some practical ways we make it work? Check out these 5:

1. We live on a budget.

Now, I’m not saying our  budget is perfect. In fact, it’s often a monthly struggle to stick to it. But once money in one category is gone, it’s gone.

If I’ve used up all the grocery money by the 15th of every month, then I’ve got to get creative and feed the family from the pantry and freezer for the rest of the month. If gas is running low, I may have to say no to a play date and stay home instead.

And we absolutely do NOT use credit cards. We have no debt, and we have no interest in acquiring any. We simply cannot afford to get into debt!

2. We buy used (or on sale).

I’ll admit that I hope we eventually can buy some things new, but, for the most part,we furnished our townhouse on craigslist, and if something wears out, that is still the first place we look.

Our girls’ clothes are either hand-me-downs, consignment sale finds or bought from the clearance rack at Kohls. (And their clothes are NOT shabby…they actually have TOO many clothes! Their wardrobes include many name and even boutique brands and several very nice smocked dresses!)

My husband and I typically purchase new clothing for ourselves, but we do so very rarely and only if we need something. We also purchase most of our girls’ toys used, and believe me, they do not want for anything!
Grocery Shopping
Image by AlishaV

3. We shop sales.

Since we rarely shop for clothes or anything else, I am mainly referring to food here.I normally do one big grocery shop per month, just like Anne of Authentic Simplicity recommends in her book, Your Grocery Budget Toolbox.

I do not typically use coupons because we eat whole foods, and there are not many coupons available for the foods we eat. Instead, I shop mainly at BJ’s (like Costco or Sam’s), Aldi and, for a few things, Wal-Mart, Lowes Foods and our local healthfood store. At these stores, I know exactly what I need, so I get in and get out without “browsing.”

Often, I even shop produce from the clearance racks.

We buy the basics and not many “filler” foods or snacks. Buying whole foods and cooking at home saves you money–and it benefits your health.

3.We don’t shop.

Besides shopping for used clothing and furniture, etc. when we need things and shopping for food once a month, we do not go shopping. I grew up in a family of shoppers–and that’s OK. My mom, sister and even my dad see shopping as a hobby.

I used to like to browse places like Ross, Kohls, etc. as well, but I do not now. Why? We simply do not have the money. If we were to just go browsing, I’d be tempted to buy things I do not need with money we do not have.

4. We choose free or cheap entertainment.

We do not have cable–or satellites. We use bunny ears to get the basic channels, and we have Netflix, which is very cheap. Netflix gives us both TV and movie options, so we very, very rarely go to the movies.

We host our girls’ birthday parties at free parks or at their grandparents’ house. I take the girls to the library, or we participate in other free or very cheap activities through our local recreation department.
At home
Image by oksidor

5. We utilize our skills to supplement my husband’s income.

Even though we make it a priority for my primary job to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, we do not feel that doesn’t mean I can’t use my skills to bring in extra income while the girls are napping or after they’ve gone to bed.

I have a degree in journalism and Spanish. For several years now, I’ve written for our local newspaper. I also bring in some money through blog advertisers.Before our second child was born, I tutored children two days per week and taught some homeschoolers Spanish.

I’ve also worked as a virtual assistant for another blogger in the past, and I currently edit for Keeper of the Home and am a freelance editor of mainly eBooks. I am using my degree without ever having to leave my home.

My husband tutors after school and has also brought in extra income by working as a freelance photographer for our local newspaper and taking on a few design clients when time permits.

Do I think that every single woman can truly stay at home? Actually, I don’t. If my husband were to make just a little less than he is making now, I have absolutely no idea how we would make it work. But, praise the Lord, we do make it work. He has made a way–and we are incredibly grateful.

What are your tips for staying at home with your kids when you can barely afford it?


.....Ophelia Grace...............Mira Lorne...............Jude Bennett.........Liam Daniel Baines.


by on Feb. 9, 2013 at 12:43 PM
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Replies (1-10):
AleaKat
by on Feb. 9, 2013 at 12:48 PM
2 moms liked this
Buy store brand
Look for bargains/ sales
Make sure you're getting g what you pay for.
Sacrifice luxuries for the greater good
Find activities to do at home to keep you from burning gas going out.
Remember that little costs add up.
Remember quality still matters. Yeah that item may be cheaper but are you gonna have to replace it a month from now?
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abra
by Abra on Feb. 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Operate on a cash only basis. You won't over spend! 

AleaKat
by on Feb. 9, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Not necessarily.
We never use cash.
We just over estimate everything.
If we have 500 in the account we say we have 300.
If something costs 4.25 we say 5


Quoting abra:

Operate on a cash only basis. You won't over spend! 

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
alandou
by April on Feb. 9, 2013 at 1:46 PM

we make it work because we have to. I buy alot of store brand items and buy what we need (not alot of junk food)...and use coupons! I make some of my own supplies like hand soap, body wash, laundry soap, cleaning supplies, etc. We drive only one car. We dont spend money to go out and do things for fun unless it's significantly cheaper than normal price. For example, we might go out to a movie that costs $2.50 a ticket instead of $13. We always turn lights out and uplug items that are not in use. Alot of little things can add up. Sometimes it's difficult, but I'm thankful for being able to stay home with our daughter.

kirstina
by on Feb. 9, 2013 at 2:17 PM
We could never live off just my husbands job. He isn't making much and it wouldn't cover our basic bills, house, gas, electric, and phones. My husband works on cars almost everyday and makes more money doing car most weeks then he does at his job.
We shopped used or sale clothes. I can get the kids pants for $9-10 at Children's place its so worth it. I got some great sales in the fall on summer clothes for the kids at Old Navy. I shop shoes at Payless. I get clearance shoes for like $3-5. We do go out and have fun weekends and go overboard for some things but that's why we work so hard to save money other places.
We don't have credit cards.
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CelestialSong
by on Feb. 9, 2013 at 3:21 PM
My husband is a programmer. Before I read the post I was going to say he makes pretty good money, but I realized we do all of those "tips" already without ever planning it that way - used things, Aldi, no vacations, very little eating out. It helps that I hate shopping and am a cheap ass (hubby politely calls me "frugal"). But I guess for us it's not quite the same, because we also get to save money each month. We're working on a down payment on a new house, which I consider a necessity now that we have a child (and not like "omg now we need 6000 square feet and 5 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms"... more like "omg we can't raise children in a neighborhood like this"...)

We do have a credit card but we have never spent more than we have in the bank. The card is paid automatically each month before interest is due, we have no fees, and we get cash back. So the credit card really pays us.
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rHOPEb
by Silver Member on Feb. 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM
1 mom liked this

If you don't have the CASH to buy it (even if its going on a credit card) then don't get it!!!!  We use coupons and buy on sale.  My daughter knows this too.....she will pick something up and ask if its on sale BEFORE asking if she can have it.  :)  We do consignment sales/shops and hand-me-downs.  We also have a Sam's Club membership and buy in bulk on some items.  

Vacations are a luxury and NOT a necissity.  If we can't afford one then we will splurge one weekend and go to the park and have a picnic dinner or go see a movie as a family.  

I babysit in our home to bring in some extra money.....that money goes towards groceries and our 'fun' money.  

rHOPEb
by Silver Member on Feb. 9, 2013 at 4:32 PM

OH.......and my hubby is a plate mounter for a printing company.  We could very well make it on his salary but I choose to bring in a lil extra so he doesn't have to pull too much over time.

angela.bouchard
by on Feb. 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM
1 mom liked this

You do realize the spouses of most women who also work or are in school also work? And most families do the budgeting that have two incomes too.

abra
by Abra on Feb. 9, 2013 at 5:21 PM

It's a tip not a rule. :-)

Quoting AleaKat:

Not necessarily.
We never use cash.
We just over estimate everything.
If we have 500 in the account we say we have 300.
If something costs 4.25 we say 5


Quoting abra:

Operate on a cash only basis. You won't over spend! 



.....Ophelia Grace...............Mira Lorne...............Jude Bennett.........Liam Daniel Baines.


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