Ok, so I could have given this title to a few life events, but today I wanted to talk with you all about my decision to become a stay at home mom. It has truly been one of the best decisions I have ever made! I have learned so much about myself, have grown tremendously and have seen God bless us in incredible ways I would have never imagined. For those of you who want to become a stay at home mom in the future, I hope these tips + resources can help you achieve this goal. And even if you don’t want to be a stay at home mom these tips can still be useful in helping you achieve some of your financial goals. First, let me tell you my backstory. I’ll try and keep this as short and concise as I can.
Before having kids I had NO idea I wanted to be a stay at home mom. In fact I used to laugh thinking, “What in the world do they do all day? Stare at a baby!?” Boy was I wrong about that! Have you watched this video where they hold fake interviews called “the worlds toughest job?” Check it out! It’s not to discourage you from becoming a mom, but to encourage you and let you know how important your role is whether you stay at home or not. It’s definitely the hardest job I have ever had, but one of the most rewarding.
So here’s my story: After I had my first son I had a urge to want to stay at home, but my husband wasn’t too sure of that decision for me. lol I had an amazing job as a Physical Education teacher at a distinguished private school in Los Angeles. I loved it there! And we loved our lifestyle! We didn’t have to worry about anything. We went on so many fun vacations, were excited about the potential of maybe buying another bigger house, we had a really nice car, I was able to pretty much buy any and everything that I wanted. It’s such a shame, but I literally had amazon packages arriving to my house daily. We also had the Verizon phone plan with iphones (of course!) because that was the best service and phone out there, and we spent lots of money on food, because that was also very important to us. The positive in all that was that we were still being “responsible” and didn’t go into debt for that! Now, I am not saying having these things is wrong at all. That’s not what I am trying to say. But I want to give you a different perspective and share with you my personal experience of what I learned. I can tell you that if I knew then what I know now I would have totally done things differently. So anyway, after my mother in law offered to help take care of Nico I decided I would go back to work and see how I felt about it. So for 2 more years I worked my butt off and was a full time working mama. Oh the memories of pumping at work, rushing home to see my baby, make dinner and then also serve in our youth and family ministry, and of course don’t forget all the money I spent because I felt like, “if I am working then I am going to reward myself!” It was a crazy schedule let me tell you. But I made it work! After having my second baby the desire to stay at home became even stronger, and that is when I began having talks again with my husband and many wise woman around me. We knew that it would be a sacrifice financially (especially living in California), that we may have to give up some of those “things” and “dreams,” for the time being, but we decided that it was going to be the best decision for our family. I really wanted to be there at home with them all day long, to see all of their stages, to not have to pump, to be able to instill and teach them principles and things that I wanted to, to not have to have crazy rushed mornings driving in traffic to get to work, to be home and take care of them if they were sick. So many reasons. So we made it happen and I officially made the decision to be a stay at home mom just a couple weeks before I was due to return to work from my maternity leave.
MY LIFE NOW:
I can’t believe it has been a little over 2 years since my second son was was born and I have been at home with my boys! Wow! Time sure does fly! I told you that I have learned SO much (like being more patient), but what I didn’t expect from staying at home was to grow SO much in the area of my finances. Hopefully this info will help you get to your goal of being a stay at home mom or at least be able to make some changes to your lifestyle to help you hit some financial goals.
My TOP 5 TIPS To Help You Become a Stay at Home Mom or Reach Your Financial Goals:
1. Take a Financial Class + Seek Advice!
If you have a humble attitude you can ALWAYS learn something!! We took this Dave Ramsey Financial Class called “Financial Peace University,” which was offered to us through our church. It gave us a boost in the right direction and helped us create a better budget that we would stick to and also gave us the desire to become completely debt free. The debt we had was my student loan, car note, and house. I had just been paying the minimum on my student loan since it was such a low interest rate I didn’t feel the urgency to pay it off. Most people would probably say “that’s not debt! Everyone has that kind of debt. It’s the good debt to have.” But when we learned that we are “slaves to the lender” we changed our view and decided to pay it off right away. We also paid our car note off and have since been able to buy another car cash after my husbands car died. lol It actually felt really great and am so happy we paid them off and were able to have $ saved to pay cash for another car! We have completed “baby steps” 1-6 in the Dave Ramsey plan and are currently working on #7 which is paying our home off early. Woo hoo! I encourage you to also seek advice from others who are good examples in the area of finances. We have been able to speak with and get help from several people we look up to in this area and it has been extremely helpful. Being humble and seeking advice pays off big time!
2. Live BELOW your means!
Did you know if you can live on 25% of your income and invest the rest you can retire in 7 years!? TRUTH! We began reading this awesome blog called Mr. Money Mustache. It is a really outside the box financial blog that gives you tips on how to retire early. The writer of the blog is actually a thirty something retiree living his dream and helping others reach theirs. I became addicted to this blog and stayed up many late nights taking it all in. Shaking my head at times wondering how in the world did he do it and WHY!? I have grown to really appreciate the advice given and to take it and apply some of those same principles he teaches. We currently have a goal to retire earlier then the norm, so God willing that will happen in about 15-17 years! We will be about 48! Now when we say “retire” it means having saved up enough money to not HAVE to work if we didn’t want to. Will we continue to work after we “retire?” Probably. But would we need the money? NO! So we can then use that money as we please. We can give more, travel more, and just be financially free to do as we please. We are excited about that, but we know that it will take sacrifice, focus and determination. A huge reason we are able to do this is because we cut down on a lot and are able to live on less. We never thought this was even possible living on one income, but when you prioritize things you may just surprise yourself on what you can do. In order to calculate how much you would need to have saved up in order to retire is to multiply 25 by how much you want to live on each year. Once you have done that you will know how much money you need to have saved to hit your goal. So depending on how much you are able to save will depend on how many years it will take you to retire. You can learn more about how to do all that HERE. When you are sacrificing and living on less you can invest the rest and just sit back, and be patient while it grows.
3. Less is MORE
Living with this kind of mindset will naturally help you to save more money and also feel awesome in the process. I used to buy things without really giving it any thought. If I wanted it, then I bought it. This caused me to accumulate a lot of things because I saved EVERYTHING (even things I wasn’t using) thinking, “oh I can use it for this project or that.” I hate wasting anything! My husband would call me bag lady because I kept everything. lol Oh how the times have changed. I thought that if I stayed home I would struggle with wanting more things, but the opposite effect happened. All of these “things” started to drive me a little nuts! haha So I decided to declutter my life. I began going through my things, but got overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin. I had a huge pile of boxes in the corner that I needed to go through that were from my office at school. I ended up hiring an awesome professional organizer to give me a jumpstart and learn the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
After her visit that corner was all cleaned up, my closet looked great and it gave me the boost of confidence I needed to then continue to declutter on my own. It took me a LONG while to sift through everything, but in the end I was SO very happy I did it and it felt amazing!! I got rid of tons of jewlery, perfume, clothes, toys and went through paperwork that had been sitting there for ages! In the end this has taught me that I really don’t NEED many things and I really don’t NEED as much space as I think I do. So for those of you thinking you need a HUGE house, just go through your things and see how much space pops up! You don’t need to hire a professional organizer to do this (although they are very helpful), you can just get a couple friends who are good with organizing to come over and help you. It can be overwhelming so my suggestion is to just start off with one area of your house and go from there. For those that want to stay home and would like to buy a bigger house, maybe you can hold off and sacrifice that for now until the kids are in school and you can work a bit. If you already own a large home you may consider renting it out or selling and downgrading if it is truly your desire to stay at home, get out of debt, retire early, or hit other financial goals.
4. Prioritze + Stop Buying Stuff You Don’t Need
So I just talked about decluttering so the next step will be to Prioritize and STOP buying things you don’t need! You really don’t need 15 different perfumes or whatever else you have a ton of! Once you have minimized down, how about sell or trade those things for something you can really use? I have heard many great stories of people who paid off tons of debt just by going through their things and selling them! When I went through my things I got rid of about 10 perfumes (mostly unused lol) and traded them in for organic frozen fruit in a trade group I am a part of. True story. lol People got perfume they wanted and I got to save money by not having to buy a gazillion bags of frozen fruit to make smoothies with. I also did the same with most of my items. And I donated a ton too! Once my place was cleared I really began to think more carefully about what I let into my home and realized I could really do without a lot of it. We also don’t NEED manicures and pedicures every week, a designer handbag, $300 pair of shoes, etc. These are things we WANT. Not NEED. Trust me. You will be ok without them. lol Once we were able to really prioritize what was important to us we were able to take that hard earned money and not only use it on the things that truly mattered to us, but also invest the extra money and have a complete mindshift. In order, here is what we have currently decided to prioritize:
#1 Giving. We are only care takers of this money God has provided for us and he is the one who has blessed us with this money to begin with! So we made this priority #1. In Malachi 3:10 it says: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” How much should you give? Well, ultimately that is up to you and your heart. The scripture in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”A tithe is generally a tenth or 10% of your take home pay BEFORE taxes are taken out. You can figure that out by taking 10% of your pay and then dividing by how many weeks are in the year (52) and give that amount weekly. If you do not go to church then you can still give from your heart to various charities, causes or people that are meaningful to you. The point here is to give! It really does help us stay humble, learn to trust and see God’s blessings, and is good for the heart.
#2 Investing. At minimum you should be putting away 15% of your income for your retirement. If you are not doing this it’s important to really take a look at your finances to see how you can make this happen. You don’t want to be retired and struggle do you!? If you can save more then the 15%, even better! Remember, if you are able to live off of 25% of your income and invest the rest then you can retire in only 7 years!? I know that may seem dramatic, but people have done it! If you want to retire early or even retire at all take a look at this post from Mr. Money Mustache entitled “The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement” and you can see the percentages that I mentioned there. He says that “simply cutting cable TV and a few lattes would instantly boost their savings to 15%, allowing them to retire 8 years earlier!! Are cable TV and Starbucks worth having two income earners each work an extra eight years for???” Something to really think about, right!? Also, if you will live off of less in retirement then that will also shave years off.
#3 Our Health. I make this one of my top 3 priorities because what is life without health!? I choose to buy the best quality food that I can within my budget. I buy real whole food and Organic whenever possible. We also don’t eat out nearly as often! This will save you lots of money and it’s WAY better for your health too! We also have a great medical team behind us should we need their assistance. I found a great team (naturopath, holistic doctor, holistic dentist for kids + I buy natural remedies to use at home). Because we choose to use holistic doctors for the most part we do spend a little more up front for that if we visit them. Knock on wood, but I feel like when you take care of your health sooner you will be at the doctors less which has shown to be true in my family! So overall I feel like I am saving money by doing these things. Of course there may be some circumstances you can’t control and if that is the case if you prioritize your finances you will be able to go see the best doctors to help you get through it and recover! In the end I feel it is worth it and I end up spending less over the long haul. We are going to pay now or pay later so I decide to pay now for our health!
Once those things above are taken care of we then like to prioritize experiences, time and travel with our family. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to become a stay at home mom. I put this BEFORE mortgage because it is more important for us to have more time together then to work more to have a bigger house. This may not be true for everyone and just because you have a bigger house doesn’t mean you don’t spend time with your kids. But when we live in California and send our kids to private school, want to eat good food etc somethings gotta give! If you find yourself really desiring to spend more time with you family see where you can make cuts. At this point we sacrifice buying a bigger house so that I could be a stay at home mom to spend more time with the kids. Another really cool perk is that my husband works close to home and chose a great schedule. He works from 7-4, comes home for lunch most days and is home by 430 to spend time with us. How did we make that happen? By really living below our means and making sacrifices. We decided that the house was last on our list for the time being. Does it mean we will NEVER have a bigger house? I am still debating that one, because I am not sure I want to clean one haha. But for now this is what we choose to do. We really enjoy travelling with the boys as well. We went on our first family trip to Hawaii this year and created some amazing memories. Experiences and time don’t have to be expensive though. We also love to go on bike rides, hiking, the beach, and exploring our town. If you are working and feel like you haven’t been spending the quality time with your family that you’d like, maybe you can change your schedule a bit, get a more flexible job, work from home, or cut down on some expenses so you can work less so you can spend more time with your family. These times will fly by before you know it and you don’t want to regret them later.
#5 Mortgage. I put mortgage after health because even though I want a nice roof over my head it is still not more important to me then my health and the health of my family. Because what is a big house if I am struggling to put food on the table or I can’t pay for a good doctor of my choosing? I would rather spend more money on good quality food, doctors etc then a bigger house. Owning a home is not for everyone. It is a major investment and does require some thought. I’m thankful for my husband and the guidance from mentors who really helped us in the purchase of our first home. It’s a small place, but it is well under our means and we don’t have to stress about the $. If you are looking to cut down and are trying to figure out how much you should spend you can ask yourself these questions below before purchasing:
- Can I make at least a 10% (preferably 20%) down payment?
- Can I afford a 15-year fixed rate loan?
- Can I keep the house payments at or below 25% of my monthly take-home pay?
If you answered “yes” to all three questions, then you can afford a house. Otherwise, Dave Ramsey strongly suggests you wait to buy a home.
“You want your new home to be a blessing, not a curse, right? Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll keep Murphy and his 3 cousins Broke, Desperate and Stupid from moving in.” Via Dave Ramsey here.
This is a conservative approach and may be hard if you live in a more expensive city like Los Angeles or New York, but yet still possible to accomplish if you save up enough for the down payment. In another great article (which I highly recommend reading), the author makes a great point about that topic and writes, “While it may be possible to buy a decent home in a small midwestern town for $100,000 (and well within these ratios), workers in New York or San Francisco will need to spend five times that amount just to get a hole in the wall. Yes, people tend to earn more in these high-cost-of-living areas, but not that much more. Does it mean they shouldn’t buy a home? Not necessarily. They’ll simply have to make trade-offs to buy in those areas.
Just remember that when you obtain mortgage pre-approval, lenders will likely approve you for a loan amount with payments of up to 30 or 35 percent of your pretax income. That may tempt you to take on more home than you should. Don’t just assume that just because the bank approved it, you can afford it. They are two very different things.” So really think carefully before you decide how much to spend on a home. Especially if you want to stay at home or retire early.
We can learn a thing or two from Carlo Slim Helu, a Mexican billionaire worth $52.4 billion. He is considered to be the first “world’s richest man from a developing nation.” He has lived in the same modest home for the past 30 years. His wealth is equal to 5% of Mexico’s economic output yet he earns almost $30 million a day!
6. Everything Else
This all leads me to my last point…
5. Stop Caring About What People Think
The last piece of advice I wanted to share on helping you be a stay at home mom or hit your financial goals is to stop caring what people think about you! So much is ingrained in us about what we think “success” looks like. Most people picture millionaires as the doctors, ceo’s, and actors. In actuality today’s millionaires in the U.S. are made up of managers (17%), educators (12%), corporate executives (7%), entrepreneur/business owners (6%), and attorneys and accountants. The $5 million+ group is made up of corporate executives (17%) and entrepreneurs/owners (12%).c
|Live below their means|
|Lead frugal lifestyles|
|Are self-employed or own their own business|
|Plan and study investments|
|Are not always at the top of their class (some didn’t even go to college)|
If you have read The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy the book talks about how many times people can put on the fasad of being “rich” just to seem “cool”, when in reality they don’t have much money. Also, many times people who are white collar workers or even professional athletes feel the need to keep up with their colleagues and seem like they have it all, but in reality are in so much debt, miserable, stressed out because they work too much, and not ready for retirement at all! I am not saying money is evil, and people who have nice things or nice houses are bad, because they most certainly are not when done responsibly and sensibly. But many times we can go overboard and really bite off more then we can chew and go into a lot of debt to make ourselves look “successful.” I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t work hard and earn money. In fact, that is the opposite of what I am saying. Find a fulfilling career, do what you love and the money will follow. But don’t let the love of money and things make you work yourself to death. Ya feel me? I actually love working and will definitely be doing a little more of that once I feel ready to. The cool thing now is I will do things much differently. I will honor my hard earned money by using it more wisely. By prioritizing my life and by saving a heck of a lot more so my husband can “retire” early like I got to. Thank you to my incredibly hard working husband for making this possible. I get to do what I love and also spend some extra time with the kiddos.
I hope these tips have helped you begin thinking about what you can do to realize your financial and lifestyle goals. It will take focus and sacrifice, but will be well worth it in the end.