Staying at Home with Your Kids When You Can Barely Afford It

*I have included affiliate links in this post.

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

“Rice and beans,” I tell them. “Rice 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 born, we 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 Aldi instead.

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 ourΒ  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?

Recommended Resources:

  • From Debtor to Better: This book by Barry Myers is an excellent tool to use on your journey to better manage your money.
  • Your Grocery Budget Toolbox: In this book, Anne Simpson arms you with resources to stretch your grocery budget and feed a family of 4 on less than $300 per month!
  • Real Food on a Real Budget: In this book, Stephanie Langford gives practical tips for eating real, whole foods without breaking the bank.
  • Plan to Eat: This meal planning service helps you best utilize the food you have on hand, which saves you money by not giving in to fast food dinners.
  • Vitacost: I get the majority of our supplements from this online store, and they sell natural/allergen-free foods, toiletries, and cleaning products as well (although I normally stick to supplements). You can get $10 off your first order here, and the Vitacost brand products are normally even cheaper than the other products.
Collage images by Images_of_Money, cookbookman17, Walmart Stores

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Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Thank you for supporting my site!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat


  1. Carissa says

    It’s still the 21st on the west coast! Always funny to see date changes! This post was very inspirational, and honestly couldn’t have come at a better time for me. It’s nice to know that there are other people out there that share some of the same values as me and are able to make it work. Thanks for all of the wonderful ideas :)

      • claudia says

        I cannot beleive how creative and wonderful you ladies are! We are contemplating me being a stay at home mom and I am sweating bullets. My husband makes $96k a year before taxes but he does pay lots of taxes at that bracket, and insurance for 4 people which is a lot. We also do not want to sell our house but our mortgate is $1,435 per month plus an HOA fee of $197 per month. We intend to pay off one car and all of our credit cards this year in Jesus name. Please moms give me more suggestions. I am a school teacher and I bring home 40k before taxes now but all of my money is going towards preschool! I want to stop that! Any suggestions and tips would be greatly appreciated.

        • Becky D. says


          My husband makes about the same as yours. I’m a SAHM mom. We have two little kids (2 and 7) and two grown kids. I know when I thought I would go back to work after my two older kids were school age when we calculated taxes daycare/summer camp and even a few fast food meals a week my income was really almost gone. Now even though my husband makes a really decent income we have to budget. We did Dave Ramsey’s course this past spring and I wish we had done it 20 yrs ago. It really helped us budget and set goals. He has recommended percentages for housing and other expenses. I’m thinking your house isn’t out of line for your income but maybe utilties taxes upkeep etc make it expensive. I could easily spend $200 more a month on groceries by just buying a few “extras” each week or that pizza night or drive thru having a set amount to budget keeps us on task. Even if you’re not in debt it could help you figure out more what you spend every month and how you might be able to stay home. If your husband works close by we’ve done with one car many many years. I would stay home most days and then 1 or 2 days a week do errands story time whatever with the kids. This works best if your house is located where you can walk to some things like parks.

        • Anne says

          To be honest, I have a hard time relating to any of this. My husband makes just about $29K a year before taxes. I still manage to stay home. Pay nearly $40K a year for pre-school? You’ve got to be kidding me. We homeschool 4 kids for less than $800 a year.
          I came here looking for real tips about how to save money. We don’t have tv (not even Netflix), we don’t go on vacations, and we shop sales for food and clothing. I was hoping for more advice beyond that, but this isn’t quite what I was looking for.
          Wow, if we even made $40K a year, we’d have hardly any problems at all. But your family makes more than double that, and you still complain about not having enough? Sorry, but you seem to have too rich of a lifestyle. I bet there are some major things you can cut back on, but just aren’t willing to. You even admit your house costs too much, but you don’t want to give it up. Our house is 2,300 square feet, and was only $450 a month. And we paid it off. But that’s because we chose a manufactured home out in the country with no restrictions, rather than a nice, suburban, stick-built house in an HOA.
          Guess I’ll continue my search for more ways to be frugal on another website. All I can do is read the comments here and shake my head.

          • Angela says

            Seriously? How can you leave such a negative comment? This is HER life, not yours and honestly it seems like you need to get one if you have the time to bring other people down. Everyone in this world have people richer and poorer then themselves and some would look at you and call you spoiled. Please don’t go around with your venom wreaking havoc on others blogs… if you don’t like hers move on or start your own for “lesser income families” – sorry you weren’t completely satisfied with your experience. Where did you find the money to pay for the internet? πŸ˜‰

          • Haley says

            Right! Angry Anne needs a freaking chill pill.

            Everyone has a different situation with different challenges. We have fantastic benefits but about a middle class income, however I have two children with disabilities and the copays add up quick as well as gas driving to therapy. There is simply nothing we can change about that. These other families may have things they can not give up or choose not to. It’s all gravy! Let’s just play nice because mom bashing is seriously the saddest thing ever! We are all doing our best :)

          • Robin says

            Honey, don’t be bitter! Be thankful the roof over your head is paid off and you can relax about that. I pray that God will bless you. I was at home with my children until they were school age. It’s challenging and there are lots of sacrifices to be made but it will be worth it when your children bless you.

          • Penny says

            You state your income, but don’t mention WHERE you live. We used to live in OH. We paid 450 rent on a 3 bedroom 2 story house with a huge yard, driveway & laundry line. Natural gas for heat & hot water was less than $60/ month. We moved to NY. Mind you I am in a “rural” area. Flocks of 30 turkeys walk through my yard. Deer are everywhere. Black Bears raid my trash cans. RURAL. Rent on a house similar to our OH house would cost over $3000/month. So maybe you make $29 K/yr. If you are someplace like OH or KY, that would be like making $116,000/yr. here in NY. It sounds like a lot of money – until you’re shelling out $2900 a month for rent for a small house an hour commute from your job. People who live in NY city have it worse. Paying $1200 to share a 2 bedroom apt with 3 other people is very common. Paying $1000/month for a STUDIO (one room) apartment is a Good Deal! You really do need to walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins before you can judge rightly.

          • Elizabeth says

            Hi Anne. I am a SAHM with 5 children in the state of PA. My hubby makes about $40k. About 4 years ago, we went through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Look him up and you may find some helpful information on his site for saving money. Honestly, we would be in very bad shape financially if not for that course.

          • BBrenda says

            I agree with you I’m on SSI with my husband we are both disabled and I am raising my grandson we chose a small town to live in he grew up here and the land and property are cheaper here we are buying a small 3 bedroom trailer for 7800.00 land and 2 lots and I’m buying a 2004 chevy avalanche and we own a 2002 explorer no it’s not easy but it feels good knowing we are ok I get SSI for my grandson due to adhd and add so we live on about 1800.00 a month ya and you people are complaining and want us to buy y’alls tips I’m sorry but I will continue using my own tips they are working fine yes we struggle but it’s ok I’m 50 with many health issues and my husband is a miracle he can even walk I pray y’all find peace one day in what all y’all have but to me love is the key God Bless .

      • says


        This post is incredible. It’s like I am reading a post about my current situation. I recently became a SAHM, after the birth of my second child. My husband makes about the same as a teacher. We are barely making it, but by implementing alot of the same budget strategies that you do, we somehow make it by the skin of our teeth each month. Reading your post gave me some ideas for being even more frugal and it just made me feel better. It’s nice to read about other families in similar circumstances. Some days I feel disenfranchised, especially at the end of the month when we seem to run out of money, gas, and food all at the same time! I stay home alot more at the end of the month and I find myself missing the community at large. It’s been so long since I’ve been a “shopper” and like you there are people I am close to, who shop as a hobby. It blows my mind. I’m so far away from that time in life and its hard to imagine getting back to a place where I would be comfortable shopping just for the heck of it. Thank you for sharing your experience.

        • says

          I raised two kids on very little income. I was a SAHM until I became a single mom. I was blessed with wonderful friends, and we partnered to fill in for each other, trading who drove kids to activities, shared dinners, etc. My kids are now adults (fabulous) with lifelong friendships, like cousins, really. I have precious sister-friends, now married again to a spectacular Mr. Wonderful. There were many, many days when I served two dinners, and waited til kids were finished. I kept the extra lightbulbs off, never paid for tv, invited friends to come over for non-meal social times. I have forgotten the feeling of wishing for more, and treasure the deep relationships. Now I’ve empty-nested, enjoying Mr. W., and running a small business. Each season has challenges. We are not alone, and everything is better in the company of those we love. My advice: make mindful choices. Do you want the chips and soda, or $4 coffee, or do you want to be there for your kids’ childhood. It ends. They grow. It’s worth the investment. Much encouragement to you all.

  2. says

    WhaT a wonderful post! I agree with everything.. Great tips! We too live on a lower single income, as a family of 6, my husband supports us on around $40k before deductions. Which is not a lot by many standards, but by the grace of God, we always have enough! We’ve been truly blessed!!

      • says

        What a precious post! I wish I had seen it when my kids were your kids’ ages… you are me about 10 years ago.

        My husband is a teacher (high school), too, and it’s tough! With the economic downturn, I do find other moms more often now who are saying “no” to manicures, “mom’s day out”, expensive play-dates, etc., and it does make it a bit easier to not be the “odd one out” all the time. πŸ˜‰ Things are better now for us, but unlike you, we did live on credit cards for about a year and are making approx another house payment in payments now, which (while we are VERY thankful for the opportunity to dig out!) is tough still.

        We now have 12, 10, and 8 year olds and a precious 18 month old “afterthought” (God’s, not ours! We wouldn’t have waited quite so long!). Right before my husband got the job he is in (a Christian school that pays very well), he was ready to get out of teaching and do something else to support our growing family. But God is good, and kept my husband in the vocation he loves and in which he makes a difference in kids’ lives every day. I’m glad he didn’t bail out when things got tough, and glad that when things were finally impossible, God provided a way for him to stay in teaching. :)

        You encourage me to keep a good attitude through the tough “paying it off” stage we’re in now, and I hope my story encourages you to hang in there!


      • Lynnsey says

        I love your article, and since the birth of our daughter last year (17 months old as of now), we have been living on one income. He only brings in roughly $25,000/year and we too have felt the financial crunch. It hasn’t been easy, but we have made it work (so far) by doing all that you have suggested. I immediately went into frugal mode when my husband suggested that I stay at home…I wanted to do that anyway, but never thought we could afford to. Yes it has been very tight some months, but we don’t pay for extra expenses. We cut out cable and stuck with Netflix before she was even born and made the other necessary budget cuts to survive on his check. We rarely go out just the two of us unless it’s a special occasion such as our anniversary, the only new car we own is his because he his job requires him to drive his personal vehicle which he puts a lot of miles on and needs reliability, we buy generic products to save money as well as shopping from the clearance racks for anything our daughter needs.

        I have no problem going to the local Goodwill and buying used clothing, in fact, most of her closet is from Goodwill. We are also expecting our second child (another girl) in May which makes it a bit easier since I kept all of the clothes from our first one! Hand-me-downs are fabulous, especially since babies out grow things so quickly! Nothing in our house (furniture wise) is brand new, we have never purchased high-end suits…our living room furniture is all mismatched (hand-me-downs) and I’m perfectly fine with that! Actually, I bought our couch at the Goodwill for $35 a few years ago…fantastic find!!

        I am also an online college student pursuing my degree in Psychology which I am hoping I can use to bring in extra money in the next few years (student loans will be knocking at the door before long too). As we all know, bills don’t just magically disappear (though that would be awesome right)?!

        Anyway, I say all of that to say this, where there is a will, there is a way! Sure, it would be nice to have the new fancy things that others have, but children are more important than material things! If we don’t make raising our kids a priority, someone or something else will do it for us.

      • Paige says

        It’s so hard sometimes. My husband works two jobs so I can stay at hone with Our 7 children. We also eat mostly whole foods and raise chickens for eggs. We also do all haircuts at home. I sell stuff at a consignment sale twice a year to buy clothes for my two youngest. Oh, and I make laundry detergent and cleaners.

        • Sara says

          This post as well as many of the comments has brought tears to my eyes. My husband brings home less than $20k a year and we have 3 children. When we first got married and had our first child, he made more annually and we had a tiny apartment. We had plenty of money. 7 years later, and adding 2 more children, it just keeps getting harder and harder. My mom lives in our rental with us, because after being put on disability, she feared she couldn’t make it on her own so we decided to split the bills to help us all out. But unfortunately, our rental house has turned into a nightmare (the management won’t fix anything, utilities are sky-high due to mostly maintenance issues). We can’t afford to move, but can’t afford to stay. The husband is frustrated and asked that I go back to work. But after factoring all the numbers, we are in the position that it would cost more for me to work than to stay home. I feel a calling to make this work. I have heard from so many others how well-behaved, well-rounded and happy my children are. I feel like I must be doing something right! But the bills are behind, and with Christmas coming, I worry so much! We already do most of the things you suggest. I just can’t figure out how to stretch it any more. I feel discouraged when my working friends seem to judge or look down on me for “allowing my children to suffer” just so I can stay home. Please say a prayer for me and my family as well. :(

      • Chris says

        We make it on 20-25k a year with 3 little ones. The new truck payment does us in a bit otherwise we would be a.o.k. Just to say YES it is possible. I am glad to hear someone else mention the coupon thing. They just don’t have them for whole foods, it’s rather discouraging at times.

    • marna says

      Carla, how do you do it? What is your grocery bill? I am in the same situation. I am working now but desperatly want to quit to be here for my kids. I barly see them and I feel like I am not doing what God intended me to do, which is take care of my family first. My husband also makes 40k before taxes and we have 4 kids.

      • Krysten says

        I’m not Carla, but we make less than her husband and feed and clothe a family of 4-5 (we have 2 kids and my 18-yr-old BIL lives with us during the school year). My husband is a teacher and I teach piano part-time, mostly from home, and our combined gross annual income is less than 30k. With my BIL here, my monthly grocery budget is $300. I only grocery shop twice a month, with occasional milk/bread/fruit stockup runs in between my big trips.
        But I also think that a big part of it depends on where you live. We live in a small town in central IL. My in-laws live in the D.C. area and could never survive on our income.

          • says

            I just had to say hi ladies, I am in East Peoria, IL. Jami, I have at one time lived in Armington, IL. When I was younger my grandparents lived in Atlanta and my Dad lived in Waynesville. I grew up in Clinton. The world is indeed small :)

          • Erica says

            Hey! First off, I loved the article… I’m so inspired, because I’m in Bloomington IL, and although we don’t have children yet, my husband and I know I will be home. It’s good to hear some other local ladies have been able to!

          • Brandy says

            I really enjoyed the article. We are a family of an 8, 5, and 3 year old. We are living off of just my husband’s income for the past 7months, since I stopped cleaning houses on the side. It was good extra income, and I was able to bring my youngest to work with me for awhile, but it eventually became too much for her. We have an income of mid 30’s and have a hard time getting by, but if God’s will is for you to be at home then he will make a way for that to happen.
            Btw, We are in Albion, IL. Too funny that we are all from around the same area!

      • says

        Sorry for the VERY late reply here… *blush* I think the biggies are:
        1. Live UNDER your means.
        2. Cash is king. Avoid credit cards like the plague.
        3. Assign each & every dollar in your budget a “name”. Don’t let “extra” money get “lost” so to speak!

        Feel free to visit my blog where I share more about our budget, etc… :)
        Carla recently posted..A few portraits & today’s "Top 10"…My Profile

      • says

        Hi — we have four kids (3 out of the house now), and have often lived on less than 40K a year. It’s really in how you view life — your perspective. We Americans are such consumers, and we often think we have to have everything new. We never took vacations, never bought new cars, often took gifts from family or friends who wanted to help us, always shopped at thrift stores, even for shoes. Used furniture. Smaller houses. Not always living in the best part of town :) Look for low-cost groceries with reduced food. I mean, it can sound discouraging, unless you think of it as an adventure, and (more important) as a way to teach your kids how to live frugally, thankfully, and perhaps with more of an understanding of how poor people live, here or abroad. When the kids get older, it’s harder. I also found that it was much cheaper to homeschool the kids. When they’re in school every day, they see what other kids have, and tend to expect that, and become dissatisfied. Cooking from scratch is also cheaper. Shop the edges of the store. Really USE your leftovers for lunch. Spend time outside and go for walks as a date. We’ve never had cable or anything like that. Netflix is cheap and gives you control over what you’re watching.

      • Anna says

        I have 4 kids with one on the way. My husband is in education also. We live on the same amount. You can do it! We live in FL where cost of living is VERY high. Food prices, housing and utilities are OUT OF CONTROL. My husband works a 2nd job as a referee to supplement our income. It is worth it for our family to keep me home. Have faith and the Lord does provide! Plan your menus, limit shopping trips. It is possible!

        • rachel says

          The cost of living in Florida is very high? Since when? I am in Boston and people move TO Florida because of how cheap it is. I have no idea what you are talking about, honestly that is just nonsense.

          • Cheryl says

            We live in Boca Raton, FL and the cost here is crazy. I’ve lived in St Paul MN and things were much cheaper there. My friend is moving to Rochester NY and her cost for things is about half of mine! I think it depends on where you live but you can make it work. I have a garden and try to grow ALL my veggies year round. So a plus for the weather making up for the grocery bill right? There are many temptations here to live beyond your means but if you really stick to your budget and find lots of free things to do then it is possible. Hard BUT possible as is anything with the help of the Lord!

          • Laura says

            I live in Long Island where the cost of living is absolutely ridiculous here…between the taxes, cost of food, gas and pretty much having to pay for everything up here its crazy! I’m from FL where I felt everything was cheaper including food, gas and taxes, but I do agree it all depends on the city/location.

          • Jessica says

            Eek, Rachel! Unless you’ve lived in every city in Florida, you’ve no right to chastise someone else’s comment. Cost of living varies so much from city to city. I was so encouraged reading everyone’s supportive comments until I got to yours and thought “catty”. Think before you type!

          • April says

            You need to understand that cost of living is relative to where you are and what you make. Compared to where you are, FL may be low but compared to where I am, it’s astronomical. It’s all subjective.

        • Jessica says

          Hi, I live in Florida also. My husband is in the education field as well, and yes the cost of living in Florida is high. Of course we moved here from Kansas, so for us the jump in costs has made me really have to be creative. And my husbands pay didn’t increase, we’ve just learned to be a bit more thrifty. We downsized a lot, got rid of our second car before the move, and try to make most of our foods from scratch. I’m still trying to find my talent in the ways of work at home.
          We’ve are lucky in that there are a lot of opportunities for free entertainment available to us here. We utilize the library for dvd’s and books. We go to the beach and parks regularly.
          It isn’t always easy, but we believe it’s totally worth it for me to be home with our children.

      • Christy says

        I’m in central, IL too! Very small town half way between Bloomington & Peoria!Small world…we can all be encouraged by other moms who make sacrifices like us each day to stay at home with our kids. (not judging any moms who choose to work though!)

    • Melanie says

      Carla, that is inspiring! I find it hard budgeting for a family of 3, soon to be 4 and my husband makes about 42k a year. I wonder what area of the country you are in? I’m in Texas. I know there’s no way we would survive on his income in some states.

    • Stephanie Nash says

      I agree, also! Family of six, 3600.00 income but we make it work. Thankfully beans are the easiest thing to get my kids to eat, which I prefer anyway because there is so much gross stuff going on with the meat nowadays anyway. We buy only clearance stuff and use it right away. When canned beans and vegetables are .49, yes I will buy by the case! Every time we are in town, we stop by Salvation Army. We often find name brand, clean clothes for 1.00 each! You cannot beat American Eagle, Anne Taylor, Children’s Place, Osh Kosh, White House Black Market, etc. for one dollar a piece! We do not have cable and we homeschool. We garden also. I could go on and on. I do not feel ashamed now that I see so many other people doing the same things we do, Thank You!

    • m says

      40k isn’t alot? shoot try living with 6 people on 21k a month with no food or medical and no time to get a degree for a better job because your bustin arse on min slightly more than min wage…
      40k? I’d have my house paid for in like 5 years!

      • says

        Actually, at the time I wrote this my husband was bringing home $18K/year after we were deducted taxes and insurance. We were living on $18K/year. :) $40K before taxes sounds nice, but after taxes and insurance, it’s not a whole lot. On paper, my husband was making around $30K at the time I wrote this, but, again, he was bringing home $18K.

        Also, the cost of living is very different from state-to-state. I used to think $50K was rich, but in some parts of the country that won’t even put a roof over a family’s head.

        And I’d love to live on $21K/month. πŸ˜‰

    • Lisa says

      We have a family of 6 too (4 under the age of 5) and my hubby makes only 30 a year, yet I feel like we have everything we need and more. almost everything that was posted is exactly how we live, our rented house is small and clean, we have 3 working cars and even a motorcycle, overflowing pantry, date nights, lots of family time, toys, cloths, and best of all love. We truly are blessed. Tithing is really important to us, and we never cheat on that because the Bible says it rebukes the devour for our sake. This is why we always have more than enough! :)

  3. Steph says

    It sounds like we are alot alike!!! I am a newer SAHM to 2 little girls and we have our 3rd on the way! I have been home the past 6+ months or so, prior to that I worked FT at a job I loved and which also made very good money with good perks & benefits. BUT I constantly felt a calling from God that I need to be home with my kids—I was leaving for work about 6:30 am and getting home around 5–this meant I did not see them at all in the mornings and nights were spent rushing around, making supper, cleaning up supper & the dishes from the day & bedtime. I saw my kids a few hours a day, tops. My husband was NOT on board with me quitting my job for a long time, mainly because financially, I was doing well (NOT trying to boast, just trying to show God’s power! :)) and he didn’t think we could swing it. Well, God called on his heart as well, and as I said, I am now home! Our kids have thrived and our family is happy, and so am I! It has been hard though–I thought it would be easier to live on my husband’s income than it is, as we were saving a significant chunk of mine. We have run out of money a few times now, but God has taken care of us! I need to learn & realize that even more sacrifices are needed-I used to buy 100% organic everything…Now, I am starting to lean on the clean 15 as well, at Aldi no less! I feel we also need to get rid of cable–the hubby is struggling with that one though! Thanks so much for sharing your heart & tips on how you stay within your budget!

    • Jmkabp says

      Wow I feel like you just told my story!!! I have only been home since May, but I had worked nights for the past 5 yrs!!! I just had our 3rd baby 4 wks ago. We are now renting a house that is 1/2 our old house payment, but it has been very difficult!! We do Dave Ramsey, but we are not able to save like we were when I was working. However, I’m a new person being off nights and I’m thrilled that I will get to be home with my last baby!! I would love to work one day a week because I’m an RN and want to keep my skills up. We just keep trying every paycheck to keep making it work. God continues to bless us!! Thanks for your story!! Glad to know we aren’t the only ones!! Oh and I forgot to mention how much I looooove Aldi!!!! But I loved them before being a SAHM!! :)

      • Teresa Harter says

        Would you be able to do PRN shifts? I have a great friend who does that and only works when she wants to…but it does help their budget. I love reading stories like this.

      • Erin says

        So glad I’m not the only Aldi fan! πŸ˜‰ once I had a nightmare that puts closed! Lol! I have had RN friends who have managed to work on weekends and stay at home. Maybe a possibility?

    • Michelle says

      We recently gave up cable. We have an antenna for our basics, TIVO, netflix, and hulu plus. we pay about $33 a month now for the Tivo, netflix, and hulu services, and we were paying over $100 for our satellite package. What I learned is that most of the shows we watch come on the basic channels for free, and I don’t miss cable at all! My husband struggled with this for awhile, in fact it took me almost 6 months to convince him. He is a sports fan, but mainly college football. He still gets to watch a few games but he says that’s all he misses about cable and he can deal with that.

      • mandyK says

        Michelle, we had the same problem. The only thing we miss about cable is the football. Did you know you can watch ESPN online? We’ve barely missed out on our teams. And the few games that were on the local sports cable networks, we were able to get online as well, since my mom was kind enough to give us the password. :)

      • hannah says

        HI! i am trying to hard to get my fam to drop our TV services but my dad can’t give up on his football :( does netflix or any of the other services have football channels for cheaper? :(
        love, scraping to save Hannah!!

  4. says

    As a father of small children and a husband to a stay-at-home-mom, I wouldn’t want it any other way than what you’ve outlined above. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to provide for my family and have my wife fulfill her passion of taking care of our family at home. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. Thanks for this article – even as a man I can appreciate it. ;0)
    Barry recently posted..Getting the Best Deal on a CarMy Profile

  5. Sara says

    Thank you for a wonderful post. I just discovered your blog, and am now a subscriber. I also subscribe to Keeper of the Home and Stacy Makes Cents, and love that I found a few more “nuggets” to learn from on your blog. I would love some tips on how to find editing jobs on line! I have a degree in Journalism and English, and worked at home 10 years ago editing mystery shopping reports. But I would like to do ebooks and such, but don’t know how to get into it. Any advice or tips you could give would be wonderful.

    • says

      Thank you so much for reading and subscribing, Sara! KOTH and SMC are two of my absolute favorites–and I am honored to call Stephanie and Stacy friends!

      Do you have a blog? Honestly, having a blog has really opened up a lot of editing opportunities since so many bloggers are now writing eBooks. If you don’t have a blog yet ;), I would suggest you keep your eyes peeled for bloggers writing eBooks. You can volunteer to edit one for free–and then start building your portfolio from there! That’s how I started! Blessings to you!
      Erin recently posted..Make the Swith to Organic Skincare…with Jenuinely Pure! {Giveaway!}My Profile

      • Jami says

        Hi Erin,

        I’m a new SAHP (I use parent, instead of mom as a salute to my friends who are dads and stay home! πŸ˜‰ ) It’s been about 7 months now and every week is a struggle. I’m constantly trying to find a way to bring in more income. I actually resigned from my job so a friend could go back to work and I would watch her kids, which would make things just about the same as far as money. Unfortunately, after 5 months she was unhappy and wanted to be home again, which has left me floundering as I was counting on that money. :(

        So now I am on the search for an online job. I’ve sent a few emails to bloggers offering free editing services, but no replies as of yet. Do you know of a way to find bloggers who need help? I mean, do you have a Bloggers’ Help Wanted page out there somewhere? LOL!

        First time visiting your site and I’m heading to the top of the page to subscribe now!

        • says

          Hi Jami!

          Congrats on taking the plunge to being a SAHP! :) It really stinks that you quit your job thinking you had another job lined up, and it’s now fallen through. Have you put the word out to others in your area that you keep kids? Do you have a local Mommies Network ( I know a lot of people find jobs like keeping kids there.

          What is your background in? I know of bloggers looking for virtual assistants…that is another good service to offer. Shoot me and email at and tell me a little bit of your background.

          Thanks so much for visiting–and subscribing! :)

          • Erica Burns says

            Thank you for these stories. I am currently considering being a SAHM, after my position was “eliminated” after being with the company for 17 years. Can you please tell me what is a virtual assistant?

          • says

            Oh wow! I’m so sorry you lost your job!!! A VA is like a secretary who assists online professionals in all kinds of secretarial work from home.

  6. Jackie Betancourt says

    Thank you so much for sharing this post! I recently became unemployed (was working from home for a shopping network) and we are now a one-income household of six. We are looking to downsize our living arrangements, since my husband and I both feel I need to focus on our family while I disciple through homeschooling. I have always struggled with feeling guilty about living in a smaller home, but through much prayer (and the confirmation of your wonderful post), I know the Lord has changed my heart and view. God bless!

      • Amy says

        I grew up a girl in a 3 girl room with triple bunks! thought crowded I didn’t mind at all and I think it helped us stay closer :)

      • Rachel says

        Growing up, my five brothers shared one bedroom with two sets of bunks in there. Whoever went to bed last had to sleep on the couch or double up with another brother. My sisters bedroom was about 6×9 with a small closet and I was the baby who slept with my mother. Great memories were made in that small house. Wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! It is possible to live “small” whether in home or budget size. Don’t give up moms, “With God, all things are possible!”.

  7. Liz says

    I am 100% in agreement on your post! We do the very same things and I am expecting baby #3 now. When I saw what you said about using rabbit ears for local channels and Netflix it cracked me up because that is exactly what we do! We bought them for $10 at Wal-Mart during the Olympics solely for that purpose and we get several channels in HD. What a blessing to be able to stay home and raise your family even on a lower income. May God richly bless your family!

  8. Jen says

    This is such a great post! It was re-posted on another blog I love. I’ll have to start reading this one, too!! I am always glad to read tips from other stay at home moms. We’ve gotten a lot of grief over our choice to have one parent at home. However, we really felt as though that was what we were called to do. Sometimes it’s scary and stressful.

    I REALLY wish that I had a skill that would translate well into working from home, but since I do not, here are some additional ways we’ve found to save:

    We often use cloth diapers. Not always. We do use disposables and when we do, they are always Pampers brand because they are what fits and doesn’t give a rash to our daughter. But, a lot of our cloth diapers were either bought when we had two incomes and a lot of money in savings or they were gifts.

    We garden. Starting out, it didn’t save us hardly any money. I had to put a great deal of money into the garden. I felt good about feeding my family stuff that we had grown, though, so I stuck to it. Now, it saves us a LOT of money. We don’t get wrapped up in the extras with it- we don’t have raised beds and we don’t fertilize, really. If we have a crop that’s failing, well… we don’t eat that crop that year. But it also really helps to cut out entertainment in the summers!

    We reuse EVERYTHING. We live by the motto that I grew up with: Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without! If we can’t reuse something and it’s in good shape, we sell it.

  9. TK says

    Thank you for sharing. It’s refreshing to be reminded so many of us are on similar journeys.

    One way we are able to eat healthy whole food more affordably is through Azure Standard. I’m not sure if they deliver to your state or not but you could check out their website. They consistently beat my health food store prices and then some. You can buy in bulk or single items. You order online (you can still pay by cash when you pick up) and they deliver by box truck once a month. You can call them to find out if there is delivery to your area and if there is a drop-site coordinator who facilitates deliveries. We also save money on healthier food and body care products by shopping sales at Amazon, iHerb, and Vitacost which at times can not only beat the health food store prices but Azure Standard too.
    I dilute our soaps and shampoos to stretch the good stuff further.
    We bundle up in the house to keep heating costs down.
    We also share one older car.
    We use an internet phone for home. I only have a trac phone ($7/month) for emergency use (if my car breaks down, for example).
    For our kiddos we shop on eBay a lot. I also sell items we’re done with on Craig’s List and eBay. My kids know that to help raise funds for Christmas or birthdays they choose toys that they’re done with to sell. They also practice giving to those in need (more in need than us that is!) by parting with their toys as well.
    We don’t buy a Christmas tree. We happen to have a pine tree as part of our decor and we just use that. It’s small, but we emphasize the nativity anyway (we don’t do Santa at all). We only buy gifts for our kids. Everyone else either gets something handmade or sentiments of love! My spouse and I stopped buying each other cards this year and now use a spiral notebook we got at a back to school sale. Each occasion we write our own love message in the notebook and all of our expressions of love are in one place.
    I too am a former classroom teacher and have the joy of homeschooling. I make some of my own resources and there are zillions of free learning activities on the web, especially from other teacher bloggers and homeschooler bloggers.

    • says

      Thanks so much for these great tips! I am hoping that Azure will come out here soon! We live in NC, and they don’t have a NC drop-off yet…but I’ve been emailing them about it!! I LOVE Vitacost! The notebook instead of cards ideas is so great!! Love it!
      Erin recently posted..Rice Flour Fried Chicken (GF, DF)My Profile

      • Mili says

        Try getting a pre-paid cell phone rather than one with a monthly fee – we got ours at Target loaded up with $100.00 and it lasted more than a year before having to reload with minutes – T-Mobile.

  10. It's Just Laura says

    I disagree with your approach here… I don’t think I can barely afford to stay home. I know that we wouldn’t do it any other way. We are cheapskates in a few different ways, but they are just our way of life, rather than “I have to do this so I don’t have to get a job.”

    I am a stay at home mom. My husband makes a modest salary.

    The main things we do to save money are:
    1. We don’t have a heating bill. We use the woodburning stove exclusively. (We also have plenty of dead wood on our property.)
    2. We live in an area where the property taxes are really low. Our property taxes per year are close to what they would be per week in the state that I used to live in (New Jersey).
    3. We always make the most fuel efficient choice when we need to use a vehicle. We own a subcompact, a minivan and a pickup. They get 38, 21 and 13 mpgs. We use the car the most, the minivan second and the pickup rarely. We use it for ‘pickup’ stuff only.
    4. Another thing about cars… I disagree with you a little. For most vehicles, it does pay to buy used. However, with our little subcompact, it was way cheaper to buy it new. We did get a fantastic deal. It was the same amount of money (out the door, including taxes and fees) as equivalent cars about three to four years old with 30-60k on them. I don’t necessarily think that the ‘always buy used cars’ is absolute.
    Good luck! Enjoy your time with your kiddos. We do.

  11. KelLee Gray says

    I just want to let you know. We are also a family on one income from a school teacher. I feel the same way about his occupation and the light he brings to the students. We are a family of 9 and God has never failed us and He never will. Continue the fight and the example. You are in my prayers.

  12. says

    I agree with every point and do them all myself. Looking back, I’m shocked at how much money I used to spend, and how much more I’d have now if I’d been more wise with my money back then! Sometimes I wish we could meet in person because I think we’d be “kindred spirits.”
    Tabetha Gedeon recently posted..Six Flags Over NonsenseMy Profile

  13. says

    This is an excellent post! It matches how we do things EXACTLY! We have 6 kiddos and I am a stay at home mom. Matter of a fact, this would be an excellent post for my newly reopened site Cheaper by the Minute! Please consider my sharing this!
    Andrea Maddiex recently posted..WELCOME!!!My Profile

  14. says

    LOVED reading this. Love Aldi!!!!! We do many things like your family, but we have debt:( back before we got smart about money and had 4 children we got into debt. It’s very frustrating trying to pay things off while staying on a strict budget…sometimes it feels like we will never get out!!!

    • KelLee Gray says

      Hang in there Tonya! We were in debt when I stopped working and it took years to dig out. It was SOOOO worth it! Keep at it, promise yourselves a celebrationary dinner when it is done. Remind yourself of the quick temporary fix that spending was and then realize the long term “fix” of paying it all off. You are in my prayers, you will make it! Keep reading and re-reading books that talk about debt and debt pay-off. It will keep you motivated to stay to your grindstone. Please notify us when you have it all paid off, I really want to know!

  15. Brooke says

    Just wanted to continue to encourage you on your family’s life journey. I am a SAH-Homeschooling-Mom to a 16 year old son and a 13 year old daughter. We also do every single thing you outlined in your post. I’d also like to add we make our own laundry detergent. This has made a HUGE difference since my daughter is allergic to so many detergents. We had used a name brand hypo-allergenic detergent spending around $30 a month. I now make our detergent and only spend about $5 A YEAR. You can find different recipes online with the same basic ingredients of a bar soap, Borax and washing soda. Hope this helps others, too!

  16. Amy says

    When reading this, I felt like I was looking at my life. And I love it! I am now a stay at home Mom and my husband supports us on a teacher’s income. We saved and saved and saved while I was working to practice living on one salary and realized we could do it. We employ a lot of your methods. Another thing we did was to get rid of our cell phones and get Trac Phones instead (for emergency use). Our home phone is through the internet and is only around $2/month. We also have bunny ears + Netflix for TV. I am breastfeeding and cloth diapering, so baby expenses are almost nothing. Praise the Lord. He doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called!

  17. says

    So true and so inspiring. I love the point about not going shopping. We always see everywhere that the way to go is to buy everything on sale… I believe the best way to save is to only buy what you really need (and for those things to look for sales…).
    Thank you!!!

  18. Tammie Haley says

    I have been doing all the same thing you are doing now. My boys are much older and are off at school during the day. So now I get to work part time while the boys are at school. I feel it is very very important to be there for them when they go off to school and also be there when they get home. I use the non-school time to teach them all the things they are not getting in school. How to cook, grow our own food, sew, camp, think/reason, keep a budget and shop smartly. Not to brag, but I’ve often heard how well adjusted and grown up my boys are. I think it is because I am there helping mold and create a new member of this society.
    Here is to all of us.

  19. says

    Great post – thanks! My husband and I have always lived on a tight budget (in the five years of our marriage) and this month its particularly tight. We need to start cutting back on some spending, so I appreciate seeing your ideas for doing that. :)
    Bonnie Way recently posted..Pregnancy Update: Week 21My Profile

  20. says

    We are a family of 9 on one income. I have 7 children ages 10 an under. My husband figures that I SAVE our family over $65,000 a year by being home.

    There are a lot of things that we do to save money. Here are a few (we also do the ones you mentioned above):

    I feed our family of 9 for $100 a month. (We don’t have an Aldi here, but I buy in bulk, garden, glean, can, and cook from scratch, including making things like bread, salad dressing, yogurt, etc).

    We have one car. My husband just purchased a used scooter for $180. Each day he uses the scooter to go to work, it saves us $5.

    I don’t have a cell phone, My home phone is local only–no call waiting, no long distance, no caller id.

    I sew most of my children’s gifts, often using repurposed clothing. I also make gifts for their friends when they are invited to a party.

    I sew many clothes for my girls. I love smocked dresses, too, so I smock them myself.

    • Will Odom says

      Hello Jenny! Will, Erin’s husband, here. I’ve been reading some of the comments, and out of all of them, I was most confused by yours. Since you have never been around my children, I cannot fathom why you would say, “I wouldn’t want to be your kid…” If you could explain your statement, perhaps I could give some clarification of my own.

      Until then, please allow me to offer some insight in my wife and my children. My wife works very hard at being a SAHM and blogger. It is often difficult to balance all of her tasks, but she does a phenomenal job. She blogs because she enjoys it and to help our family. She joyfully sacrifices many things and works diligently so that our family may prosper (Proverbs 31). Does she have it all figured out? Absolutely not, but that’s why she relies on God and calls herself “a humbled homemaker.” A lot of things she does for our family, she learned from her parents, who actually have the money but choose to be thrifty in order to bless others.

      As for my children, all 3 of my girls are quite content and secure in their lives. Everyone who meets them comments on their smiles and personalities. They may not have the best, newest or most expensive clothes or toys, but they lack for nothing (evidenced by the amount of toys I just picked up and the pile of laundry on the floor).

      Above all they know that they are loved. They are learning that glorifying God is the first priority in our home, not accumulating material possessions. Heck, even if I had the money, I wouldn’t buy a $100 toy or $100 pair of shoes when I can buy cheaper ones that look and work just fine. Then my daughters can use the rest of that money to buy shoes for children in Latin America or Africa who have none. Once you live overseas in a third-world country as we have, it gives you a different perspective on what is important.

      In conclusion, unless you can offer some explanation for your comment, please do not assume to know anything about my children and how they live.

      • Beth says

        I grew up with parents who did not budget and were narcissistic. I wish my parents had 1/5 of the frugality this family does. I grew up being told I could not have shoes for school, but they somehow had money to drink or buy whatever they needed for themselves. As a soon to be mommy, blogs like this make me very happy. They give me strength to realize I can have a different life for my child and myself. It takes work, like anything good does, but the benefits far outweigh the struggle.

    • Andrea says

      I would love to be Erin and Will kids, because they are great parents and my nieces are full of life, love and they are growing to love the Lord! I am from Argentina and I hate materialism, so if the point is here to love things more then family and values, that is a different issue and you should not be reading The Humble Homemaker. Erin and Will, hugs to my girls from her aunty serving in India!

      • says

        I have to agree. Having parents who know how to be thrifty, who know how to budget, who don’t believe that kids NEED a lot except love, is to be blessed! I grew up in a house like that and my girls are growing that way. Congratulations on bucking the system!

  21. Jaclyn says

    Hi, I’m very interested in your writing as I’ve been wanting to do something similar. I’m also a stay-at-home-mom and have a degree in journalism. Do you have any advice or websites I should look at? Is there much demand for writing online from home? Thank you for your help in advance :)

  22. says

    Hi, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (, and I’m visiting from Gratituesday.

    Great post! I’m with you, being at home with your kids when they’re young should be a top priority. I’m finally starting back part time, but my youngest (of six) is 13, so it’s time to start putting some aside for college.
    You might want to add Freecycle to your list. You can get clothes, toys, furniture for free! Google it to find one in your area.

    Anyway, it’s nice to β€œmeet” you! Hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…

  23. says

    I think you have hit the nail on the head with the no-debt living…it makes it so much easier to save and pay the monthly bills if you are not working on stuff you bought long ago and didn’t pay for. As SAHM of many years, I will admit that most of your tips worked for well for us until the kids hit middle school sports and fashion. We ended up making sure they had a job to pay for the “extras” they wanted above and beyond what we would pay for something. Great job.
    Keep up the God work.
    Lori Poppinga recently posted..NaNoWriMo Coming SoonMy Profile

  24. says

    I love this! I’ve been a SAHM since I was at the end of my pregnancy with our first, and yes things have been tight, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thankfully we live in an area where being a SAHM is the norm, so I don’t get any discouraging comments. We are working on getting out of debt and that is not easy, but at least we learn from our mistakes, or I hope we have. Our family of five has one car, which our brother gave to us when they bought a new to them van after finding out the transmission in the one we are using needs replacing, and the age of the van makes it not worth it. The Lord has blessed us with the van continuing working for almost 6 months now. I pray it will get us through the winter.
    My husband works so hard for us, doing a part time job and a pay full time job all while going to school. Thankfully he had been in the Air Force, so we are able to use the GI Bill to pay for school.
    I appreciate these tips, and for the most part we use them also. It is great to see so many like minded women (and men!) here!
    Abigail recently posted..Paint transformation…My Profile

  25. karen says

    The biggest barrier to me staying home though I desperatly want to is benefits. I work mainly for that. The benis available through my husbands work are cost prohibitive. How does everyone work that? Thanks so much and I really appreciate all of the tips!

    • Jamie garcia says

      That’s a tough one!
      We were on an individual healthplan before my husband close his business and went to work for someone else. But its not a deluxe healthcare our deductables were pretty high.

      • Mary says

        I work for insurance, too. My husband is self-employed in construction and farming. Buying our own health insurance would cost us over $900 a month for 2 adults and 2 children. We feel we need a major medical policy for many reasons. Some employers offer insurance to part-time employees (if you’re willing to pay a bit more) so you could look out for that also.

        • Erin (not the author) says

          This is my largest concern too. I have a few chronic illnesses that were exacerbated by my pregnancy and I spent most of last year in and out of the hospital. I currently teach and am heading in a downward spiral health-wise. My daughter loves her daycare and I love my job, but my health is making it impossible to be both a mom and teacher. I often fail at one or the other. Before the recent healthcare bill passed I could have stayed at home next school year, but now it would cost over $1000 a month for us to be on my husband’s plan. I currently pay $4. With the decrease in salary and increase and expenditures it would be impossible. I have asked for half-time, but I don’t know if that will just make my life more difficult. I wish there was a good independent and affordable healthcare plan available. I’m also wondering if you are able to create any kind of savings. I would like to set aside money for weddings and college.

          • says

            I am so sorry to hear this! Ugggg…this health bill and everything else with it is so tough for so many of us! Hubby got paid for the first time this year today, and his check was $60 less. That may not seem like a lot to some people, but it sure is a lot for us! We are not able to save much at all right now, but we are actually meeting with a Dave Ramsey counselor this weekend to help us figure out how to save more through the small (but growing) income I am starting to make off my blog.

            For college, we recently (as in a month or so ago) set up a 529 savings account. We are going to put birthday and Christmas money in the accounts for our girls. We opened it up with a small amount of money my husband’s grandmother left us when she passed away.

            Haven’t gotten to wedding yet. :(

  26. Becca says

    Erin, I loved your comment about not affording credit card debt. We are being crushed by debt we stupidly accrued before having children. I’m not even sure where all that money went! Maybe On the Border 3 times a week? We’re working to pay it down and eventually off. If we could just pay off our old debt, we wouldn’t be so stretched. Thank you for the encouragement you give us. It is comforting to know that I am not the only SAHM that tutors, works in child care, has a husband who has a second job, and still struggles financially. It is also a great reminder, thanks to your wonderful husband, that we are to be in the world and not of the world. If we are blessed with more income in the future, I want to use it for kingdom building. I want my children to do His work before selfishly following their own materialistic desires. In this modern day Babylon, it is so easy to fall into the trap of always wanting more. Thank you for reminding me that He, alone, is all we need! Praise be to God!

  27. Becky says

    Was this you posting or me?? πŸ˜‰ Great article. Another tip (& I’m sure you do this)- we buy our meat from harris teeter when it has been marked down b/c it is getting close to the sell-by date. I take it home & freeze it. Normally I get it for 1/2 off or more. They discount their bakery items, too. I use coupons (today I got free toothpaste, free dip & two boxes of free popcorn). I follow Moola Saving Mom on facebook for deals, too. I re-sell all of their toys when they are done with them & usually make a profit on them (because I buy them so cheap!) I get their clothes on the Kohl’s clearance & use the 30% off coupons on top of the clearance prices. If we need to paint our house (I love to decorate) we get the gallon for $5 in the mis-tinted section of sherwin williams or lowes. I buy all of my Christmas gifts the day AFTER Christmas- when it is marked down to 75-90% off. I also teach our kids about money already because they need to understand that it isn’t handed out. We work for it & if they want a toy “just because” – many times they will use their own money that they have saved from birthdays to get it. They are very cautious when it is their money- and what better lesson to learn than that.
    Oh- and the only credit cards we have are Lowes types- where it is 18 months of free financing (certain times of the year) and we ALWAYS pay it off about 2-3 months ahead of time just to be on the safe side. We don’t want to pay any interest.
    Last thing- We save our tax money every year- right into savings.
    God provides. When times are tough, he still provides. Just trust in Him.
    ps- I had no idea that you had a degree in those things! Mine is elementary ed w/ a minor in writing.
    :) Hope those tips helped someone! Great blog.

  28. says

    I should appreciate your post. A house wife should manage with her limited resource. There are many ways that we can cut off expenses. As you mentioned we can celebrate our kid’s birthday in a public park and we can go for sale shopping. I’m really impressed. God bless you.

  29. says

    Terrific post. The part that makes me giggle is that is this is the way I gre up and it is how we live for the most part. We are not living pay check to pay check but I still live frugally and I believe in buying consignment because it just makes sense. Kids usually grow out of their clothes before they wear them out (except for my boys’ play clothes!). I am going to check out the grocery budget suggestions you gave because this is an area I am loosing in. I cook almost everything because we are vegetarian and gluten-free over here. OUr food bill is too high in my opinion but we do not waste! We eat everything before we hit the store. Thank you again for the info!
    Sharon recently posted..Grammar and Math GamesMy Profile

  30. Donna Crawford says

    Sometimes you can’t afford NOT to stay at home. When my oldest was about a year old, I did some calculations on going back to work part time. I am fortunate that my husband does have a very good job and I’ve never had to go back but I was thinking about it. By the time I factored in EVERYTHING (daycare, clothes, gas, fees, taxes, ….the list is longer than many people think) I realized I would be bringing in a grand total of $200 a month. That was with one child! Two years later we had twins! The dollars just never added up.
    Fifteen years later I don’t regret a thing. I still can go to all the school stuff. I can be there for all their swim meets, my oldest has frequent migraines and I can be there for her. If anything I think it’s more important now than when they were little. I get to be the mom that drives all the kids everywhere so I always know what they are doing!

    • Donna Crawford says

      BTW: the house is paid off, one car is paid off, the other isn’t only because the one with 150,000 miles died before we expected it too. But our emergency fund helped us get very affordable car payments on a 2 year old car. It will be paid off in 2 years. We have prepaid college tuition and college savings for all 3 kids. It can be done. It’s not always easy though.

    • Leslie says

      Your situation sounds a lot like ours! When a friend tries to explain to me how she can’t quite her $8/hour job to stay home with her 3 kids, I lovingly explain how she can’t afford to work. Now that my kids are in school (ages 11 &10), I have been trying to find something to do while they are there. It hasn’t happened yet, but I am praying and trusting the Lord. I do love picking my kids up from school each day. It guarantees me at least 15 minutes a day of having their attention and that they have mine!

      • lpelon says

        That’s how we are. I’m currently working from home (I’m putting my husband through school) but there was no way we could afford a babysitter even if i did work away from home. For a while to keep food on the table I actually had to work the graveyard shift at McDonalds while my husband went to school and his student job during the day. It was hard but so worth it. I don’t know how some people who make what I do pay for child care.

  31. says

    We pretty much do all of those things too.

    We did buy used clothing for Mark and I though as we both got to cool weather and realized neither of us had clothes… he grew and I did not shrink as much as I was expecting to after Natalia’s birth and since Natalia is almost 1.5 now I decided to just go get some clothes.

  32. Laura says

    Did it take you a long time to get used to 1 income? I took 1 year off and went back to work. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. The life we have now, I don’t know if I would be able to give it up without feeling like my son would be missing out on things that we are used to doing.

    • Will Odom says

      We were a two income family when we got married. Both of us were teachers, and I really wish we had only lived on my income because it would have been an easier transition when we switched to one. It did take some adjustments on our part, but it was worth. While I was in seminary, Erin worked full time, and I worked part time. When we switched, I started full time again, and she would do little things like tutoring, writing, etc. That helped us make the switch because it wasn’t just suddenly one income, but there was a little extra coming in here and there to help with things when needed. Now, we put her money from writing and blogging into our savings for the girls school and occasionally other needs. Budgeting is the biggest help to switching to one income. You have to cut corners a little and remove some nonessentials and really stick to your budget. If the money is there for that particular purchase, then you don’t make it. You can save up and make it next month. It’s working for us. Not gonna like, some months are tight and there is little left in the bank, but God always provides.

      • Mary says

        I was a SAHM for ten years before my husband lost his job and I was forced to “work”. I was able to get scholarships to help pay for college, and my scholarships are what we have lived on. We have six kids, and usually have extras. I DESPERATELY want to go back to being a SAHM, but understand that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we want. Anyways, we have always made it work on $30-40k per year. I think that my insight is unique because I have seen both sides of this conversation. I have learned quite a bit about budgeting. Here is what I have to add:
        1. Cost-cutting stuff takes time. Period. There is NO way you can work and make all of your own meals, cleaning supplies, and toiletries, garden, and shop at thrift stores when time is short, without spending way more time away from your children.
        2. The first step to saving money is to track your expenses!!!! I was SHOCKED to realize how much money was wasted on stopping at the quick-mart when I was out of milk, gas driving to work, or buying ‘convenience’ items like canned soup. Our grocery bill went from $400 to $700 in no time flat (here in the pac-NW). ^See Donna Crawford’s post. You would be amazed at what you can do (with your kids in tow) if you have the time to create some things from home.
        3. Give up everything that isn’t vital to survival or that you could be reported to DHS for not having (I read an article about somebody who gave up toilet paper–I am just not there yet). Think about it. Seriously. What do we NEED? Food, shelter, clothing (and not fancy stuff, either). The rest is just gravy. We can often obtain a little gravy, but seeing it as a luxury allows you to take the pressure off of yourself, and to be okay with not having it.
        4. Consider keeping internet! Yes, I think it is a justifiable expense. I only recently got it and have found that it is very useful for saving money. I have long used homemade laundry soap, but have now found recipes for stain stick, cleaning products for every possible purpose and toiletries (that actually work!). They save tons of money, but I don’t always have time for them. :(
        5. Saving gas has become a big one with a hectic life full of sports, work, activities, etc. My husband now commutes by bicycle everywhere, and we have reduced ourselves to one minivan. We budget our gas like we do money, arranging carpools whenever possible, and simply not traveling when we run out.
        6. Gardening didn’t save me much money to begin with either, but I have persisted. I have learned to google anything that I can’t afford, and I can usually come up with a free/cheap alternative. Try making pots out of newspaper, growing new shrubs from cuttings, and seed saving. Not much space? Try edible landscaping, growing in pots, gleaning, and community garden plots.
        7. Living frugally is a mindset. You will never be happy (or successful) if you find yourself coveting what you don’t have. While it’s true that an international perspective does help you appreciate what you do have, there are other things you can do, too. Find like-minded SAHMs. When you get caught up in the competitive nature of consumerism, you always feel inadequate until you can acquire more than your neighbor. Finding supportive peers helps you learn new tricks, find emotional support, and create the camaraderie that you miss when at home.

        I tried not to put too many details in here because many great ideas have already been posted. Laura, I am not trying to persuade you either way because I know that I have to work right now. I just want you to know that if you can afford your food, clothing, and shelter, then you can make it! Have faith in yourself, and have faith in God!

        Good luck!
        P.S. I am a first time visitor to this blog, and I am hooked!!

  33. Blessed Mama says

    We have an income of less than $20,000 a year- about 1/2 of yours and I am a stay at home mom and always have been. We have never been without food. My children have all namebrand clothing (yeah for rummage sales, ebay, thrift stores…I am just picky about what I buy), lots of nice quality toys, etc. I loved your posting, but wanted to share that even on less than $40,000/year you can stay home! God makes a way when we follow Him!

  34. Jen says

    Thanks for these ideas! I follow most of them and I am working on cooking more from scratch. I am also a stay at home Mom to three girls, 5, 4 and 17 months. We can barely afford it as well, but it’s worth every thing I have to pass on. This time in our lives is so short. There will be plenty of time for eating out and going on nicer vacations when my children are older. Sadly, without a degree, there is not much I can do from home to contribute. I am working on starting something creative now that my youngest is becoming more independent.

    Good luck to you and your sweet family! Oh, and I loved reading your birth stories. I also gave birth to my three girls without intervention. Awesome! :)

  35. says

    Tip 3 – not shopping- I think is especially important and often over looked. I find that I have a ridiculously hard time not purchasing un-needed items when I go out. One of my failings, but the less often I go shopping, the less often it happens. :)
    Also, cell phone plans are usually really expensive so it’s worthwhile checking into something like puretalk if you don’t need a full plan.
    Elise recently posted..Return To ShampooMy Profile

  36. says

    We’ve recently switched to once-a-month shopping to save money. If I can stay out of the stores, I don’t spend money! We buy milk and fruit at a local market and do Costco and Aldi once a month. I totally agree that where there’s a will there’s a way with staying home! It is so worth it!
    Today I wrote about praying my friend’s son Kervens home from Haiti. I made a button to encourage others to pray. Would you consider joining us by posting the button on your blog?

  37. says

    Thank you for being another voice that says it’s perfectly okay to go without so many things our culture says we “need.” I was blessed to grow up with a single mother that made ends meet on less than 15K most years. I can remember noticing that other families were able to go shopping more and buy new things, but I don’t have a single memory of feeling less fortunate or needy. She raised three children on nearly nothing, stayed home as much as possible, and never let us go hungry. I felt I had a comfortable life because of things you list above and more. (Gardening and canning was huge!!)

    I am so much better at life in general because I learned to live frugally from the beginning and my mother made it a priority to be WITH her children as a SAHM. Now as I live on a tight budget in order to stay home, I feel so prepared and at peace with what we have. I actually feel quite well-off in a lot of ways. Your children will grow up and thank you for being the mom that you are, and they will definitely grow to have a better idea of what REALLY matters in life. Thank-you again for sharing! I was sure to pass it along on my Facebook page!
    Tyanne at Lamp on a Stand
    Tyanne recently posted..The Simplicity of EncouragementMy Profile

  38. Amy says

    Erin, you are right on with your approach to putting family before “things.” In the past, I was a stay at home mom committed to making TIME with my children more precious than STUFF. Now that both of my kids are in school and I am now a single mom, I can say that I would never give back the time I had at home with them when they were very little. I believe you will treasure these days as well and always be able to look back at the sometimes difficult choices you are making now and know that you gave of yourself in so many ways- to the great benefit of your kids! We are so often convinced by the world at large that we must have the latest and greatest gadgets, the most expensive vacations and cars, and the finest clothes/cosmetics/manicures, etc.; unfortunately these things are just things and will fade away.
    May God bless you and your family and continue to grow your hearts closer to Him!

  39. Karen says

    Your post was very inspirational! I am a stay at home mom of my two little girls and I also am a nanny. I am able to stay with my kids and bring in income while watching 2 other children. They have a blast having someone to play with during the day! It for sure helps out with our income and let’s me stay at home and not only be with my children but with another family’s children that parents that aren’t able to do so. It has been such a blessing!

  40. Cara says

    Great post! I am in the exact same situation. After my first daughter was born I quit my job as a graphic artist to stay home. To make extra I do childcare for other people. I’d rather just have my kids at home but it makes our lives a little more comfortable.

  41. Krista says

    I’ve got people who tell me that they think we’re borderline Amish! Canning saves us quite a bit and my youngest wears cloth diapers. Then, for extra money, I make homemade laundry soap and fabric softener and I crochet a lot for extra cash. I know it’s not for everyone, but we raise our own meat as well (chickens, pigs, cows, rabbits) and during hunting season we process deer for people we know and we hunt as well. Everyday can be a bit of a monetary struggle, but we get by. Funny thing about it, we now eat healthier and better than most others only because we know where our food comes from and there are no hormones in any of them. Our farm is our greatest asset for a one income family :-)

  42. Beth says

    I found this article on Pinterest and loved it! I will not be a SAHM, but I will be a single mom, and I think a lot of this will able to be utilized. During my pregnancy, I have been overwhelmed with how many people are willing to help, give items, loan items, etc. I think the only thing I have bought new was a co-sleeper, everything else has been a gift or bought used. I also utilize things like Netflix and Hulu, instead of TV, plan my groceries for every week, and try to reuse items as much as possible. Also, I use the library so much for books, I have the ladies who work there saving me books when one comes in they think I will like. I have not always been a frugal person, and it is always a work in progress.

    • michelle says

      Beth – I have found that most people are very generous with baby items if they are asked. I gave all my baby gear to a friend who asked for donations for her cousins twins on facebook. I know a lot of people who have just posted on their pages “looking to borrow a bouncer” and people respond. I also know a lot of people with baby gear just sitting in their in closets who would be glad to help someone out. Also, take any hand me downs that are offered, even if you don’t think you will use them. A friend of mine gave me a bag of 24 month winter clothes, and I almost didn’t take them since my son was barely in 18 months and this was in September. I thought surely he wouldn’t get to the 24 month size before spring (I live in the south so it gets pretty warm here starting in March). Well he has outgrown all his 18 mo h clothes and its barely November! That bag of clothes is going to save my budget this winter, kids grow so fast and you can blink and they need a new wardrobe!

  43. says

    I saw your post via Pinterest and just wanted to let you know how wonderful I think you (and your husband) are. It really is impressive what you are doing! You value what is most important and you choose to be happy with what you have. Thank you for your great example of faith, optimism, love of family, frugality, humility, hard work…It isn’t possible for all moms to stay at home but we are only expected to do our very best! Your family will be forever blessed and your children will be forever grateful for your sacrifices and efforts. :)

  44. Beth says

    Thank you for this wonderful article. Thank you also for aknowledging that it is not possible for everybody. I am a mom 2 three boys ages 9,11, and 13. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with them until they went to school. but now it takes both mine and hubbys income to squeek by. we have no credit cards, shop aldis,.thrift stores and yard sales for clothes and luckily with 3 boys can hand down clothes that is not completly demolished by the forst 2 all the way down the line.

  45. says

    I just want to say as a working mother/wife, I don’t understand many of the desisions that I’ve been reading.. It sounds to me that staying at home and taking that extra income away from your families is just hindering your families In a number of ways. Now let me be clear just because we have two incomes doesn’t mean that we don’t live on a budget or that we are out spending outrageous money on things we don’t need. I shop for my family at places like TJMAXX, Khols, Walmart and Target. We cool at home all but one night a week. But I read how in the original post she said she doesn’t take her child to play dates bc of no has money.. Isn’t that keeping your child/children from socializing with children their own age as well as the no preschool and homeschooling? We only go to the movie a few times a year and we dnt spend tons of money on birthday parties either, nor are we racking up credit cars debt. But I feel like if Ur putting your family in a position to b put of money every month that Ur keeping your children and the entire family away from opportunities of experiencing life and socializing. If you have no money for extras ( in moderation) then what kind of experiencances are your children getting from just being stuck in the house all the time?? I know this is a touchy subject but I feel like I’d rather spend time with my family doin quality fun and educational things and giving them experiences they will forever treasure, then sit at home with them all the time doing barely anything unless its free…

    • Jamie Garcia says

      Don’t you feel like you miss a significant portion of your child’s life?

      Each of us has to decide what is most important, for my family raising our children and having our values imprinted on them and not a nanny’s,child care worker, or commercial day care’s is #1. (Especially since both my husband and I were abused while in the care of others during our early childhoods.)

    • says

      I think it also has to do with your definition of “experiences they will forever treasure.” I like to think helping me make dinner, forts in the living room, and snuggling all afternoon with books after a trip to the library are just as high on their list of treasured memories as going to the Children’s Museum. And also, most families on a budget don’t act like they are deprived and certainly don’t make their children feel deprived. I don’t think kids ever feel “stuck in the house all the time” when they are playing and loved.
      Zara recently posted..Oct 26, Easy Healthy Recipes: Chia Pudding and 5 Things You Can Do With ItMy Profile

      • Will Odom says

        From a dad’s perspective, let me offer some clarification. I would encourage you to reread the post. Living on one income does occasionally make certain things difficult, but I am more that willing to make the sacrifice. Being a SAHM is not for everyone. Some can’t or don’t want to stay at home, and that is a personal decision that I would never fault anyone or judge anyone for making. Each family must pray and seek God as to what is best for their family. I also would not think that just because someone has 2 incomes they spend frivolously. I’m glad to see that we have a lot of things in common (as far as shopping, movies, debt, etc.)

        My children, however, never lack social interaction or other experiences. They have been to numerous zoos, museums, and other educational places (in our city and other states). We even had a membership to our local children’s museum. (They did offer a teacher’s discount.) My 4-year-old goes to preschool 3 times a week, and my 2-year-old goes to preschool and MOPS once a week. They are also at church every Sunday. We do participate in play groups and meet up with friends at the park quite frequently. We just don’t drive long distances if our transportation budget is running low. Believe me, my children are not “stuck” in the house all the time. There are many times when I think they are gone too much. They get plenty of experiences, and my oldest has even lived in another country, and we are planning on taking them to Costa Rica for a couple of weeks this summer while I study…if we can work it out into our budget and I get a teacher scholarship. There are times when I wish I had a little extra cash for something, but then I usually realize it can wait until I save a little and buy it later. God always provides for our needs.

        Thanks for stopping by, and I hope this clarifies things a little.

    • says

      I had to read your comment twice to decide whether I understood you correctly, and I think I have. You are saying that you would prefer to work and spend the majority of your time away from your children so that you can afford to do things like museums in the short time you do have together? You prefer to put them in someone elses care so that you can make the money to create treasured memories on the weekends? Limited “Quality” time is more important to you than long-term and consistent quality time?

      I know that many people might agree with you, but as a mom my first priority is raising my children well. That means I believe it is my responsibility, whenever and however possible, to be the one with them when they need nurturing, discipline, direction, comfort, advice, teaching, or protection, among other things. Though I will surely make hundreds of treasured and FREE memories with my children, those things are not nearly as important to me as being a consistent presence in their life who guides them and lives in close relationship with them.

      It turns out this is not just my opinion, research indicates that the bond between a child and their mother in their early years goes much deeper than you seem to think, and simply BEING TOGETHER, is huge. Please read this article, it might be eye opening for you:

      I also recommend you talk with some stay at home moms in your life and learn that it involves far more than sitting around and doing nothing all day. They are homemaking, teaching, exploring, and learning with their children. They are seeing the world through their child’s eyes and helping them interpret it. They are responding to boo-boos and messes and questions and confusion. They are far from doing nothing, and their children are far from bored and under-exposed to the world.

      I’m sorry if I am overreacting, but I felt extremely misunderstood as a person that aligns myself with the author of this post quite closely. Also, consider being more understanding and kind with your assumptions as you comment. There is a real person behind this post and she has real feelings. It is okay to express criticism, but please try to do so more kindly.
      Tyanne recently posted..Activities for a Toddler on a Rainy DayMy Profile

      • Lindsey says

        I totally get the wanting to be a stay at home mom thing, but when they are at school starting at age 5 for 7-8 hours a day you would not necessarily be leaving your kids or missing out on their lives. Right?

      • Kristi says

        You were unbelievably kind to the above poster. I could barely understand the paragraph. My six children will NEVER be in another’s care. Being severely abused changes one’s mindset about which things are important. Any items not falling under survival are excluded from our budget. My hub is a teacher (city college) and tow truck driver. I am an atheist, but wouldn’t judge anyone. The plus to frugal is knowing my children as individuals. They are my job and I take the responsibility deadly serious.
        Fun stuff: pallet beds/couches. We wasted $200 per child on poorly manufactured beds lasting eight months. :( This week we made L-beds for our boys & a queen platform for ourselves. I started a white picket fence with pallets too. I’m creating an outdoor dining area all from repurposed goods/freecycle. I love humbledhomemaker.

    • says

      First, working does not always mean contributing money to the family. I know that doesn’t sound logical, but it’s true! When you consider the expenses of working – gas, extra clothes, more convienence foods, daycare, supplies, gifts for co-workers, etc – I have a friend who works and doesn’t actually make anything (or enjoy her job). That is confusing to me!

      I think you may have been a little misled by the play date thing. I think she was saying that if their fuel money for the month is running low, she cuts back on outings…not that they never go out. SAHMs have plenty of opportunities to socialize their children. I would add that they are generally better socialized because they don’t spend all day with only other kids their age.

      I guess quality experiences are in the eye of the beholder. I was raised very much like this blog describes, and I’m trying to raise my girls in a similar way. I feel like my girls have just as much quality as our friends who live more like you are describing. In fact, from 2 different families I’ve had my daughter’s friends tell me they wish their mommy would play with them like I play with my girls. Don’t underestimate the simple joys!

      • says

        To clarify…I’m not saying anyone doesn’t play with their kids. But I do think SAHMs are able to do it differently, and certainly more.

    • says

      I understand your concerns. But, she didn’t say that they don’t do play dates. She actually said that if they ran out of gas money a certain month then they wouldn’t do a play date. It sounded to me like play dates were a normal part of their life, except for those few occasions. Most SAHMs I know actually have a great social network for their children.
      Pam M recently posted..What I’ve Been Up To This Summer…My Profile

    • says

      I guess if your goals are “experiencing life and socializing”, then having two incomes would be important. You say you don’t understand what you’re reading from many moms writing here…and I think this is key…I think our goals are differently. My purpose for my children in life is not to “experience life and socialize with others.” I think those are great things, but they are not our focus. Our focus are to learn to work together, love one another, and most importantly, love God. My children are learning habits from other children when they’re constantly away. I need to be training my children up in the way they should go…and for our family, we feel the best way for this is through homeschooling. That is our personal decision…one we derive from the New Testament in Titus 2:4& 5 mainly (although there are many other verses that have impacted our decision).
      I used to work. I found that when I worked, while we made more money, we had to make more to pay for our debt: student loans, rent, etc.
      As a mom, I WANT to be with my children. Certainly I am not one of those moms who can’t let their children live their own life. However, kids are growing up too fast. When my child is given to me in my home, they are to be my responsibility…not the church’s, not the school’s, not the babysitters….they are mine. I can still take them out to socialize, but under the requirements that meet our family goals for our children.
      I hope that explains to you better why some of us decide to keep our children at home. Certainly, you and your spouse need to pray about God’s direction for your family.
      You can read more about what changed my m on this whole issue here:
      Lindy recently posted..Children Are a Blessing DVD Product ReviewMy Profile

  46. says

    I love all of these ideas… being a well-educated SAHM myself :). I get a lot of comments about “you have those degrees! How can you not use them? You could make so much money!” But, I think the love I get, and memories we make every day make me far richer…

    We grow fruits and vegetables in a pretty big backyard garden to help save a few bucks. I also buy meat in bulk from a local farm (about an hour away once a month) – it’s better quality at a more reasonable price that way. We eat soup and salad at least once a week, and meal plan. Freezer crockpot meals are a lifesaver when my discipline wears thin. I’m a pro at using leftovers – stir-fry or curry anyone? I also cook vegetarian meals without hesitation. Don’t forget that you can rent movies at the library! Local Nature Centers are free and fun outings, too…. Needless to say life is perfectly full on a tight budget, and our hearts are even fuller!
    Zara recently posted..Oct 26, Easy Healthy Recipes: Chia Pudding and 5 Things You Can Do With ItMy Profile

  47. Kristi says

    I just have to let you know that this post was so inspirational to me and I think you are doing a phenomenal job!! Kudos to you and all your hard work!!

  48. Kristen H says

    So thankful to know others are in our shoes. We are like you on most of these things and (not gonna lie!) it’s a struggle some months … however, we have learned what “enough” truly means and what needs vs. wants really does look like. I wouldn’t trade all of the “stuff” in the world to change from being a SAHM.

    • says

      Writing this post has honestly helped encourage me that there ARE lots of others in our shoes! Your last sentence sums it up great: I wouldn’t trade all of the β€œstuff” in the world to change from being a SAHM.

  49. diane says

    I have enjoyed reading the comments. I had a career and chose to stay home when we had children (2-they are 17 months apart). They are grown now and I just retired at 60. We did most of the things you all mentioned, but also belonged to a natural food coop. I stayed home because I wanted to raise our kids, not have someone else raise them. I was home room mother, active in PTA, girl and boy scouts and church. We bartered gymnastics lessons, piano lessons and did a lot of weekend camping for mini vacations. Our kids worked in the summers as terns. We expected them to do volunteer work beginning at 13. They were told early on that we expected. Them to pay half their college with grants, scholarships and earned money. I went back to work fulltime to pay the other half-we didn’t have enough money on one income to have a college fund. After they finished,I kept working and my income went to Earned. Iwent back

    • says

      Sounds like you have a lot of great tips!! I appreciate you sharing how you did it! You sound a lot like my parents (my mom just turned 61!). I love bartering! We are getting ready to set up a 529 education fund for our girls with their bday money, etc. from their grandparents. It probably won’t end up being much, but we hope it will generate a little something for them! Thanks for all the encouragement and advice!

  50. Patti says

    We do everything you do and then some. The only thing I disagree with is no couponing. I feed a family of 6 for about $200 a month, that includes 3 teenagers. We cant afford to eat whole foods and organic although I wish we could. I catch the sales and coupon like crazy saving up to 80% a grocery trip. My husband is a avid hunter so I dont have to buy meat, other than lunchmeats. We garden and can everything we grow.

    • says

      I do coupon some–but not as much as if we didn’t eat whole foods. I don’t think I mentioned that we pretty much have to eat that way (not that we wouldn’t want to) since my girls are gluten and dairy intolerant (and the oldest is egg intolerant). I have to make pretty much everything from scratch. My mom LOVES saving with coupons! It sounds like you are doing an AMAZING job!!

  51. Liz says

    Do you really never buy any of the dirty dozen, like apples, grapes, lettuce, green peppers, and spinach? Just curious…

    • says

      I focus on the clean 15 and buy organic from the dirty dozen only if I can find it on sale/clearance. I can get a good buy on organic apples on clearance at my local health food store–or sometimes I buy one bag/month at BJ’s (like Costco or Sam’s)…but once that bag is gone, it’s gone. I will buy conventional grapes grown in the USA if they are on sale (b/c grapes seem to be expensive no matter what!). I get one big container of organic lettuce/spinach mix from BJ’s per month–and I pray I find it on clearance, which 9 times out of 10 I do. I know where the clearance produce racks are at every store! We grow our green peppers in the garden in the summer and freeze them to use the rest of the year. Hope that helps!

  52. Elizabeth says

    Low this post and how honest you are. I AMA stay at home mom and actually homeschooling my Kindergartener this year. We have three children, ages 13, 11 and 6 and it seems money is always flying out the door. The older they get, the tougher it gets. I’m horrible at budgeting but I have been doing so much better with cooking with what I have. We struggle to not eat out with all the sports my kids are involved in.
    Hopefully, my writing will be so etching I can fall back on later and we can breathe a little easier.
    Elizabeth recently posted..In our little bubble…..My Profile

  53. Marissa says

    Thank you for this post. My husband is also a teacher and I am a SAHM and our situations sound very similar. One thing that I have done to help is babysit for friends who have to work. I only watch one or two at a time and not everyday so it is not too much of a burden, but the little extra grocery money really helps. My kids love that they get to have friends over and their moms like that they don’t have to send them to a daycare facility.

  54. says

    Found your blog via Pinterest. Enjoyed reading your article. I really like that you are transparent about your life and love how you “keep it real” with some of the points you made. In the case of my family, there is no way that I could possibly be a SAHM if it weren’t for the income I have from my direct sales business. Unlike most families I know of my business actually pays the majority of our bills while my husband’s job provides our insurance and gives us a weekly paycheck. There are definitely months that are tighter than others so I am thankful for some of the tips you provided here. I pray God continues to bless you and your family. Thanks for sharing!

  55. Nappo says

    I am a stay at home grandmother. When I was raising my children I could not convince my husband to let me stay at home with them full time. I worked nights, so the kids were only with a sitter for a couple hours, until they started school. Then I switched to days but after a few years I was able to work from home. So, I guess I had sort of a hybrid experience. Anyway, I became disabled shortly after my first grandchild was born and now take care of him while my daughter works. She enjoys working and can do so without feeling guilty about strangers raising her children. I try to have dinner ready every day so that when she gets home she can just spend time with her son. I enjoy spending the time with him and wish I had been able to do this with my own children. I, also, watch him one night a week so they can have some ‘us’ time.
    I can say that we were terrible with money while I was still married. Since our separation I have been able to save more on less income. Not trying to blame my ex, just saying it takes two. Both spouses must buy into the lifestyle or it doesn’t work.

  56. Karol says

    One of my patients told me that they reuse birthday, anniversary cards , etc.. It was funny because even her daughter will go in the dresser and grab a used card. She forgot to read it and gave her dad a happy mothers day card. U can even have a good laugh while being frugal. Cards r very expensive. They just add a message and put the year.

    • says

      That’s too funny about the mother’s day card!
      Homemade cards are a great option as well- and really meaningful. (It doesn’t have to be with expensive scrapbooking supplies or anything; just a folded up piece of paper can work!) My Mom makes my Dad a handmade collage valentine every year, with multiple pages.

    • michelle says

      My grandparents have used the same card for anniversary and birthdays since 1995! My grandma said that the card says what she feels and that hasn’t changed so why does she need to spend $5 on a new one! They finally have to get one this year though because they ran out of room, but I think 17 years out of one card is pretty good!

  57. TheMrs says

    Good article, I see our family in many of the suggestions. I am a true sahm. I do not work, only my husband does. We live frugally, buy used, maintain vehicles, etc. Husbands coworkers do not understand how we live on ‘one’ income. It is simple, no car payments, I do not need that coach/db bag, I do not need all those independant distributers products, if there is something I like, scentsy-like items is one, I purchase used burners online, and soymelts online instead of scentsy branded bricks. One way we stay under budget all the time is our housing cost. We purchased a home during this distressed economy. Our home was under 45k, very well maintained with large yard. Our mortgage is much less then half of our rent on a 2 bed was. We bought a home in an area of town that was not #1 on our list, but after reading our local papers law enforcement articles for over 2yrs, our area now is one of the safest in our town. I suggest people look outside of their comfort zones, yes we could have bought in our 1st choice, paid 2-3x more in mortgage, and been a bit closer to town, but with the large amount of burglarys, drug traffic, and congestion in the 1st choice area, I couldn’t be happier with where we are. Just because you buy a ‘cheaper’ home, does not mean your in a bad area, it pays to look in your preferred price range, not just neighborhood of choice.

  58. says

    I loved your blog post. This is so important. I too stayed home with my six children when we could barely afford it. It was years well spent and I loved being a stay at home mom. I did a lot of cooking from scratch and growing a garden to make it. I also made most of my children’s clothes (until they got older and requested that I please stop.) Homemade gifts were the norm as well. In fact it was expected after awhile. My brother told me that he would feel like I didn’t love him if I didn’t make his gift. All in all spending the time with your children is so worth living without all the frills and in retrospect, my children were better for it. They all turned out great and are hard workers. None of them expect things to be handed to them. So keep up the good work and enjoy the few years you have with your babies, they grow up way too fast.

  59. says

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and all these helpful tips! I’ve been staying at home with our daughter since last February and it can be really challenging at times to make ends meet on a fraction of the income that we used to have. There were some helpful tips I will definitely be using!

  60. Melissa Tebow says

    I just started watching another kid during the week to help supplement our income some. We follow all the same tips you outlined above. I do buy new clothes for me and my husband, but because we literally wear our clothes until they fall apart, so I figure I am getting more wear out of new clothing then used and we shop at discount stores and look for sales when we do need clothes, I just got a pair of new jeans today for $12 at an outlet store :-) My kids however almost always get either hand me downs or I buy used unless I find really really good clearance. The one thing we did splurge on that I am glad for is our zoo membership, I take my 2 youngest twice a week most weeks and they always love it, so while it was a lot at once, it works out to next to nothing per visit with how often we go.

  61. says

    YES stay away from credit cards. I have some, again, for dental work (self employed) and other things and I am kicking my bum for not just saving up first. I told my husband no more CCD. I will cut them all up (hurts your credit to close them).
    And thaks about the coupons. I just shake my head at the stuff you can get with coupons but its nothing I want my family to eat. Matter of facting kind of being on one income (my husband and I both run a preschool) we have cut all processed food out simple no money for them. Shop sales for fresh fruits and veggies that the stores have each week and stick to whole foods. I was surprised how much I did save in the last 2 months. Will keep this way but wish my preschool had a few more so we can work on the credit debt. :(

  62. says

    Love that I found your site. It’s so much fun to see how other people do things to “make their pennies stretch”. It’s also fun to see what other people do to live in “Small spaces”. Here is a link to a post I did last year on this same subject. We are now living on one income and have never been better and I know that it’s all of the little choices that we make in life that really add up to be BIG things!

  63. Jenny M. says

    Thanks for the encouragement. I stay at home with my two little ones and my husband is also a high school teacher. I really would not change a thing about the way we live, but some months when we’ve gone over budget for one reason or another, or a child’s birthday comes and you can’t afford what you would love to get them, it can be really discouraging. In Alaska, paying for sky high oil prices comes first! It makes it hard to think about having more children and how we would even afford the prenatal costs. That’s a hard one for me. I want a big family in my tiny house! :) But someone else commented that God does not call the equipped, but he equips the called. I experience God’s grace more everyday through this lifestyle and He always, always provides. Thanks for the reminder to keep working hard for a rewarding life raising my children and loving my husband.

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, Jenny! We teacher families have to stick together! I recently met another teacher wife at a blog conference–Katrina of The Poorganic Life ( She actually only lives about an hour from me. She stays at home, too. Things are tight, but God always provides. Last month we bought bunk beds off craigslist, and even though we got a GREAT deal we really, really felt it by the end of the month! I just couldn’t go to the store and had to get creative! It’s so worth it, though!

  64. michelle says

    What a wonderful post! I recently left my job in medical sales to stay at home with our daughter. Although it is an adjustment it is by far the best decision I have ever made! I love hearing about other moms who have made the decision to stay at home with their children (when they have the option). It is an important and challenging job. My new boss is even more demanding than my last πŸ˜‰ well worth any financial sacrifices.

  65. melissa says

    Just wanted to affirm you in your dedication. I was a working mom for three years before circumstances made it both necessary and possible for me to stay home with my (only) child. It was not easy in the beginning, but here we are 12 years later and even though my son is in High School and I am free to go back to work, I choose not to. We have found that it is just as imperative for me to be home for him now as it was when he was younger. And, though our financial situation has improved significantly, I still shop at Aldi, buy my clothes at Goodwill, always get my bread day-old etc… Those habits are good to have at any time, on any budget, and you’ll find they’re hard to break. Press on young friend and may the Lord bless you for choosing the better thing!

  66. says

    I felt like I was reading about me! We do own a home but in all other ways we have stayed out of debt. I think the hardest part is saying no to my Mommy friends who don’t make as much of an effort to stay on budget and they don’t understand why I don’t go out to the museum or Starbucks frequently.
    Melissa – The Vintage Mommy recently posted..It’s Wasn’t About the MilkMy Profile

  67. says

    Great post! Thank you for sharing. I’m in the same boat. Low income, no recent raises, but committed to being SAHM and homeschooling. Most important thing is to just set your priorities and stick to it. We don’t have a TV – partly because of all the junk on it, but also because we don’t value it and can’t afford the extra costs associated with it. So we do without it. We cut back to 1 vehicle and share it. It saves us money. We set priorities based on our values and then we live out our values. It may look unusual to others. Certainly we don’t keep up with the Joneses, but we are content with where we are and are being more financially responsible than most of the Joneses I know! :-)
    -Shannon in Indiana <

  68. says

    I really enjoyed your perspective on limiting shopping trips to help stay within your budget…those stores can be so tempting. I have just been shopping at Walmart and price matching to help eliminate multiple shopping stops and reduce temptation to buy additional items. I love being a stay at home mom and feel so blessed that our budget allows me to do so. I just wish these days would slow down a little bit so I can have more time with my three girls. Thanks for the encouragement.

  69. McKayla says

    Thanks for writing this. I am a part-time working mother of 2 little girls under 2. My husband is also a high school teacher. What do you all do during the summer months? Just save during the school year? Or does your husband choose a 12 month salary instead of a 10 (in NC, my husband works only a 10 month contract)? The summers are always tough for us as we dip into our savings, build it up again during the school year, only to dip into it the next summer…it’s a bummer. My husband waits tables in the summer, also.

  70. says

    Thanks for sharing your article! I shared it on my blog’s Facebook page! I stay home with our kids (2 toddlers, and a new baby soon!) and my husband works in youth ministry. We always planned for me to stay home, even before we had kids. It’s definitely stretched us, but I wouldn’t give up these years with my little ones. :)
    Jessica @ The Abundant Wife recently posted..How I Made $222 in October!My Profile

  71. wendy says

    Wow what a blessing i have 8 children 14years old to 7months. This is what i tell people all the time when they ask how i and my husband do it! Thanks for keeping me inspired!

  72. Julie says

    Thanks for posting this! It came at a great time. It’s easy to get caught up in all the holiday hoopla and to get envious of all the extras everyone else seems to have. It’s great to get a reminder of why we do what we do and make the sacrifices we do. I feel the same way. Things get super tight sometimes (many times) but God truly does always provide and we have never go without. The nice vacations and new cars may come in time, but these all important days I spend with my son will never happen again. Thank you!

  73. Gabriela says

    Thank you so much for your story. I am a stay at home mom as well with a teaching degree. My prayer is that the Lord help me be wise with what my husband brings home and raise my children the way that pleases Him. Like you, I am trying to find ways that I can bring a little extra income home. This has been a blessing.

  74. says

    I absolutely LOVED your post! Glad I found your blog. I too, am a Christian stay-at-home Mama to two toddlers with one on the way. :) My husband is a youth pastor and while we don’t have much income (according to our country’s standards), we are beyond blessed that I get to stay home with our kids. God always provides in awesome ways! We do things very similarly to you guys and I’m just so encouraged to see other families with the same priorities. May the Lord bless your home, Laura. :)
    Laura recently posted..Save the Most $ While Shopping OnlineMy Profile

  75. says

    Thank you for this post and your down to earth reasoning. I am a full-time working mom of a 3 year old; after giving IVF one last try we just found out we’re pregnant with twins! We are so thankful to God for this blessing, but are really starting to consider our options. Whether I work, or whether I stay at home, we will have to come up with the same set amount each month to get by. My first choice would be to stay home and I just keep praying God will help us make it work. But its gonna take some work and some serious discipline. Posts from other moms who are making it work (such as this post of yours) are so encouraging. Thank you, thank you!

  76. Gretchen says

    I’ve found some free fun for my kiddos at local businesses. Barnes and Noble does a story time with a craft and mini lemonade twice a week. There also happens to be a local grocery store, next to my Barnes and Noble, that gives out one free cookie to your kids when you stop in.

  77. says

    This is something I feel strongly about! I’m really thankful for a husband who also feels strongly about making it work. Thanks for this post!

  78. Bridget says

    Thank you so much for this post! It was so inspirational. I am a new stay at home mom, as I just recently had my first child. I am so grateful to have a such a hard working husband. We’re just like you, we don’t drive new vehicles, and we don’t generally buy new things. Actually, the majority of furniture, appliances, and kitchen items were all given to use or bought for us as wedding gifts. We don’t go out and eat, and turn down expensive outings with others. But we’re happy, we appreciate the little things in life and hopefully our children will to. I’m working on getting to know my creative side and hopefully will soon start making some homemade things such as cleaners, and laundry detergent. We may do without some things that others would consider a necessity, but doing without or making adjustments is well worth it to get to spend every day home with my daughter. Thanks again for your encouraging words, and I look forward to reading more!

  79. says

    Great post! This is very close to my reality. For example, I hear people say it’s worth it to spend more $ to buy only organic and etc.. I do the best I can but I have a slim budget and I can’t just choose to spend more there. So, it’s refreshing to hear someone else that adjusts their life to the reality of 1 income.

  80. Amber says

    One additional way we save money is to use a produce co-op. We have Bountiful Baskets here, and it has been an awesome way to get quality fresh produce at a good price (coonventional or organic is available). They deliver to our tiny town every-other week, year-round, which helps keep us in produce with fewer trips to town (a 45 minute drive). I probably buy about 10% of our produce at the grocery store, and the rest from Bountiful Baskets, the garden, friends’ excess, etc. Another good point- we are a rural farming community, and people are often trying to give away their excess garden goodies- I was given squash, peaches, pears, apples, etc. this year. We do a lot of sharing. I gave away buckets of okra, potatoes, and cucumbers this year because we had more than we could possibly put up and use. A great way to help others and be blessed too.

  81. Cindy says

    Wonderful! Our family does exactly everything you do and I have been able to stay home with my kiddos for the past 8 years. Yes it is hard at times, but I would never change it for anything! Hope others take your advice, it’s worked for us and we really don’t feel deprived that often. We mostly have free and cheap fun and our family just loves being together no matter what we do. PRICELESS!

  82. says

    This is awesome!! I am a stay at home mom too! We have 3 children and our $ is tight at time too. My children wear mainly used clothing that I purchase from Ebay, Facebook consignment pages, consignment stores and sales, and also yard sales! I actually enjoy bargain shopping. Luckilly, I ran across a work at home position back in March that has been such a blessing for us! The company that I work for is called Instant Rewards. They pay daily to my paypal account. I would love to share this opportunity with you! It has been great for our family! :))

  83. Dee says

    I am a part-time stay at home single mom with 2 kids. I really, really want to stay home with them. I realize that realistically I need to put a roof over their heads and food in their tummies, but I am struggling with this issue. Does anyone have any ideas of work at home jobs? I have done day care/babysitting for several years off and on now. And I’ve tutored after school.

    • Jami says

      If you get any good leads on a work at home job, please share! I do daycare, but it appears I will be losing the kids I watch. I can tell you is a website I signed up on that you put a profile on and then can bid for online jobs. I’ve only done one job thus far, but hoping I can get more! Good luck!

    • says

      Dee: Have you looked into a direct sales/party plan company? That’s how I am able to stay home. I started my business while I was working full time and then built it up over the next 2 years so that I could stay home when my husband and I started a family. That could be a great option for you since it would have flexible hours and allow you to essentially work from home. God bless you. I am sure it must be difficult to work and have that desire to be home.

    • says

      Dee- I do affiliate marketing for a company called Instant Rewards. Feel free to check out my page at or give me call at 769-257-0375 if you have any questions. I was always very skeptic about work at home jobs until my friend got started doing this. Once her first deposit hit her Paypal account I was sold! I will be happy to help you in anyway that I can or answer any questions that you may have! :))

  84. says

    I’m in the same boat! We have a 7 month old and quit my job right before I had our son. My husband works at a great company, but it’s small and money is tight, and he gets paid on commissions so we can’t be guaranteed a certain amount of money each month. We bought a pretty big house with plenty of room for really cheap because it needed a lot of work. So we’re scraping by while trying to fix up our home. We always shop deals, but rarely coupons because we’re all about whole foods as well. We’re just getting in to the blogosphere in attempt to make more money on the side while I stay at home.
    Emily recently posted..Update: Making Your Home a HavenMy Profile

  85. says

    I came from a developing country where though incomes are low, families are happier. Our religion Islam, teaches us that a woman’s foremost duty lies with her family and home,however she can work if mandated. Also God has promised to leave none of his people on earth unfed any day.I have practically observed this that many families in my country in spite of being poor are so much happier and contended with life.We also believe that the kind of blessing God has kept in a man’s income is not there is a woman’s. Surely a single man’s income does feed his entire family,which is often not only a wife and kids but parents too.Having read your article comments just made me realize how true God’s promise is.HE knows,HE helps and HE makes it happen.May Almighty bless you all and help you with your struggle.

  86. Carrie says

    You have a very inspiring story! We too are a single-income family living on a teacher’s salary – and making it work with 2 kids and 4 pets. I worked up until the day my first child was born, took my maternity leave, and have never gone back. I had always hoped to be a stay-at-home mom and we have made it work from day one. Have there been tough times? Absolutely! But I would not give up the joy I get from raising my sons and knowing that I am teaching them that family comes first no matter what the circumstance.
    You are right with “where there’s a will there’s a way” since we have paid down debt, paid off 2 vehicles, are sending our oldest to a christian preschool, and are in the (very) early stages of finishing our basement.
    My boys do not want for anything – in fact if anything they have more than enough – and I must say we RARELY buy anything at full price. I am right with you on shopping garage sales, mom 2 mom sales (although have only been to 1 since my second was born), and clearance racks. (I recently purchased new clothes for my son for preschool and with the clearance rack at Kohls, plus their 30% off coupon paid less than $1 each for VERY nice clothes).
    So much of what you said rings true for us as well, it is so hard to believe from reading the comments that so many people are living the same life! :)
    I used to do some freelance work until I became pregnant with my second, then stopped altogether. Did we miss the extra income, however small? Yes, but the longer you go without it, the less you miss it, until it becomes a part of life to not have it.
    I am extremely fortunate to have a husband who feels the same as I do about me being a SAHM and who will do what it takes to make this a reality for us.
    Thank you for your post!

  87. says

    I too have a degree in Spanish! I used to teach but found that wasn’t the best job for me. I’m curious how much you charged when you were teaching Spanish to homeschoolers. I am currently doing that for 2 little girls that are sisters and I’m curious if I should be charging more/less!

    I’m actually hoping to pick up some more kids to tutor. Thanks for your advice!

  88. Anna says

    I love this article. Yes, there are sacrifices made in order to stay home, but the benefits are priceless and the rewards, immeasurable.

  89. Emily James says

    Love it! I got a degree in child development and became a SAHM when we started our family. That’s what I always wanted to do, my husband is extremely supportive as well. We believe that no one can take the place of a mother in the home. We don’t make much, but we are rich beyond or wildest dreams. We live in a good area, my husband had a secure job, and we have been blessed with three beautiful children. There is always sacrifice, but that is party of what makes it so sweet. I would never change it!

  90. Lauren L says

    Love the tips! We just recently moved and cut out satellite, partly due to cost and partly due to I just want my kids to stop watching so much tv! I had to brush off my rabbit ear skills but we get the local channels fine. I grew up without cable and even though I thought my parents were cruel, it’s true they had my best interests at heart. We are down to one car, my husband bikes to work so that saves us a ton of money. Also love the tip about not shopping. That’s a habit I’m trying to break, I always have buyers remorse when I go to Target and spend too much. Get in, get what we NEED, and get out. I stay at home with my three kids but do my master’s degree online. It’s an amazing gift to be able to stay with them and watch them grow every day.

  91. M says

    My tips would be not to have so many children that way you don’t have to have such a boring life. No vacations, no shopping, no going out to eat, no new stuff, no cable….. how boring. I don’t pop out babies like a factory. I’ve got 1, and I can stay home on my husband’s small income without doing any of this (and no, we have NO debt). Better yet – don’t have kids in the first place!

  92. Leslie says

    Thank you for this post. I occasionally find myself wondering when I will be able to spend a little bit of money on something I want but don’t actually need. My husband is making less than a schoolteacher, so I try to very carefully balance a few hours of work teaching music in with my role of SAHM. Living in an affluent area, it’s nice to know that there are others out there who live the way I do.

  93. Mb says

    I watch a family from church’s two kids one day a week. I get paid 14/hour for this one day so it adds up to about 500/month extra. This really helps me stay at home with my two littles. It also reminds me what I’d be putting out (mine are 1 & 2 just like the kids I watch) if I was having to pay childcare expenses. And basically, it’s a play date for my kids once a week.

  94. says

    Thank you! My husband and I are preparing for me to stay home. It is something we have been convicted to do for a long time but felt we just could not afford it (he is in school and makes $25-30k/yr). We can’t ignore it any longer and are planning on me leaving my job after Christmas. This post and all the comments about families ‘making it work’ are encouraging. If this is something God wants, He will provide a way!
    Kourtney recently posted..21 Days to an organized sewing room: Storing the Pattern CollectionMy Profile

  95. Jacqueline says

    I stay home, somewhat by default, but the one thing I haven’t seen mentioned here is how much it would cost (for childcare) if I was working. One of the big reasons why I decided not to pursue a job is that we’d pretty much have to pay my entire salary for childcare-and that’s with just one child. Sometimes I feel bad that I’m not helping to bring in income, but then my husband points out how much I’m saving us by providing all of my son’s care. And we’re living on a grad school stipend, so it’s pretty small.

    • Carrie says

      We are in the same situation. While I really wanted to be a SAHM, we looked at my salary when I was working and found that between child care and gas money for work it would pretty much be a wash. So, basically I would be working and not be bringing in any extra income, but just be working to be able to pay someone to watch my kid (now kids)! No thanks! That solidified things for us and was another tally in the plus column for staying home. It has truly been a blessing to be able to stay home. And while sometimes there can be points I just want to hear another adult voice, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it! :)

  96. Krystle says

    I was curious how did you find jobs to do at home I’ve been looking and I hit a road block or a scam. I would love some advice.

      • says

        Krystle: Try looking into direct sales/party plan companies that are part of the DSA. That’s what I do to work from home. The company I am a consultant with is Thirty-One Gifts. You can look at all the different direct sales companies on the Direct Selling Association website. All of the companies in the DSA are held to high ethical standards and pledge to their Code of Ethics.

    • Kristi says

      You can sign up under me Message me on twitter if you have any questions. Online sales are easy since we don’t carry inventory or handle shipping. I’ve been with the company for six months without spending a penny.

  97. says

    This is such a great post! It is great to know there are other families out there choosing to live frugally! I am a SAHM and my hubby is a missionary in low income housing projects. His salary is only 28k plus benefits and we have 4 children. We know all about stretching a budget! God never ceases to amaze us with His provision. Here are some additional ways we have learned to save money:

    1) The best places to shop are at garage sales. I never pay more than 50 cents for clothes. We also go to nice neighborhoods on bulk trash day (you would be shocked at what some people throw away!) and we either keep the goods ourselves or I collect several things and then sell them at a garage sale.

    2) We also save money by cutting all of our own hair. I have 2 boys and their hair grows awful quickly!

    3) For phones we use prepay cell phones from Walmart so we never have to worry about going over our minutes and we can have a cheap phone bill.

    4) I have signed us up for every local business’ email clubs so we will occasionally get free coupons to go eat a dessert or an appetizer somewhere. We also get freebies emailed on birthdays. I love Chuck E Cheese because they give free tokens all the time!

    5) For date nights I became a secret shopper so that our meals will be reimbursed and sometimes I will even make a little money doing it.
    Vanessa recently posted..So Proud of Doug!My Profile

  98. Stephanie Knight says

    I am a stay at home mother as well. We are not well off by any means either. In this day and age I am scared to leave my baby at a sitter or daycare. It scares me so I choose to stay at home with her. I went back to school, online, by the time I get my degree she will be able to talk and tell me if anything is awry and I will be able to get a decent paying job. I use my stipen check as a source of income,although I have to pay it back it is nice to have right now it comes in handy. I am killing a few birds with one stone so to speak.I go to a online school no sitter, get a stipen not a ton of noney but it helps out, will have a degree for a good job by the time she is able to communicate well. I also make my own laundry detergent, clening products, shampoo, conditioner etc… it is cheaper better for you and you don’t have to worry about your kids ingesting it, it’s safe is swallowed

  99. Amanda says

    My husband is a dental student and I am a stay at home mom to almost 3 little ones. We don’t have a lot to live off of but we have lots of friends that have spouses who have jobs and make good money. They have the money to do lots of activities involving money and we get invited to participate but we truly cannot. I feel like it hurts our friendships. How do I deal with this, while maintaining friendships?

    • Carrie says

      You need to just do what is best for your family. If that means declining expensive outings to avoid debt, then that’s ok. As long as your family is happy and healthy you are doing fine.
      As for maintaining friendships, if you find yourself declining many of their offers to get together due to money, try being the one to invite them. If you do the inviting, you can decide what to do and how much -or little (FREE!)- it costs. Get together for a game night at your house where everyone can bring favorite games and snacks (if kids are involved plan for kid games and snacks too!). Or depending on where you live meet at a local park or beach for some outdoor fun. Also, keep an eye out for discounts and coupons so when you do accept an invitation to something more costly you can save money.

    • Chris says

      My dad told me this story once–when our family moved to a new town, his business had just started doing well financially after ten years of struggle. It was 1973. He told me that he had to make a decision; stay at the club and have drinks with his new friends a couple nights a week, go out to eat with them and go on vacations together, or come home to his family every night. He chose the latter, despite pressure from his friends. He still has six kids who adore him, and more friends than anyone I know. He didn’t want to spend the money, and he didn’t want to spend the time away from his family, and he never once regretted the choice he made.

    • Sandy Erwin says

      Amanda, I suggest you ask them over for dinner or a cook-out. You can play games that you pick up at thrift stores or an outside game of football, etc. You may find your ring of friends becoming larger as the first friends return the invite and you can in turn do the same with a group of families doing something like a pot luck etc. Just an idea.

  100. says

    Great blog! I just had a client send this to me. I think so many women think this is highly impossible! I think we make things more difficult than they really have to be by our high standards of living. Our family is debt-free with the exception of our home which has allowed me to work from home. One of my kids is in elementary school and the other in a Christian daycare and everyone is happy. Especially Mom. I think when Mom is happy then everybody’s happier:) I love having this option. It just takes living within our means. We’re even hoping that my husband can stay home in a couple of years as well! Then life will be grand.
    Whitney recently posted..How to Save Money at the MoviesMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for visiting, Whitney! I love that there are so many options for moms to work from home these days–and to have both parents stay at home would be grand indeed!

  101. says

    Hi Erin,

    Thank god I found your site now. I just tender my resignation letter to the company after 4 years of service. At first I felt confident to become stay-at-home mom but suddenly this morning, the doubt has crossed my mind. And when I found this article, I am now more than a confident to try any things to make sure our family can stay at least as it is now. Thanks for the inspiring article Erin.

  102. says

    I just want to applaud you!!! Recently my husband lost his job, and our older adult children decided it was time to tell their mother that she should go to work full time leaving my youngest without my care. Even though they had had the benefits of a stay at home mom they felt they needed to educate me and let me know that NO ONE can stay at home now days..EVERYONE has to have double income….so this Christian stay at home mom of 29 years, still raising a six year old, while home schooling… wants to say thanks you for this article…it can be done…and the Lord will see you through…and I am still staying home to raise my last child, while doing about all you listed also…no need to reply, I just wanted to applaud!!

  103. Beth says

    Thanks for this article! We are a family of 7 living on less than $35,000 a year. God has blessed us and taken care of us, but we can’t take the vacations, drive fancy cars, or be in all the activities that others can. God has stretched our money in amazing ways, provided things that we needed at just the right time, and we’ve always had more than we need (clothes given to us, etc). I am working on being generous, i.e. when God provides clothes for us, to turn around and give them away instead of selling them, etc. It isn’t always hard to have an open hand to give when we don’t make a lot, and I don’t always do a good job of it. However, after nearly 10 years of marriage, I have no doubt that God has provided, b/c we weren’t supposed to make it financially compared to some people’s standards.

  104. Becci says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post. My husband and I have just made the decision for me to leave my corporate job so I can take care of our son. Although I consider myself somewhat thrifty, I am petrified of how we will make everything work and not feel like we are depriving our family. I know in my heart we are doing the right thing and seeing all of these inspiring comments reminds me that God always provides. If any of the SAHM know of any virtual part time job opportunies I would love any adivce on where I should look. Thank you so very much.

  105. Angelique says

    I found this post on Pinterest and I just wanted to say I am jealous as heck that you are able to be a stay at home mom! I would love to do that but unfortunately my situation truly prevents that. My husband has a heart condition and while he sometimes can work, it’s not consistent and unreliable because he could easily become too sick to work with no warning. So I am the main provider of our household. But my husband as a result is the say at home parent of our relationship, and we do all the same stuff you do in order to afford it. Thanks for posting this to show people that they don’t have to miss out on their family in order to have two incomes.

  106. Wezi33 says

    I am a single mom with 4 children. I work and have a hard time budgeting. How to feed a family on 300 a month seems unreal. I live an hour from the closest grocery store so I have to plan ahead. Getting paid once a month is very hard. Bye the end of the month we have bean soup. :) I am so glad that I found your blog. I’m going to try to do some of the things you suggested.

  107. says

    Hello Erin! I’m Gege and i write you from Italy. I would like to thank you for this post.
    I’m not a mother yet, I married my sweet husband last year. I’m a stay at home wife, in the morning I help my husband in his shop. I have a problem of health so for me the fact of working outside home is impossible. Helping my husband in his shop is just like working from home for me (infact when I feel bad I can rest a little and then I countinue…you know if I were in an office or in an other place it would be a problem! I have to go to my doctors 1-2 times a week and they are very far from here…the situation is not easy!). But I have a lot of willpower to help my husband. His shop is in a crisis and we have a lot of debt for it that we are trying to pay. I would like to find a way to work from home, as you said in your post. your post is an encouragement, because as you wrote it seems that it can be possible!
    Thanks a lot and sorry for my bad english!!!
    Gege recently posted..Hello again dear friends!My Profile

  108. Leigh says

    How inspiring! I recently broke my leg and have been home for about 6 weeks. Luckily our bills were paid up and our pantry was stocked when I was injured. The time I’ve spent with our (almost) 3 year old has been worth the pain and agony of the broken leg and emptied pockets. We unenrolled in daycare, dropped the movie chanels on tv and Christmas will be slim. But, we most certainly have each other!

  109. Lily @militaryfamof8 says

    Hi Erin,
    I have to tell you how much I loved your post, I have been struggling so much to justify myself staying home with my kids to my husband’s whole Family, they say I am just lazy and that we struggle financially because I want to be on the couch. We have 6 kids, they don’t get that even if I worked my childcare would be outrageous, my husband makes 40k a year and things are certainly tough!
    My only income was money I would get from my blog “Adventures of a Military Family of 8″
    ( )
    But I stopped blogging a couple of months ago, having a son with autism and so many family emergencies lately, I just couldn’t handle so much and I am taking a break. It hurts because I absolutely love blogging, and need that extra money; but I know God will see us through ;), he always has πŸ˜‰

    We moved into this house in July of this year and I too furnished my entire house with used things, not only did we not have a budget to buy new, but I LOVE “old things”, to repurpose.

    I love your tips, your blog, and your openness, I will definitely be returning, btw I am also a bjs, and Aldis lover πŸ˜‰
    Lily @militaryfamof8 recently posted..Christmas in October w/a KitchenAid Giveaway!My Profile

    • J says

      Any mom with six kids plus autism and chooses to stay home a priority is not lazy and is power woman. More power to you and if your in laws don’t agree, one day your kids will. I am a stay at home mom of four and my mom stayed with me.

  110. Joy says

    I am so glad that I came across your website! My husband and I don’t have children yet but I know God is calling me to be a stay at home mom. We right know live on one income because we live in Japan and it is very hard to find a job unless you speak the language. I have taught myself how to budget and to live with in our means so we are able to travel in this country (this is a major thing for us since we want to get the most out of living in a different county). I loved reading your tips and getting encouragement that once we do have a family that it is possible to be a stay at home mom.

  111. J says

    I stay home without any added income and I loved your advice. Here is mine.. Teach your own kids preschool and that saves you a bundle and you can enjoy the time. If you say you don’t know where to start look online there are many free lesson plans. If I want a girl night out we get together to play games or we all bring a treat and watch, more like talk, a movie. The last but not least if you think you can you can, if you think you can’t you won’t.

  112. says

    As a working wife who does not have children yet because of personal choice, I am having a hard time understanding this way of life. I grew up just as you are describing… riding in used cars, not going on vacation, having hand-me-downs, canning, gardening, etc. My mom stayed at home until my youngest sister was in school and then she went back to school full-time, became a teacher and has worked ever since. My dad worked swing shifts for years, and even when my mom was in school (it was like a full-time job with her schedule) I never felt like someone else was raising me, or that my parents didn’t have time for me. Whenever my mom did need childcare, she put in the care of someone she trusted 100%, usually my grandmother.

    I do feel like I missed out on things growing up, and that’s why I want those things for my children. We didn’t go on a vacation until I was 16. I know my parents didn’t really have a choice. My mom had no education, so a part-time job would have barely covered day-care. Now that I’m older, she tells me things, like how they had to borrow money from family to cover unexpected expenses like medical bills or a new furnace. They had no savings for a long time. My dad was always fixing up cars. Now they are in a much better financial position and can enjoy more now.

    I’m baffled by a family choosing to live this way, “barely affording it”, when I grew up without a choice. That just does not sound like the way to live. I am also Christian, but I believe God wants to give us more than “barely affording it”. I’m not advocating a frivolous lifestyle, either. We need to be good stewards of what He gives us. I also cannot understand having a college degree and not using it, whether there are loans or not.

    Anyway, just my input.

    • says

      Thanks for your input, Elizabeth. We choose to live simply, but we hope to have more one day. Truly, if I went to work now–even full-time—what I would make as either a newspaper report (my background) or as a teacher (I previously taught ESL) would not even cover daycare expenses for 3 children. My hopes are to make enough on my blogging income to live a little more comfortably. I’m enjoying using my skills from home–although it’s a challenge for sure! I really wish we had saved more when I was in your position. We were both working full-time and had no idea how much we truly had back then!
      Erin recently posted..Being a SAHM When Your Kids are in SchoolMy Profile

    • says

      Maybe it depends on the child…because I also grew up the same way, and feel nothing but gratitude for the way I was raised. I’m so thankful my mom was there to raise me. I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all…quite the opposite.
      Erika recently posted..13My Profile

  113. Natalie says

    Good for you! It’s very refreshing to read about a family who takes charge of their finances and makes sacrifices to live debt-free and give the best to their kids. As a fellow thrifty mom, I can affirm that our children do not want for anything because of this lifestyle, and it does NOT mean it’s a depressing way to live. It’s all about the attitude, and I am inspired by moms like yourself who don’t play the victim role! You go girl!

  114. says

    I love this post so much! I stayed home with my babies for 13 years – until #4 was old enough for Kindergarten. Those years were magic. Of course, now I’m one of the only 40 something teachers at my school with so few years under my belt, but I would’t trade those years with my babies for a million dollars. Now I teach high school again, and I still get to be home with them in the summers and on holidays and snow days.

  115. says

    I have an empty nest and love staying with the little people of my friends for an evening — so they can have “date night” –which doesn’t mean dinner and a movie- could be just a long walk getting to hold hands——I personally don’t want $ for doing this — I give the the gift of time which is a blessing for all of us. Look for someone in your church family that would love to give of their time

  116. Sandy Erwin says

    Erin I stumbled across your page through Pinterest as well. I have to admit I worked most of my life when I had my two oldest daughters but when my youngest came along, who is 13 years younger than the middle daughter, the desire to stay home became very strong for me. I continued working for a while but by the time my youngest was ready for Kindergarten, I was able to take a part time job across from her school. It eventually became a full time job as they let their manager go and replaced him with me. I felt pressured into the position and later decided to quit altogether. I picked up a part time job somewhere else and eventually quit work altogether because of my health. By this time, I was raising 2 of my grandchildren and getting my youngest through high school. I have done most all of these things you talked about and then more. There were even times when my husband lost his job during this time, in fact he probably lost about 3 or 4 jobs, but we managed to get through them. My grand children eventually went to stay with their mother and my youngest finished college and my husband and i were on our own. He again without a job for about 7 months or more. It seems we have always struggled though, even when I worked so I figured out ways to make it work. We had what I called “survivor” night, where I went to the cabinet and literally searched for food and had to make a meal on what I could find. Most of our favorite recipes developed from this method. Even though my husband has been working again for a while, we may start having our two grand kids living with us again so I’m glad I am able to live frugally and I learn learn ways every day on how to save.

  117. gail says

    i am not a sahm YET, but we want to try and make it work. we both work full time right now, and i feel like by the time i get home from work i have about 1 hr with my sweet little baby girl before she’s ready for bed. it seems slightly impossible for us right now, our car payments are what kills us each month. i sell mary kay to bring in extra money, on top of the full time job. and brandon works at a country club and sells cutco on the side as well. any tips on how to survive in orange county california on 1 income for a family of 3 with slightly higher bills?? i am DESPERATE to stay home with my baby girl. she will be 1 in a few weeks i feel horrible and so guilty because this year flew by and i don’t feel like i spent as much time with my baby as i would have liked to.

    • Becca says

      Gail, I was in the same boat, only in NC. God provided a job for me doing childcare at my church for a ladies’ Bible study 2 days a week and 2 nights a week. It pays $10/hr. My son got socialization, so did I, and I got paid. I quit my teaching job with no knowledge of how we would pay for food and gas, just faith. He found a way. He will find a way for you, too. :)

  118. says

    I haven’t been very good about buying used, but I’m on the other end: I *sell* my stuff and at least get some money out of it. This is particularly useful for baby gear that we don’t need anymore.

    We also hardly go to movies; instead we borrow DVDs from the library. We also shop with a weekly list so that we don’t waste food. And we don’t really buy too many things and try to make it last.
    Nina recently posted..13 principles of effective parentingMy Profile

  119. says

    We do just about all of the same things! We have a two year old and are expecting a second baby this summer. I know we’ll never be rich, but I’m so very grateful to be at home.
    Erika recently posted..13My Profile

  120. Jennifer Davis says

    I just want to thank you for your story. I am also a stay at home mom and wife. My husband works construction, so I am in the same boat as you are. I have found many ways to be savvy so as not to break our budget. I really appreciate your tips! Oh and good luck with everything!

  121. Jenny Brown says

    How do you become a blogger’s virtual assistant or editor? I would love to do something like that! My husband and I both work full time (he started his own construction company a year ago; I am a teacher), but I am looking to supplement our income a little (or a lot! haha).

  122. Megan Spence says

    We are a family of four and my husband makes much, much less but we somehow make it work. We do a lot of the same things your family does. I am in nursing school and have to take out a small loan to help with gas expenses and childcare. We have netflix but have yet to cancel our satelite which will be the next thing we do to help save money! I have to get creative with dinners as well. We are blessed to have wonderful family members close by that watches the kids when we want a night to ourselves. We usually pick up a cheap meal and watch a movie on netflix. I have recently discovered consignment shops! I have a 5 week old and most of her clothes come from consignment or we bought them from people we know that were selling there clothes. She has clothes that will last her up to two years that we only payed about $2-$5 a piece for and all are very nice! Also, I keep the clothes she outgrows and take them back up to the consignment shop to get credit for them.

  123. JulieBaby says

    I am an older mom with grown kids. I know some of you girls don’t hear the things you need to hear from your own mothers, so please allow me to say that I am proud of you for making the choice to put your family first. Your children will be blessed beyond measure for the sacrifices you make. Even when you mess up, you are contributing more to their well-being than you can imagine. I pormise you wil not ever regret the years you spend with your growing children. Good job, Mom.

  124. M.G. says

    I love this, we, unintentionally do most of these since money has always been a struggle. We cam to a point in our lives where we touched rock bottom, my husband hated his job, we were ljust barely making it (or not really making it that well but pretending we were) and we just knew something had to change. It was always our plan for me to stay home with the kids for at least the first years of their lives before they went to school (If I don’t end up homeschooling anyway) so we did not want to change that. We decided to take my husband’s parents offer to move in with them so he could go to college. We had to sell everything we owned and move across the country to the cold and solitude of Alaska. I must say this hasn’t been easy AT ALL! it’s been probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, when I could have easily returned to work and sacrifice being with my children, but instead I sacrificed EVERYTHING else: being close to family and friends, leaving everything I know behind, now owning any furniture, losing our house to foreclosure, getting our car repossessed, losing the privacy and comfort of having my own place. But I get to be with my babies every single day. I get to make them breakfast and snuggle with them, and be there when they learn something new and when they’re not feeling well. I lost my “domestic goddess” title so just so I could keep my “stay at home mom” one. I still babysit here and there to make extra money and give me the luxury of buying crafts stuff to stay busy. I’m grateful for everything that’s given to me on a daily basis (a roof, a bed, food) but I trust the Lord better times will come after all this because if He’s made it possible for me to be home with my kids in this bad financial situation, then He will have a way for everything else…I appreciated this blog very much. Thank you!

    • Brittany says

      All of these stories are so touching. And so nice to hear you are not alone. Good luck to you and your family!

  125. Brittany says

    I loved reading this. It was very up lifting. my family and I are in the same situation. These past few months have been really tough. Wonderful joys of owning a home, everything all of the sudden has decided to break. Well pump, pressure tank, washer, vacuum, and to too it off someone hit our car last weekend. But praise god, he always makes a way. To help us save here are some things we do. gotta love aldi! We also have a great grocery outlet called sharp , so I usually hit both. I have also started making all of our cleaning products. And I medically. Laundry detergent, dish washing detergent, shampoo, body wash, and we also stopped buying paper towels. I bought cloth and we wash them. I am working on getting cloth diapers, however they are pricey to start so we are saving for these. Also we live in a great area for flea markets, yard sales etc. and I’m working on my sewing skills, to make things and sell them. I’m pretty crafty so I’m always trying to think of something to make ppl would be interested in. anyways, thanks ain’t for your blog. Good luck to u guys, and god bless!

    • M.G. says

      Yup…I feel your pain. They’re not joking when they say “when it rains it pours” and it’s hard to understand why. But I know the sacrifice we choose to make to be with our babies and invest our time, love and dedication on them will one day pay off, and then, everything will be worth it. One day I hope to be able to return to work, and have a nice house and live free of financial worry, and by then, my kids will be old enough to appreciate what they have. I don’t remember if my parents took me on expensive vacations or the brand of clothes they dressed me with, nor the expensive toys I owned, but I remember waking up at home and having the security my mom was going to be there all day, for my every need. Sta strong! God bless.

  126. Leah says

    Hi Erin, I just stumbled across your website via Pinterest and I am so intrigued by the idea of editing/PA for bloggers! I am not yet a parent and have a job, but I am keen to bring in a bit of extra money to save as much as possible for when we do have children so that we can afford for me to be a stay-at-home-mum. An online job would also be an also opportunity for a bit of extra travel! Are there really that many bloggers around who are willing to pay for editors or virtual assistants? What does being a virtual assistant entail? How do you find those kinds of jobs? I have a degree in journalism and loved editing, something a lot of my classmates found bizarre because they hated it. Really curious!

  127. says

    So glad I read this! I loved being at home with my 3 girls too! I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Oh wait, maybe that my husband wasn’t a commissioned salesman. Never knowing what his income would be from one month to the next made life interesting. So proud of all Moms. – Robin K. Owings, MD

    • says

      That would be SO hard to not know! My husband’s check isn’t a lot, but at least we know it will be there if we can make it to the end of the month. Blessings to you!

  128. Alexa F says

    We have family night with grandparents twice a week. When each family only has to make one thing, say I make dessert and my sister-in-law brings a salad, then my mother-in-law would only have to make a main course. We all benefit financially and get all of the family together :)

  129. Rebecca says

    I came across this website/blog by way of pinterest. I was intrigued by the caption so I read the post about how you stretch your monthly income. I have to say, I am just so impressed. Then it got me to thinking about something I hadn’t thought about in a few years. In 2003 my family and I moved to St. Louis (where we are both from), to a pretty tightly knit neighborhood. I was welcomed by the other SAHM’s in the area but always had a feeling that I needed to make more of a contribution to my family- monetarily. Before I could bring my idea to fruition, we were transferred to another state where my youngest began kindergarten. Here was my idea: Find a group of 4 other mothers with children around the same age as your own. Each woman cares for the other women’s children one day per week while the others work outside of the home. They each work one different day per week, no one pays for child care, their children are cared for by a reliable, trustworthy individual and a part time income could be gained. Also, the group could agree on a “learning plan” and participate in basic pre-preschool education. It’s a win-win!!! Best wishes to all the SAHM’s out there…it’s not for everyone but for the one’s that do it, God bless you!!!

  130. Kim says

    I love this entry and really wish I could make it work for me, however, I work so that my kids will have insurance. I got this job when my first was 3 months old because insurance through my husband’s work was over $1000/month. That would have brought his biweekly paychecks down to less than $300. I had a friend who worked here and told me it was only $400/month. We had to make the logical choice :(

    • says

      Insurance is such a tough thing! I pray you can make it work one day! $300/month would be terribly hard to live on…and what a blessing to be able to provide insurance! We pay about $600/month, and even that feels like a lot! Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. :( Blessings to you and your family!

  131. Laura says

    Hi, we are a family of 7 used to living on two decent incomes. My husband and I were both recently laid off and our unemployment brings us to a livable level but not without changes to our budget. Any suggestions for transitioning? Or how to supplement an income legitimately from home? Thanks ; )

    • says

      Hi Laura! First of all, I am sorry about you losing your jobs! We are in such a tough economy right now! I can say that one legitimate way to work from home is by being a virtual assistant. This is a reputable site: I also highly recommend the book The Bootstrap VA. I have met the author. She jump started a career as a VA when she had trouble finding a job after college, and she now makes a full-time wah income from being one! She has been very successful, and I believe she is still offering a deal where anyone who buys her book can be in a mentoring group she has on Facebook. The link to her book is here: If you are reading this before Monday, Jan. 21 at 8 a.m., her book is actually apart of an exclusive special deal JUST for work-at-home books (a set of 5) for only $7.40! The link to that is here: I am planning on doing a week-long work-at-home series sometime this spring because I get this question almost daily, and I really want to help people learn how to do it! (I’m still learning myself!) Best of all, I’d pick something you and your husband are good at–something you are passionate about! Blessings!

  132. Victoria Arriero says

    I see that your life is a lot like mine, and that you are happy! I couldn’t have kids for 7 yrs. and now I’m on the 4th pregnancy , they are a blessing, I get to spend all day with them and. Would not change it for the world. We live on a budget and I’ve tried to go back to work but seemed like all my money was gonna go to transportation and child are.these tips a very useful thank you.

  133. Rachel says

    I loved your post! I am also a SAHM, and wouldn’t have it any other way! We have 4 kids and are expecting our 5th! We have a tight budget and are almost debt free as well. (Except the house) We currently live in a 3 bedroom townhouse. We are working on paying off our student loans and should be done by May of this year!!! (Wahoo!) I am grateful to stay home with my kiddos and wouldn’t have it any other way! It can work, if you WANT it bad enough! We give 10% of our income as tithing to our church. Because we trust in The Lord, we always make it through rough times.

  134. Sarah says

    I love this post! My husband and I do the same thing, except he stays at home with our son and I teach high school. Love to read about people doing things like us. Makes me feel less alone about it all.

  135. Amy says

    Thank you for this post! I have been blessed to stay home with my preemie twins for their first year, but I have to go back soon or lose my employment. Thankfully we wouldn’t have to worry about daycare since my mother didn’t find a job after becoming an empty nester, but I want to give my children what I had, a parent always there. Hopefully this post will give enough tips to talk my husband into my staying home. One thing I would like to add is I was a fabric junkie before my boys were born, so I supplement income with selling my crafts (through Facebook so I don’t need to pay to sell). This was really helpful during Christmas since I did craft fairs, and I had all year to get my supply up.

  136. Amy says

    I forgot a great resource for fresh fruits and veggies that don’t grow in your area. We do Bountiful Baskets. I don’t remember how much area they cover. Arizona, up the coast, west to Wyoming at least. It’s a co-op so you don’t always know what you get every other week but $15 gets $50 worth if you bought at the store.

  137. heather says

    I to am a stay at home mom and I have learned when its summer time buy ur winter clothes and she. It’s winter buy ur summer for kids buy bigger size just in case they grow I can find my kids clothes at the mall shirts 2 dollars and pant between 2 and 6 I also don’t go and buy the exsprnsive Xmas presents I wait till Feb when they go on clearance for 5 dollars or less which then they get for there birthday in march and if u go the day after Xmas they have all there body washes on sale stock up for Xmas the next year or u can use them all year which works great for my family of five at income tax time is when I stock up the most on shampoo and conditioner I go to sams club I figure if I don’t one load of dishes I buy the tables which has 90 I know that will last 90 days same with trash bags my system has worked so great for the past 6 years I even unplug my washer and dryer when not in use I got bill down to 30 dollars in June in Vegas was amaze if u unplug everything it helps and we have one car which is hard to get kids to school and work so I got bikes and the kids love to ride bikes back and forth to school as a family when u have to budge u figure out away I’m now trying to do coupons hopefully I get that down to a pact lol I’m just there are other people who do this in this world glad I’m not alone

  138. Meredith says

    The only part I object to is the no vacations part. My parents lived extremely frugally, but they spent money on travel. I attribute most of my success as a student from primary school through graduate school to the things I learned about other people and places through travel. As the saying goes, “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” (Books too, but there are libraries for those!)

  139. says

    This is a great article. So many women feel the pressure. I’ve found that working can sometimes be expensive on its own. You have to have work appropriate clothing, eat out more, and pay for child care. My husband and I are expecting our 7th and he makes around $50k. We struggle a lot but we’re making it! The best thing we’ve done is PRAY. Miracles have come into our lives often, and though we wish we could give our kids more, it’s been amazing to let them see the hand of God in their lives.

  140. says

    I am curious why you pay for netflix, when is free for most tv shows, and the library has free movies. Have you tried hulu?

    I also want to add that it helps when your husband has good health insurance for the family from his job. My husband is a grad student (allmost done, woo-hoo!), and we are having to pay $8000 base for me (the SAHM) and one child with a $3000 deductible. That was the best with maternity coverage outside of going government dependant, which all my friends in our boat did. Fortunately, we had enough savings to live off this year, and he will have a real job next year…

    • says

      Hubby says he wants Netflix, so we have Netflix. :) We’ve recently looked into Hulu, but from what we can tell, it’s not free.

      We pay $7,200/year for health insurance. Only my husband’s premium is covered. We looked into an individual plan for me, but it would be just as high to have maternity on it, so we stuck with the plan we pay for through is work.

      Congrats to your hubby!:)

      • says

        You are paying a lot for insurance too :(. it definitely helps in the event of an emergency though.
        I am assuming you have highspeed internet with your blog and all, but if you just go to, much is free. you can pay for Hulu plus, which gives you a lot more, or you can get free Hulu plus month subscriptions if you use Bing as your search engine. Here’s the link to check out that: ( (you can also get Amazon gift cards, and various other things through here.) Then you can add that monthly fee to your savings :).
        Andrea H. recently posted..Pumping Life Back into a PumpMy Profile

        • says

          Yes–and I hear insurances are about to go up even more. :( But yes, we don’t feel like it’s wise to go without it! We do have high speed but not the highest..the medium range one. Thankfully, it’s a tax deduction since I am considered self-employed now that the blog is bringing in a little supplemental income (ironically–since I wrote this post!). Thanks for the info. on Hulu! I really want to start trying to get some Amazon gift cards! I have a lot of friends who do a lot of bulk ordering through Amazon. I have ordered a few things on Amazon before, but we don’t have much space for extra “bulk” goods! Thanks!

  141. says

    Do we win a prize if we already do ALL of the things you mentioned? :) I read this out loud to my husband and he was astonished at just how much alike our families are!! Even down to the staying in a 2 bedroom rental. We’ve already talked that if we #3 that we’ll still just stay here and have all the kids share a room. Some of our family doesn’t understand why we live so tight so that I can be at home (even though we supplement his worship director income with me teaching piano lessons and doing graphic design and photography from home while raising our two little ones). And like you-I don’t mind what others say-we don’t need material things, we don’t want for anything-we like it just the way it is πŸ˜‰ LOVED this post πŸ˜‰

  142. Amanda says

    inspiring article! I also am a stay at home mom of two children, one of whom I home school. We live on a very tight budget as well. One thing that we do that always helps out is we always get local CSA’s with some of our income tax money. I get a meat CSA and a vegetable CSA. I pay for them now, and enjoy the food throughout the year without it cutting into my monthly budget. It always seems like a big chunk of change when you write out the big check. However, it is so nice to get a big bag of veggies every week throughout the growing season without seeing it come out of your budget. And the monthly meat pick up is the best!

  143. Alicia says

    Ya its tough my husband makes less then 20 k a year, we have 2 little ones and I might be having to go back to work soon…before the end of my mat leave…again. But Ive been making more changes around the house to make ends not only meet better in the house financially but also make it healthier… the way God intended it to be. I am now making my own natural items:
    Babywash, Shampoo, reusable natural baby wipes, laundry soap, foaming hand soap, dishwasher dtergent, multi-purpose cleaner, reusable natural disinfectant wipes, toothpaste.. and the list goes on. Not only is it healthier, but its also cheaper and saves big time money. Recently I threw out most of my makeup and am now dabbling in making my own. Not only is it cheaper but its healthier…chemical free. House is chemical free from everything except my husbands body wash and the cleaner for the tv and his computer. its one of those instances that reminds me of what my pastor at southland talked about a few weeks ago.. sometimes less is more. I use less ingredients to clean but am able to clean more items with the same product. I buy less and save more. Little by little God is showing me more things to make ends meet. He is good, all the time.

  144. Amy says

    Hi! I am a SAHM of 4 and with the economy taking a dive, and my husband making half of what he was, we have relied a lot on family. You would be amazed at how much grandparents will pitch in to make sure the kids are home and being taken care of by their Mom. I have one friend who’s parents offered to buy all of her children’s clothing (what a great gift!) and another friend who’s parents pay part of her mortgage so she is able to stay at home with her children. One thing we LOVE is we ask all of the parents, grand parents, aunts, and uncles to pitch in for our Christmas vacation. Instead of everyone buying tons of gifts, the kids don’t need and we don’t have room for, we ask them to pitch in money for our Family Christmas Vacation. With a family of 6 it allows us to be able to go on at least one vacation a year. I believe the time we spend together and the memories we make are more important than the material gifts. Everyone also enjoys the thank you card they get with a picture of the kids having fun on vacation!

  145. Earl Rogers says

    Thank you so much for posting this. We are in very similar situations. My wife and I both worked full-time with the school system, then in 2010, I came down with Interstitial Lung Disease and can no longer work outside the home. So, for the last three years I’ve been a stay at home Dad, and I absolutely love it! We have a very similar system to what you described, and you’re right, it’s so worth it. This disease has been hard (I nearly died three different times in the hospital, spent 6 weeks in MICU) but I am thankful to God for the changes it has brought in our lives. Also, I am fluent in Spanish, too. One thing that I do is translate documents. The agencies or people e-mail me the document, I translate it and e-mail it back. I enjoy doing that, and it helps because even if they can’t pay you (and some do pay well) they may swap out goods or services for your service of translation. That helps, too. Thanks again, God bless you and your family.

  146. Erica says

    Thanks for this post! I came across it on Pinterest. I’m 5 months pregnant with our 3rd and it looks like I’ll have to stay home because the cost of daycare exceeds my annual salary. My husband works in a public school system and doesn’t make a lot of money, so I’m worried and scared about how to do this successfully, but it was comforting to read how you are making it work and many others who commented, as well. We also opt to stay in our house that is too small, in order to save money. Some of these changes will be extremely difficult to make, but if this is going to work we have to make some big time sacrifices and changes! Thanks, again. All the best to you and your family.

    • Carrie says

      I too am a stay at home mom whose husband is a public school teacher. I left my job when my first was born and haven’t looked back. We are making it work and I am loving the fact that I am there for my kids 100% and am watching them grow and thrive. I am here to let you know it is totally possible. Since I left work right away with my first, we never had to factor in the cost of daycare, but we did experience the drop of my income. But in all honesty, it has been ok. We just prioritize what we need to spend money on, and while it may take longer to purchase some “big ticket” items, the wait is worth it. The things we stopped spending money on aren’t even missed.
      When we got married and moved into our house, we had 3 TVs, a top end satellite programming package, we ate out at least once a week, etc. Now we are down to 1 TV (by choice, and we don’t miss the others!), a middle programming package (since we don’t watch it as much) and eating out is a rare treat. My 3 year old actually begs to make dinner at home when given the choice (gotta love that!)
      We spend a lot of quality time with the kids and oddly found that it saves us money by doing what we love to do. We don’t spend money on going out for activities or food, we shop sales thoughout the year to stock up on gifts, and we really research purchases before buying.
      We are currently in the process of finishing our basement (doing it ourselves to save a lot of money) and doing it on a single income. It may take a little longer, but we will be saving money, learning new things, and having fun as a family.
      If you plan ahead, budget, and pray you can make it work!

  147. Frances Blagg says

    I pinned this so long ago and i just finally read it. and we pretty much do the same over all.
    it me,baby, & hubby. none of just working atm, my husband gets funds for going to school. im not sure how, but i mange to get a 2 bedroom apt for the price of a 1 bed room, i do coupon a lot of items, stock on sales. we rarely buy anything new, i thrift my daughters well everything, when it came time for a tot bed i took all her stuff to a resale shop and used credit to get her a bed frame, and clothing.
    and its so funny cause my millie loves my little pony, and i always thrift them .25 to $1 eash vs $5 in the store or more. my husband jokes if we keep living like this after he gets a job we will be out of debt in no time! lol. and we walk to a lot of places when the weather lets us vs, blowing money, the 2 biggest tip id have would be
    one- dont help family, its sounds bad but yes $7000 in debt trying to help my inlaws fix/save thier home, and not even a thank you, so slowy digging our way out as fast as we can, and never again having a card!

    2 JUST SAY NO TO COINSTAR! ahhh it drives me bonkers seeing ppl use it i used to use it just for pennies, but now my walmart & win co have the self check out where you dont have to add one coin in at a time, i have no shame, pulling out jar of pennies and slowly adding in. why lett some machine take 10% of your money

  148. Rachelle says

    I love your list! I haven’t read all of the comments, but I wanted to share a quick not on the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen. Although Aldi is now offering and advertising several things in organic, they have always had a lot of organic produce. I believe that because it wasn’t organic from the USA, it might have meant they couldn’t call it organic (just speculation on that part). If you look at their produce and read the small stickers on them, they often say organic from Mexico. So, I have found organic items from the Dirty Dozen at Aldi for cheaper than the conventional pesticide ridden produce at other places. So read their little stickers and you might be able to add in a bit of variety, in addition to the Clean 15. Also, I belong to a local Christian group that gets free food from Trader Joes several days a week. The program was started as a result of the documentary Dive! (available on Netflix),; it is about people who were dumpster diving for all the food found in Trader Joe’s dumpsters; they were feeding their families and sharing with food banks. Now TJs gives us the food instead (it never touches a dumpster) and we use it, freeze it, dehydrate it, etc. I also raise my own chickens and pigs for meat and eggs, I feed the pigs off of food bank throw aways and the chickens free range. We make less than what everyone else has posted and are feeding/supporting a family of 11 (including an injured son-in-law & 2 grandbabies), not far from DC where prices are high. We made many financial mistakes along the way, especially when we weren’t walking with the Lord or when money was good. So now there have been situations we are paying for, but even so in those situations God provides. It is doable and I want to encourage young mothers to continue with these practices, it is worth it!

  149. Sara says

    It’s so wonderful to find this on the internet! I was looking for some form of encouragement and came across this post. I am a sahm of one (so far) 2yr old boy. My husband and I live on roughly the same income (40K). We have had some problems recently in our relationship and went to our pastor for counseling. In a nut shell I have been told by my pastor that if I don’t contribute to the income in some way my marriage probably will fail. Before my son was born my dh and I both agreed on me staying at home. I feel as though I do contribute I plant a garden every year shop for my sons clothes at yard sales and thrift store. Dinner is made every evening with whole foods…..I don’t buy anything already prepared. Any type of gift for family or close friends is a handmade one (ive learned how to sew and crochet). I even go to the dump to hunt up repurposable furnature (you would be amaized what people throw away). I tried explaining to the Pastor that I feel led by God to stay home with my son….that I truely believe this is where I am supposed to be. I am at a point where I feel I have no one to support me in staying at home. I don’t feel as if anyone understands why I am doing this. I have no friends and I certainly don’t know any othe sahm.

    • Mary says

      Sara. Oh how my heart aches for you. I have been there. I am praying for you. First, I think you should find a new pastor!
      Second, I think you need to find other sahms in your area. Time to start hanging out at the park; chatting with others at the toddler room Sunday school; contact Birth-to-three; join an online support group. You need support. You can’t do it alone, whether you are a sahm, or are working. It is awkward at first, but, please, join. Ask for phone numbers. It is worth it. I am mom to six wonderful, amazing kids. After my first kiddo was born I really faced some depression issues, and the bottom line is that I did because of a lack of support. You need peers who can encourage and comiserate. It is not a want. A need.
      Third, none of us here knows your husband. All of us here understand your plight. None of us can tell you the right thing to do, but if I was in your shoes (and I once was) I would take out a piece of paper and start writing things down in a list of expenses that you would incur if you also worked: daycare; increased food bill; increased gas expense; increase in taxes; and increase in clothing (you will need a work wardrobe). That new list should open some eyes and ears, because it really ads up. Really take it seriously–research the cost of daycare by calling around.
      Fourth, you can bring in income without working full time. You say you can crochet and sew? Start teaching lessons–other moms, kids (think about advertising at local girl scouts office or schools). Or I have several friends who make crafts (jewelry, potholders, aprons, etc.) and sell them at craft fairs, local festivals, crag’s list, etc. Just build up inventory before going to any fair or festival. You can find ways to do it for cheap.
      Fifth, seek God. Only he knows his plan for you. Only he knows your husband’s heart and what is right. Even your pastor is human. Seek God.
      Sixth, many husbands are afraid to admit it, but are jealous of the new child because he takes all of your heart and care. Remember that you are a wife first, and a mother second. Without your husband you WOULD be working full time to support your son. Baby your husband. He needs it. All men do. Even though your job is exhausting and 24 hours a day, he doesn’t understand. Even if he tries, he doesn’t. You have to understand that it would be very lonely to not understand and feel abandoned. Plus all of the financial pressure is on him. Give him sympathy and encouragement.
      Seventh, if you and your husband have sought God, and have found that you do need to increase your income, look to see if your husband can find a new career. It sounds like you are young???? Can he advance in his career? Choose another career? With your support, if you baby him, he might be able to.
      Eighth, seek God.
      Ninth, seek God.
      Tenth, seek God.

    • says

      Oh Sara, my heart hurts for you! It sounds like you are doing ALL you can to stay at home! Does your husband support you staying at home? Much love and prayers! Know you are NOT alone!

  150. says

    I enjoyed reading this post. My husband got out if the military a year ago and we faced a 50% less income. Right now, he makes close to $40K a year. The one thing I refused to give up, was produce. When we lived in UT, I learned all about canning and home gardening. it became a love. It is so easy to sun dry foods, as well as blanch and freeze. i am definitely, a clearance produce person. i took do many steps to get away from prepackaged foods, and don’t want to go back. i even make my own bread, bisquick and cream soup mixes…almost everything from scratch. I started making laundry detergent, started cleaning with either bleach or vinegar, even making body wash for under $1 for 16oz, just about a year ago. If there is a will, there’s a way.

  151. says

    My husband makes over 50k for our family of 5 and we can barely do it! we live in the midwest our house payment is not that bad. I work part time job for my youngest can go to work with me at a gym for a couple hours. We do have a teenager. My question is in this land of more more more gimme gimme gimme how do raise your kids with the ideas they don’t have to have everything. It’s really hard to have a teenager to see what everyone else has and he wonders why we don’t have to. She doesn’t do without by any means trust me! She does believe that she should have an iPhone with internet on it though. It’s just hard to try to keep up with the rest of the world thats doing so much more than we are with just one income.

  152. says

    I loved this post Erin! It is actually encouraging to know that I’m not alone, other moms are going through the same kinds of trials and difficulties….not that I wish them on anyone, but to feel that others understand gives me peace, and in a way, hope. I will definitely be visiting your blog again.
    Kimi recently posted..5 Ways To Stay InspiredMy Profile

  153. says

    Thank you so much for this article! I know I’m reading it a few months late but I just saw it on Pinterest. We are expecting our first baby and I am doing everything I can to stay home. These give some great ideas and I’m excited to continue reading :)

  154. Bonnie says

    Wow. Such a disappointing post. I don’t think you are doing your family any favors by crowding three children into a single bedroom, going without the experience of vacations, and not taking time for yourselves. Good luck though.

    • Rachelle Barco-Calderon says

      I am sorry Bonnie, I don’t mean to sound snooty, but I honestly felt so sad when I read your comment. First of all, spending time with my family is such an overwhelming joy/pleasure that it doesn’t matter where we are or what we do. I live outside of DC and there are plenty of free things there, but growing up I lived by the beach which was free, too. There are plenty of free stay-cations, what really makes it fun is being with those I love. I have had vacations that were more stressful than any stay-cation ever was. I don’t think children want to be bought, they want to be loved. As for limiting your bedrooms, 90% of the world lives in much smaller homes than we do here in the US and for 1000s of years people lived in small spaces, again the love is what matters, not the size of your home. My children each have their own small room (I have a split foyer with a finished basement), yet they always choose to spend all of their time in their siblings’ rooms. And just because a family is frugal doesn’t mean the parents don’t get time alone, children go to sleep, walks can be taken, etc. I feel so bad when I think about your perspective on life. I can’t express enough the extreme pleasure I get from just curling up with my children and a book… Or my husband and a good movie on netflix. You are missing out on something amazing!

        • Kristi says

          My grandmother passed last year. She said her biggest regrets were not knowing her children. She valued social outings more than anything else. My mother had the same life of the party attitude. I would have given anything for their attention. Work was a distraction from raising kids and parties were an escape. I don’t remember bedtime stories, familiar faces, or a loving family. My children do not have fashion and gadgets, but they have my unconditional love. Our home is a 3 bedroom. We have 8 people total. I’m not sure why we have the other bedrooms because they crash in my room.

          we’ve seen the village and don’t want them raising our children!

    • says

      Oh, goodness! Don’t feel sorry for those of us who have it so “rough”! I’m learning (finally) that what matters is time together, love, laughter, and you sure can’t buy that. Love Rachelle’s response. If we could just stop fretting over finances and what we can’t have and what we don’t/can’t do, we could actually enjoy life every moment! For “vacations”, we hike, picnic, camp, visit family, etc. It’s all good.
      Michelle recently posted..AnnieMy Profile

    • Kim says

      Vacations and separate rooms don’t bring happiness or contentment! We used to have three kids in a two bedroom house. We now have four kids in a three bedroom house. They all shared a room (well baby is with us for now) until we converted the room into two small rooms. Now my son is always asking us when he gets to share a room again! I wouldn’t be willing to spend beyond my means and go into debt or go back to work for something so trivial. Even when we were living on a modest income, we were rich compared to most of the world.

  155. says

    We could be “frugal twins” – my husband is even a poorly paid high school teacher! And we live in beautiful, but expensive Santa Barbara. But God is providing. Here’s my take:

    I would add that we are big swappers: clothing swaps, baby sitting swaps, food swaps, etc.

    And we’ve always squeezed ourselves into smaller spaces so we could rent out a room. A may be a stay at home mom, but I’m also a property manager! =) We’ve even co-bought a couple of houses with other families so we could split the mortgage. Great community living opportunity as well…

    Finally, my husband bikes to work so we have only had one car for over 9 years.

    It can be a challenge but the 6 of us have made it this far… Thanks be to God!
    melanie recently posted..BOOK BITES: Like Dew Your YouthMy Profile

  156. Lizzie says

    What a wonderful post. I am going through a divorce. I have 3 little boys to take care of. I have a full time job already and would not like to take on another as I would like to spend as much time with the kids as possible. I’m in a period of reconstruction (of myself and life) and these adjustments are just killing me. I’m putting myself in the mindset of “it’s okay, it’s just temporary” and your post is inspiring. I love the living at or below your means. Which is not something we valued in our marriage but something I’m embracing now. ( I realize I’m behind the curve ) Thank you. God Bless.

  157. B says

    I just wanted to add that an excellent way to decrease your food budget is to buy bulk in the summer and preserve it. Canning is a great way to store food & it keeps well. If you have a freezer that works great as well. Utilizing all that summer bounty our Lord provides helps fill up those winter months with healthy food.
    There’s lots of resources on the net for canning & it’s not as hard as it looks – just hot and time consuming but so very worthwhile.

  158. says

    I congratulate you for living a calm, cozy, family life. I, too, am a high school teacher (Spanish), and I understand perfectly well where you are coming from. I have a hobby, a passion, and that is good enough for me…. no outings, no expensive wine, no need for designer clothing, etc. Life is very good for me albeit not one full of luxuries, I count my blessings and would not have it any other way. Teaching is on of those blessings to me. I used to be a principal, but no, the classroom is where it’s at.
    Greetings from Texas!!
    Richard recently posted..Now on Echolink!!My Profile

  159. Single mom of 3 says

    I’m not one to be mean or go against someone, and I love these tips! However in your grocery cart is Mountain Dew. I have not bought soda in years. That to my is a luxury.

    • says

      That’s a stock photo. πŸ˜‰ I haven’t drank soda since I was 18–so 14 years. I agree–it’s luxury. And not only that, it’s incredibly unhealthy! Thanks for the comments!

  160. says

    For your encouragement– my parents raised 8 kids on *ughem* a very small budget. At one point 6 of the siblings shared a room, with the 2 youngest in my parent’s room. I am so grateful to the Lord for the privilege of growing up in a home filled with love and for being able to learn what it means to depend on God for “our daily bread” from my youngest years. Now, as a mom, I can look back and see how hard it must have been for my parents, but they never complained. My mom got super creative with the food shortage. Sometimes when we had little to eat we would read a missionary story and pretend to live on their rations for a day — a handful of rice and water. It was an adventure to us because we got to act out the story. Other times we’d all be on our knees asking the Lord to provide, and He always did!! We never suffered. “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” and that applies to moms who have been lead of the Lord to stay home and raise their kids for His glory!
    Naomi recently posted..The Very Hungry Caterpillar PartyMy Profile

  161. lpelon says

    I’m a semi stay-at-home-mom (I work on my computer from home) putting my husband (or long term investment as i jokingly call him) through pharmacy school. We live on less than 20k, thank goodness for scholarships that pay for his schooling, I could work out of the home using my teaching degree and make more but I realized that after child care I would end up making about the same as I do now and not see my child all day. At one point I even chose to work the graveyard at McDonald’s so that either me or my husband would always be at home with my son, and we wouldn’t have to pay for day care. I’m really grateful for your ideas and am going to start using the ones I don’t already. I look forward to the day (5 years down the road) when my husband is done with school and I can be a full time SAHM, but we all can make it work.

  162. says

    I really enjoyed reading this post because it sounds so much like us. When my husband and I had our first child, we decided to have me stay at home when she was born. It was such a difficult decision at the time, we were so worried about money, but my mom always said, “It will never be the perfect time, but you’ll find a way to make it work.” We did so many of the things you mentioned above – creating meals out of what we already had in the pantry/freezer, buying our clothes on clearance/thrift, going out for coffee dates instead of full meals, finding free things to do as a family. Even though we don’t need to be quite as thrifty these days, it created a “waste not” attitude for our family, which I hope stays with my children always. Working from home brought on even more financial opportunities that we could never have expected. My husband was able to leave his desk job about 4 years ago and work from home too! We love all the extra moments we get to experience as a family. So blessed and so worth the sacrifices early on. (I just started a blog to share our experiences too. Feel free to stop by, it’s a work in progress! )
    Jill recently posted..Why I Work From HomeMy Profile

  163. Kristi says

    I love and agree with about everything. As someone who would like to start a family and stay home – how to do pay for health insurance. Are you and your kids covered by your hasbands insurance? This has been our one hangup and we do not believe in using state insurance.

  164. says

    Yes! Finally I found another mom who doesn’t coupon and STILL makes it work. yay! I also shop once a month, and I love it. I love a good challenge! And my kids wear clothes that I either find at Goodwill, or at a free donation local place in town. (free donation, as in ppl donate whatever, and you come and take whatever you need for free.) It is possible to make the whole once a month shopping thing, plus having company, if you plan and do it right. (trust me, I’m still learning.) Great blog! Thanks!

  165. says

    You sound a lot like me! That is how I’ve always done things except for the no credit card thing – but a time came when we needed those credit cards in order to survive. We had no other way of paying our bills. And now we have heaps of debt! I’m at the point right now where I HAVE to work. There is no scrimping and saving feasible. Either I work or there will be NO income for a while. Hopefully that’s only temporary though. Great blog!! And I do have to agree with one of the commenters – it does take two to live frugally! Luckily if you have a husband who truly loves the Lord you can pray that the Lord will show him this!!

  166. says

    I am so happy I came across this post via pinterest. I am a SAHM with 3 little ones and we also have 3 adult kids and 4 grandkids. It’s been HARD to adjust to ^^ everything above but I wouldn’t give up staying home with my kids to go back to work to “have it all”. The hardest part is trying to explain to my girls that there is just things we can’t do because we don’t have the money and it’s hard to say no to family and friends over and over because their idea of doing “something” always requires a lot of money just for one outing and they go out a lot. It almost feels like to be a SAHM and barely making it every month means we need to be anti-social. I don’t like it but I love seeing my girls daily and getting to engage with them and see them grow up. I missed that with my first 3 because I was a single mom who went to school and worked full time. I don’t ever want to miss out and do that to my 3 little ones. Thanks for sharing this!
    Salena Lee recently posted..One Ingredient Ice Cream, What?!My Profile

    • says

      Sounds like you are doing an amazing job! They will see that one day–and they are getting their social needs met with YoU! Be encouraged! :)

  167. G- says

    I just wanted to say reading all these comments was so encouraging to me. I’m a stay at home wife without the blessing of children yet. I worked as a preschool teacher for about 6 months but my asthma kept acting up so much of the money I made I lost in doctor’s visits. I always wanted to be a stay at home mother and have the opportunity to home school my future children. My husband will most likely continue the job he has now, which is a wonderful job for him and gives him good hours so he can be home more. Yet, he will never make more than a teacher’s salary maximum. But we are making it work now, which gives me confidence we can make it in the future. I’m learning to make my own cleaners, make food from scratch, learn good grocery prices for various items, sew (made a few baby quilts for friends already); and there is plenty more to learn!..It is hard to make friends because what I do is so foreign and, frankly, unaccepted by a lot of people; but I know what I do will pay off in the future. Thank you for the encouragement.

    • says

      So glad you were encouraged–and you will be very prepared by the time those babies come! I wish I had had that forethought!!

  168. Emily S. says

    Love these tips! But is anyone saving for retirement? I’m currently working and desperately want to stay at home, but I know my husband would never be able to retire. Are you girls putting money into savings each month?

    • G- says

      We try to put some extra income into a Roth IRA, since my husband doesn’t have a 401k. Not the recommended amount, but as much as we can. Not everyone is comfortable with investing this way but it works well for us and we are making money on our investment.

    • says

      Right now a small amount comes out of my husband’s check each month & I believe the school system has a good retirement program. However, our goal is to eventually bring in more income (through my little odd jobs–like blogging) & put some of that in retirement.

    • Kim says

      Honestly, we just started saving for retirement. My husband is a teacher, but in an independant school, so no teacher pension. His first teaching job they added an amount you were supposed to invest yourself to each pay, and well, we didn’t. At first we couldn’t afford to, and then we kind of forgot about it since it was all one cheque. His new teaching job they invest the money for you so we were finally putting something away after 7 years of marriage (still not the max though). It adds up quickly so even if you can put aside a small regular amount it really does help and I wish we had done it sooner.

  169. Kim says

    I love how you said you can’t afford to get into debt – what a wonderful way to look at it! We came across Dave Ramsey after being married for a few years and got rid of all our credit cards besides the one we use for plane tickets and rental cars. Eventually we ended our expensive car lease and bought a used van with cash. We had dial-up internet until 2007. Secondhand clothing for both of us was a huge money saver, and other than a few camping trips and “work” trips we’ve tagged along on, there haven’t been any vacations since our honeymoon unless you count a trip to visit family after our cross-country move.

    When we started our family were in the barely afford it situation too. We found out we were expecting 3 months after getting married, and just as my husband was starting his first year of teaching with a modest pay cheque to match. I worked until I was about 4 months along and then “retired” to motherhood. He continued to work in construction on his school holidays and did personal training on the side. Thankfully God provided through our families and church families with gifts and hand-me-downs. We have been blessed in many ways over the last 9 years and my husband is now a principal as well as a teacher and we are out of those tough years (for now). We still only drive one vehicle, don’t have cable or satellite, a cell phone, and bought a house below what we could afford. You could say I’m frugal. πŸ˜‰ It always bothered me when people would ask me what I was “doing now” and in response to saying I was a Mom they would say, “Oh, that’s nice if you can afford it.” as if you have to be wealthy to have only one income. On paper, we certainly couldn’t afford it, but it just wasn’t a question for us. I’m grateful for the bigger pay cheques now, but even if we were still back there in the early days, I truly believe we could raise our four children with me at home.

      • Kim says

        My husband was kind of fell into the principal role when the principal at his first school retired after he had only taught for a short time. I think he was only 27 when he started! He was teaching full time gr 7/8 as well and it was a very small Christian school. Now he says he doesn’t think he could ever go back to just teaching alone even though he loves it. He seems to have a knack for the management/leadership part of it and a few years ago we moved to a much larger Christian school in another part of the country where he now teaches about half-time as well as being the principal. Only now he has a vice principal and a secretary. :) The pay increase certainly has been a blessing since the cost of living is more where we live now.

        • says

          Wow! That is great!! My husband has his masters degree in curriculum and instruction & we recently discovered he would only have to take 4 more classes to get an “admin add-on” which would give him what he needs to be a school administrator here in NC. But we are still trying to figure out how much the pay raise would be. It seems it varies per state & after he applied another friend told us the pay raise is not berth significant. But we have several friends who are school admins in MS and we hear the pay is a lot more for them. So we still have so e research to do. We also think of would be neat to be able to go overseas one day and have him manage an international Christian school.

          • Kim says

            It definitely varies from place to place, and if not a school system from school to school. I can’t recall exactly how much it was, but I know it made a big difference to the $30K or so he was paid his first year teaching. He doesn’t have his Masters, but he is taking a Masters level course this summer and is considering it. I can’t say I really want him to be home less though!

  170. Sara says

    For the first 2 1/4 years of my son’s life I worked, and he came to work with me. (He has great social skills because of this) Then the business I was working for was sold to a new owner who did not want me bringing my son to work any longer. So for the last year or so I have been a stay at home mom and my husband makes less than 40k. I love it, most days.

    Until the early part of spring I did no additional driving if I could help it. Then I took on the unpaid job of gardener at our Church, so I have had to go there 3-4 times a week. But not driving, walking to the library or to the park for play dates saves us a ton of money.

    My husband takes a sack lunch to work.

    We do not eat out.

    I trade babysitting with other stay at home moms.

    When it is warm enough out I start planting my garden, this helps feed us fresh veggies from spring until the first hard freeze. I’ve even brought tomato plants in and had fresh tomatoes until almost Christmas! I freeze what I can and this helps with our grocery bill when unexpected things come up.

    We see no shame in hand-me-downs. (I don’t even know where the idea that hand-me-downs were bad came from.)

    I cut my sons hair, and sometimes my husbands, and I keep my hair long so I don’t have to have it cut as frequently.

    My husband does 90 % of the grocery shopping. Since he is already out and the store is on his way home.

    I know within the next 6 months I am going to have to get some kind of job. Health insurance is going to go up a LOT again this year and no matter how much we save other places we wont be able to make up the difference. That and I had to have emergency surgery this year which while ‘covered’ by our health insurance still cost us 10k. I am looking for something I can do in the evenings or weekends, when my husband can be home with our son. I looked into daycare and by the time you add it all up, if I worked full time and sent my son to daycare I would barley be making any money. Not enough to really be helping pay the bills.

    There is one thing I splurge on. Once every 3 or 4 months my friends go to lunch and I try to be able to go with them. Being able to recharge by spending an hour or so with your good friends is important.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your story & tips! I hope God provides you with a job that is more than you ever dreamed–both financially and with the flexibility of being with your son! Blessings to you!!

  171. sara says

    Hi i have just read all of this and all i can say is WOW..i am a SAHM and have been for 27 yrs..i have worked part-time but gave it up 7 yrs ago when i had my 5th baby..i love being here with my cannot buy you everything i have learnt over the years..maybe we didn’t have the best of everything but we have made the best of what we older girls all have their own homes and families now..but have very fond memories of their childhoods..they have also started to do the things i did..making bread,sewing and mending,growing veggies and fruits..making jams and preserving foods..thing is we all really enjoy it.
    I have started to home school my 2 littlest girls 7 and 4..and i have to admit i enjoy it too..teaching them to knit is testing my
    There are so many women out there who really want to be home with their littlies and i find it sad that so much pressure is put upon them to work..they do work..children do not raise themselves,laundry does not sort or iron itself,meals do not cook themselves..i can hand on heart say that after 27 yrs my husband truly appreciates the “work” i do everyday..
    We have no debt at all..and a roof over our heads,we are warm and fed and most of all loved…i wish all the women who want to SAH could..
    hugs to all..

  172. says

    What a great post! It’s so true that we’d all love to spend every second with our little one’s, but very few people can actually afford to without some “creative sacrifice” πŸ˜‰

    It CAN be done, if you really want it you’ll put your thinking cap on and find a way!

    Thanks for the great post:)
    Real Mommy recently posted..Organize Your FridgeMy Profile

  173. Pam says

    EXCELLENT ideas! Especially since we do all of those and have great success :) I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for an item of clothing! And we only go shopping when we need something. I too grew up in a family that shops for leisure and now when I go somewhere with my mom or dad it makes me CRAZY because they have to look at EVERYTHING. I just want to get what I need and get out.

    We actually have reversed roles in our home. I work full time, plus a few hours a week at a 2nd job. My husband and I decided that when we had kids, he would put his career (and commission only income) on hold. My income covers the mortgage, the bills and everyday living expenses, his income covered incidentals and occasional splurges. Me keeping my job was a no brainer since the pay is much better and I have the family’s health insurance, retirement plans, good pension, etc. We did the math and figured that all of his income would go to child care expenses, so decided the he would be a stay at home dad. After 10 years, he is planning on returning to the workforce this fall once all the kids are at school all day. We have missed that 2nd income, and have made do, but are really excited about getting the mortgage paid down, being able to afford some home improvement projects that we have put off, and me getting started on a master’s degree.

  174. Tamra says

    I am a single parent(church helped us get out of an abusive situation from my ‘evangelist’ husband about 5 years ago). And although I am an RN and am very grateful for a job and the flexibility, I am constantly looking for ways to be home more with my daughter. I do not have a part-time position, but work and pick up shifts as needed to live. We live much as you describe. No cable/tv, 16 yr old car, high miles, but NO payment. No credit cards, cash for everything, thrift stores/clearance everything. And Homeschool(it is cheaper and easier). Looking for ways to work from home if anyone has any resources:)

  175. says

    Thank you so much for the great money saving ideas! I’m leaving my corporate job in a month to stay at home with my 4-month-old :) My husband and I are working on re-vamping our budget and looking for any advice from veterans of stay-at-home mom families!

    It’s encouraging, too, to read that you work freelance even while staying at home. I will be working as a freelance graphic designer, if possible, but I’m not quite sure how to balance my time yet! Work during naps – that’s the plan so far.

    • says

      Congrats on coming home!! There is a big demand for graphic designers in the blogging community! I hope you find some freelance work!

  176. Michelle says

    Hi there!!
    Not sure if you will see this, but I had to leave this comment. I appreciate this post more than you can understand. I am a single female (no kids) but I am always interested in ways to cut costs. I work 3 jobs, and I freelance for a fourth job. I love your outlook on life. You seem to be a wonderful mother and wife. One critique (with respect) your wording seems as though you are justifying yourself or that you worry others will think less of you. For example, when you explain about shopping for your kids clothing, you also expand upon that to tell us that they are not poor quality clothing. I would never have thought they were. This isn’t a negative critique so much as me trying to affirm that I think you are doing a great job as a mother and wife, but also letting you know that no one thinks poorly of you. (I am perhaps completely off base with my perspective on your wording.) I admire your head for financial responsibility. I hope you and your family are well.

    Michelle from California

  177. says

    I am truly envious of any woman who can stay home with her children. I am the bread winner in my family. I am an engineer and my husband works retail, if I didn’t work we couldn’t live on his income alone. I have a 10 year old son whom we have split custody of and we are expecting our first child together in January. I am a true believer that if you have the opportunity for one parent to stay at home with the children you should do it! In our case however it can’t be me. I have been trying to convince my husband to stay at home when the baby is born but he won’t do it. I think it’s a combination of he doesn’t feel like that is the manliest thing to do and he that he won’t be contributing. I know he’s crazy!! Taking care of the children has to be the biggest contribution a parent can make to the family. I have tried to tell him that I am extremely envious that he even has the option to stay at home!!

  178. rachel says

    I love staying home with my kids and would never let strangers raise my kids (that IS what daycare is whether you like it or not.. so wrong) but even if I WANTED to neglect my kids in a daycare, I couldn’t afford to put 2 kids in full time daycare. I would never earn enough to even cover the cost, so what would the point be? In this area, Boston, its well over $600 a week for 2 kids full time (if you want a decent place). I think a lot of woman cannot afford TO work.. which is a good thing

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  180. Amy says

    To say at home with my kids (2boys 6 1/2 yrs and 16 months) I mystery shop, and make crafts for sell. I make greeting cards, hair bows, beaded bracelets, and have done scrap booking.

  181. Rose says

    Seems your situation may have changed a bit (I read a recent post on Keeper at Home by you). But I just wonder, how do you keep up with this regimen? I mean, we also are BARELY keeping me home b/c of my husbands low pay, we do close to everything you do except for my husband and kid’s health conditions we actually have to eat a lot of expensive stuff :( regardless, all of the restraints is making me nutty. So many times I want to buy things, go places and get stuff for my kids that isn’t expensive but just a bit out of reach without sacrificing something else. Any suggestions? I’m looking to start freelance writing work also.

    • says

      Hi Rose!

      It has changed a bit…just in the past 6 to 8 months. My husband was bringing home around $1,800/month for 10 months out of the year (and $0 the other two months since teachers here do not get paid in the summer), and now he is bringing home a little over $2,000, and we are very thankful. More than that, though, God has blessed us with providing writing gigs, etc. for me. I can so relate to feeling nutty–and even depressed some. It is so disheartening. Between all of us, we have gluten, egg, dairy, and tree nut allergies, which make the food issue complicated as well. Sometimes I just want to go order a cheap pizza from Little Caesar’s, you know?!

      We take it one day at a time. It took me writing a solid 2 to 2 1/2 years before I saw any significant income. Still, I must keep it up or I know we may very well be barely holding our heads above the water again. It’s tough. I get very tired because sometimes it means staying up really late at night, and sometimes it means saying “no” to a lot of extra activities with other moms.

      If you are getting into freelance writing, that’s a great place to start! Also, there are a lot of ways to make money blogging. I love it because people can come read, and we can interact and they never have to spend one penny, and I can still make money doing it. It’s something I am passionate about–educating and encouraging others! Other moms are great at direct sales, but it’s just not me because I don’t like people HAVING to buy something I sell (now, of course, if people buy my ebooks or bundle sales, etc. that does make a bigger difference, but they don’t HAVE to…which I love…low pressure or no pressure at all). I also don’t want moms to buy stuff they can’t afford because I can so relate to not being able to afford even food each month!

      A lot of bloggers (myself included) also have a team of “helpers” or virtual assistants. I think I linked to the book The Bootstrap VA in this post. It gives details about how to become a VA. VAs can do anything from answering emails to organizing spreadsheets to working with blog sponsors. It’s great for moms who are very organized and have attention to detail.

      I’ve been wanting to write a series on being a wahm, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet!

      I hope this helps some. I so understand your discouragement! I pray you are somewhat encouraged today!


      • Lisa says

        Has your husband gotten his MA? My husband went through a very affordable program and had his MA in a short time, and his salary went way up. He made enough so that we could spread out his paychecks to 12 months instead of 9, and he no longer took summer jobs. He’s still taking classes and working toward his EdS, which will give him even more income and also more opportunities for working in administration, where they pay is better. I don’t know how many years your husband has worked or where you live, but here in MN teachers incomes increase each year. It has gotten so much easier for us over the years, and when we look back on our taxes from when we first started until now (about 10 years), the increase is significant. I also started working very part-time (5 hours a week), by taking care of an old lady at her home two evenings a week. The pay is very good since I decide what I get, and it helps our the family so much…it’s just that little extra boost that makes me feel abundance. Best of luck to you :)

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  184. Emma says

    I was a stay at home mummy until we just couldn’t afford it out outgoings are more than our incoming and its depressing I like to have money so when we get time off work we can treat our child to a trip to the local play centre. I understand you want to stay at home but to constantly budget and worry about food? I couldn’t do it I like to know money is there you work for nothing if you can’t treat yourself or children I love seing my daughter swimming or playing at her fave place and I get to take her when I’ve got money so it’s a bit selfish if your able to work to provide more for your children instead of constantly struggling the. I don’t see why you can’t think of what your children are missing because you do t want to work I don’t want to sound harsh but that’s my opinion I work for pennies to treat my child when I have time off :)

    • G says

      I have been a working mom (about to be a SAHM) and quite frankly find your comment a little rude. So let me get this straight, you work so you can afford nice things to do with your child? Some might call it being selfish to NOT be with your child most of the day just so you can treat her with some $4 ice cream cone on the weekends. How about buying ice cream at the grocery store for $4 that feeds for multiple occasions and having it at a park instead? There are ways to have fun that do not require a lot of money. I do agree activities like swimming require money but those first years when your child is small, you can do free things. And in your own words “I don’t see why you can’t think of what your children are missing because you” CHOOSE to be away from them 40+ hours a week?

  185. Faye says

    Just wanted to say thank you. I know this was written a while back, but wanted to post anyway.

    We are a family of 5 (3 boys, ages 3-9). We live in a 3 bedroom house we “own”. We do most if not everything you do to save money so I can stay home. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    We CHOSE to put our three kids in one bedroom (a triple bunk bed, no less!) The third bedroom is their small playroom. Our kids LOVE it, and my oldest is 9. They sleep GREAT. They NEVER wake us up at night. The “chatter” I hear through their door as they fall asleep at night is the most precious thing in the world.

    We make enough money that we are right above the income levels to receive any type of government assistance. This is a HARD place to be. A little less money and our family would seem way better off financially. I would love to see a post about living right above the cut off line! :)

    Thanks so much for sharing. You are a brave women and I really needed your words today, as some days I feel bad for one reason or another… but the comments of some of the naive and some of the great really inspired me to count my blessings today.

    • says

      Thank you for commenting, Faye! We actually just moved to a new house–and we now have enough room for them to not all share a room–but we chose to keep them together as well! The one-year anniversary of this post comes up in a few weeks, and I am thinking of an update post. To make it short here, I am making more income from home now, but things are still tight because we try to make it on hubby’s income alone still. When I wrote this post, we were just above the line to receive food stamps. Yes, you are right–it’s at a VERY hard spot to be in! I feel your pain! I hope you are encouraged today!! <3

  186. Jill says

    Great post and it nails it. Somethings I’ve run into, people (men and women both) who stay at home also make sacrifices in other areas like private versus public school. I stay at home with our two kids and because of it we cannot afford Montessori Preschool $25k/year for 10 months!!! or other private preschools. In our income bracket, area we live, everyone else can afford it on one great income or two working incomes. We can’t.

    I can easily go back to work and make enough to cover daycare for 2 kids. But I choose not to, and I’ve often heard “why did you go school?” Because I don’t want someone else raising my kids. I have a doctorate from an ivy league so financially I was making close to 6 figures. But instead I choose to NOT send my kids to private school, I choose to not buy a SFH but a townhouse (HCOLA) and we drive older, used cars.

    Second sacrifice which I often hear is “you aren’t paying/saving for college? why not?” We can’t afford to. Now we can and do save for retirement. We are not in debt, we have a substantial amount in retirement and taxable savings. BUT we are living very lean and college is low on the totem pole. Again if I worked our kids would have 100% paid for college. BUT instead they get me.

    Do I regret it? Not right now. I love my kids and I want one to two more. With one more kid I’m pretty sure we’ll have hit the point of no return for where it’ll be financially feasible for me to work.

    But I hear from A LOT of other parents that they can’t believe we aren’t doing private school or saving for college. And that I should be working because I should give my kids the best of everything. I can’t argue with giving my kids the best, but I wonder why is having me full time at their beck and call and being room parent, chaperoning, etc the “best”?

    Why is a teacher with a 1:10 kid preschool ratio better than me with a 1:2 kid ratio? And I have an advanced degree and I’ve taught and tutored both high school and college. I do a lot with my kids. So they may not get to go to college debt free, but my DH and I are trying. We save $2k/year each kid in a ESA. We have a fully funded retirement so they won’t have to care for us in old age. We will have no debt, paid for home, and possibly we might be able to cash flow some of college.

    So why do I feel guilty?