She works hard for the money

I’m really excited to jump into the personal finance aspect of my journey, but there’s so much to share that I figured an overview article would be the best place to start.

When my husband and I were thinking about the logistics of me staying home, initially it seemed impossible. We were both employed in full time positions, but with my credentials, I was earning roughly double my husband’s salary. So me staying home was going to mean some BIG changes to our finances. Honestly, I really didn’t think it was possible. Even though we’d avoided lifestyle bloat with any raises and bonuses that came our way and only carried debt on our house and one car (at certain points, but the car situation is another post), it seemed like even with our hard-work and ingenuity that we just wouldn’t be able to make ends meet on one salary, especially when the one salary was 1/3 that of our current income.

But we looked into it anyway. I created a budget spreadsheet with different scenarios. What if we cut this? That there can go. Do we really need to spend X dollars on Y? I googled for ideas. I found a great calculator here on determining if you can afford to stay home (by the way it told me I could not in fact afford to do so, so let’s call it a very conservative calculation). I also googled for “family of 3 on $XX,XXX” (insert your variables here). There are actually a ton of other blog posts on how YOU can afford to stay home with your children and the frugal tips necessary to make it work. For example, How to afford to be a stay at home mom, Staying at home with your kids when you can barely afford it, Yes, you can afford to be a stay at home momI also started reading Mr. Money Mustache’s blog during my maternity leave with my first son and got soooo many great ideas.

As with my guilt over staying at home after my hard work went into lots of education and work experience, it was comforting to see I was absolutely not alone in this challenge. It was also extremely helpful to get fresh ideas for how we could make it happen. My husband and I are pretty enterprising, but we can’t think of everything on our own, so the internet was an invaluable resource for us (as it tends to be!).

I plan on sharing many more of the specific things my husband and I did to make living on one income possible, but here’s some early notes I came up with to help figure out where we could make cuts and how low we could reasonable go, as far as living expenses.

budget example 2

A few notes:

  1. We were very aggressive on our mortgage, so the first few models have extra payments going to that (it was about $950 a month and included interest and insurance… we were able to refinance in the summer of 2017, after 3 years of home ownership, to a 15-year mortgage with a lower interest rate, taking our mortgage to $1020 per month, interest and insurance still included.
  2. This is not comprehensive, just an example. There are things you won’t see included here… I didn’t figure it would be prudent to share our actual entire budget with the internet, because… privacy.
  3.  I might have a thing for buying clothes. It’s actually funny looking back that I gave this its own line item. I actually haven’t purchased any new clothes for myself or my husband for almost a year. That said, the kids are growing fast, so they do need new stuff somewhat regularly.
    1. Also, it’s wonderful to have two children of the same sex because of hand-me-downs. Winning.
  4. For the annual pre-tax amount (the salary your employee tells you you’ll be earning), I took our expenses and multiplied it by 1.3. This creates a 30% tax rate, which given our income and number of dependents is an over-estimation. But I like to be careful.

I really do look forward to sharing more of our specific tips with you all, especially if I get to keep including spreadsheets. 🙂

Please comment below with questions or comments. Or, better yet, share your story about being a budget ninja in order to achieve your dreams.

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