January 17, 2012

Our SAHM mission and the things we have learned

I have had several friends and family ask me about our finances preparing for me becoming a stay at home mom. These are very logical questions like how we are going to adjust to one income and what we are doing to prepare for said adjustment. These questions have lead me to discover that I have learned a LOT about budgeting through this journey to becoming a say at home mom...

But I am getting ahead of myself. First, what we are doing to prepare...

First off, we set down and decided where we wanted to be financially while I am staying at home. We considered things like how we want to be able to live during that time. Are we okay with the fact that our vacations during that time will be limited and on a tight budget? Are we cool with shopping garage sales and CraigsList when possible? Can we be content with the fact that we will have to give certain things up? Our answer to all of these questions was yes. However, we also didn't want to end up putting ourselves in a position of struggling financially for many years to come and we didn't want to stress about money every month. We wanted to have a sufficient emergency fund built up and be putting more into savings every month while I am at home.

After some discussion, we decided that we didn't want to have any consumer debt while I was staying at home. We didn't have a huge amount, but it was enough that it was taking a chunk of our monthly income and causing a fair amount of stress. We both agreed that we would be happier waiting till these debts were paid off to lose my income.

This "step" kind of went right into the next: learning to only have Shaun's income. In April 2011 when Shaun got his promotion, we sat down and figured out our budget. We really looked at what we were spending our money on and where we could make adjustments. We cancelled our cable and opted for Netflix and Hulu for our TV watching. I decided that with couponing, cooking more from scratch, and just spending more time planning our menu we could take our grocery budget down. We started getting more careful about how we were spending our daily money. After tweaking other little areas of our spending we were a little surprised to discover that we could already live on just his income once you took our our childcare costs (which we obviously won't have once I am staying at home). Which went back to the paying off debt thing...

We decided that we could achieve both goals, paying off our debt and learning to live on Shaun's income, at the same time. We would snowball our bills (pay just the minimum on all our bills putting all our extra money towards the smallest bill till it is paid off, then put all that money to the next highest bill, and so on) and put my entire paycheck, minus childcare, toward these bills. So, not only would we be paying off our bills, we would learn if we could actually make it on just his income. Our goal was that once these were paid off, the money that was going to that each month would start going into savings to build our emergency fund.

Now, here we are, 6 months later and 2 1/2 weeks from reaching our goal of paying off all our consumer debt. After those are paid off, we will be putting all that money each month into a savings account for our emergency fund. We have learned that we can live frugally, but confidently on just Shaun's income. We know that we are going to have to make sacrifices here and there, but we both feel that it is worth it for me to be at home with our kids.

Which leads me to digress to something that I want to make clear: this was a mutual decision. This is not some thing where Shaun is wanting a little wifey sitting at home cooking his dinner or where I want Shaun to work to pull in all the money while I sit at home a eat bon bons. This is a dream we have BOTH had since we had Jameson (really, even before that). We BOTH feel that this is the best decision for our family right now and BOTH feel very blessed that it's an option for us. (There had to get that out there- feel better now).

On to the what I have learned stuff: Well, I have really felt like I have learned a lot about finances, discipline, and goal setting that I really want to share with others. I am by no means an expert, but I do want to share what I've learned in case it would help others out. Soooo...

I decided that I am going to do my first "series" as a blogger over the things I have learned throughout this journey. Over the next few weeks, I will be putting up a post about a particular lesson learned! I am sure many of you will read it and think "Well, duh Brandy, I could have told you that". My hope is that if even one person can learn something from all of the posts, maybe they will be able to get a step closer to their goals! I have decided to call this "Share the Wealth" (yes, I know, I am amazingly clever). Stay tuned!

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