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

staying home with your kids when you can barely afford it1 Staying at Home with Your Kids When You 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 end #wrap 1 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?).

children are a blessing from the Lord Staying at Home with Your Kids When You Can Barely Afford It

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.

children are a blessing Staying at Home with Your Kids When You Can Barely Afford It

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

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

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

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

2. We buy used (or on sale). I’ll admit that I hope we eventually can buy some things new, but, for the most part, , 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!)

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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.”

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.

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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: Want to read more posts like this? Subscribe to our FREE updates, and don’t miss a post!

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