Life is full of scary things. Even as an adult there are just somethings that seem scary. One of the biggest ones for me was taking the plunge to stay home full time with my kids. Just the thought brought so many scary ideas to my head. What if the Mr. lost his job? What if we can't live on less then half our current income? What if I want to go back to work but can't because I've been out of my field to long? Even with all those scary thoughts running through my mind all's I could think about is how different life would be if I could just stay home with my babies. If I could just be there for when they needed me. If I didn't have to miss all of their firsts. Needless to say, my motherly instinct kicked in and I kicked my fears to the curb.
We have successfully lived on my husbands income for over 3 years now. It has been one of the best decisions that we ever made. However, if we had not carefully planned it out it could have been the nightmare I feared.
- Plan ahead of time- Like most things in life it takes time to work out all the kinks in the plan. On average it takes 6 to 12 months to fully implement the changes and take the plunge.
- Unified Dream- The most important key to making this dream happen for your family it to make sure that you and your spouse are both on the same page. It truly takes a team effort to cut the expenses and make such a drastic lifestyle change. If you spouse is not on board then it's not going to work no matter how hard you try.
- Evaluate- Take a hard look at why you want to stay home. Is it because you want to be there for your kids 24/7 or is it because you really just don't want to be at work. If your reasoning is more on the job side then you might just need to find a new job or career.
- Make the cuts- This is the toughest step. It's time to sit down and make the cuts. Looking at your budget together as a couple you need to decide what stays and what goes. Vacations, kids sports, new clothing, and eating out are the main things that go when you start to make the harsh cuts. It's important to do some practice budgets on paper to make sure that the math will add up.
- Have a plan- What are you going to do at home all day? LOL, It's never boring around our house but I have friends who could not handle the "isolation" of staying at home. Make sure you have a plan for your time. Think about what you can do at home to save your family money (coupon clipping, sewing, gardening, garage saling, etc) as well as ways to get out of the house with your kids (story hour and play groups) during the day.
- Support Network- This might sound odd to some people, but its a sad fact of life. Not all working moms will want to continue your friendship. Everyone has their own reasons, but a lot of times your working friends will fade away or you will want them to because of their criticism. Make sure that you start to surround yourself with people who support your decision. It will make your life much easier once you take the plunge.
- Check into the Details- Double check things like health insurance, taxes, investments. All of them will change as your jobs and income levels change. Make sure to include these changes in your practice budget.
- Debt Free- Some people are going to say that this is not required but in my book it is. It's hard enough to work your way out of debt with two incomes, do you really want to try to do it on half the amount you were living on? Unless you did the math and you were losing money by working, focus on getting out of debt so that you can realize your true dream. It will help you to become gazelle intense when you realize that the debt is keeping you from your kids.
- Emergency Fund- Before you turn in your notice at work make sure that you have a fully funded emergency fund. It will help you to enjoy being home with the kids. If you don't have one you will be constantly worried about things like hubby losing his job, a major car breakdown or a house fire.
- Trial Run- You have done it. You have walked through the first 9 steps and now it's time to give it a try. Minus childcare expenses and other expenses that you are incurring solely because you work sock away the rest of your income in a savings account. Test it out to see if you can really life on just one income for 3+ months while saving the rest. If you can do it then you are ready to make the switch. If not, then you need to take a hard look at why it's not working for you and make some adjustments to the plan.