I had this come up several times quite recently in conversations with complete strangers, and last night another stay at home homeschooling mom mentioned having the same thing come up in conversation lately. There is a misconception that because I stay at home, we have a lot of money. Ummmmm no. Two strangers recently came up to me at two different times when I was out with the children during the day and asked me, "Where does your husband work that you can afford to have so many kids and stay at home?" While I am very thankful to have a hard working husband that is a good provider, we are far, far, far, from being wealthy. In fact, when I first quit my job to stay at home 9 years ago, losing $500 a week when we were in a horrible financial position was not the smartest financial decision in the world, but it was the best decision we could have ever made for our family.
Being able to successfully live on one income is about making choices. You have to decide what things in life are more important to you. When I worked full time, we had a lot of shiny new stuff and a lot of debt for more shiny stuff we were trying to pay, but we had no time together at all. Art came home from work and I went to work. We never did things together as a family. We quickly realized that the stuff was not important, family was. We had to completely change our life style and our way of thinking as far as money was concerned. We had to learn to live on a budget! Yes, a budget where you don't spend more than you make. We had to learn how to live within our means. We bought a less expensive house, got rid of our new cars, and stopped going out to eat. We stopped using cards and started using cash. We started a savings account to save money to purchase larger items. We learned to buy gently used items instead of brand new. We saved clothing and toys to hand down to the younger children. I started cooking from scratch and packing a lunch for my husband every day.
That's not to say we never buy anything new or do anything fun, because we do. We take a small vacation every year. We go out to eat on occasion. We get to take fun and educational field trips. We have all kinds of clothing, toys, and electronics. The key is if you can't afford it, don't buy it.
I know many people are looking for ways they can make money while staying at home. I think one of the best ways to make money being a stay at home mom is to become a better steward of the money you already have. By this I mean by cutting down on your expenses. Look for ways to lower your grocery bill every week. Shop sales and use coupons. Find a less expensive cell phone or TV plan or go without one. Save on utility bills by adjusting your thermostat up or down a few degrees. You would be surprised at home much money you can save by making a few easy changes in your lifestyle. Other ways I have made money while being a Stay at Home Mom is by selling on Ebay, Amazon, and Half.com, and having a yearly yard sale. I also have worked a part time job for my church that brought in a little extra money.
As with most things in life, it is not easy, and sometimes it can be downright hard (like when someone hacks into your bank account and steals your money and you have to buy groceries for 8 people and diapers for a week with $74.) But, 9 years and 5 children later, I do not regret my decision to stay at home. God has entrusted these sweet babies into my care and it won't be long until they are grown and gone. I am so thankful for each and every day that I get to be home with them.