As I mentioned before, one of the scariest parts of becoming a stay-at-home mom was switching to one income. It didn’t matter that day care would have taken a majority of my income anyway, it was still a big change. We were going to have to adjust our budget, and re-evaluate what we really needed as opposed to what we just thought we needed.
We already didn’t have cable or the internet, but there were other things we were going to have to learn to do without.
One major change was eating out and ordering food. This was a luxury. One that came in very handy when we were both working, and many times didn’t feel like making dinner when we got home. This change was not only good for our wallets, but also good for our overall health.
Most of the time when we would order food or go out to eat, it wasn’t exactly something healthy that we would get. It was usually pizza, wings, subs, french fries.
There are a couple things that have helped with this change:
- Menu planning. Every Friday I plan out all of our dinners for the following week, along with breakfast and lunch ideas for the kids and I. I look to see what items we already have, and then make a list of what I will need to shop for.
- Meal prep. After grocery shopping I take time to wash and cut up any produce that needs it. We’ll make extra chicken or other meat to put on salads later in the week. I’ll hard boil eggs. This makes it easier to grab things, and not stray from the plan because I don’t have the energy to prepare something.
- Leftovers. Like I said above, we always make extra meat to use on salads later in the week. We also utilize leftovers on the nights when we don’t feel like cooking. There is always something in the freezer we just have to warm up, or something in the fridge we can use for something quick.
We now save going out to eat for special occassions such as anniversaries and birthdays. We order food maybe once per month, give or take, as opposed to the couple times per week that we used to.
Another change I made was being more open to second hand clothes and toys for the kids. For some reason, when Madeline was born, I wanted nothing to do with second hand anything. I was a snob about it. I’m not sure what the issue was exactly, but I wanted new everything for her. Looking back that was absolutely ridiculous. We now happily take hand-me-downs, shop consignment and garage sales, and then when my kids grow out of stuff we hand them down to the next person, or take them to consigment shops.
I have also cut back drastically on spending money on clothes for myself as well. First of all, I no longer need two separate wardrobes – one for work and one for home. I also started experimenting with capsule closets, which cuts back on unneeded items that never get worn, and helps with thinking I need to buy every maxi dress I come across.
Lastly, we utilize free fun. Kids are generally happy with the simplest things. My kids love going to the playground. They could play for hours in the water table on our front porch. They like to color and read and take walks. They like to jump in mud puddles and dig in dirt. I take full advantage of this. We save things that cost money for special times, play dates with cousins, or celebrating being good at the doctors.
We are most definitely a work in progress here. We have credit card debt that we are working on paying off. We sometimes spend too much money at Target. There are still things we don’t really need that we think we do, but compared to a year ago? We have made big steps in the right direction.
Here’s to finding happiness with a simpler, smaller, lifestyle, and a continued journey to financial balance.