Even though I am not yet a mom, I decided to read Laura Harris’ “The Stay-At-Home Mom Blueprint: 150 Strategies to Chop Debt, Save Money, and Afford Your Dream of Staying at Home.” My husband and I want to have children in the near future but we are concerned about how much it costs to raise children. The CNN Money tool “How much will it cost to raise your child?” indicates that we will spend about $235,563 from birth to age 17. This is about the cost of a one-bedroom apartment here in Hawaii and this doesn’t include their expenses for college.
I also spoke to a friend of mine last week about her son who started pre-school. She said that it cost ~$700/month for half-day daycare. This is the cost of my rent a couple years ago when I shared an apartment with four girls! I did not realize how much more expensive it’s going to be raise a family in this generation. Instead of worrying, I decided to do more research and take some steps now to help us better prepare for our future family. I read Laura’s book because I wanted to help us plan for the option to stay at home without worrying about our finances.
Laura talks a lot about changing your mindset. A big part tackling finances as a family is working through your different backgrounds, attitudes, and habits about money. For example, my husband and I used to eat out almost everyday because we didn’t have a kitchen. Now that we have a kitchen, we struggle making our own meals because we hate doing dishes (haha!). We’ve realized over the past year or so how much money we’ve spent eating out and have slowly reduced the amount of times we go out to eat. There are so many things that you can cut down but it does require a certain mindset to battle the emotional, mental, and physical loss of no longer spending money on these things.
Laura’s point about things being “temporary” also resonated with me. There were times in college where we were on the instant ramen diet because we were broke college students. I felt helpless, anxious, worried, and depressed but I made it through. There are still times over the years (even now) where I look at my monster of a debt and wonder how I’m going to get through it out. Only through prayer and persistence am I able to keep going. My debt monster is not so big anymore but it still weighs heavy on our shoulders. For us, making a five-year plan and consolidating our debt helped us establish a goal of when we plan to be debt-free. This helps keep us on track and remind us that this hardship is only temporary.
The book also provides information about creative ways to save money and make money. I, for example, have used ebates and swagbucks to earn money and giftcards. I loved saving my amazon gift cards to use for bigger purchases or for gifts. Like Laura, I’ve also sold stuff on craigslist and facebook including clothes and household items. It’s really easy to do and you’ll be clearing up a lot of space at home. This is a good way to tackle debt since you’ll be selling stuff you aren’t using or have outgrown. Check out my post on De-Stressing Your Closet and Shop for Less for more tips.
The main takeaway for me was the idea of living on one income. My husband and I can’t do this right now but I’d like us to work towards this in the future. If we lived on one income and use the other income to pay off debt, we’d be debt-free sooner. When we are debt-free, we could still live on one income and use the other income to fully fund our retirement and savings funds. It’ll be a gradual process but we will have the financial freedom to spend as much time with our family.
Even if I decide not to be a full stay-at-home mom, I still want the ability to spend as much time with my family. Fixing our finances will give us the time and money we need to be with them. Laura’s stay-at-home mom blueprint is a useful tool for any family or parents-to-be. For my husband and I, the book will continue to help us as we work to pay down our debt, save money, and plan for a family. Get a copy of Laura’s book here and let me know what you think!