Last Updated March 15th, 2019

7 Ways To Ensure Your Kids Have Bad Money Habits

7 Ways To Ensure Your Kids Have Bad Money Habits

Most parents want their kids to have good money habits. But they have to be learned and many parents don’t take enough time to teach their kids how to be smart about their money. Neither do most schools. That’s why so many kids have bad money habits.

Good financial habits are a help lifelong. Not only will it help your kids to manage their money better if you teach them good habits, it will decrease the odds that they’ll keep coming to you for loans when they’re adults. Not that you can’t help out when there’s true need, but it’s nice to know they have the skills to only ask when there really is need.

Not bothering to teach them now is so much easier at the moment, though! There are so many fun things you would love to do, and it’s easy to forget that you’re setting an example for your kids.

If you want your kids to have bad money habits, here are some of the things you probably do.

1. Use credit cards when you want it but can’t afford it.

Who cares that a new widescreen TV doesn’t fit in the budget? You have a credit card, and that TV would look great with the new entertainment center. Buy it now!

If this is the kind of example you set for your kids, why would you expect them to do any different when they’re old enough to have credit cards? They need that example of saving up for wants, and knowing the difference between wants and needs if they’re going to be smart about money.

dollar bills

2. Don’t talk about credit.

Credit cards are for fun, right? Kids don’t need to understand the finer details of how they work!

There’s a huge advantage in teaching kids as much as you can about credit cards and credit scores. A good credit score helps to get lower interest rates on major purchases such as cars and homes. It’s a huge advantage for them to understand how credit scores effect them when they reach that point in life.

At the same time, don’t teach them that having debt is a good thing. There are better ways of maintaining a credit score than by carrying a load of debt on a credit card. Using one to buy things and pay it off can help build a credit score. It can be a good habit, so long as the balance doesn’t get out of control.

3. Don’t save for a rainy day.

Rainy day, schmainy day. Why save up an emergency fund when there are so many things you could be buying instead?

Saving for a rainy day can be hard if your budget is tight, but it can keep you away from the credit cards when unexpected expenses pop up. If you can find a way to do it, those savings will be a huge help, well worth the sacifice.

4. Never talk about finances.

Your kids don’t need to know anything about family finances, whether they’re good or bad, right? They’re just kids!

It always amazes me how much kids can understand about the family’s financial situation. While you don’t need to stress them with your money problems, letting them know about monthly bills, how to save when you go shopping, and in general how to manage money is a good idea.

coin jar

5. Don’t encourage them to save money.

When your kids get an allowance, let them spend it as they please. They’ll figure out the rest eventually, right?

Kids love spending money. Many will spend all they have in one spot if they’re given the chance. Few have the habit of saving money naturally.

If you want them to learn to save, help them find a goal to save for. When they’re younger, it could be a particular toy. Older kids might save for an iPad or a phone.

When you’re ready, help them open a bank account. There are a variety of choices for kids bank accounts.

Another alternative is to use an app to help them keep track of what they’ve saved.

6. Don’t have them work for money, ever.

There’s a lot of back and forth about whether allowances should be earned or given. It’s a parenting choice, and you no doubt have your own thoughts on the matter.

But if you don’t want your kids to understand about money, just give them what they ask for, whenever. Don’t worry about why they want it or if they need what they’re asking for.

Having them do chores either for an allowance or for extra money can be a good teaching tool. So can having them run a little business, whether it’s the classic lemonade stand or babysitting younger kids in the neighborhood.

My own philosophy is that not all chores should be related to getting an allowance. Some things you should have your kids do just because they’re a part of the family and live in the home. What is expected depends on the age of the kids. Expectations increase with age and ability. It can be a tough balance at times, but it works out pretty well.

save money piggy bank

7. Never teach kids to make a budget.

Kids don’t have much money that they have to spend, so why bother with teaching them budgeting skills? They won’t need that skill for years!

That’s the key, right there. Eventually we all need budgeting skills. It’s not just about saving up for a goal. It’s about wise use of the money they have.

You can start by having the kids help with the family budget, or just a part of it. Go over grocery bills with them, and have them help you figure out how to manage it wisely. Take them grocery shopping with you so they can see how fast it all adds up. Show they what you do to save money on groceries.

Kids will often be surprised by how much things cost, but that’s a good thing. Better that they be surprised when they’re kids than when they’re adults and want to move out.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated January 25th, 2019

What Can Stay At Home Moms Do When A Money Crunch Hits Their Family?

What Can Stay At Home Moms Do When A Money Crunch Hits Their Family?

Having one parent stay home with the kids is often seen as a benefit to the family. One parent is always there for the kids, you don’t have to spend money on daycare, it just sounds better.

The only problem is that when finances get tight, you have less flexibility. There’s a certain financial sacrifice already when you have one parent stay at home, and when the one income drops or disappears suddenly, your family may be in trouble. How can you, as a stay at home mom or dad, help when the money crunch hits?

I’m going to assume at this point that you’ve already cut back on spending in the usual areas. You probably aren’t getting a daily Starbucks if money’s tight. You’re probably watching what you spend on groceries. It’s the most obvious and simplest step to take, even if it’s not without discomfort.

When money’s tight, don’t spend on the things your family doesn’t need, and know the difference between needs and wants. There’s a lot of ground in there, but you can find what works for your family.

Here are some other ways to help out with a money crunch while still being a stay at home mom.

Find a Way to Earn Money From Home

Whatever you do, don’t be desperate about this one. It’s easy to get scammed when you’re trying to get a work at home job or start a home business. You have to pay attention to what you’re getting yourself into.

Don’t expect miracles. Most people earning money from home don’t earn millions, or even thousands per month. If you find some good work to do, it’s still something you can contribute financially to your family.

Read up on how to earn money from home if you’d like more ideas on how to get started.

coins

Increase the Income You’re Already Earning

You might be earning money from home already, in which case it’s time to step things up and bring in more money. That can mean increasing your rates if you’re a freelancer, working harder on getting more sales if you’re an affiliate or if you sell your own products, or asking your employer for more hours if you have a work at home job. Find a new affiliate product to offer that complements the products you’re already offering.

The thing to remember if you’re already earning money is that you can find ways to increase it. It may not be easy, and may add to the stress in your life, but that’s often what it takes to dig yourself out of a bad financial position.

You might also take on a side gig. There are many flexible ways to earn money at home that can be added on to what you already do.

Get a Job Outside the Home

This can still be compatible with one parent staying at home. If your spouse is still working, just with a decreased income, consider taking on a job at night, and being the at home parent during the day. Working opposite shifts from your spouse sucks big time, but if that’s what it takes to support your family, you may have to do it.

If your spouse is completely out of work, it may also pay for both of you to look for work. It might just be that you trade who’s the one at home, assuming the parent who had been working can stand the switch. Not all can.

dollar

Sell Things You Don’t Need

Selling things you don’t need only takes care of the short term, but that can be important in the long run. When my two oldest kids were small, my old car broke down, we didn’t have the money to replace it. We also realized we didn’t really need it. We lived in a very walkable area, and I arranged my errands around my husband’s work schedule.

Selling that car for the little bit it was worth not only brought in a little money, it cut down on insurance and gas costs. I almost hated replacing it when the time came that my husband’s car was no longer enough.

Garage sales can be pretty easy to organize, although you have to be ready for the over enthusiastic bargain shoppers. Some areas require you get a permit in order to hold a garage sale. Check with your local City Hall to see what’s required in your area. The money is quick, and you get rid of things you truly no longer need.

The same goes for selling on Craigslist. It’s a fast way to get some money, but probably not a complete solution.

Try Not to Rely on the Credit Cards Too Much

While it may be necessary to put more than usual on the credit cards when times are tight, do what you can to minimize that. Credit card debt can take a very long time to pay off, and can keep the financial stress up even after your income improves.

If you don’t have a choice in the matter, of course, use those credit cards. It’s better than losing your home.

bills

Find Free Fun Things To Do Together

Going through a money crunch is stressful. You have a lot of legitimate worries when money is tight.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

There are tons of free and cheap things you can do with your kids. Getting out and having fun as a family is a great stress reliever.

Just think about all the fun things you can do that won’t cost much at all. Anything from taking the kids to the park to having a family game night to finding free community events is possible.

The most important thing you can do when your family has money troubles is to find a way to work through it together. These things don’t last forever; they just require some extra effort to find your way through.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated September 27th, 2018

6 Keys to Smart Frugal Living

6 Keys to Smart Frugal Living

I prefer to live a fairly frugal lifestyle. While it’s in part due to the limitations of my family’s income, it’s also a personal preference. Being careful about how much you spend, even when you can easily afford it, is just sensible.

Be sure you’re doing smart frugal living, however. It’s not just “here’s the cheap way, let’s do that!” The immediately cheap way isn’t always the cheap way in the long run, after all. You have to consider the long term, at least as much as you can fit it into your budget.

1. Go for quality.

Within reason, you have to consider quality when you buy things. The cheapest product can cost more in the long run if you have to buy it more often than you would a more expensive product.

I’m fond of how Terry Pratchett has Samuel Vimes explain it in the Discworld novel, Men At Arms, in terms of the cost of boots. A cheap pair of boots would cost him $10, and last about a season or two. Better boots would run about $50, but would last for years. This leads him to reason that the rich don’t have to spend as much money on such things because they can buy products that will last longer and cost less in the long run.

Of course, most of us can’t always afford the things that will last best. Still, when better quality and longer lasting products are within your budget, it can be more frugal to spend the extra now, rather than spend more over the long run.

This is especially true for expensive things such as furniture and cars. You want these to last as long as possible, and some extra money spent now can save you more in the future.

Kids clothes, and shoes in particular, on the other hand, you should think about how long it will be until they grow out of them. Some things you really don’t want to overspend on. Buy better quality if they’re something that can be handed down, but if you know your child is going to ruin it, go for the quality that should last until they outgrow it.

We pay more attention to the quality of my son’s running shoes, for example, than my daughter’s, because he uses them hard and can wear them out before he outgrows them. He needs better quality so they last and we don’t have to buy more in the same size. By the time my daughter wears her shoes out, she usually needs a new size anyhow.

piggy banks

2. Buy only as much as you need.

This rule is especially important when it comes to food. About 40% of the food supply in the United States is thrown away every year.  That’s a lot of food wasted, and of course money wasted too.

Think about how you handle your grocery shopping. Do you buy in bulk because that’s what you’re going to use, or because it’s a lower price per unit, and you hope to use it before it goes bad? Are you only buying the fresh meat, dairy and produce your family will use before it goes bad? Do you eat the leftovers you put back in the fridge, or do you throw them out a week later? Do you know what the sell by dates really mean or when the expiration date really matter?

Food waste happens when you eat out too. It’s not just that eating in a restaurant costs more, it’s that the portions often result in a lot of food waste.

If you want to figure out how much you’re spending in restaurants, keep track for a month or three. You might be surprised. My family doesn’t eat out very often, but it adds up fast when we do. Eating at home is a much more frugal choice, and likely to be healthier as well.

This goes for other things too, of course. Think about what the right size wardrobe is for your needs. Rethink that next gadget, and so on.

Are you overspending on your home?

Buying as much as you need goes for the home you live in too. Your rent or mortgage is probably your biggest monthly expense. Cut this one down and you can slice hundreds of dollars per month off your expenses.

It can also be one of the most difficult to cut. Moving costs money. Finding a less expensive place to live that suits all of your needs can be difficult. But if you can make it happen you’ll do your finances a huge favor.

frugal living cat

3. Get repairs done right.

When something in your home or car needs repairs, get the job done right. This doesn’t mean be a sucker for every suggested repair, but to spend enough to have the job done right the first time so that you won’t have the thing break down again in a month or two. Mechanics and repairmen can sometimes suggest a cheaper alternative to what really needs to be done when you’re concerned about price, but that may only delay the work that really needs to be done.

Whenever possible, get it done right the first time… and know how they warranty their work in case something goes wrong again. I’ve had my mechanic repeat a repair for free because something didn’t go quite right the first time he did it.

Think carefully, however, before buying an extended warranty. Make sure you know what you’re really getting before you pay for it. Often they’re nothing more than an added expense and don’t give you anything in return. How often have you had something break during what would have been the extended warranty period?

I have bought the extended warranty for a few items, and for a couple, it was even worth it. My laptop developed a bad line across its screen just a few months before the extended warranty ended. The store had to install a new screen for me. I probably would have purchased a new laptop rather than replace the screen otherwise. Laptop screens are on the pricey and difficult side to replace. The store really grumbled about the whole process.

4. “Sale” doesn’t mean “buy now.”

We all love a bargain. Sales are wonderful ways to save money on the things you need, but they’re also great for getting you to spend more money than you should. Just because you see a good deal doesn’t mean you should forget to consider whether or not you need that item right then.

I find it helpful to remember that most items will go on sale again at a later date if it’s something I might need later, but not right now. Stores often have a cycle they go through for their sales. If you know how often things go on sale, you can buy them at a good price when you need them, not just because you saw the deal and didn’t want to pass it up. And if you don’t really need it, even a great deal on it shouldn’t matter at all.

This also goes for any dollar stores you visit regularly. I belong to a Facebook group for my favorite dollar store, and it amazes me how much stuff some people buy there. I mostly get food there (they have an amazing fresh produce section), but many people get all kinds of home decor and other stuff there. Some even get to the point where they know they’re overspending, but they can’t resist the bargains.

Overspending, even on super good deals, is not a part of smart frugal living. No matter how good the deal is, think about whether you need the item or not.

frugal garden

5. Consider your health.

Don’t be so frugal that you damage your health. Don’t be too cheap to eat right, go to the doctor and dentist, take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself in general now can save you a lot of money and discomfort in the long run. This can include simple activities such as taking regular walks to keep fit.

Unless your doctor says you need them, skip the vitamin supplements. Most do little more than give you expensive urine. Some vitamins can even damage your health if you take too much of them.

Make sure you pay attention during open enrollment times for your health insurance.  If your employer offers a variety of selections, you should review your coverage choices every year. You can save a lot of money if you switch to a cheaper plan that still offers all the coverage you need. You won’t find a cheaper plan every time, but it can be a huge deal when you do.

If you have space, starting a garden can be a wonderful source of fresh produce. Even an apartment balcony may be used to grow tomatoes and other vegetables in pots. Think about your favorite vegetables and see if there’s a way you can grow them. So long as you don’t overspend on supplies, this can help you save money.

We planted fruit trees when we moved into our home as a way to save money in the long run. The trees are still young and don’t produce a lot yet, but in years to come, they’ll give us a lot of fruit to enjoy.

And of course, gardening is a nice form of exercise. It’s not terribly strenuous most of the time, but it gets you outside and doing things. That’s good for your health too.

growing money

6. Remember that smart frugal living only takes you so far.

Smart frugal living can help you reach a lot of financial goals, but it may not take you as far as you’d like. There are more important things to consider.

Increasing your income, for example, can do far more for your financial situation than most steps you take to live frugally. A raise from your current job can be a help, but sometimes finding a better job will do far more.

What you do with your savings matters as well. If being frugal is the only thing keeping you going financially, you may not have a lot of options. But if your frugality leaves you with money beyond what you need to live on, consider doing one of these things with it:

  • Pay off any remaining credit cards.
  • Pay off student loans.
  • Set up an emergency fund.
  • Put money into a 401(k).
  • Put money into a Roth IRA.
  • Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA).
  • Save toward a down payment on a home if you don’t own one.
  • Save toward a vacation.

Also remember that no matter how frugal you are, spend money on things because they’re fun once in a while. Take a family vacation. Go on a date.

These things don’t always have to cost a lot of money. A trip to a local campground can be a wonderful, memorable family experience. The same goes for a day at a local museum.

If you want to spend more money on experiences, have your family come up with ways to save money up for it. You can make that family vacation to Disneyland all the more memorable if you give the kids the pride of having helped save up for it.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 30th, 2018

5 Ways To Cope When You’re Tired Of Being Frugal

5 Ways To Cope When You're Tired Of Being Frugal

How often do you get frustrated when you’re trying to live a frugal lifestyle? Sometimes you just wish for a splurge, but you know you can’t afford one. Other times you’re just tired of always thinking about ways to spend less. What do you do when you’re tired of being frugal?

It’s not always easy. There are so many temptations to break your budget, whether it’s hearing from friends and family the fun things they’ve been doing or what they’ve been buying, or the commercials you can hardly avoid on television and online. There are also frugal living traps you may have fallen into that are sabotaging your efforts and making your life more difficult than it needs to be.

Fortunately, there are many simple ways to cope.

1. Allow small splurges.

What is it you miss most? Is there a way to get it more cheaply?

You may miss going out to see movies, for example. Movie ticket prices have gone up quite a bit, and don’t always fit well into a frugal budget. If you’re lucky enough to have a discount movie theater near you, however, you may be able to see movies somewhat later than others for quite a bit less. There’s a theater in our area, for example, that has $3 tickets, far more affordable than what we’d pay elsewhere.

You can also think about the little treats you enjoy and set a budget for it. If you miss chocolate, for example, you may be able to get chocolate chips and put them in the freezer. Nibbling just a couple rather than having an entire candy bar can save you money so long as you have the self control to not eat too many a day.

The challenge is being certain the splurges are worth it. My husband and I have often gone back and forth on whether a splurge is worth it on our current budget. It’s not always easy to decide.

For example, he wanted to get a year pass to Joshua Tree National Park a few months ago. I felt he should wait, as our youngest was going into fourth grade, and there’s the free National Parks pass for kids in that age group. Sure, he’d miss out on hiking there for the spring, but he’d get a year of access shortly for free.

We love hiking, or more to the point, climbing around on the rocks at Joshua Tree. Once we have a pass, the only cost is the gas to get there, and it’s not that far.

We decided on waiting. Now that school has started, we can get the free pass, and head out there whenever we want once the weather cools down enough. Do NOT go to Joshua Tree when the weather is really hot. It’s just not as much fun.

piggy bank

2. Put the things you want on a wish list.

While birthdays and gift giving holidays can be expensive if you exchange gifts with a lot of people, it’s also a good time to let people know what fun things you’d still like to do.

If you miss going out to eat, suggest gift cards to your favorite restaurant as a gift when you have a birthday or Christmas coming up. This may not feel as personal as some people would like, but if that’s what you want more than whatever else someone would buy you, it’s a good gift.

I’ve noticed that my teens now almost exclusively give gift cards to friends because that’s what the friends say they want. It’s also what they usually ask their friends for. It makes a lot of sense for kids without a lot of money, just as it makes sense for adults who have a tight budget.

Add the things you really want but don’t fit into your budget to a wish list. These won’t always be things that someone will buy for you, but you might be surprised at what people can manage when they know you really want something.

3. Look at free ways to get what you want.

It’s amazing what you can get for free sometimes. You don’t always have to spend money to get good things.

Libraries are wonderful if you miss getting new books to read, for example. Just how wonderful depends on the libraries in your area and the selection they have in the types of books you like to read. Many libraries are networked to others in your area, and you may be able to order books from other locations.

If you have a Kindle or other ebook reader, you should be able to check out ebooks from your library as well.

See if there’s an active Freecycle group in your area. You can ask for things you’d like to get. I’ve seen people in my local group ask for things like exercise bikes and get them.

There are also groups on Facebook for people to give away free stuff.

If you have kids, there are all kinds of free and cheap activities you can do with them throughout the year. Some are even fun without the kids.

4. Review your financial goals.

You’re being frugal for a reason. It can help you deal with the frustration of being frugal if you remind yourself why you’re going through all that. Try to renew your motivation when you’re tired of being frugal.

Are you saving so that you can pay down credit cards or other debts? Consider the benefits of getting rid of those. They may include:

  • No longer living paycheck to paycheck.
  • Having more money for fun things.
  • Being able to save money up for the big things you want, such as a car, home, or vacation.
  • Less stress when you don’t have to worry about money so much.

If you’re being frugal because it’s the only way you can pay all your living expenses, think about how your situation would change if you weren’t managing your money so carefully.

If you have solid goals you’re trying to reach, make a vision board to remind you of those goals. Find pictures of the things you want to have in your life, such as:

  • A new home.
  • New car.
  • Places you want to vacation.
  • Things you’d like to get for your family.
  • Saving up to help your kids go to college.
  • Saving for your retirement.

Use words and add motivational sayings to your vision board. Have fun with it.

Take some time to reconsider your goals if you’re often tired of being frugal. It’s possible that you’re trying too hard.

If you set goals that are too hard to reach, of course you’ll quickly tire of reaching for the impossible. Goals should be challenging, but they shouldn’t be impossible or close to it.

earn money

5. Find ways to earn more money.

If you want to make a big difference in your financial situation in the long run, being frugal isn’t the answer. Earning more money is.

There are many ways to go about this.

The most obvious is to get a raise at work. Some jobs give raises as a part of your annual review, while other jobs make it much more difficult to get a significant raise.

If possible, try to negotiate a better raise. This won’t work well in all situations but may be worth a try.

If a raise isn’t possible, a change of employers or careers may help you to earn more money. Even you don’t earn more right at the start, finding a position that has a greater potential for earning more money and advancing in your career can be a smart move.

Another alternative is to start a side gig. Lots of people do this now. There are all kinds of options. Sometimes you’ll even earn more from your side gig than at your regular job.

Many people will start a home business, such as a blog or making a product to sell online. This can be a lot of fun, although you won’t always earn money at it.

Others decide to drive for companies such as Lyftstart freelancing or get a work at home job. There are a lot of super flexible options out there that don’t require you to work a set schedule.

The thing to remember is that there are always ways to cope when you’re getting tired of being frugal. It doesn’t have to be a miserable process. If things aren’t working the way you hoped they would, take some time and find a way to make things better.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 23rd, 2018

Can Your Family Live On A Single Income?

Can Your Family Live on a Single Income?

Many families dream of having one parent stay at home to raise the kids. The idyllic picture of having mom (or dad) home, taking care of the kids, cooking great meals, keeping a beautiful home, all on a single income, is hard to resist.

It’s also incredibly difficult financially.

If you really want to do it, it can be done. Single parent families have to get by on a single income, although there may be child support coming in as well. If you really want to have a parent home with the kids, you have to make it happen.

With practice, the sacrifices you make may not seem so bad. You will take fewer vacations, and they’ll be simpler. You will eat out less often. Shopping will be more carefully planned, and you will buy fewer things. If you and your family can live with that, you will probably be able to cope.

That’s assuming, of course, that you can make the remaining income stretch to cover your necessities. You need to look at this to make an informed decision.

Consider What Living On A Single Income Will Look Like

The first thing you need to do is figure out how practical it will be to live on a single income. That means looking at the income you expect to have and deciding if it will be enough.

1. Collect 3 months’ worth of pay stubs from the person whose income your family will be relying on. Use this to calculate your average monthly income.

2. Collect 3 months’ worth of bills. Make sure you include everything: rent/mortgage payments, water bills, electrical bills, cable, internet service, phone plans, insurance, and groceries, for example. You should also include some savings in your planning to prepare for emergencies. In any case, you need an average of what you are paying out every month.

3. Subtract your average monthly expenses from the average monthly single income. Will it work?

If not, don’t despair. There are often areas you can cut. When you have two incomes it is easy to spend more than you absolutely have to. You may need to look harder for solutions.

Don’t assume you can make on on a single income if you see that you can just barely make it. That’s asking for trouble. All it takes is one crisis to completely mess you up when you live paycheck to paycheck. It’s not ideal to live on a single income if you’re scraping by.

Consider The Expenses That Will Decrease

It’s not just your income that decreases when you go to a single income. A few of your expenses will also decrease.

Your taxes go down when you live on a single income. No more need for daycare. The parent staying at home will probably eat out less, have less need for dry cleaning and so forth.

They may drive less as well, depending on how close work was and how often the kids need to be driven anywhere. This can mean less money spent on gas and less maintenance on that car. If enough things are within walking distance, you may even be able to consider becoming a one car family.

It can also help to consider which bills you would be willing to cut in order to live on a single income. You can start with monthly bills.

Do you really need cable television? What about having both cell phones and landline phones? Perhaps your family could get by with just one or the other.

Now look at the other things you spend money on monthly, but don’t come in the form of bills. Can you eat out less? Do you tend to buy more clothing or new electronic gadgets you don’t need? What bad shopping habits do you have? Can you give up Starbucks?

dollar bills

Consider The Expenses That Will Increase

Some bills will go up when you have mom or dad stay home with the kids.

Electricity is an obvious one. There will be people home all day, turning on lights, needing air conditioning or heat, and so forth.

Having one parent at home may also mean that the kids get signed up for more activities, as there’s someone there to take them to everything.

You probably won’t have a lot of expenses increase when you go to a single income. You’re trying to cut expenses, after all.

Figure Out The Expected Single Income Budget

Try to work out a budget that will work with the money you would have as a single income family. Then, before you are actually a single income family, try living on it. Put the extra into savings. It makes a nice cushion for if things don’t work out and for when those extra bills that you really can’t plan for hit.

Even if you decide that you’re better off not becoming a single income family, living as though you are one can be a good financial habit. It gives you a lot more leeway when things go wrong. You’ll have savings built up and more money than you need coming in. That’s a good thing.

Track all your spending. You can create your own spreadsheet if you like or use one of the many apps or software out there that will help you track your spending. The more you know about where your money is going every month, the better. Here are some apps to consider:

How well is it working?

If your expected single income budget doesn’t work out, figure out what went wrong. Can it be fixed on that income or do you simply need a larger income?

Sometimes you can fix the problems. You can go as far as finding a cheaper place to live or as simple as figuring out what else can reasonably be cut.

Other times you may realize that living on a single income won’t work for your family. You don’t want to ruin your finances just to have one parent stay home with the kids. That’s not smart, and it won’t benefit your kids.

It takes time to learn to live on a single income. It is very possible for many families. You will need to plan, both in terms of finances and in terms of what is expected from each person, but it is highly doable. And having the ability to have one parent there for the kids can be amazing.

pie chart

Learn To Find Bargains

You might be surprised at the bargains you can find if you’re looking for them. I don’t just mean clipping coupons, although that doesn’t hurt. There’s a lot more you can do.

My favorite bargain source is a store called 99 Only. They’re in just a few states, but they’re a huge help when you’re on a tight budget. Fortune just listed them as a company that is helping to change the world, because they provide cheaper access to locally grown produce, often in areas that are considered food deserts. If you don’t need your produce to look quite perfect and you have a 99 Only near you, go there. I get almost all of my produce there.

Other dollar stores can have good deals as well, but most don’t have the produce selection I see at 99 Only. It’s the produce that keeps me coming back, even as I find other deals there.

Aldi is another good choice for finding grocery bargains.

If you can afford the membership and buying in bulk (challenging to impossible on some budgets), Costco is great too. The hot dogs and pizza also make for great cheap meals out when you need a treat for the kids.

I’ve shared a lot of other strategies to save money on groceries in other posts.

Saving money on children’s clothing helps a lot too. My favorite was handmedowns from family because for a long time we had clothes working their way through up to five kids. Not every piece lasted the whole time, but the chain we had going saved us a lot of money.

Be Ready For Sacrifices

Single income families usually sacrifice a lot of things to make it happen. You can still find a lot of ways to have fun as a family, but there are things you won’t be able to do.

If you like getting the latest and greatest technology, for example, you will probably have to stop that. Your current phone will need to last a lot longer.

So will your cars.

Most single income families don’t eat out a lot either. That can save a lot of money, depending on how often you eat out now. Just think how much you spend every time you take the family out to a meal. Unless you’re getting something super cheap, such as a $5 pizza, you’re probably spending quite a bit more than you would if you ate at home.

Holidays often get simplified as well. Most single income families keep holidays such as Christmas a lot simpler. That’s not a bad thing, really. Even with simplified Christmases, my kids often don’t use everything they’re given.

You may also want to cut down on your monthly bills. Many families have found that they can cut out cable television and use a few streaming subscriptions for far less.

I am also very fond of my cell phone service through Ting. I pay far less for my family’s cell phones than anyone else I know. We aren’t heavy users, but even when we use our phones more than normal, it has been a bargain.

Learn To Do It Yourself

Learning how to do basic home repairs yourself can help you save a lot of money. It’s amazing how easy some repairs are.

When we bought our house, for example, I painted the kids’ rooms myself. That includes putting stripes on my son’s wall because that was what he wanted.

I can also do basic plumbing. Clearing out basic clogs in a sink without dangerous chemicals is often not difficult. Messy, but not difficult.

You can also do your own yard work rather than pay a service. As the kids get older, they can help. I’ve discovered a fondness for irises and gladiolus in caring for my yard, as well as an enthusiasm for planting anything that attracts and feeds butterflies.

There will be a number of things that you should still hire a professional to handle for you, depending on your skills, experience and comfort level. If you’re willing to try a particular repair, however, there’s often a YouTube video showing you how.

Consider The Alternatives If Things Aren’t Working Out

Sometimes, no matter how carefully you plan, going to a single income as a family just doesn’t work out.

You get hit with an unexpected bill, such as repairs on the car or medical bills.

The spouse who is working loses their job.

Death, divorce, and disability are real possibilities too. You can’t assume that your life will run exactly as you planned it. Shit happens, to put not too fine a point on it.

This is exactly why I work at home. My husband and I wanted one of us at home, and I had the best skills to earn a living at home, first as a medical transcriptionist, then running this site. We didn’t want to take the risks of living on a single income when we had a viable alternative.

This has worked out well. There have been times when my income was the only reason we didn’t go completely broke. Sometimes I earn more than my husband, sometimes less. But my income is a vital part of our family’s income, yet I’m still able to be there for the kids when they need me.

Working parents can do that too, but it’s much harder to manage when they need you in the middle of the workday.

There are lots of ways to work at home. Some options are more flexible than others. Some will require that you put your kids in daycare while you work because you can’t have the distractions. Others will let you have the kids directly underfoot.

It’s up to you to pick what will work best.

I strongly recommend any stay at home mom or dad have some sort of income coming in. It makes a difference when you have a financial crisis. It makes a difference when the time comes to return to working outside the home, should you choose to do that. And it helps when you reach retirement age.

Of course, if your family is running into financial problems, don’t limit yourself to considering only work at home options. Sometimes returning to work outside the home will be the smart choice. Don’t refuse to consider that just because you’d rather be home with your kids. The well-being of your family comes first, and sometimes that means both parents have to work outside the home.

You can do that and still be amazing parents.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Pinterest Feedly
Home With the Kids on LinkedIn

Are you ready to work at home? Subscribe to learn about blogging and other ways to earn money from home.

Email:



Ads

Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.