If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you are probably sick and tired of hearing about how my husband and I paid off $300,000 of debt…
But I’m gonna do it again.
The year was 2015. I woke up in the hospital and looked over at my husband. He was sitting in a chair by the window, watching the sunrise with our newborn son in his arms. The warm light from the window made their silhouette glow in the most beautiful way.
I might have been delusional from the sleep deprivation of 37 hours of labor but I swear the angels were singing the moment my husband held his first born son for the very first time.
To me, it was a historical moment. The moment every young woman dreams of while she is in labor. The moment she can finally hand the baby over to someone else, and take a nap. It was a glorious event, and all I could do was watch them together.
What I didn’t know until later was that my husband was having an existential moment.
He was holding his son… HIS SON… Oh dear god. He was a parent. Someone was actually allowing him to raise another human being. His mind raised as he looked down at the tiny sleeping infant in his arms.
Kids are expensive.
Am I supposed to be saving for college?
What about his wedding? Should I start saving for that?
I want to be there, to be able to watch my son grow up, not just spend that hour in the evening once I get home from a long day of work. How can I spend more time with my family and be the best father I can?
Later that week, we were resting at home. I was laying in bed, holding our sweet little bundle of joy, watching his chest raise and lower with every breath., and all I could think was how tired I was. I needed a nap.
“Here honey, I got you something.” My husband said as he slid a bag into my lap.
“Ooh, what is it?” I excitedly rip into the plastic but then stared, puzzled, at the bald white guy with glasses looking back at me.
“It’s a book by a guy named Dave Ramsey. He is this really smart guy that has helped millions of people get out of debt and gain control of their finances. I think he can really help us!” My husbands eyes gleamed with the hope and excitement of a man that just found the answer to all of his problems.
“Well, that’s great honey but,” I feigned a yawn and leaned further into the pillows. “I think I’ll read it later, I’m a little tired. I just want to watch something and take a nap.”
“Oh that’s okay!” He moved the book aside and turned on the laptop. “He has a youtube channel and a podcast so you can watch and listen to him while you rest in bed.”
“Oh that’s… That’s great, babe. Thank you.” I groaned silently to myself and wondering why he was punishing me with nerd stuff when I just had his baby. I had pushed out a 9lb14oz baby, wasn’t I in enough pain?
Al’right, so I wasn’t completely on board when we started down our financial journey.
But once I read the book and watched a few debt free screams, I was hooked! I started doing my own research on how I could contribute to our efforts to paying off debt without getting a job. These are some of the ways that I was able to save money.
1.Stick To the Budget
Sit down and write a budget with your spouse.
So many people tell me, “I wish I could write a budget but I don’t know where my money goes every month.” Well, how can you know where your money is going if you don’t find out and write it down? This step is to important!
You can not go on a road trip without knowing how you are going to get to your destination.
You can not build a house without a blueprint showing you where all of your material and supplies are supposed to go.
That is what a budget is. A budget is the road map and the blueprint to you fulfilling your financial goals. So sit down every first of the month and write out how much of your income will be dedicated to which expense. Here is a Free blanket budget form:
Let me know if it helps or if you have any questions.
However, budgets are harder to follow if you do not do the next step;
2.Use Only Cash
That horrendous black envelope thing that is pictured above is actually our monthly food envelope. My husband and I have been using it for years and even though it is more duct tape than paper, this thing has been a huge God send when it comes to staying on budget. We already know the amount that we spend on groceries every month, so we would pull that much cash out and put it into the envelope.
Once the envelope was empty, we wouldn’t have anymore to spend so we wouldn’t go shopping.
I can’t tell you how many times we would find ourselves half way through the month with no money left in the envelope. We had to scrimp and scrape with what we had on hand, until we got paid again. Yes, we had money in the bank and could pull out more but we had a plan. We lived off of beans and rice (sometimes literally), spending well below our means. That way we were able to pay off more and more of our debt every month.
It probably sounds crazy to you, but we were motivated and determined to get out of debt.
The nice thing about budgeting is that WE were in charge of where our money went, and when we needed something, we looked for sales and bought stuff used when we could, just to save a little more.
3. Buy More Used
Whether its cars, pants or furniture, with the use of the internet, it is absolutely possible to buy everything that you need at a discounted price… you know, used. We have been able to save thousand and thousands of dollars every year just by shifting our mind set about buying used stuff. We have been able to get free couches, a fridge, an oven, bedroom furniture, and clothes for the kiddos.
“Every dollar we were able to save,
was a dollar less that we were in debt.”
When ever we had an event come up, like a birthday or a wedding, we were able to save up the cash we needed to buy the gift or the new clothes without putting the purchase on a credit card. The nice thing about events like these is that usually they are planned months in advance so there is no surprise when it comes to purchasing plane tickets to cousin Jill’s wedding or your nephews birthday present.
With a little bit of planning and a cash budget, planning for an event can go from being stressful to being stress-free.
4.Cook More At Home
I love fast food.
I mean, crunch wrap supremes are gods gift to man, but when we were getting out of debt, we vowed to stay out of restaurants. Why? Restaurants are so much more expensive than eating at home.
Before we got on a financial plan, we used to spend a few thousand dollars a month just on food. We always thought food, at restaurants and at Walmart was… FOOD. We always thought since food was necessary, there was nothing we could do about the cost.
Sure, we stayed away from organic cuz we knew it was more expensive. We always went for the second most expensive entree and took advantage of 2-for-1 happy hour drink specials. We thought that by doing the bare minimum standards of “saving money” we were doing our best while also living our best life. We thought going on a budget meant restricting our lives and honestly, that sounded horrible.
But, oh man, did we have the best excuses. The months that we saved more money than the last, we celebrated by buying mango’s when they were out of season. We would spend all the money we saved, therefore, not actually getting anywhere in our finances. We consistently told ourselves that we “deserved” something and therefore, should buy it.
We only started seeing change in in our financial situation when we started making ‘saving money’ a priority over going out to restaurants. We did that for three years. In that time we were able to pay off that $300,000 and now we are on track to buy a house in cash by the end of 2019.
Learn how to make food at home. You will save money and the food you will create, I promise you, will taste better than anything you can get at a restaurant.
5. Be Your Husbands Help Meet
I became a stay at home mom the same week we had our son, and gained a car loan as well as a large hospital bill. My first year as a mom was filled with the guilt of not working while my husband became the main bread winner. He was so determined to get out of debt that he was working longer hours and taking on bigger jobs.
One day, I asked him if I should go back to work. I remember he was holding our son and smiled at me.
He said he was grateful for the offer. He knows that my dream has always been to be a stay at home mom and he knew what it meant for me to offer to go back to work. I will never for get his words that day.
“I wake up early and stay at work late for you and our son. I can do that because I know you are here at home taking care of our son and our house. If you weren’t I would have to stay up even later to clean, wake up early to make food or spend an hour of my lunch everyday buying food. You are helping me save time and money just by doing what you are already doing at home.”
So remember, mamas. Your contributions to the household are absolutely PRICELESS. Don’t feel guilty because your contributions don’t come with a salary. Your worth can NEVER be measured.
If you feel the need to do more, do so. Make your husband those kick ass lunches you used to make your first year as a newlywed. Put on that lipstick he likes and give him a long sweet kiss when he comes home. Wake up when he does, pack his lunch and wish him a good day.
When I was a newlywed, someone gave me a copy of Debi Pearls Created To Be His Help Meet and it changed the way I saw my duties as a Christian wife. I read it every few years again just to reaffirm the ideas Debi writes about in her book. She writes about how the Bible views marriage and what the relationship between a man and his wife should be. I was able to better understand the kind of man I married and how I can better serve him as a Help Meet. Definetly recomend it for any wife that wants to know how she can better serve her husband as a Christian wife.
So let me ask you, how do you financially contribute to the household as a stay at home mom?
I hope this helped you. If it didn’t, and you were looking for ways a stay at home mom can bring in an income, Subscribe for next weeks: “5 Ways A Stay At Home Mom Can Make Money”