When I was younger I never really wanted to be a stay at home mom. I really wanted to work and enjoyed my teaching career. Even when we had our first couple of kids I still wanted to keep my job and I had the wonderful option of a daycare in my school building. Fast forward two more kids and things are looking more and more like I am going to have to stay home out of necessity (and, to be honest, I really kind of want to now!). Things at my job have changed to the point where I am ready to leave the work force and stay home with the younger two, who are 2 1/2 and 5 months. The affordable daycare in my building has astronomically raised the rates over the past year to the point where I will be paying them well more than half of my take home pay to keep the kids in there and I am at the point in my teaching career where I am fed up with what is going on with public education and ready for a change.
Because of these things my family has been working harder than ever to pay off our debt in case I need to stay home in the next few months, which is becoming more and more of a reality. We have dumped our credit card debt and paid off my van (you know, the van I said I’d never drive and now love with four kids? lol) and the last thing to pay off besides the house is my student loan, which is sitting at a little over $4000. We are so close to being out of debt I can taste it! Here are some tips and tricks to pay off your debt so you can become a one income family if you choose.
Pay Off Debt to Become a One Income Family
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare ahead of time!
This is really a big one. Since we have seen this coming for a while now we have been drastically slashing our budget and doing everything we can to make extra money to pay off debt. Same goes for any family if you have time before a baby or the end of a school year, etc. and can start working on debt reduction while you are both still employed. I’ve known for a while we could make the absolute minimums on everything if one of us lost our jobs (we had a scare with hubby’s job once where they were going to downsize) so it wasn’t a big jump to think of me leaving my job.
If possible, save some money while you can in case it takes a few months to get the hang of living on one income.
2. Have a realistic budget in place.
You can see how we budget and get the same template we use in this post. I am the budgeter in our house and this is how we work out our numbers, although lately we have really been cutting out all but the basics to put the extra money to credit card debt. Look at the numbers how they are now and how they will be without the extra income. What will you have to cut out or cut down on? Are there any expenses you can’t live without? What is the absolute minimum you have to make to pay the basic bills?
3. Sell everything you can
We have been selling off a ton of things to make extra money for debt reduction. Now that we are done having kiddos I have been doing really well selling my maternity clothes on eBay. I have sold off a lot of my extra yarn (I’m a freelance pattern designer) and tons of other things we don’t really need around the house. If you haven’t read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I strongly suggest it. That book motivated me to get rid of so much and simplify my life!! I’ve also really enjoyed these Ted Talks on Minimalism (even though I have NO desire to become a minimalist!): A Rich Life with Less Stuff and The Art of Letting Go. Sell it! I can’t think of a single thing I’ve gotten rid of that I wish I had kept.
4. Learn to DIY
Most of the time, making or doing things yourself will save you a ton of money. Here are some of the ways we DIY to save money:
- Food: we make muffins, bread (thanks Goodwill bread machine!), pancakes, granola bars, etc. ourselves instead of buying them at the store. We really enjoy the healthier versions of a lot of these items, which can easily sell for $1 or more each (like Larabars) so making it ourselves saves a bunch of money.
- We fix everything we can ourselves. Luckily my husband is pretty handy and if he doesn’t know how, he researches it and often finds a YouTube tutorial video to help out. We have saved so much money on car and house repairs this way!!
- DIY Gifts. I love homemade gifts and the thought that goes into them. I do a lot of knitting and crochet so I do those types of gifts a lot but there are a bunch of other ideas, too. Even something as simple as a dozen eggs from our backyard flock makes a great gift! We just used that for teacher appreciation week for a teacher who loves to cook.
- Pinterest it! Anything you can think of, from DIY home decor to how to transform thrift store clothing can be found on Pinterest. Use some of those great ideas to create beautiful things in your life. If you need inspiration, check out my Pinterest profile. I have a ton of boards to help you DIY for cheap. 🙂
5. Cut Unnecessary Costs
We got rid of our Cable TV a long time ago. In fact, we don’t have an actual TV at all. Now, before you get to thinking that we live like the Amish or something, we do have a large iMac we bought years ago that we let the kiddos watch Netflix on. And we have a laptop in our bedroom that my hubby and I can catch up on our shows with after the kids are in bed. We do severely limit the amount of screen time we and the kids watch because there are so many more productive things to do (like the list above!).
Think about things you might not need or need as much of when one of you is home. If you have home wifi, will you still need such a large data plan for your cell phones? Can you cut down on dry cleaning or clothing costs if you won’t need to wear them to work?
6. Do What you Can to Make Extra Money
Can you pick up a few extra shifts at work temporarily to get things moving? Can you do some type of freelance or side hustles? Here are a few ways we make a little extra money:
- Ebates. I mean, really, if I’m going to buy things online anyways shouldn’t I get some cash back? Check them out if you aren’t using them – it really adds up!
- Survey sites. There are some legit sites out there and I’m working on a post rounding them up for you.
- Freelance writing. Are you good at writing? Try working for a place like Textbroker writing articles in your spare time. Here is my experience with them.
- My husband and I both have part-time jobs. He is in the National Guard one weekend a month (also great health insurance that doesn’t cost a fortune!!) and I do freelance designing. I’ve also taught high school courses online. It doesn’t have to be long-term, just long enough to pay off your debt. Dave Ramsey often talks about delivering pizzas to pay off your debt and if that’s what it takes – do it!
7. Learn to Live with Less
For sure one thing that will be a big adjustment for us is the extra “things” my income provides. We have a little more freedom to eat out (although we are cutting that out for health reasons as well as money) and we can buy things that aren’t necessities but I really don’t think we will mind. We live in a house that is a little under 1200 square feet with four kids so we don’t have a lot of room for extra “stuff” anyways. If your house is holding you back, consider downsizing. You will not only save on your mortgage but also on your utilities. I love living in a smaller house and one day when we buy some land we don’t want a large house on the property. I want my boys to grow up close and not be able to close each other out.
It will be a struggle for a while, I’m sure, but I think the benefits will really outweigh the negatives. I will have more time for my freelance designing, which I love. If one of the kids get sick we won’t have to juggle schedules and decide who is taking off work because I will be there. I won’t miss out on the younger years of these little lives while I pay someone else to watch my babies. I think I’m ready. The time is now – if you are in the same situation I say go for it.
You can always do a trial run and try living on one income by putting the other income in the bank and pretending it doesn’t exist. (That also will give you a great savings account for when you do quit!)
I hope these tips have given you something to think about. I know writing this post has helped put it into real perspective for me. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.