It’s official! This week I resigned from my position as an academic advisor at a community college.
While it was a job I truly loved (I’ve worked there for more than 7 years, and I’m also an alum!), I decided that my family needs to take priority at this point in my life.
The decision was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever had to make. I enjoyed my job and the people I worked with are like a family to me. It will also mean a loss of about 40 percent of our family’s income. On the other hand, being a part of my kids’ lives on a full-time basis is one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Becoming a stay-at-home mom has been something I’ve thought about off and on since my first son was born nearly three years ago. But we had just built a new house with a GIANT mortgage and bought a new car and quitting my job wasn’t in the cards. Plus, my parents took care of my son for free, so I didn’t have to worry about day care costs.
I often told my closest friends that if I had two kids, I would continue to work, but if I had three kids, I would want to stay home until they were older. Flash forward two years later… and a funny thing happened…
I got pregnant with twins! Apparently a higher power was helping me make my decision!
I knew that my parents would not want to do full-time day care for three little ones. But at the same time, I was scared that we might not be able to live on just my husband’s income.
How I became a stay-at-home mom
So here are some of the things we did while I was pregnant and still working full-time:
1) We lived solely on my husband’s income for that entire year. We banked all of my income in what we affectionately called the “Special Projects account.”
2) We upgraded our heat system to be more energy efficient so that we could shave approximately $200 a month off our heat bill.
3) We paid off our debts. We used our “special project” money to pay off our Ford Focus in just one year. We currently have no debt except for our mortgage.
4) We saved for a minivan. We knew that with three wee ones in car seats, we’d never fit in our Ford Focus, and our 2000 Chevy Lumina just wasn’t going to be comfortable or reliable anymore. We traded off the Lumina, bought a minivan, and use the Focus wagon as a commuter car for my husband and a grocery getter when I go out without the kids.
5) We built up an emergency fund. This was especially helpful because I ended up on bed rest several times during the twin pregnancy and wasn’t making my usual salary.
6) I took a one-year unpaid leave of absence from my job after the twins were born. I wanted a safety net – to make sure that we could survive on one income. And I found that we could make it work.
7) We made a budget. I’m not always the best at following it, but at least I know we have a plan.
8) I learned how to make my dollars stretch. I read as much as I could, visited tons of websites and shared information with friends and family on great deals. I learned about resources in my community. I learned about things I could do to make sure we were on track for retirement, even without my income for a few years.
9) I used the power of the internet. I love, love, love the internet. I have found so much information about frugal living and saving money. My list of favorite websites (see far right) grows bigger all the time. I have made several blogging friends who share my passion for frugal living and they inspire me. They remind me that there is so much that can be done to live a life of true prosperity.
10) I found ways to bring in a little extra money. I do some light bookkeeping for a friend of ours. The work keeps my mind sharp and keeps my resume from completely withering on the vine. I have also done a few surveys and similar things online to bring in some fun money.
11) I connected with people. I live in a rural area, so it was essential to my mental well-being for me to connect with people besides my three little boys. I am a volunteer for several organizations and I also connect with people via this blog. I make sure I get out of the house on a regular basis for solo shopping trips or to have lunch with friends. A healthy, happy mom, makes for a healthy, happy family.
12) I learned to be happy with all that I have. I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. I don’t need to go out to eat four times a week. I don’t have to have stuff to be happy.
These are just some of the things I did on my path to becoming a stay-at-home mom. It is a major move, but one that can be done, if you plan for it.