By Ashley Andrews, 700 Club Interactive
CBN.com Kelly Whalen is a writer, blogger, brand consultant, wife and mother of four. And her motto is, "You can have it all, but on a budget!" For fourteen years she was a stay at home mom, and her family lived comfortably on just one income. And she wants to encourage others to do the same. Through her blog, The Centsible Life, she coaches fellow couples and singles to live financially savvy, or as she puts it, "without breaking the piggy bank."
Her goal is to help readers live well on less. As she pointed out, "Statistics tell us that over 5 million parents stay at home with their children. The number of stay at home dads is on the rise both due to the economy making it tougher to find jobs, and some women flipping the traditional gender roles and earning more than their spouses."
LIVING ON ONE INCOME
Kelly and her husband learned early on how to live on just one income. As Kelly described, "I was pregnant with my first child when I was twenty going on twenty-one. About two months before I had him, we moved into an apartment and my husband took a job that made it logistically difficult for me to work (we also had one car). So from the time I was about 6 1/2 months pregnant, I stayed home..." The plan, she explained, was that she would go back to work after their son turned six months. But that all changed when they agreed that her husband would continue working and go back to school full-time. "I stayed at home with our son Nathan doing odd jobs when I could. I worked occasionally as an organizer for friends and clients when I could secure babysitting. I sold Avon. I babysat. I drove carpool for two busy working moms. I took classes. I worked in retail in the evenings."
It wasn't until Nathan turned three, that Kelly took a job as a garden guide. Then nine months later, they moved. Soon after, they were expecting their second child, and Kelly's career bounced back and forth. "Between child #2 and child #3 and child #4, I had various part time gigs..." In fact, just last year, Kelly had "no less than six jobs," working as a swim coach, nursery school teacher, writer, retail worker, and Farmer's Market helper. But this year promises to be less random, job wise that is.
Since starting The Centsible Life, Kelly's writing has become quite popular. "My blogging job," she shared, "only brought in about $700 last year, but this year it's replaced ALL my other jobs' incomes already." And for Kelly and her family, it came at just the perfect time. Until this year, "I've always had the 'luxury' of staying home," she shared. "While I've always worked a bit here and there, my husband's work always demanded more time, or I was pregnant (again), or had a newborn..." And it's not that they are well to do. As Kelly explained, "We just knew that it didn't make sense to have me get a job to pay for care for our kids when their Dad was working hard (and at several points working more than one job, or going to school alongside full time work)." But Kelly believes that if her family can make it on one income for twelve years, then anyone can. "It's not easy, it takes adjusting, and changing a lot of things. But for less stress and more time with your family, it can be worth it."
TIPS FOR ONE INCOME FAMILIES
Staying Home Saves Money
"Most people have the assumption that their pay (after taxes of course) is their earnings, but...you need to be careful not to count your chickens before they hatch. What does working really cost you? Think about it. If you work in a traditional office you have clothing costs, commute expenses (what if you could cut out a car?), food (no one ever remembers their brown bag every day!), among others. If you work in a less conventional setting, your home for instance, you may have costs that are higher due to that as well. A home office space, electricity costs, phone line, etc. Figure out what your work expenses are and subtract them from your pay. That's your real wage. Usually that number is shockingly different than your take home pay. Ways you can save by NOT working: dry cleaning, clothing costs, second car expenses, fuel, childcare, etc."
Staying Home Can Help You Make More Money "If you've always wanted to go back to school, start your own business, or just take a year off and find yourself (with newborn in tow), you may be able to parlay your time at home into a new career, a new passion, or a new income you never expected. (hello, I'm a blogger!)"
Staying Home Can Make You Happy
"For some people their job is simply a job and not their passion. For others, they are unhappy with where they work. For still other parents they feel that having a parent at home with the kids would give them more peace of mind. It's not for everyone, but if you are unhappy and can make the numbers work, taking time off may be the best thing for everyone (even if you end up going back to work you will never have any What Ifs hanging over your head)."
Crunch The Numbers
"You need to sit down and crunch your own numbers. You may find a clear answer, you may not. You may find that this year it will work, but next year when you have some large expenses looming you'll have to go back. There is no right answer. Only you know what you VALUE, and what you feel you need to spend on. In the 1950s there wasn't internet, Netflix subscriptions, premium cable packages, or Sally's hop hop dance class that costs $150/month plus a $90 "performance" outfit. Things seemed simpler because they were. If you want all the above, you have to find a way to pay for it, and a second job may be your answer, but if you are willing to live a more simple lifestyle you may find that you can get by on much less than you thought...Of course every family is different...so run your numbers. The answer doesn't need to be right for everyone else, it just needs to be right for you, and your family."
Some Things to Consider Before You Decide to Stay at Home
1) Do you have an emergency fund?
2) Do you have adequate life insurance should either spouse pass away?
3) Can the stay at home spouse find fulfillment, or keep their career skills sharp while at home?
4) What if the stay at home spouse hates it?
Staying at Home and the Single
"While it is possible to stay at home with your children as a single parent, it most cases it involves your family supporting you in some fashion. For some this may mean a multi-generational home, while others may find that being living in at a job makes sense. (such as a live in nanny, housesitter, housekeeper, etc.) And despite what people think staying at home and being single doesn't have to mean you are on welfare. I know moms who work part-time while their baby naps, live off savings, and live in communal housing. Ir's certainly not a common path, but if you are committed to it you can make it happen."