My husband went out with some college friends the other night and when he told one of them that I was about to stay home, his response was “Oh, so you guys have it like that huh?”. (This was right after I had published my last post on people’s assumptions and comments on me staying home, you can read that here.) He was implying that we must be making a lot of money to be able to make this decision for our family.
The truth is that this change to go from two to one income will involve a few lifestyle adjustments for us. These are 3 conversations we had to get ready. Two are financially related, but the last one was on how this change would affect our relationship. As I write this, we are just starting out so a lot more growing and learning is ahead of us. Make sure to check out how we overcame money issues that came up after we settled into our new budget!
1) Analyze Debt Versus Savings
It was important for us to figure out where we stood in terms of our assets and liabilities. What areas can we improve on? Do we have savings to cover at least 3 months of expenses in case something happens? Living on one income will make us a little more vulnerable, and if something happens to our one income, a safety net will be even more important.
Is there any debt that we can decrease/eliminate before that second income goes away? When we decided that I would stay home, we had a few months to plan our transition. We had two student loans left and one was a 400 dollar monthly payment. Since the balance wasn’t that high anymore, we planned to pay it off completely. As a result, it eliminated a pretty hefty monthly bill. The other loan was larger and we knew it would be with us for a while.
My husband has been amazing at paying off his credit card balance. Me- not so much. We payed off almost half of my balance and transferred the rest to a 0 APR credit card for 18 months. There will still be monthly payments on it but at least it won’t accumulate interest for a while and we can work on paying it off. Of course, not using it anymore would be key. In talking about this change, it really forced us to discuss finances on a deeper level and what we really wanted. Being debt free would lift a huge burden and should be a goal we set out to achieve.
2) Review Monthly Expenses
We sat down and figured out where our money was going each month and what areas we could focus on and improve. This was a lot of fun! *cue sarcasm*. The easy part for us was cutting out cable, that would automatically save us $100 a month and we *borrowed some Hulu/Netflix logins to satisfy our tv needs.
I’m only going to share that this next category was outrageous! We were in shock when we actually figured out the monthly average. I’ll leave the number up to your imaginations. Our biggest gain would come from how we spent money on FOOD! I saw a report recently that in 2016 people spent more money eating out than on groceries. This was the first time it wasn’t the other way around. So I know we are not alone.
We looked back and averaged how much we spent on food- groceries, eating out and ordering in for 2016 and it was crazy high. I’ll blame this one on Chicago, there are just too many good places that are easy to order from. Okay okay, I’ll take some responsibility. It definitely becomes a habit. If we decided to go out all day and have fun on Sunday, it would usually take place of meal planning and that would throw off the whole week. Our goals are to plan meals for the week, using that as a guide to buy groceries and not buying other food that is not in the plan for the week, use coupons more, and heavily decrease the amount of eating out and in (bye bye grubhub).
If that wasn’t enough, are there any other weaknesses or “areas of improvement”? Mine is Amazon. I know I’m not alone on this one. It can be extremely helpful, and we aren’t going to cancel it completely. There are times that it gets out of hand. For example, I have a problem with themes. Take my son’s second birthday party- it was supposed to be a simple ball themed party in the yard. Get a few beach and soccer balls and call it a day. I probably didn’t need a bubble machine in addition to bubble bottle or the huge bag of gumballs I bought. It was a lot of fun to plan though. You can read all about it here.
The plan for Amazon and other sites is to unlink our credit cards so that it is not so easy to just click away and also be more intentional about our purchases.
3) Our Relationship Roles
As with any major change, just like how getting married can change your relationship, then having your first kid, second etc., this was no exception. We had a system established that involved two full time working parents. We tag teamed after work- we’d both talk about our days, play with the kids and eat dinner together. I usually cooked dinner and put Ellis to bed and Jordan would wash dishes and put Miles down. How would that change now? We needed to be clear on each of our expectations.
Jordan was the one to suggest that I leave the house alone for a while when he gets home, and get some time for myself. I can work out or run errands or get my nails done, but it would be something for me. It was a relief to know that he was thinking about my concerns of independence and “me” time that would be affected by staying home.
This is an ongoing conversation. We can’t predict every challenge or happiness that will occur in our relationship. Continuing to talk about it and think of solutions together helps A LOT.
Finally, many of our goals won’t be easy. They are going to involve making some lifestyle and habit changes that we have held for a while. Read our update on ways we have overcome money issues that arose after settling into our new budget and lifestyle!