Here's a glimpse at changes we considered so that I could become a stay at home mom:
opted for a pay-as-you-go cell phone plan instead of a contract
will rarely buy convenience foods
begin shopping grocery sales and couponing
drop cable service, keep Netflix subscription
drop long distance phone service, use Google Voice
will use about half as much gas for car
will handle beauty care (dying hair, eyebrows)
will not need to pay full-time childcare
Total savings of $890/month or $10,680/year
Some of these considerations were made out of personal preference (cable) and others out of necessity (groceries). And all estimates are quite conservative!
Let's not forget that working families often incur extra expenses on things like doctor's bills (for sick kids & mommas), a professional wardrobe or uniforms and business lunches. And so much more.
In Mary Hunt's book "How to Debt Proof Your Marriage", which I highly recommend by the way (see "my recommendations" at the bottom of the page), chapter 19 offers "forty ways to live beneath your means".
Beneath your means. I hate the way that sounds. It sounds so sacrificial, so unfulfilling, so boring. But, really, it doesn't have to be. If living beneath my means equates to more hours spent with my pajama-wearing, pb&j-eating, growing-up-too-fast rascals, then so be it! Hunt's suggestions include clean it yourself; dump PMI; buy used, late model, domestic; make one big, bold move; and more.
Speaking of beneath your means... can you imagine driving your family of five around in a compact car that's covered in hail dents and is approaching seven years old? I can (and do)! Sure, we could upgrade to the swaggerwagon-- the marketing alone is brilliant!-- but we just don't absolutely need it yet so we just aren't buying it yet! Besides, a new vehicle might be more convenient but it's not going to make me any happier. Baking cookies with my kids or watching my son learn to crawl, now that will bring me great joy!
It is my wish that as this blog continues, so will my offering of real-life solutions for real-life families like you who want to do it yourself!