So, you think you want to be a stay at home mom (SAHM)?
The first step, if you haven't already done so, is to take a very close look at your spending. After that you'll want to take the time to develop a budget. You really do need to know what it is going to take to get by each month before you make any bold moves. I highly recommend using some kind of free resource like Mint.com to help you figure things out. Here are more details on setting up a budget with Mint.com.
I urge you to scrutinize your spending looking with a honest eye at what unnecessary expenses you might be incurring. Also consider the following:
-Could I be getting a cheaper rate on insurances (car, home owners/renters, life)?
-Have I set limits on my entertainment budget (dining out, going to movies, etc.)?
-Are there any unnecessary, active subscriptions or memberships that I can cancel?
-Am I overpaying taxes on each paycheck? If you get a tax refund, you are overpaying and should make the proper adjustments to your paycheck so you can put that money in your pocket now. See the IRS Withholding Calculator.
After making such considerations that will hopefully lead to some budget modifications, you're ready to stay home, right? Well, not really. I would highly recommend that you begin some kind of emergency fund-- typically enough to sustain you for 3 to 6 months-- which will be crucial in the unfortunate event that your family experiences an emergency while you are staying home. Emergency funds need to be within your reach at all times so you'll want to start a savings or money market account (or a high yield checking account, if you can get your hands on one) exclusively for your emergency fund.
All these precursors may seem daunting and like a lot of work but, in the end, you should be at a place where you can comfortably get by on one income all while being prepared in the face of an emergency. I believe, as much as anyone else, the sooner you can stay home with your kids the better. However, making such a big move needs to be done with wisdom and heart, with serious consideration for the best interests of your family.
And, don't forget, if you absolutely cannot stay home full-time right now (especially with the realization of instituting an emergency fund) please think about what you can do. Perhaps you can cut back just 10 hours for now? After adjustments to your spending, this might just be enough to allow you to get a start on the emergency fund, grant you a few extra hours at home and put you on the path to being a SAHM!
I will continue tomorrow with advice on what to do when you're still coming up short.