I fully understand that each of our family financial situations are as unique as our children's personalities. Some of us have college loans, some of us don't; some of us have credit card debt, some of us don't; some of us have mortgages, some of us don't. And the list goes on. But, what we do have in common is the fact that we all must embrace changes-- sometime small sometimes large-- if we want to cross the threshold from working parent to stay at home parent. Here are a few suggestions of what to do if you're still coming up short:
[Note: some of these suggestions are for moms who are still working, and some are for those who have already come home]
-Consider cutting back, even just a few hours, at work. This small adjustment will have a bit of a snowball effect as you working less often results in less money spent on gas, childcare and convenience meals. Not to mention the added time you'll get to spend with your children.
-Check out craigslist and other classifieds to see if you could do some babysitting from your home. This is a great opportunity to stay with your kids but earn a little extra income. One mention to your friends, family and church members and you'll likely hear of someone in need.
-Take turns with a friend. Have a friend or neighbor with kids? Why not strike up a deal to take turns watching each other's kids? One or two days a week she can watch the kids while you take on a part-time job and vice versa.
-Swap services with a friend. Know an at-home mom who can cut hair? Maybe you're computer savvy and can take a look at her computer problem in exchange for those haircuts.
-Explore work from home opportunities. Working from home can be difficult, to say the least. Know what kind of time commitment (and time away from your child) it will take before committing to this type of employment. It is not for everyone while other's make it work gracefully. Check out sites like WAHM and HireMyMom.
-Consider a part-time job with perks. If you need to take on a part-time job, it only makes sense to seek out one with added benefits. For example, if you really, really love buying your kids clothes from Gap, then get a job there and receive the employee discounts. If you are a fitness fanatic and hate to give up your gym membership, get a job at the local gym (usually comes complete with a free membership)! Or, if health insurance is a big expense for you, seek out employers who offer discounted health insurance plans to their part-time employees. Keep in mind that these discounts will only stay in place for as long as you work the part-time position.
-Deliver newspapers. Sounds elementary but I had a friend who did this for years. Even though she had early morning routes, she got the kids up and into their car seats and they all delivered papers together. This has the potential earnings of a couple hundred dollars per month, depending on how many routes you take!
-Sell things that you are no longer using. This tip came from a good friend who is now a debt-free, at home mom (big yay!). Her advice is to sell what you're not using, especially if the items will cost you money to use them (i.e. a set of skis). Some things you might have lying around the house include clothes, baby gear, electronics and linens.
-Make one, big bold move. This comes from Mary Hunt who promotes debt-proof living. Some bold moves to consider include downsizing houses, trading in a new car for a used one or renting out your garage for storage space. These are just a few ideas but you get the idea, they are big moves (but then again so is staying home with your kids)!
I hope that these ideas have gotten your creative juices flowing. While we might not have all the money we need to stay home in our pockets or bank accounts right now, it may be within our reach. Some of the ideas seem like a lot of work and even a little bit of a stretch. I urge you to prayerfully consider all options before delving into something new. Allow yourself to rely on God for understanding and your paths will be made straight (Proverbs 3:5-6)!