How a stay at home mom can contribute financially without bringing home a paycheck
I think many of us as stay at home moms can sometimes feel inadequate since we do not contribute to our family financially by bringing home a paycheck. But we as moms actually have the most important financial job of all and it’s called playing defense with your money.
My husband plays offense. He is out making the money, bringing home the bacon, and setting a family budget. I on the other hand play defense to keep our money. This may seem backwards since we as moms tend to do most of the spending. Grocery shopping, paying bills, taking the kids shoe shopping every other month, etc. And while spending money is inevitable, playing defense is about sticking to the budget and spending smartly and strategically.
In this day and age of motherhood, sticking to a budget is anything but easy. We are consumed by social media, showcasing the latest must have trends, and we feel pressure to keep our kids dressed in the cutest clothes, to buy the latests and greatest baby gadgets, and to carry the trendiest diaper bag. So much so, that we spend money that could be better spent elsewhere (ie. investments, educational savings accounts, retirement funds), or even worse money that we don’t have.
We personally live by Dave Ramsey’s total money makeover. We believe in staying out of debt and saving now so that we can splurge later. We always pay ourselves first and max out our IRA’s. We save for our children’s future college education monthly, so that they will never have to pay student loans. And finally we believe in giving. All of these things are made priorities in our budget. Notice how I say “we”. My husband may make the money, but we make financial decisions together. We agree on the budget. We are a team.
So how can you best play defense with your family’s money? Here are a few simple ways you can save money in hopes of better sticking to a budget.
- Join a buy sell trade mommy group on Facebook and shop hand-me-downs or gently used children’s clothing. Don’t let your pride get in the way of saving money on clothes your kids will grow out of in months to a year.
- Menu plan. Sticking to our grocery budget is by far my biggest struggle. My husband just doesn’t quite understand how many snacks a 3 year old and 18 month old go through on a daily basis. But by menu planning, I can at least do my part in making sure my groceries include weekly meals that keep me away from the Chik-fil-a drive thru. Eating out adds up!
- Try a grocery pickup or delivery service. While these services do have fees ($5-$10) it is so much easier to stick to my grocery budget when I can edit my cart online. In store it is easy to grab unneeded things here and there, and those things add up. Online I can take unnecessary things out of my cart if I have gone over budget.
- Have monthly budget meetings with your husband to go over where you went over budget and how you can improve the next month. There should be no secret spending in a healthy financial relationship. Every penny spent has a line in the budget.
- Find free outings to do with your kids. Now that Nora is over 1 year old and she no longer gets in free to most kids places, it costs sixty plus bucks to take my kids anywhere. Add in food an you are looking at a $100 outing. Not in the budget. Save those types of places for special occasions and find a free local church playground instead. Save even more money by packing snacks and lunch.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how much money you keep, and we as moms and wives can make or break the amount of money our family keeps. Choose to play defense for your family.