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Seven months ago I quit my job. It had always been my dream to stay home, so I should have been so excited that it was finally happening. But instead of a dream come true, it felt a little like a nightmare. Because I quit even though I couldn’t afford to.
I’d always hoped I’d be able to be a homemaker one day, but I knew it was just impossible financially. Then all of a sudden, my job description was changed, and it created an ethical dilemma for me. I tried to work around it, but I saw that it had the potential to leave me open to liability, so I didn’t feel I had another option but to quit. So I did.
And I was scared to freakin’ death. On one hand, super excited to finally be able to come home! On the other, I knew it couldn’t last, so I was pretty much dreading having to start freelance work. I was burned out on my profession at that point, so I seriously needed a break before I could think about going back to work. I told myself I would take a month, maybe 2 if we could manage it, just to breathe and process everything and start mentally transitioning to the idea of freelance work.
But honestly? I did not want to go back to my career after a month, or even two. I wanted my time at home to turn into a long-term thing. So I set out brainstorming all the ways I might be able to make it happen.
The first thing I did the day that I resigned (besides lots of praying) was to sit down and look at our income. I had to figure out exactly how much we would have coming in since I’d quit, and how I could use it to make ends meet. At first I thought that living on a budget meant taking all your expenses and finding a way to make them all fit. Umm, let me just say, that didn’t work.
I had to change my perspective on that one pretty quick. I couldn’t just make room for all our expenses, because there was no room. Instead, I had to start with looking at where I wanted to end up, then figure out how to get there. And I realized that meant that, instead of cramming things in, I had to start cutting things out. Lots of things.
This meant cutting back, substituting, smart planning, and eliminating some things completely.The first thing I focused on was cutting out everything that was clearly not a necessity. This was not fun. It meant no more books. And I love to read. And that new sweater I had ordered? Now I had to wait for it to arrive just so that I could turn around and send it back. And it was so cute.
Netflix was out. Hulu was out. No more name-brand toilet paper. (Scary!) Goodbye, dish-detergent pods with the fancy built-in rinse aid. (It took me a long time to let go of that one, not gonna lie.)
And fast food. Oh my goodness, fast food. I need to spend some time figuring out how much we’re saving on this one just so I can blow your mind.
And since we weren’t going to be eating out anymore, I needed to create a grocery budget to stick with. This took some time because I had to learn our habits, like when I could expect to run out of things and need to restock.
I never had a plan when I went to the grocery store before I quit my job. We would just go in and buy whatever our eyes landed on. Once in a while I’d think I was going to start cooking so I’d spend $12 on a roast, but that bad boy might never even see the inside of a slow cooker. Shameful.
There was no way I could let that happen because we didn’t have a dollar to spare and I’m NOT kidding. We have less than $16,000 per year coming in for the 2 of us plus one Squishy Pug.
So making a grocery list every time became essential. I start by writing down everything we need and then I price it all on Walmart, Target, and Sam’s Club’s websites. From there I have to eliminate things from the list until it’s down to a price we can afford.
After eliminating and substituting things, and coming up with a plan for groceries, the next step was cutting back on what we use. I’m talking everything from heating and air conditioning to toilet flushes.
You know that old adage, if it’s yellow let it mellow? Sorry, but these are things you have to think about when you just quit your job and you couldn’t afford to. (Chances are you can use less toilet paper than you do too, just keeping it real.)
And paper towels. I know some people would cut out paper towels completely, but instead I just cut back severely. For example, we like to make homemade tacos and fry our own tortillas. It leaves lots of grease to be sopped up, and I’m not about to send it down my drain and cause plumbing issues down the road, that is bad news bears.
Heating and air conditioning is another thing we cut back on drastically. During winter we went from 72 degrees to 62, and 60 at night. Instead of heating the whole house, we use a Duraflame heater we already had to heat our main room, and then turn on our electric blanket at night. It’s saved us a ton on our bill.
During summer we went from 76 to anywhere between 82-85 during the day, and down to 78 at night. Our Dyson and Honeywell tower fans help cool down the rooms we spend most of our time in so we’re not cooling the whole house when we don’t need to.
More ways to save
There are other services you can cut back on too, but it depends on how much it’s worth it to you. Like cable. That is a huge budget-killer. We didn’t have cable, but it seems like almost everybody else does.
And cell phone plans. We changed to the lowest data plan and committed to only using our phone data for stuff like getting directions or pulling up mobile coupons. (I love savings.)
Another thing I did was switch to paying all but one of our bills online which cut out the cost of stamps. I mean think about it, they’re expensive! They’re nearly 50 cents a pop and if you’ve got 10 bills a month, you’re spending $60 a year to PAY people money. Cut those suckers out NOW.
Cutting back on auto insurance coverage was another big way I was able to quit my job when I couldn’t afford to. It’s not my favorite because I was brought up to invest in such things, but I had to get practical. And that meant reevaluating everything.
There are tons more saving tricks and budgeting tactics I used to be able to quit my job. From going generic, using coupons (without couponing), savings apps, laundry and dishwashing routines, planning months ahead, selling stuff around the house, regifting (yes, I just said that)… It all has to work together.
How bad do you want it?
Now, I can totally see how finding a way to stay home is not going to be for everybody. Because you just won’t be able to keep doing the things you’ve been doing, it’s that simple. And some people won’t want it enough.
To me, it’s worth it to either cut back, substitute, or eliminate on almost everything, and my husband is behind this 100%.
So if staying home is your ultimate dream job, chances are good that you can find a way to make it happen. But how bad do you want it? Enough to let go of a vehicle? To downsize to a smaller house? To start baking your own bread to cut costs?
We had to drop a vehicle. That was worth it to us. I had to learn to cook, bake, to become a full-time budgeter, researcher, and household manager, and to be okay with only going out to a restaurant twice a year (and only with a gift card or coupon).
But I’m 7 months into being a full-time homemaker, and I couldn’t be more happy that I dared to quit my job when I couldn’t afford it. So, what is it that you’re willing to give up to live your dream?
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