In November, I quit my full-time nonprofit job so that I could stay at home with my boys. My husband and my combined income were not enough to give us this option after we had Charlie. After we had Crosby, our income still was by no means impressive, but with double the childcare costs it made sense for us to see if it we could sustain our family on Chuck's income alone. Obviously, we took a huge financial loss, but I figured out that by cutting spending in a few areas of our life, we could make it work. Here's how we did it:
Upon going back to work, Chuck and I had two options:
1. Put both boys in at-home childcare. At a minimum this would have cost us $150/week. The woman who was watching them could not guarantee she would have spaces for them past January and on any days that she wasn't able to watch them, we would have had to scramble to make other arrangements. It just was not ideal for us.TRANSPORTATION
2. Put both boys in daycare. We live in a small town that has one credible daycare that accepts infants. Because of this, when I called prior to Crosby's birth I was #14 on the waiting list. Even if we had been able to secure a spot for Crosby, it would have cost us around $1,100/month. Ouch.
In terms of transportation, Chuck and I were able to cut down our spending in two categories:
1. Gas. I had a one-hour work commute so a tank of gas would only last me two days. Obviously, this added up quickly. Now that I'm staying home, Chuck gets $100 every pay period to cover his gas for two weeks and I can make due on about $20-25 for the month. We're fortunate to live pretty close to our town's downtown area so the library, playground, CVS, and one of our banks are all within walking distance. The only times I generally use my car are for grocery shopping or doctor's appointments. We went from spending around $393 per month to $220 per month which gave us a $173 savings.FOOD
2. Auto insurance. My driving record is not pristine. I've gotten a couple speeding tickets in the last 5 years, as well as been involved in two accidents (only one was my fault). This meant that my spotty driving record and our long commutes equaled crazy high premiums. Right before I quit, our monthly payments went from $253 to $240 per month. This was not great. So I shopped around and through changing my policy provider, I managed to get a new rate that now costs us $148/month. $240-148=$92
I talked at length about exactly what we did to trim our food budget here. Basically, we stopped eating out, ordering takeout and getting fast food which saved us about $250/month. We then started using a cash-only system for our groceries which saved us $200/month. $850-450=$400
Although we debated canceling our internet, that would have meant no blogging for me. So for now, we're sticking with it! However, we did manage to save in a couple other areas:
All in all, these cuts to our expenses have saved us upwards of $1400/month!
1. Gym membership. Let's face it, that thing wasn't being used anyway. So before I even went on my maternity leave, we cancelled it and saved ourselves $48.
2. Satellite TV. We were stuck in a two-year contract for an impulsive purchase that we got ourselves into so that my husband could watch football at home instead of going to his parents' house every Sunday. He rarely watched games at home and we were stuck paying $80/month for a service we didn't use. We did have to pay an early termination fee, but it paid for itself in two months so we made our peace with it. My sister got Chuck an Amazon Fire Stick for Christmas and we mooch off our family members' Hulu and Netflix accounts, so we now pay nothing for TV.
We've talked about where else we can trim our spending. Recently, we changed our electric supplier so our monthly bills will be a fixed rate for three years, as opposed to subject to the fluctuating coal and gas industries. We're not yet sure how much this will save us long-term. We've also discussed changing our cell phone provider, but we need to pay our phones off before we can switch.
How has your family cut down on expenses? Do you have any tips or suggestions for me?