When Wendy Chamberlin, a one-time US ambassador to Pakistan, resigned her post, she said, "There are many people who can be an ambassador… but nobody else can be my daughters' mother." Do Chamberlin's sentiments echo your own? Do you wish you could leave the daily grind and spend more time with your children? Why don't you?
For 87 percent of working mothers, the answer boils down to one not-so-simple word: Money.
While some of us are happy balancing families and careers, many mothers work because we have to. Or maybe because we think we have to. Many families assume that they won't be able to live on one income because they're accustomed to living on two. Bart Butler, a certified financial planner in Columbus, Ohio, says many families really can live on one income, but they must prepare to make sacrifices.
Christine Walker, author of The Smart Mom's Guide to Staying Home: 65 Simple Ways to Thrive, Not Deprive, on One Income, echoes this thought: "The number one thing to establish is 'What does your family want?' What you do with your time and money reflects what your priorities are. If you and your spouse agree that one of you should stay home with your children, saving money takes on a different light." You are no longer "doing without," you are just maintaining your family's priorities.
Both Butler and Walker agree that planning is necessary when making the jump from two incomes to one. Butler advises, "Develop a current budget and a projected budget. Assess where you are currently spending your money in order to see exactly where you can cut back. Prepare a new budget for your new lower income."
In her book, Walker compares money management to weight management. She says that strict, long-term deprivation rarely works with food or with money. Sooner or later, you're really going to blow your diet—or your budget. Both are all about balance. Walker encourages moms to have an "affordable indulgence"—the one thing that is truly important to you and worth the cost, no matter what. It could a gym membership, or a daily latte, or possibly a babysitter one day each week. "The whole point of staying home with your kids is to have a greater quality of life, not a lesser one. Depriving yourself of these niceties will only make you feel as though you have nothing left for yourself. Deprivation leads to resentment and no one wins when that happens," Walker says. So save money where you can, but also allow yourself a treat now and then.
Walker maintains that there are many ways to save money and still live well. She says, "It's not what you make, it's what you spend. Once you have a handle on what's important, smart spending becomes a way of life, not a chore." Sometimes just making simple adjustments can greatly impact your family's budget. Here are some of Walker's easy-to-implement tips for smart spending: