Twelve years ago, we made the decision to become a single-income family. We ditched two-thirds of our income! All for a little baby. And it was so worth it.
Before I left the workforce, we began putting almost all of my pay towards our debt- and we got rid of it, all but the mortgage, just in time. We had our priorities in line and were determined. Our only goal was for me to be home to raise our children.
While we seemingly had it all “right”, what we left out of the equation was a plan for the future. We could not see five or ten years down the road since we were suddenly living paycheck-to-paycheck and using credit cards for monthly expenses. We had made a decision to simply live in the moment, to be broke in the wallet, but rich in time.
This was back in the day that pay increases actually happened- and my husband worked two jobs- so things did ease up, but, alas, we added a new car, vacations, and a home addition. All this while we had credit card debt… and no savings, period.
Three years ago, we had had enough and began to devise a plan. Yes, the economy was bad, but rather than get down, we got down to business! With just a little creative frugality and big dedication, we stopped the credit cards, saved a little cash, and paid off each debt from smallest to largest (our debt snowball.) In just a couple of years we were, for the second time, debt-free!
And then there was 2014. Last year, we began to live with an unpredictable income and we added a rental home (to help a family member)- on a home equity loan. Yikes. It was time to attempt to set a budget, which, when you don’t know when you’ll see the next paycheck, means getting tight. And it was time for monthly money talks with the spouse- not fun, not fun- but important.
We are finally on track- on a really good track. Looking back, as our income decreased, we actually gained some ground, so we know that we are more than capable of success. I listen and read financial advice and am loving the new budgeting tool from Dave Ramsey, EveryDollar.com.
Our plan is to save six months expenses- more than the usual three months since we are a single-income family. And we plan to get back to investing in retirement, finally begin to save to pay half of our children’s college (better late than never!), and to pay off the house in eight years.
But long-term goals can be overwhelming, so, first, we are paying off the rental home this year. This is within reach if we put everything towards it, including his three(!) jobs and my side jobs. Meeting this one short-term goal puts an extra paycheck- the rent money- in our hands to tackle all the other goals.
Just having a plan has made such a difference. Not long ago, we were stuck in a rut with very little hope for our financial future. All we knew was that we were doing what was right for our family in the moment. Although we made some mistakes, we will never regret my staying home. I will always remember the time spent having impromptu picnics in the yard, storytime in teepees, and seeing every milestone my children reached along the way.
But I am so glad that we did come around to discover that it was possible to save bit by bit and chip away at debt- at increasing speeds- until we tasted sweet success- on just one income! To the mom with something sticky on her shirt and a checkbook that just won’t balance- and the dad who is working multiple jobs to make ends meet- you can do this! I will pray for you today.
If you have some words of wisdom for other moms at home with a growing stack of bills, would you please share them? It would make such a difference to offer encouragement to others that are struggling to raise a family on one income!