Monday, January 9, 2012

Baby on a Budget Guest Post: Happily a One Income Family

If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember Kaylene of Letters from Momma from her amazing post for my On Marrying Young Series entitled Exception to the "Rules".  She has graciously offered to kick off my Baby on a Budget Series with her personal experiences raising her (adorable!) daughter on her husband's income while she stays at home.  She is an example of exactly what I wanted to portray with this series, that despite the hardships of raising a baby on a budget, opening your life to a child brings grace, joy, and fulfillment that you could never imagine.  Thanks Kaylene!


I never planned to be a stay at home mom. It's something I kind of fell into. You know the saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans?"

That's my life. I graduated college with a degree in education, and plans to teach middle school math. I love teaching--working with middle schoolers is one of my passions. They are just so fun, and my personality works well with their evolving ones.
20 week ultrasound Oct 2010

But God had other plans for me, right now.

When I found out I was pregnant (a surprise, but not really "unplanned") shortly after graduation, I instantly knew I was going to stay home with the baby. I wouldn't say I necessarily wanted to at first, it was just because that made the most sense. Infant daycare is ridiculously expensive, especially in our ritzy city, so my income would barely cover the cost. We don't really have family close, so that wasn't an option. Also, the more I thought about it, the more I did want to stay home. I feel like I am the most qualified person to raise our daughter, and I don't want to miss any of her milestones. I'm not bitter about staying home at all. Yes, sometimes it is hard, and I have felt unchallenged--but I am good at creating challenges for myself. I'm not one of those people who allows herself to get bored.

My husband is an electrical engineer. His salary is pretty good. If he were single, it'd be awesome. If we didn't have student loans, it would even be awesome for a family of three.

But the fact is we both have student loans. I could go into the details of why we have student loans, but that's not the point of this blog. Let's just say we could have two mid-price Cadillacs for the cost of our college education. I have been pretty resentful of myself throughout the past year, because I kept thinking about how much of my husband's paycheck was going toward my un-profitable college education (notice I didn't say "unused," because I use it on a daily basis). He said that doesn't matter though, because the loans have to be paid; and I'm doing the best job in the world...caring for our daughter. 

So, while my husband makes double what the average teacher makes, 17% of his take home pay goes straight to student loans. When you look at it that way, we are living on about what a tenured high school teacher makes. We've budgeted it so we are paying a little extra on them, in hopes of paying them off sooner, which would make our budget a lot looser. I am beyond grateful that we have any income, just so you know.

Free afternoon at the local cider mill / pumpkin patch Oct 2011
I thought about writing how we are living on one income, but it's pretty typical. We try not to spend any money. We eat as cheap as I'll allow us to (I don't want to put unhealthy food in our lives), we utilize Groupons/coupons/free things, and we cut out things we don't need. We rarely ever go out. Our social life consists of having friends over, or going to their house, for dinner.

Pretty simple really; so I'd rather spend the rest of this blog writing about what we do have with a baby on a budget. I hope it gives you some encouragement if you feel called to have a baby, but think you don't have the money.

Each other. If you are in a healthy, stable can have a baby on a budget. Teamwork is all that is really required.

God. Faith is life changing. Even though we are on a budget, we still tithe weekly to the church and pitch-in in other ways too. Volunteering makes us feel better about ourselves, and we know that there are people a lot worse off than us. Doing things for the church is really fun with the baby because everyone ooohhs and ahhhs over her ;-)

Good Food. As I stated above, I don't like to feed my family unhealthy things. Prior to my daughter starting solids, I breastfed. It's free, natural, and better for the baby. If you are trying to have a baby on a budget, ditch the formula. I try to buy organic when I can, and I always have fresh fruit in the house. I shop sales, compare prices, and stock up on loss-leaders when it's something we need. I do not do extreme couponing because {a} it takes up too much time that I'd rather spend doing other things and {b} we don't need 104,583 things of toothpaste. I've not found a way to get our food budget to the ridiculously low numbers I've seen on other blogs. We eat on about $80 a week. I think that's very realistic, considering my love of food and cooking.

A Nice Home. We live in a nice apartment, but we pay a lot for it. We live in a really nice area; the first apartment we looked at was $1000 for a one bedroom...if that tells you anything. We settled for a mid-range apartment that I love. Sadly, we are paying as much as my parents pay for their mortgage. It is 1 bedroom with a "study," which really means it's the perfect size for a baby. She slept in our room for the first month, but after that we moved her into the "study." Yes, we'd love a big house, but we don't need one.

Plenty of Clothing. You do not need to spend a lot of money on baby clothes, because they grow fast. My daughter has a lot of hand-me down clothes, and I am really grateful for all the family members who passed things on to us. Look online for "must-have" lists, so that you don't have more clothes than you need. My daughter wears the same thing over and over again...but she's warm, so that's all that matters. I haven't been to consignment shops or sales, but I have a few friends who highly suggest them as a way to find cheap baby clothes. I did buy maternity clothes on consignment, and found a few things at our small Goodwill.

Life Insurance. We may be on a budget, but we make it a priority to provide for each other or our daughter, should something tragic happen. I know a lot of people consider this a luxury...but not to us. We are proud to pay the Knights of Columbus for our 3 life insurance policies. We took out a small whole life policy on our daughter because it will pay for itself in 20 years, and will have a cash value. We like that she has a guaranteed purchase option for life, even if she gets cancer, MS, or some other illness that would make her "uninsurable" later in life.

Gym memberships. Another thing you may consider a luxury, but we have on a budget. My husband's work pays for part of the membership and we get a discount, too. It's vital to my mental well-being to have the ability to work out. It also can serve as a date, because the infant care at our gym is so amazing. We can workout together, while she plays in the baby room.

Having a baby on a budget can mean a lot of things, but it doesn't mean you can't have fun or enjoy life.  Living on one income is totally worth it, because I can't imagine not seeing our beautiful baby girl all day. Life is what you make it, and we have a great life. Our needs are met, our bills are paid, and we are happy. God is good, and our main goal is to enjoy this life to the fullest while working toward getting to Heaven. Because that's what matters most anyway.

Kaylene blogs at Letters from Momma, as an outlet for herself, and as a small way to contribute to the family. She mothers an adorable 10 month old, and has been happily married for over 3 years. She works daily to be a better child of God.

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my Baby on a Budget series.  


  1. Thanks Mandi :-) I enjoyed writing this!

  2. Love it! I love how you were even able to work a gym membership into your household budget. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love how you referred to your college degree as UNPROFITABLE instead of UNUSED! I need to start telling people that is what I'm doing with my degree. Even though I'm looking for a job I USE my degree everyday on my blog! My degree was in marketing and that is what a blog is!

    Thanks for sharing your story that so many people can relate to.

  4. I like your positive approach to this, highlighting what you CAN afford instead of just saying "Don't spend money!"

    Having a baby seems so overwhelming--we "need" a house, we "need" to pay for daycare, etc.--I appreciate your practical advice. How long did your daughter stay in your room?

    Also, if it's not too personal, how did your husband and you decide that you'd stay home? Was it easy to tell others? Did you get pressure to "use your degree?"

  5. I really liked how you budget, it reminds me of the approach my husband and I take. We as well like to identify the things that are important for us not to skimp on or eliminate, and adjust the other aspects of our life to those. Good post!

  6. @Jessica, our daughter was in her room at 1 month old. It's about 15 steps across the living it's not like she's that far away. We decided I would stay home because he makes more money and I felt I would do a better (and much cheaper) job raising her than a daycare. It wasn't a hard decision, nor was it a lengthy discussion. It was easy to tell everyone, but yes... I got a lot of pressure to 'use my degree.' It was my extended family that gave me a hard time about parents were very supportive.

    I appreciate everyone's kind comments!

  7. There is so much negativism about women that choose to be a "stay at home mom." The funny thing is my mom was a stay at home mom and most kids my age's moms stayed home.

    But unless I'm making a TON of money I probably will be at least the first few years. My sister works in daycares and I don't know that I can trust them (from the horror stories she tells) plus an infant is $100-$300/week depending on the daycare and region.

    As of the jobs I'm looking at getting right now thats most of my paycheck. So it just doesn't pay.

  8. That covers my own experience almost exactly. <3


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