Wanting to Know How SAHM Manage Financially

Updated on October 22, 2008
K.L. asks from Cleveland, OH
22 answers

I am currently working full time, have two little ones at home that go to a babysitter during the day. I would love to stay home with them, but financially just cannot figure out a way to make it work. I hope I am not being too nosy, but just wondering how SAHM manage financially, what amount does your family need to live off of for the month. My husband makes about $75,000 a year, and I feel like I should be a lot closer to being able to stay home than we are. We manage to pay our bills and put a little away but by no means live a luxurious lifestyle, sometimes I feel like we are just making ends meet as it is, so frustrating! So if anyone has any tips or things they changed to make it possible for them to stay home, I would really appreciate it.

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C.C.

answers from Reading on

Hi, K. I think that you have to figure out first what "YOU want. I have been a sahm for 12 years, I did work for 5 of those years part-time as a hairdresser, maybe $100 a week than we moved about 45 minutes away to own our first house. I quit that job and I was close with the owner, they treated me like part of the family, in fact I just talked to her daughter the other day we're still best friends and thats going on 7 years ago. I was a little burnt out, and wanted to just be home, so we made it work. It was tight at first, but being a sahm I knew how to budget the money since it was tight. You have to sit down and I mean both of you take out all of your bills and mortgage, car expenses like groceries, gas for both of you, savings, credit cards and make a budget. This is automatic for me. As Dave Ramsey says, write down what your budget is before the month starts. I know down to the last nickel what I need and have to budget for the month. See if you can afford it, since you work full-time you may not be able to do the extras like go here or there without thinking about it. You and your hubby have to be on the same page too. We have sacrificed, but it has such returns greater than what you know. You'll love it if its feasible with one income. You may have to downgrade your house and maybe get rid of one car. If you want it badly enough you'll do what it takes. I hope that I have helped and good luck figuring out your journey. Oh, and clip the coupons, I got 145.00 of groceries last week for $93.00 with my coupons and Kroger card. I make my food menus from the sales I see, if I don't see what I like than I buy the off brands, like Kroger. One of my neighbor friends told me about Aldi's also that you can save there big time, have to try that one. I also have to add right now my hubby is using my van to get to work, instead of us both filling up our tanks only one and honestly its cut that in half, you have to get creative with your spending, its actually fun at times like the previous post, me and hubby would be competing for groceries during the winter to see who got the most in free groceries, lol. good luck the answer will come to you.

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A.D.

answers from Cincinnati on

I cut coupons like crazy and share them with a group of moms. we cut the ones we want and pass them to the next person. When I first stopped working, we did away with cable TV($50 per month), got rid of all the extras on our home phone, had paid off one car so we only had one payment on cars. I seek out free activities for my kids before we pay for any. Our parks in Boone County have great free programs for kids. Also story time at your local library or book store. I also consign some of my kids clothes at Once Upon a Child and often buy some of their items there. It definitely makes a difference. I did end up getting a part time job at a pottery painting studio, 1)just for a little extra spending $$ 2)to be around other adults!! I say "do it", these are the best times to experience with your kids and even though money may be tight, the trade off is so well worth it. good luck!!

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A.T.

answers from Fort Wayne on

We saved up, then downsized EVERYTHING! I clip coupons (you can print some offline too), look for deals on every grocery item even meat(our butcher rocks!), cut down cell phones to minimum, have a budget for water, gas, and electric etc. We've basically turned it into a game my husband and I haha the "How much did we save this month?" and set records haha it is VERY tight, but it is PRICELESS!! our savings account grows slowly but surely, and we DON"T touch it. I take turns car pooling with other moms, it saves tons on gas! we stay local on all of our activities and basically circulate eachothers houses for playtimes. My husband and I have gotten creative with "date night" it helps that I have a hubby that is perceptive on romance, picnics after the boys in bed, dancing to the radio etc. we make it work, hopefully you can too, good luck, hope this helps!

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T.S.

answers from Indianapolis on

I think working part-time is better than either SAHM or being away full-time. You can still keep a resume and current work skills, bring in SOME money, but not miss the majority of their day. It is more possible obviously when they get older and are in school. Some moms like one in my neighborhood started an eBay business and to their surprise it took off and they moved into a BIGGER house! You can also watch others' kids for extra money since you're home already, like after-school care for those who can't be there when the kids get home.

Otherwise, do a run down of your bills and honestly look at what you're spending on what; it's often much more than you estimated, and those are the areas where you can cut back. =)

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B.M.

answers from Dayton on

I started to cut coupons for groceries. I save alot of money at least about $65 dollars every time at the grocery. My husband takes leftovers for lunch the next day and fills his coffee mug from home. I always sell my daughters clothes at resale shops, ebay, or garage sales to buy the next seasons clothes. We do not eat out alot usually only on Sunday after church. I do not have extras on my cell phone either like texting.It can be stressful at times but God has never let us go without any necessities. We have to watch our spending and I do not get the extras of working moms like manicures, pedicures, hair coloring and other luxuries but I feel so extremely B.! I know it is not for everyone and the choice is yours but if your desire is to stay at home you could find a way to make it happen based on your husbands income. I have known of families of 6 making it on $40,000 a year. It can be done it just takes creativity!! Best Wishes and God bless!!!

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F.F.

answers from Cleveland on

Wow! Without getting into details, my hubby makes about half of what your hubby does and while we do live paycheck to paycheck we have made it work for us. After the birth of our first child I cut back to part time and we cut out as much of the "extras" as we could to make it work. Just before the birth of our second child I stopped working completely. We sold one of our vehicles and got my hubby a "beater" to drive to work so that we could eliminate the monthly payment. We started being thrifty with grocery shopping, only going to Giant Eagle when things could not be bought elsewhere (i.e. Marc's, Aldi, Save A Lot). I stopped getting my nails done every two weeks and my hair cut and colored every six weeks at a fancy salon. Now I go to Famous Hair and spend $15 including tip. I cut hubby's, son's and daughter's hair at home. We got rid of our home phone since we both have cell phones. We just cut as much as possible and made it work because it was that important to us.

I recently started working part time (evenings and weekends)for two reasons...One was to help a bit financially because we are trying to sell our home and would like to move to a better school district and a bigger home. The other is for my own sanity. While I enjoy being home with my kiddos each day, I also enjoy being around other adults. I have the best gig in the world!

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L.P.

answers from Lima on

Hi K....
Wow. I am a SAHM with 5 kids...2 are teens, one just started driving. UGH!!! How we make it I dunno!!!! My husband only makes about $52,000 a year. We have 2 vehicles, however, both are paid off. One is kind of a junker, but it gets good mileage and is paid off. The other is collateral in a small loan we took out, but that loan paid the car loan. We own a house and have a near $900 house payment. You tell ME how we make it!! LOL!!! I have been hpme for nearly 15 years now with my kids. Wouldn't trade it for the world. I guess you just learn what you can and can't spend money on some months. Can you gradually cut back hours where you are? Or gradually take more and more of your paycheck and put into savings rather than use it....thus getting used to not having as much money. Oh...one big thing for us is, we have pretty much no savings. That's the biggest thing for us. No money left for savings. Good luck, and I hope you find a way to be able to stay home!

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M.W.

answers from Indianapolis on

Hi K.,

With the way the economy is, I am a SAHM but we will have to downsize this year. I do not like living with so much stress month to month.
My husband makes about the same as yours, both of our cars are paid off and we have NO credit cards, everything is paid off.
We are having a 3rd child in November so we hope to be able to save up to pay cash for a van so we don't have car payments.
I am a member at an organic food co-op and it saves me a ton on produce. I bargain shop when possible. We only eat out for special ocassions and I try to encourage my husband to take lunches and drink coffe here instead of paying 50 bucks a week or more drinking starbucks or eating out.
We aren't terribly tight, we live comfortably, have a housekeeper weekly and a sitter that comes from 4 to 8 to relieve me since I'm pregnant.
But for me, those luxuries far exceed the need to eat out, buy more clothes, spend on unnecessary toys or luxuries like manicures, pedicures, expensive haircuts....

We are also huge on home-entertainment, we have friends over often so we're having fun without going and spending 100 bucks on a restaurant bill.

We are definately cutting back on trips as well, this yr we're not traveling since we're having a 3rd and the winter was very tough with business last year. We want to put more back and stress less.

Anway... that's a rundown of how we manage :)
It CAN be done with urs husbands salary.
I wouldn't trade it, I LOVE being home with my kids, going to parks, joined a mom's gp, we go to the YMCA, stay active...

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S.C.

answers from Fort Wayne on

We live on far less than 75,000/year. However, we dont' have car payments or a house payment. We rent and our rent is incredibly affordable. Get on a budget plan for all your utilities, that way you'll know exactly how much you'll spend each month. We had to cut out any extravagences. No eating out, no cable, no shopping. Figure out how much you spend in gas getting to and from work and how much you pay for daycare, that money can then go to the grocery bill. Clip coupons and look at the sales flyers for your grocery shopping. You can get lots of stuff for practically free, if you do your research. It's not easy, trust me, but well worth it.

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A.C.

answers from Dayton on

Hi K.,
My husband makes about 60k/year and I am a SAHM. We have a mortgage, but no car payments. All I can say is BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET! I put all of our expenses for several months into a spreadsheet and calculated averages for what we spend every month in each category (house payment, groceries, electric, etc). I then looked at ways to reduce what we spend. I budget $100/wk for groceries, we shop at the commissary (my husband is Air Guard) and always use coupons. I never actually spend $100, but I prefer some cushion. My husband carpools to work now, which saves us about $100/month. (There are several websites for carpooling in Ohio). We don't have extras we don't need: no options on our cell phones like texting or internet, we don't eat out often, and we don't have newspaper or magazine subscriptions (the internet is more than enough). I used to frequent Barnes & Noble. Now I frequent the library. I used to buy handsoap from Bath & Body works, now I buy SoftSoap in bulk. Our entertainment comes from other sources. We go for walks, bike rides, to the local parks. We borrow movies we want to see from friends. It's amazing how satisfied you can be living on less. I wish you luck in getting to stay home. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

All my best!
A.

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L.H.

answers from Cleveland on

Hi K.,
If you can manage staying home, do it. I worked prior to the birth of my daughter 5 years ago. When we looked at what I brought home, which on a teacher's salary isn't much, and what you are paying for child care, it made sense for me to stay home. Yes, we had to pinch pennies for a while but you can do it. As crazy as this may sound I would, and still do, make a monthly menu of what your meals are going to be. Then go off your menu and make your grocery list. Believe it or not it really helps in cutting back. And stick to only what you need. I only do one big grocery shop a month and maybe pop in for eggs, milk & bread. And go to Costco or Sam's and stock up. The Costco brand of paper products goes a long way. Cut coupons, shop at Walmart & Target instead of the mall. You will notice a difference. Try making cuts now and over the next month or two see how much you can save. Then maybe it will make the decision a little easier for you.
Best of Luck,
L.

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T.T.

answers from Indianapolis on

I am wanting to become a SAHM too. We are in the stages of making and effectively using a budget. I think you should check out www.miserlymoms.com. There are a lot of good tips on that site. You might also want to read the books by Joni McCoy. Good luck.

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G.B.

answers from Cincinnati on

How's everything going? Have you been able to find something that works for you?

I saw that you received many responses to your posting a few months ago where most of them were business opportunities or budgeting advice.

Personally, I am a big fan of owning a home-based business, but there's so many out there...how do you know where to start? And most of them require some sort of an investment, so it's even more important to do some research before making a decision.

Have you ever considered working in the real estate industry?

Though real estate is experiencing a bit of a slump, now is a great time to get started. Get the experience you need while it's slow...so that when the industry picks up again you'll be ready!

The past 10 years, I worked as a Mortgage Home Consultant and now my husband and I own a real estate services company.

We not only sell real estate, but we provide services that help reduce debt, maximize credit scores and safe investing.

Being in the real estate industry full time for the past 10 years has been a great experience. Because there are no set hours and I could work from home, I was able to work around my daughters' schedules and still make a good income.

Being a working mom was a necessity, but being there for my daughters was always important to me. Now my daughters are 17/13 and I would like to give other mothers the same opportunity I have.

I have made it a focus to help mothers find the perfect home-based/work-from-home business or career. We provide awesome training for all our programs and may also be able to help finance any education if needed.

Our office is in the Tri-County area. If you are interested, I would love to meet with you.

Hope to hear from you!

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J.C.

answers from Fort Wayne on

Your husband is making great money, so if I were you I would sit down with your finances and figure out what you can get rid of that is unnecessary. I have a friend whose husband makes 28K a year and she stays at home with her two kids. I think that too many people increase their expenses to fit their income, which is not how it is supposed to work. I am huge into financial planning, and let me tell you a little about our situation. I stay at home, and as a hobby I flip properties here and there. My husband owns his own business and brings home about 130K a year. Now, with that kind of income, you will laugh when I tell you this. Okay, we could live in a 300+ thousand dollar home, right? Well, that isn't how we live. We don't surround ourselves in extravagence. Instead, we live modestly now, so we can reap the rewards later. We have a great house, but it's 30 years old, in an older housing addition, and we paid 105K for it. That's only a 681/month payment. Also, we have had the same vehicles for 8 years. Both are paid off, one 1996 Explorer, and a 2002 Grand Prix. We have no credit card debt either. And, I will also say that my husband has only been making that money for 3 years. So, we could've started going crazy when the money first started rolling in, but we chose not to. What's the fun of living paycheck to paycheck? Noone has to, they just have to come to grips with what they're spending their money on and put a stop to the unnecessary things. If you have a 500/month car payment, trade down. If you live in a house that costs a lot lot lot of money, downsize. If you have a lot of credit card debt, start with the smallest one, pay the majority of your payment on credit cards on it until it's paid off, and the minimum amount on the other ones. Once the first one's paid off, go to the next smallest one and do the same thing until you have all of them paid off. You could always make it your goal to stay at home in 6 months, a year, whatever you think is achievable, and come up with a plan to get you there. It's not hard, believe me. When we first got married, we brought our debts into the marriage, and I finally realized how stupid it was to have all the debt we had. So, I did exactly what I said to you, and although it took a few years, we are now debt free except our mortgage. We don't take vacations, except for weekends away with the kids a couple times a year. We just plain don't spend our money on things that don't make sense. If you have ANY specific questions, or even if you want help making a budget, email me at [email protected]____.com and I would love to help! I LOVE working with numbers, and have helped a few of my friends out who wanted to stop living paycheck to paycheck. You CAN do this! Your husband makes GREAT money! Just gotta get those expenses cut out that are causing you to live paycheck to paycheck!

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T.M.

answers from Bloomington on

my husband makes about 50K a year, and we just bought investment property!! and we pretty much buy things when we need them and don't have to stretch too thin. so it's totally possible.

a few things we choose not to waste our money on help a LOT: we don't have cable or expensive cell phones... we use a calling card so we have a very basic phone bill... we drive used cars... we pay off the credit card every month so we don't have debt. also we are almost vegetarian (meat 2-3 times a month) and that saves a lot of money-- beans are way cheaper than meat!! and healthier... also we grow some basic veggies in our garden so we have fresh organic produce for cheaper. it's great for the kids to learn where food comes from too. we use cloth diapers too.

if you come home from work you won't have day care, eating out, lunches, professional wardrobe, etc to pay for.

your kids will only be little once, and this is when they are learning the most about life and are the most teachable. if you can be with them now, it will pay back in the teenage years and for the rest of theirs lifes! DO IT!!! think about it, what's more important to you-- money or your children??

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J.S.

answers from Cleveland on

K.:
If you would really like to stay home and spend more time with your kids, have you thought about becoming involved in your own stay at home business? I am new to the Ohio area, but got mine started in another state, and plan on continuing it here. It is not poplular here yet. The best plan would be to start while you are still working at your current job, and then after you are off to a solid start, drop your current job and continue with your own business. It will allow you the flexibility to spend time with your kids and give you the financial input you need. You would still have to put in some work, but it would be flexible and tailored around your kids and your needs.
If you are interested in talking about mine, which is Mona Vie, you can email me at [email protected]____.com or if there is another thing you are interested in, pursue that - tupperware, avon, creative memories, pampered chef, are all businesses that I have friends that are successful in. Best of luck, Jennifer

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L.C.

answers from Dayton on

Before I decided to stay home with my kids I did a financial work up on how much we spent with me going to work. How much was I spending on daycare? How much on gas, lunches to either buy or take to work? What were the extra expenses I incurred working? Then I subtracted that from how much I made each month to give me a better idea of how much money I needed to save. Then I calculated all of the crazy places our money was going: i.e. getting snacks at the gas station, renting videos, eating out because we both were tired, getting extra stuff at the store that we didn't need (darn those endcaps!). That was easy to cut out.
Then we got a consolidated loan for our unsecured debt that came with a lower interest rate and guaranteed a payoff of that debt in four years instead of 24. It also ended up giving us a lower payment than we were paying out for each card individually for each card and improved our credit score enabling us to refinance our car at a lower interest rate for a lower monthly payment.
Like the other moms I clip coupons, have a cell phone with no extras, forgo getting hair and nails done (thank God for Clairol and friends who know how to use it). I buy second hand for most of my clothes, and buy for my kids from places like Gabriel Brother's.
I have found that to save on food I make a menu for the two weeks I am shopping for and then make the list off that menu. If I don't make a really detailed list I buy a bunch of stuff we don't need. It saves me tons of money. I also don't buy soda, or little debbies. I make cookies, or popcorn or something else that's less expensive. I buy fresh fruit and veggies in season only.
It's amazing where you can whittle down when you start looking into it.
If you want more drastic suggestions you can downsize your car for a more affordable option with better gas mileage or dowsize your living space for a more affordable house payment, or lower utility bill or maybe in a more affordable neighborhood.
It's all about trading one dream for another, but it is the best trade I ever made.
Good luck to you in your endeavors!
L.

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S.R.

answers from Toledo on

Hello K.. I must first admit that I did not read any of the other responses and I do not know where you leave. My husband grossed $45,000 last year, we have four children, and I stayed home for 1.5 years before going back to work. And I only work part-time bringing in less than $100/week (which I spend most of on gas and eating out). (Yes, I really have the job so I can get out of the house :D ) With children as young as yours, how much are you spending on Day Care ($175/wk), Gas to get to work and sitters ($50), Eating out every day for lunch ($30)..A total of at least $255 out of your check. Plus you have your Professional Clothes to wear to work that SHAMs don't have and extra car repairs. Take how much you bring home, subtract the amount you actually spend on ALLLL those things (Honestly, what I did for my hubby was for One week, I kept a list of what I HAD to spend in order to go to work) and see how much you actually bring home to the family. For me, I was bringing home a Whopping $33/wk working FULL TIME when I quit my job. Then, take how much you bring into your house as income and find ways to eliminate needing that money. I gave up my cell phone and new car fund.
Finally, I STRONGLY suggest you think of how you are going to spend your days with the children. Despite how much we love them, it is hard to sit at the house day in and day out. We have a Family Zoo pass that we get for Christmas, go Put-Put Golf on Thursdays b/c it is $1 each, hang out at the mall at the toy store, and etc.
Budget Budget Budget every month what money you have to do 'fun things' with such as activities and eating out. Also, you will save ALOT of money by shopping weekly sales for what is one sale, rather than what looks good, Garage Sales are a blast for bargins and meeting SHAMs, use Coupons (I only buy the Sunday paper and Only when there are coupons, store flyers are generally on the internet). I also listen to Dave Ramsey on AM radio for all of his advice on finances. Also, for extra cash you could pick up a babysitting job, even just one child or a before/after school child for extra spending money.
Also, We collect Pop Cans from EVERYWHERE!! My family saves them for us, I collect them at work, we even pick them up on walks. So far, in five months we have gotten over $130 from Pop Cans alone. We have used that money to pay for our 5 y.o to attend Catholic School. She also sold Candy Bars to pay for the rest. Anything is possible with the right mind set and God. Best of Luck!

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T.R.

answers from Evansville on

HI K.
I am a SAHM to 3 boys. My husband only makes 25K a year at his job. I used to work part time but I found out it was actually costing me more to work, if you figure gas, sitter, lunch money. We don't ever do without but we just don't have the extras to put money back or buy stuff we really don't need. My boys have everything they need and some things they want. We have a newer van and a really old car that we take turns driving. I think for us it is so much more important for me to stay at home right now, I have my younger son who will be in kindergartden next year then I may get a part time job during the day to help out. But I don't feel like we are strapped for cash anymore then we were before I started staying home. We have just always lived within our means. I hope this helps some.

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H.M.

answers from Indianapolis on

You have already received many great responses, but I wanted to chime in to encourage you that you CAN do it if it is a priority to you and your hubby!

My biggest tip - - practice living on your husband's salary NOW, while you have the "cushion" of your income. Make a budget based solely on his salary (figure out what you're willing to sacrifice) - and stick to it. Then you can use what is left of your income (after paying for childcare, your gas to work, etc) to pay down any debt you have (credit cards, cars, school loans), and then build up a savings. Forgive me if I am wrong in assuming you carry some debt, but I want to encourage you that there is great freedom in getting to a point where you can live debt free! It makes living on one salary much more do-able, and monthly living less stressful!

Anyway, my husband and I also found that to be really successful with our budget, we have to pay with cash for as much as possible. So, each pay period, we take out the amount we have budgeted for various categories (groceries, eating out/entertainment, babysitting, clothing, miscellaneous, haircuts, home maintenance projects, etc) and literally put each amount in a separate envelope (a coupon sorter file/envelope works well). When the money is gone in a certain envelope, that's it until the next pay check. Now, some envelopes accumulate over time (i.e. home maintenance projects), but then the cash is there and waiting when we're ready for a big project. yes, it takes discipline and we do not always execute the system perfectly, but it has greatly helped us keep on a budget!

Someone else mentioned Dave Ramsey, and while we haven't been to his seminars, I understand they are well worth it. We do follow many of the principles listed in his books, and he has proven to be right-on in regards to so many financial principles. If you are not familiar with him, google Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University to check out more.

This has already gotten rather lengthy, but message me if you have questions or want more details.

Kudos to you for trying to make it work!

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O.T.

answers from Youngstown on

I did not read all your replies.

We moved here to Ohio when my hubby got a new job. When we got here his pay was increased t $65,000.00 a year. One of the reasons we moved here is so my hubby would make more and I could stay home with our only child then. Now I have two more children and if I were to work, whatever I made would go straight to daycare. My hubby has since gotten a few raises, but it can be done. We don't have a lot of credit card debt, and that makes a BIG difference.

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J.S.

answers from Cincinnati on

K.,
I wanted to encourage you that if it's what you want, you can go for it! We make about $50,000/yr. combined and are just fine! Although my income is on the rise, I technically stay home with my kids since I am a Tupperware Manager!

Everyday, I am here with them playing, and doing household things. I balance that with checking emails and making a few calls throughout the day in between activities with them. I hold my parties at night and on the weekends when my husband is home to be with the kids - hence, no paying for a sitter! I looked at our schedule and decided to hold my shows on Friday night and Saturday day or night, and that's what I do! I also have a meeting twice a month that I attend, one is on a Monday and the other is on a Tuesday - again, no babysitter needed!

Home party plan companies are an excellent way to have the best of both worlds, being home, and still working to have the extra income and "adult" time that SAHM's crave. There are lots of great companies out there, and I would love to tell you more about Tupperware's compensation plan - to just give you a quick overview, if you just hold 2 shows per week, that's approx. 10-12 hours per week working. That will get you a little over $1200 a month in profit, plus, as a self employed person, you would get incredible tax deductions!

I completely agree with cutting expenses and clipping coupons, etc. We have downsized from a $1100/mo mortgage to an $865/mo rental home, I clip coupons, and we eat at home almost all 3 meals of the day. However, with my income, we can buy our kids the nicer clothes - which I actually enjoy doing because they hardly hold a stain since they are higher quality fabric! and we have satelite tv and cell phones. However, my cell phone, a portion of my home phone, and internet bill is tax deductible! Now, we also have no debt (which is due to a bankruptcy after a medical issue) however, if we did, and when we did carry debt, my job provided money without having to SPEND money to make it. (like a traditional job requires you to do for things like child care)

I'd love to talk to you more, or give you more ideas. I have been doing this for 6 years, and full time for 2. Our company might not be right for you, and another direct sales company is! You never know, but I'd love to help see if it's right for you. You can "test drive" while you are still at your regular job and see how it goes, then make a decision from there. Again, good luck!!! ;0)

J.
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www.my.tupperware.com/jenniferredmon

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