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Family, How To, Motherhood, Parenthood

How to Afford Being a SAHM + FREE Budget Printable

Before my husband and I got married, we talked about the family we would grow one day.  When we talked about kids, I always knew I wanted to stay at home with them.  At the time, I didn’t know the logistics of how we would make that possible, but I knew it was a priority.  My own mom was a stay-at-home mom throughout much of my 3 older brothers’ lives, as well as mine, until she began a teaching career when I started school.  So all my childhood memories, I remember my mom always being there with us.  That is the kind of childhood I wanted to give my kids.

Matthew joined the military straight out of high school, we got married at 20, and I attribute the fact that I can stay at home all to the security of his job and the amazing health insurance we receive.  However, I have heard so many women talk about how they wish they could stay home with their little ones, but they feel like it is impossible.  So I wanted to give you all some practical tips on how we have afforded living on one income so that you can examine your own living situation, if staying at home with your kids is what you really long to do!

1.  Plan, plan, plan AHEAD

Like I mentioned above, Matthew and I discussed what we wanted our life to be like when we had kids, so we planned accordingly.  When Matthew joined the military, we spent 2 years dating long-distance.  While he was living 1,000+ miles away from me and deploying regularly, and I was home going to college, we SAVED.  Matthew opened a 401K and started saving for retirement, as well as saving a large portion of his income in a savings account he didn’t touch.  I saved for our wedding and he saved for our future.  One of the best things you can do if you want to become a SAHM is to plan ahead-before having children-what you want your life to look like and saving for that.  If you already have kids, that’s fine!  My best advice is to try to build up your savings account as much as you can.  Also, work as much as you can before and during pregnancy.  I know this is not possible for all women, but if you have a healthy pregnancy, it is great to try to make as much money as you can before the baby comes and you stop working.

2.  Begin living on one income well before the baby comes

This helped us tremendously on the shock and adjustment that going from a two to a one income household brings!  While I was pregnant and still working, we began transitioning all of our bills to come out of my husband’s paycheck.  Even though we still had the “cushion” of my income, we did not use it to pay bills.  Instead, we used my income strictly for baby purchases we needed or savings.  This method really helped us reevaluate our income, what we were spending money on, what our necessities were, and that being a SAHM was going to be possible!

3.  Make a budget!

This probably should have been tip #1, but guys, make make a budget!  You have to do it!  When we were both working and we were newly married, we spent money on whatever we wanted and we didn’t keep a checkbook (do those even still exist?!) or really keep an eye on our money.  But when we wanted to make this transition, it was important that we sat down and wrote out our budget for us to see.  We took our bank statements and looked at what are monthly income was, the bills we had, the areas we were needlessly spending money, the areas we could cut down on expenses, and how much we felt we needed to save and invest.  And who says budgeting can’t be fun?!  Get creative with it!  I know that I am most productive and willing to stick with something if I can write it out and it looks cute and pretty.  So that’s why I made this FREE Monthly Budget Printable for you guys!  Hopefully this will help you get organized and stay motivated to stick with your budget.

4.  Plan large purchases ahead of time

One thing that my husband and I have really been trying to get better about is planning out our large purchases ahead of time and saving for them!  We do not like the idea of going into debt for something we need, so we try to save for it and pay in cash.  These could be purchases like furniture, a car, a laptop, a camera, a new mattress, etc.  Obviously most of us can’t pay in cash for something like a house, so you still want to save as much as you can and make sure it is a home below or at what you can truly afford.

5.  Minimize your monthly expenses

When you write out your budget, you will be able to clearly see where your money is going every month.  One of the biggest areas that sucks away your income is those recurring, monthly expenses.  While some of these are necessary, paying them down or eliminating them will free up so much extra cash!  For example, we have two car payments each month.  Even though we bought used vehicles, we have these two recurring payments that suck almost a quarter of our monthly income!  We have recently been following Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball idea to aggressively start paying of this debt.  Minimizing your monthly expenses can also mean cutting those subscription services you use like, Amazon Prime, Hello Fresh, Fab Fit Fun, whatever.  While they might seem like a good deal by themselves, they truly add up!  Also, cut your cable!  I am a firm believer that cable is the most overrated, unnecessary monthly expense that most of us have in our homes.  Cable is sooo expensive and a lot of us rarely watch enough live TV for it to be worth it.  With all the free shows on the internet the day after or Netflix, Hulu, etc., cable proves pretty unnecessary.  Unfortunately for us, the only internet provider in our area is Comcast, and for us to have internet, the cheapest way is to bundle it with their basic cable package.  It is frustrating because I know so many people who pay much less than us but with Comcast as the only internet option, our hands are tied.  But, we got our bill as low as possible!

6.  Look for sales, use coupons and thrift

I will admit, I am not a couponer!  One of the main reasons I don’t use traditional coupons very much is because we generally try to buy whole foods-fresh produce-and we shop at stores that don’t accept most coupons you see from manufacturers.  We live in an area where the cost of living is rather high compared to many other places, so we do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi and Trader Joe’s.  We have found that we can get the most from our money here and it allows us to get more fresh and organic foods at a price we can afford.  But, for household items like toilet paper, laundry detergent, diapers, baby wipes, etc., I absolutely look for coupons!  You can always find deals on items like this usually in the P & G section of your Sunday newspaper and stores regularly run sales on them, as well.

Another super easy, amazing way to save on the items you have to buy is through rebate apps!  Rebate apps will give you cash back or rewards towards gifts cards, etc. on the purchases you make.  My very favorite rebate app to use is Ibotta!  To use Ibotta, you just:

  • Unlock cash back rebates (by watching a short video or answering a simple question)
  • Go shopping, buy products you love & keep your receipt
  • Verify your purchases by scanning the products you bought and taking a photo of your receipt

The best thing about Ibotta, compared to most rebate apps, is they offer rebates on a general item like: bread, milk, eggs, bananas, etc. instead of it having to be a specific brand name.  This is huge because sometimes you might not be buying the brand that the rebate offers.  I also love that you can get rebates for fresh fruits and veggies!  Also, Ibotta is not just for groceries, but for online shopping (Ebay, Groupon), pharmacy items, clothing, and even restaurants.  If you don’t have it, try it out because it is amazing!  If you want to sign up and use my referral code gjneyap, you can get a free $10 credit when you redeem your first rebate!

Another rebate app I love is Shopkick.  It is super easy to use and when you shop, it rewards you with “kicks” just for walking in the door of your favorite stores.  You also can get kicks for simply scanning certain items in the store, as well as purchasing certain items.  These kicks can then be redeemed for gift cards!

If you are an avid online shopper like most of us moms are, you need to be using the rebate site Shop at Home!  All you do is visit their site when you are ready to do some online shopping and pick your store out of the thousands they have on there, you purchase the item through their website, and you then get a percentage of cash back straight to your account.  You literally are getting rewarded for online shopping! (My hubby won’t get upset about that!)  Shop at Home will also show you the great deals all your stores having going on so you won’t miss a thing.

Another way to save big when you are living on one income is to look out for sales for kid’s clothes.  We all know how quickly are little ones grow and that means we are always buying clothes!  When I know I need to get Avary new clothes, I wait for when stores are giving away cash back like, Old Navy super cash, Children’s Place cash, Carters rewards.  Most stores now give cash back for you to spend when meet a minimum threshold.  I shop to get the cash back when the store is running a good percentage off discount or I have a coupon code.  Always sign up for the rewards program at the stores you frequent because it just means more coupons and sales in your pocket!

Also, thrifting or buying second-hand clothes is a great way to score gently used children’s clothes at unbeatable prices.  Consignment shops are popping up every where, and depending on the area you find them in, you can find some name-brand, quality pieces!  You can also consider joining a Facebook buy/sell/trade page in your area to find even more steals.  A lot of times these items are priced even lower than a consignment shop because you are buying directly from the owner.  Shop smart!

7.  Choose free or cheap entertainment

When you are wanting to become a SAHM, you have to evaluate what areas you can cut to save money.  Entertainment is definitely one of those areas.  Going out to the movies, going out to eat, going to amusement parks, or planning costly vacations can take up quite a bit of money.  Instead, try to create free or cheap entertainment for your family!  This could mean family pizza night at home with a $5 family pizza from Aldi and a Netflix movie or a coffee date night for you and your husband at home instead of at a coffee shop.  You can still have fun without spending so much!

Also, look up free activities in your area for kiddos!  You can find library storytimes, playgroups, and parks that are all free of charge.  And, you can always call up a friend for a play date, take a walk in the stroller, play in the backyard, or go window shopping to entertain your little one.  Use your imagination!  There are lots of ways to create free fun at home with children, and I find so many ideas on Pinterest!

8.  Meal planning + cooking at home

I know we all lead busy lives, especially us moms!  But let me tell you, you will save so much money if you begin meal planning for your family and cooking at home.  Just within the last couple of months, I have really gotten into the habit of planning out our meals before going grocery shopping, and wow-what a difference it makes!  Not only does it cut down on our grocery bill, but it cuts down on food waste.  So before going shopping, I’ve been sitting down with a free meal planning printable from Christene at Keys to Inspiration to plan out my meals for each week and jot down the ingredients I need to make it.  If you sign up for her email list, you get access to all her free printables, check it out!  Meal planning will help you stick to a specific menu and encourage you to cook at home.  When you have a plan, you can always prep something ahead of time to save on time for a busy day.

So those are my 8 tips on how to afford to be a stay-at-home mom!  I’m not going to lie, going from two incomes to one was a big adjustment-a lifestyle change, really.  But I never once have regretted my decision to make the sacrifice.  If you have a strong desire to stay home and care for your little ones, but you don’t think it is possible, I challenge you to take a step back and reevaluate.  Look at your budget, try living out these steps and see if they make a difference in freeing up some money, and determine what you feel are essentials and non-essentials for your family.  No matter what-SAHM, working mom, or WAHM-you are amazing and what you do for your family is priceless.

Let me know in the comments, how did you decide to be a SAHM?  Was the transition hard for you?  Let me know any tips you have on how you afford to live on one income!

 

Fall, Food

Trader Joe’s: Fall Favorites

Trader Joe’s is one of my absolute favorite grocery stores to shop at for my family.  I don’t know if it is just something about the “neighborhood-feel” of the store, since it is much smaller than the traditional grocery store, or the yummy specialty items they carry, or the fact that there prices are SO affordable-I just love everything about it!  Well, and Trader Joe’s + Fall = Awesomeness!

Let’s be honest, putting pumpkin in everything come fall time makes any product more marketable, am I right?  Just the other day, I saw a “fall harvest” spaghetti sauce. . .  Doesn’t sound very appealing to me, but it is on the shelf because someone is buying it! (Ha!)  Anyways, I love love many of Trader Joe’s special fall items so I thought I’d share with you 4 of my current faves.

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Spiced Cider.  If you find yourself unable to get to a local orchard, or you just don’t feel like spicing cider yourself, you need to try this cider!!  It is so yummy and basically tastes like fall in a cup.  It’s refreshing cold or delicious warmed up.

Pecan Pumpkin Oatmeal.  I am a big oatmeal fan.  Ever since breastfeeding, I eat it all the time.  I’m always looking for ways to spice my oatmeal up so I was excited to try this, and mmm it is tasty!  Add a few fresh pecans to the top, some dried cranberries, and chia seeds and you have a hearty, healthy, delicious breakfast!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread.  Guys, my food weakness is bread, bagels, croissants, baguettes, biscuits, rolls. . . basically anything that is a carb. . . (ha!) So when I saw this cream cheese, I knew I had to try it on a bagel or some cinnamon toast.  Oh my goodness, this stuff is delicious!  Definitely dangerous but so very worth it.

Pumpkin O’s.  If I eat cereal, I am a basic cereal person.  I think Cheerios are great even though they are super plain.  So why not add a little variety to your Cheerios?  These are fun and yummy for fall and great with some fresh fruit on top and Trader Joe’s vanilla almond milk!

So there you have it!  Some of my favorite fall finds at Trader Joe’s!  Do you shop at Trader Joe’s?  What’s your favorite fall specialty item they sell?  If you would like a part 2 of this, comment down below!

Happy Fall, friends!!

sean (1)

 

Family

Our Fall Bucket List + Family Traditions

Happy Fall, ya’ll!

Okay, I don’t ever say ya’ll, but the little saying is cute so I went with it! (ha!)  Anyways, Happy Fall!  If you’re like me-or like any basic woman or mom out there-you love fall.  Autumn is by far my favorite season!  I just love the coziness of it, the start of routines and traditions, the food, the smells, the coffee, the cider, the pumpkins, the apples, the baking, the fashion, the Bath and Body Works candles. . . okay, I’ll stop now because my list is later!  I also love the fall because it is like the start of the holiday season, and it just reminds me of all the goodness right ahead.

So every year, I always formulate a “bucket list” in my head of things I want to do for the season, but I never have actually written it down.  This year, I decided to create my bucket list and share it with you all and maybe you will get some inspiration to go out and make sweet memories this fall!

our-fall-bucket-list-2

Now I know what every parent means by seeing through your children’s eyes.  I’m so excited to share the fall and the upcoming holiday season with Avary.  I can’t wait to help her pick out her very own baby pumpkin and watch Matt help her pick apples from the trees.  I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she plays in a pile of crunchy leaves (she loves anything that makes a crunch noise!).  It is just so fun to get to experience all her ‘firsts’ with her!

What I also love about the fall is the little family traditions Matthew and I have created together.  I love how family traditions are formed through influences we both had as children and what we did with our own families.  Every fall season we find a local apple orchard and pick apples that are in season, get a gallon of apple cider, buy some apple butter, and get some tasty treats like apple cider donuts or caramel apples.  I did this with my mom every single fall and it is such a special memory for me.  I can’t wait to create these memories with Avary.  A trip to the pumpkin patch was something Matthew and I both did with our families.

I don’t know about you but the crisp, cold air in the fall just puts me in the mood to bake and make yummy, warm food!  Some of my favorite things to make in the fall are recipes passed down from my mom like: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, pecan tartlets, and blondie brownies.  I also love making slow cooker meals like: beef stew, chili, potato soup, and chicken tortilla soup.  This year, I’d like to try baking double chocolate zucchini bread and pumpkin scones!

Here is the link to my go-to Beef Stew recipe from Butter With a Side of Bread and the recipe for double chocolate zucchini bread I am going to try from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Butter With a Side of Bread

Sally's Baking Addiction

Sally’s Baking Addiction

You can find all the fall recipes I’m loving and all the fall goodness I’m pinning here!

So what is on your fall bucket list?  Do you have special traditions you do with your family?  Share them with us all below!  Excuse me while I go drink a glass of Trader Joe’s spiced cider!  Happy Fall!

sean (1)

Uncategorized

Hello World!

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Photo: Jody Stout Photography

Hi!  I’m Faith, a 23 year old wife and mama.  I am married to my high school sweetheart Matthew & am a new stay at home mama to our precious baby girl Avary (4 months).  We are a young military family, living a thousand miles from where we grew up, just learning about life, love & parenthood.  Life is crazy, but oh so good!

I spent the better part of my early twenties taking college courses, trying to figure out what I wanted to do long-term with my life.  I kept going back and forth between wanting to do the things I was passionate about and doing the “responsible” thing like getting a college degree.  When I got pregnant with Avary, I knew what I wanted to do—BLOG!  I began blogging as a way to document my life as a new mommy, create lasting memories of our family, and to find a community of mamas that I could share my heart and life with.  There is just something so meaningful about written words. . .  They are lasting, they can inspire, relate, and encourage others.  My hope is that this blog will share a little inspiration with others.  Let’s be real, motherhood and marriage are not always easy, but they are easily the most rewarding aspects of my life.

The name, “Growing the Nest,” came about after we had Avary.  She expanded our family unit, and if we are blessed with more babies, this nest of ours will continue to grow!  This is a lifestyle blog that will feature posts about mommyhood, marriage, military life, making your house a home, mommy and baby fashion, and products that make mommy life easier.  I look forward to getting to know each of you and hope that we can inspire each other to unite as mamas to hold onto this beautiful season of life and embrace it to the fullest.