Coming Home Story #39

I'm a 27 year old college educated mother of 2 small boys. I was working full-time as a Psychiatric RN until I had my first son, 5 years ago. I new I wanted to stay home, like my mother, but I could not see how we could have possibly afforded to at the time. I worked 4 evenings(3-11)a week. I still hated dropping my baby off with the sitter for 2 hours a day. I wanted to be there to see him grow up. I couldn't stand to hear these things second hand. 2 years later we had our second child. I left the day care center in tears on the Eves I would work. Still couldn't figure out how to do it on one income. Finally after seeing my OB/GYN for ?Post-partum Depression, he basically said "You either quit or get over your guilt!" Something clicked on the way home and I was able to really scale down my budget, pray for the kids college funding and made sure we only had one car payment at a time. I started working PRN (as needed). Now I work 1 eve a week around my schedule. As my husband earns more I anticipate stopping all together. At first my husband didn't get it. He anticipated dual incomes and all the things that could be done with that money. I have had to work on this thinking a lot and get him to see that there is no bigger payoff than a happy home and children. I never have to worry about coordinating schedules or who will watch my kids if they are sick. We aren't rich financially but we are spiritually.

~Kate from Elizabethtown, PA

Coming Home Story #38

Deciding to quit work to be at home with my children at the age of 35 was no easy decision. I had worked all my adult life, including the last two years of high school part-time. I was an executive secretary for most of my career. The last place I worked for was a really good company here in Richmond, the best benefits I had ever had, great pay, close to home and probably the best boss known to man. My husband and I had remarried in 1996 after being divorced for 10 years. We had just the one son from our first marriage, but we knew we wanted more children. We decided that we should have them right away as neither of us was getting any younger. Our daughter was born in January 1998. I managed to get the typical 6 weeks off from work, but I assured my bosses that I would be back. I told them that I had always worked and would continue to do so regardless. That changed! I really dreaded going back to work. The closer it got to me going, the more reasons I came up with not to go. My husband and I decided that I really needed to go back, that we wanted one more child and I carried the hospitalization insurance for me and the kids and the time and it was better than my husband could get for us at his work. So back I went, and fortunately for me, I was able to find a really great sitter for my daughter.

Then our second son was born in January 1999. This time, I took off eight weeks. I had been working on my husband during the pregnancy about coming home to be with the kids. Once Patrick got here and he realized how much it would cost for day care and how important it was that "we" raise our kids, not a baby sitter, he
started to come around. What really convinced him was our daughter. She had this bad habit of just walking into a room and "screaming", for no reason. During my eight weeks home, she stopped, without much correction from me at all. The other blessing was that I was able to nurse my son exclusively and did not have
to buy formula. Things started adding up in my husbands mind and he finally said, give your notice, I want you home with the kids! I was so happy. I went back after my eight weeks and within a week, gave my notice. I gave 2 months notice for my bosses sake and I know I made the right decision.

My husband had some major concerns about money. I got your book, Miserly Moms and starting really looking at what costs I could cut. We grow a good garden now, canning lots of veggies and making our own jellies. I have managed to cut the grocery bill and continue to strive to get that cost down as much as I can with two still
in diapers. My hubby did not want cloth diapers, he prefers the throw away kind so that cost is with us until we are finished with potty training. I really enjoyed the Miserly Moms book and it gave me lots of ideas and cost cutting measures to use. My husband pronounced the title of the book as if you were saying miserable, as if we
were miserly Mom's (unhappy moms). I thought it was cute considering what I was reading.

It's been over a year since I came home to be with my children and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I had always said that I could never stay at home with the kids, that I was a working kind of girl and that's the way it was. God in my life changed all that and so did my three great kids. I do day care in my home, trying to help other Moms
who think they have to work as well. I am always encouraging them to cut costs so they can come home and be with their own kids like me. The extra money pays the groceries and a bill or two so it's a financial help to say the least. I strongly encourage any women, who has the least little bit of desire to come home and quit work - to
look at every avenue, because trust me, all the money in the world can't buy you your happiness. One area I cut cost in without realizing it, is medical costs. It's amazing that when you don't have that kind of stress in your life and your kids aren't exposed to everyone else's sicknesses, you don't have to visit the doctor and spend your
money there and at the drug store. That's a big savings in itself. Where there is a will, there is a way and believe me it's worth it in the long run, you'll never regret it!

~Shelly in Richmond, Virginia.

Coming Home Story #37

My husband and I lived a comfortable life before we had children. We drove nice cars and took nice vacations. I worked in desktop publishing and PR for a fire safety equipment manufacturer. When I got pregnant, there was really no discussion because we were always in agreement that I would stay home to raise our children. It just happened a little earlier then planned, so we didn't have the financial resources in place we would have had.

But we forged ahead. We paid off cars and when we purchased our first house, we bought in a neighborhood that was safe, but maybe not as nice as we would have liked, because we qualified on my husband's salary alone. The first year was a little difficult. Of course shower gifts helped, but we furnished the nursery with used furniture. You know what? It looked adorable anyway and more importantly, my son was happy there!

We didn't go out to eat or to the movies. We rented movies and ate in, making ourselves nice dinners to share after the baby was down. That was our date night. A few candles go a long way.

Now my first child is 4 and 1/2 and we also have a 20 month old. My husband has had a few promotions and I became a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant to supplement our income. It's a great way to enjoy a career that totally works around my family. We have since bought a second house, but the frugalness we learned the first few years I was a stay at home mom has carried over. We need to save for college now!

Sometimes I wish we could go on great vacations or redecorate the house in one fell swoop, but then I look at my gorgeous babies' faces and imagine having to drop them off at daycare every day and know that we made the right decision. Money and "stuff" is just money and probably too much "stuff." But our children need us now!

~Lisa in Severna Park, MD

Coming Home Story #36

I was a successful paralegal with a promising career and a fantastic firm to work for. My husband and I both worked long hard hours and had a nice home, two cars, and plenty of extras. Then I got pregnant. I wanted to stay at home, as my mother had, but we just couldn't make the math work out. I racked my brain looking for a way to stay with the baby after she came. The wonderful people I worked for even helped me by considering several computer commute options as well as job sharing. They also offered me a substantial raise to stay with my regular schedule. We had decided that I would try the part time in the office, part time computer commute option.

Then, five days after our daughter was born, my husband looked at me and said, "Whatever it takes, you're not going back to work." How I had prayed for his cooperation in this effort! How thankful I was that he loved his new daughter so! I called my employer to let them know I wasn't coming back. True to form, they were disappointed, but supportive of my decision. What a blessing to be able to work for family oriented people.

We slashed our budget. Took out all the extras. Stopped eating out, no car phone, no impulse shopping. I shop nice quality re-sale stores for clothes for us and the baby. It's amazing what you can do when you get creative and determined to make it all work out! Our food bill is a constant challenge to me to find new and cheaper options. "Miserly Moms" has recently given me new incentive to get devoted to budget cutting again. I do now work 8-10 hours a week for another attorney doing the same type work as before I was pregnant. The extra money is nice, and Grammy generously keeps our daughter while I am away 2 afternoons a week.

So we are successfully surviving on 1 1/4 income! And I am the one raising my daughter..not an endless rotation of day care workers. In the beginning we were afraid to even try. Now with an 18 month old daughter, we can't imagine living any other way.

~Ellen in Choctaw, OK

Coming Home Story #35

I'm a college educated mother of 5. I am not a stay at home husband is. 2 years ago, my husband and I separated. Our marriage was at the lowest point possible. We had a large income, but never saw each other, or spent any time together. After separating, Jeff got hurt at work. He had a series of surgeries, and needed help with the most basic tasks. We remained close, and the help that he needed naturally brought us even closer.

My job in the retail world came to a screeching halt. Downsizing made it impossible for me to continue at my current pay. I took a severance package, and vowed to find another company. 4 weeks later, no one had hired me. Jeff and I had become pregnant, even though still separated. He moved home, out of financial necessity. We no longer could support 2 households. We lived on his retirement funds and a tight budget.

Out of the blue, a girlfriend told me of another woman who was leaving our area and needed to find someone to take over her small business as a cleaning lady. I decided to pray on it, and give it a try. It has been 5 months, my business is growing, and all my customers are elderly and disabled. I get a huge satisfaction from helping them.

Jeff now stays with our young twins, and takes care of the older children. He recently told me that, although it takes a great deal of patience, being a stay at home parent is the most rewarding thing he has ever done!

We stay on our budget, practice Jonni's miserly mom guidelines and constantly look for new ways to save money, bring in some extra money for savings, and LOVE living better. I work less hours, I decided when I can be away from home, and the kids recently told me they prefer our lives now to when we both worked. The tragedy that we suffered from Jeff's injury saved my family. We now hold sacred every moment that we have together, and feel that the close
scrutiny of budgeting is well worth the effort!!!

~Marylou in Pensacola, FL

Coming Home Story #34

My husband and I have been married for 14 years and have 3 children. For most of that time, I was working full time (2nd shift) as a newspaper copy editor. Because we worked opposite shifts, day care wasn't an issue - but we didn't see much of each other! My husband went through several career changes and staying home wasn't an option. When my third child was a year old, we decided
I could come home. Two months after coming home, that son was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which meant wheelchairs, ramps, ventilators, physical therapy, doctors, more doctors ... and the list goes on. Though our insurance was good, it wasn't THAT good. So back to work I went.

Three years and piles of medical bills later, another son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome and learning disabilities. More bills. More stress. Lots more tears. Our marriage was rocky, I was unhappy, my husband was unhappy, the kids were unhappy. Nothing was getting done well. My husband's income had increased quite a bit since that first try at staying home, so we decided to try it again. This time I prepared. We cashed in investments to pay off a car
loan and other debts and cancelled the "extras" - cable, cell phone etc. I switched from the convenient, swanky grocery store to the one with no perks and immediately saved $25 a week. We stopped going out to eat every Sunday after church, saving more than $100 a month. I stopped going to the bagel place every morning, saving $10 a week. And I went to the library to look for your book. It took nearly a month for me to finally get hold of the well-circulated copy, but it was worth the wait. Funny thing is, after cutting out the little things, we had just as much at the end of the paycheck as we had when we were both working!

It's been 9 months since I left my job and I doubt I'll ever go back. The
amount of stress that walked out the door when I came home has been astounding. I'm not always hurrying the kids because I have to get ready for work. My husband isn't stressed about hurrying home so I can go to work. We don't have to worry about sudden changes in one of the schedules. The kids are more relaxed. We're more relaxed.

Money is still tight, and because of our children's medical needs, probably always will be. But we live comfortably. I accept any hand-me-down clothes that are offered to me. After going through the closets this spring, I found that I did not need a single thing for either of the boys (ages 6 and 9). I didn't have as much luck with my daughter (who is 11 and has more definite tastes about such things) but we're managing. I shop several grocery stores each week to get the best buys and while I haven't given up all convenience foods, I am cooking more from scratch and making do with what's in the pantry. Even the children understand the benefits. I often hear them say how glad they are that they get to come home after school and don't have to go to day care. Many of my daughter's friends come home to an empty house and even she has mentioned she's glad there's someone there when she gets home. They are all glad that they get to enjoy a real summer vacation - no rushing to day care or day camps etc. They see their 4-year-old cousin spending 10 hours a day in day care and often comment how sorry they feel for her. And they all understand that the cost of their NOT going to day care is fewer material things. Their cousin has all the latest toys and lives in a huge house - but she is not home to enjoy them. My kids actually GET IT!!! It's been a long journey home, but worth every minute!

~Cindy in Cary, North Carolina

Coming Home Story #33

I have been in the sales arena my whole career (13 years). It is a very competitive field but one that I enjoyed wholeheartedly
because it had flexible hours and the opportunity to work from home.

I had no problem with my sitter who was a relative bringing up my 3 children. She did a wonderful job and the kids loved her. But when the children got into school, things become somewhat hairy. But I kept up with it so I could continue my "career" as I saw it as a way to bring myself satisfaction and time with adults.

I was with my new employer for only one week when I found out I was pregnant with my 4th child. They were not happy. The decision was made for me to leave two days before I had my little boy. They fired me. Children and family are not conducive to a sales career.

So my journey began. I had no job, a 6 year old, a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a newborn. My husband was very sympathetic and supportive. He was the one who encouraged me to make my career my family. And I’m so glad he did!!! We first took inventory of where all our money was. Then we paid off everything we could to keep our bills to a minimum. That meant canceling my cell phone, pager, trips to the nail salon. After this we were able to squeeze into one income. Then I took my knowledge of the internet to work. I did some research on the internet to find ways to save money, and that’s how I found your website!

I’ve been home for 5 months and loving it. I pulled all my resources together to find a way I could make money at home by doing
something I love. So I opened up a cake business. I make novelty cakes and cakes for all occasions. It has combined a "career" and self-fulfillment for me, and a way to bring in some extra money to do the things I had taken for granted before.

~Barbara, Burlington, KY.

Coming Home Story #32

My name is Jennifer and I run my own travel agency from home. I was a full time travel agent for 4 years before I had my son, Dillon who is now 3 years old. I always knew I wanted to be at home with my children but also knew we needed to have as much income coming in as possible. I thought about working from home when I found out I was pregnant. I read books and tried a few MLM opportunities. But it just did not seem like I could make enough at it. So after my son was born and only 2 months old, I had to go back to work at least part time. I found a sitter and tried working for 3 months. I realized missing my baby and getting nothing for income after paying the sitter, I had to do something. So I took what I
did at the office and started doing it from home. I didn’t make much at first as far as income but cutting back on what I could like watching what I spent at the grocery store and other cut backs I was able to keep working on making my business a success. When my second son, Travis, was born, I did not have to worry about maternity leave because I was already at home with him. I was also very sick with both pregnancies and my employer wasn't at all understanding when I was pregnant with my oldest. With my youngest, it wasn't a problem other than chasing after my two year old at the time.

I contacted my local paper and they did a complimentary article on my business and from there things took off. Many people wanted to support my business because they loved the idea of me trying to run my own business and be with my children. I then began to take on agents all over the US. They were women who wanted to get involved in travel but needed guidance and support. Soon I had others who attended travel school or were already agents who wanted a way to work from home. I even have a few men working
for me now. Currently I have 30 agents working for me. I can handle my business whenever I want and if I have a child playing in the background no one knows except me. If I have a busy day I can get work done at night too. My children come first and sometimes a call just has to go to voicemail so I can get a diaper changed or am reading a book to my 3 year old. But most people understand that.

I operate my business by utilizing my computer. All my agents communicate with me via email so no one has long distance bills. Most reservations for customers can be booked using my computer travel reservation system that operates off the internet. I have a website with travel reservation booking capabilities for all my agents and customers to look up prices. It also has a guest book for visitors to sign up and receive specials via email. Customers can also email me for prices. I use the internet to do my searching for information on locations.

I have a residential line instead of a business line to save on monthly
costs. I also have a separate line for my computer. I operated for awhile with only one phone line which I do believe someone can do until their business picks up enough in order to pay for the additional line. One thing I have learned operating this business is to watch monthly expenses. A good friend of mine had to close her home business because she just had too many monthly bills. When you first start up you want to keep what is going out of your bank account to a minimum. Too many people fall into the trap of all the things they “need” for their business. Make your own stationary, envelopes and labels with your computer instead of paying for them. Advertise by flyers and other low cost ways. Go to garage sales to find things that you need at your office. Many times there are businesses that go out of business and sell their business items like file cabinets or
desks. If you don’t have a fax machine, there are a lot of fax programs out there. I have one that is free for another number people can send me faxes.

I also used the internet to find other agents and network with others who work form home. There is so much you can do from home with your computer. You can meet others who you can share ideas and in my case I was able to expand my business. The possibilities are endless with the technology we have. I am able to work from home and also be with my children and I love it.

~Jennifer of Los Alamos, NM

Coming Home Story #31

When my husband and I were first married, we had quite a bit of debt. However, we were in an advantageous position because my job paid for our housing, utility bills, and some food. We were paying of our debt and thinking we were on the right track. I THOUGHT I was frugal although our vacations included flying to Disney World, cruising to Mexico, and antiquing in North Carolina. And those were only three of the six or seven vacations we took in two years!! Then things changed. We had our first baby so I left my stressful job to work part time for a grant funded position.

And then we bought a house.
And then we got pregnant again.
And then our car died.
And then the roof caved in.
And then my grant funded position was cut.
And then I started to cry.

After the crying and getting hit with other hard and heavy bills unexpectedly and being in lots more debt, I started to wise up. This reality check made me realize how un-frugal I really was. I was lucky
enough to get some work back at the same company, but it wasn't enough. I had to change. My DH, who loved to spend money (before we were married he ate out every night and didn't even know you could pay more than a minimum monthly payment on a bill!), was very supportive in my endeavor. Since I was the food shopper and check book holder, he let me make the decisions since he knew he wasn't the frugal one. I started reading the experts (Miserly Moms, Tightwad Gazette among others), and got into a positive frame
of mind--that was the best thing to do. Once I felt proactive and money smart rather than desperate and "cheap," I realized my life had changed for the better. I started cooking almost everything from
scratch, grocery shopping at different stores, mending clothes, shopping at Salvation Army, and finding lots of free family stuff to do. I hung clothes out to dry year long (winters inside, of course!), made Christmas presents, held on to furniture and clothes a lot longer, and made cleaning products myself or watered down store bought ones.

Now we are down to one last debt and it's steadily going down--we add any extra money we get to it. We still love to go away, but now our trips involve driving and staying with family or at hostels, and
finding free stuff to do while bringing our food along. My wonderful husband and I are so proud of what we are doing to make our lives better. I still work a couple of hours a week to help the income, but
for the most part, I am a homemaker, wife, and mother to two beautiful boys that I can happily say I raise, rather than some day care worker. We are not materialistically wealthy--our wealth and riches are much much greater than that.

~Donna in Scotia, New York (near Albany)

Coming Home Story #30

When I was 18 and had all the answers in life (yeah right), I got
married and had my first child. When my daughter was 3 months old my marriage ended. I was 19, living back home with my parents and totally broke. My father was retired, and my parents where on a tight budget. So I got a job. My parents watched my daughter while I worked. I was either working, sometimes 2 jobs, or going to night school. I didn't raise my daughter the first 4 years of her life. My parents did. I made a promise to myself during this time. I would never have anymore children if I could not stay home and raise them myself.

Six 1/2 years ago I remarried. I worked part time during the 1st year until we decided we wanted to start our own family. My 2nd daughter was born in 95'. I have not worked outside the home since. We now have 2 more daughters and live on a tight budget. It has not been easy at times. My husbands support in this has been great. I have babysat, typed term papers and study notes for college students. My husband told me "you don't have to do this". I just felt I needed to contribute something, but finally realized I contribute my raising my children. I baby-sit for friends that are not in position not to work when there regular daycare falls through. I babysat my niece for a year, because my brother was a single parent trying to raise his daughter on his own. I do not regret helping my brother, but I found that it invaded on my time with my own children. We have 4 daughters, and decided that we are done having children. Our daughters are now 13, 41/2, 2 1/2, and 8 months.

When the baby was born, I decided that I needed to schedule my days strictly. I now run my house like a working daycare center. It has done wonders for me and my children. They know what is going to be going on every day. We have theme weeks. For example this week is "B" week. We have made clothes pin butterflies, paper balloons, a "B" book. I will dress them in blue, black and brown this week. We will try to eat at least one "B" food a day. Monday mornings are our shopping time. I pick up my father, who no longer drives and is a big help with the kids in the stores.

I shop at a discount grocery store, and a meat store. I scour and study sale flyers. Sometimes it's cheaper to get certain meat on sale at a grocery store, so I'm very careful. I buy Meats in large family pack, or bulk sizes. I separate and repackage at home. The grocery store I use is a discount store that saves money by making you use your own bags and boxes for your groceries. This has cut our grocery bill by about $50 a week. We have a big chain store about a mile from the house, and it is very convenient, but very expensive, I can save $.40 on a can of vegetables as an example of the price difference. I have used a local church thrift store for winter coats and other big ticket items. Every year I trade in my snow suits, and winter coats that can't be passed down to a younger child for one that will fit my 4 year old next season. I have also found that you can get better deals on good quality clothes from the big name department stores. I used to buy off the rack from discount department stores, but found that they didn't hold up well. You can find better quality clothes at the higher end stores on sale and end of season sales for less money. They also last longer. I have a couple outfits that have lasted though all 3 of my youngest daughters. They still look good.

I'm very satisfied with my life. I would never trade my children well being for a pay check. We might not have a big screen TV, but we have something you can't buy. Peace of mind.

~Elizabeth from Burlington, NJ

Coming Home Story #29

I discovered Miserly Moms in the grocery store just a few weeks after my last paycheck had arrived. I was an official stay at home mom who had the frugal mentality of the Trumps. Although I saved huge amounts of money following the books guidelines, I still had to get to the root of my problem. I am a closet spender. I go to Target or Wal-Mart and spend and easy 50$, mostly on what seems to be important at the time. I then tell my husband it was on sale when he
asks the cost. Some friends of mine hide their stuff! The breaking point for me happened when I broke the bank account for the third time. We decided to make some big changes which have changed our lives.

The first big change was who did the bills. My husband had done the checkbook for our 5 yrs. of marriage. I hadn't a clue about what was due and when outside of phone and other utilities. I took over the books this past August. What an eye opener! Seeing the money go out has really put things in perspective. I actually strategize each month on how best to spend our money.

The second change was to organize our financial records. I needed to see it all to be "in charge" of it. My husband had become relaxed on his system to where it wasn't a system at all. I went to office depot and purchased a small plastic file box, hanging folders, and a notebook. It took a few days, but we were in business. Now when I do the bills each payday (after marking the due date on the back of each envelope), I write the check number, amount paid and
when it was paid on the bill before filing. No more paid bill clutter all over our house.

The third change involved the notebook. This has been the best thing I ever did. I wrote out a list of household items we usually purchase as well as those bought when needed and estimated the cost. I try to beat that cost all the time and buy in bulk when I see a great sale. Then, each payday I take out a certain amount of cash based on my bi-monthly average and use ONLY cash for household expenses. In other words, no debit cards or check cards. I try to keep an account in the notebook and have the cash in a locked box.

I save us so much money and don't have to worry about forgetting to write debit receipts in the checkbook. I know this was long, but I hope it helps. We have managed to pay off so much debt since then and I am no longer the thorn in our financial side.

~Carey in Akron, Ohio

Coming Home Story #28

About 10 years ago I was in my last semester of college when we discovered I was pregnant. I had always wanted to stay home with my children as much as possible, however it wasn't quite possible. I stayed home for 6 months after Erica was born, and then got a job at a bank. I worked and supported my husband in finishing his degree. A month before our second child was born I was let go from my job. I was very upset at the time, but it turned out to be the best situation. I had been having trouble finding daycare for 2 kids at the same place, and due to circumstances I received unemployment for 6 months. I looked for work the entire time and was offered a job at the end of my unemployment benefits. When I figured the daycare cost I knew it wasn't worth it. My husband was supportive and we moved into a smaller apartment and cut back a little. Going from college straight to children, we never got used to having much money or free time anyway!

I started to do daycare in our tiny apartment for one other child. I was able to do that for 3 years until I was pregnant with baby #3. At that point we had some divine intervention. We had never made much money and it was taking it's toil, when my husband was offered a job out of state with a much better income. The better income however didn't make up for the very high cost of living. Knowing that I would support him and use all of our frugal strategies we went ahead and moved. The first year was rough. After that first year he was able to look for a job with another company but his company offered him a 50% raise to stay. Almost 3 years later we are doing great. We are paying off debts, I baby-sit part time as people need me, and my husband earns more now that he can
fully concentrate on his career. We have learned to postpone many things and prioritize to get here.

During our very broke times I did everything from scratch. I washed my own diapers, sometimes in the sink, hung up clothes to dry (even in a small apartment) cooked all meals and snacks from scratch, all conveniences were weighed against the cost, my kids didn't get breakfast cereals or trips to McDonald's and we stayed home to save the one car for my dh. There were some stressful days everything was stretched too thin, but we managed to cover the important stuff. Learning to cook almost anything well has helped tremendously. The small town we live in doesn't have the wealth of restaurants we were used to but I can cook the special meals we like to eat. And eating out becomes a real treat for just mom and dad. I am looking forward to learning so many new things at home, how to garden and do woodworking and do more sewing.
Recently I told my husband that I may never want a job away from home again, and he thought that was fine.

~Lynda in Colorado

Coming Home Story #26

I'll never forget my grandmother telling me in high school, that my goal "should" be to be a career woman. Even back then, I knew in my heart that being career oriented was not me. I went through 4 1/2 miserable years in college, to be an elementary school teacher. The whole time I was in college, I couldn't stop thinking that I didn't want to be there. My heart was always at home. After 3 years of college, I got married and finally got up the courage to tell my husband that I didn't want to be a teacher anymore. I got my AA, and started a full time job. Two years later, we bought our first home. That's when we started trying to have a baby. At that point, I always hoped that we could afford me staying home.

Two more years have gone by, and we still have not conceived. But that nagging feeling of needing to be home never stopped. So, again, I mustered up some courage and told my husband that I wanted to get licensed to be an in-home daycare provider. I could be making money, while still being home. And when we finally have a baby, I told him, I could be home with it. He agreed to my plan and finally admitted to me that he always wanted me to be home, too.

I went through several months of training, etc to be a daycare provider. Since I've lived in this small town all my life, it didn't take long at all to fill up. When I was able to give my 2 weeks notice to my boss, I felt uplifted, relieved. I have been running a daycare in my home for 7 months now. I LOVE it. Not only am I still "teaching" young children ( which I truly enjoy ) but I can be home, too. My home is running more efficiently now, and I enjoy cooking from scratch and having a cleaner house.

Every single day, I feel like I'm doing something wrong- it doesn't feel like work since I'm home! It's like the ultimate joy. My own mother stayed home with me and my two sisters, and she has passed along lots of frugal tips. Now that I am a "grown-up," I can really appreciate all the sacrifices my parents gave for us kids. I have recently gotten a re-charge to live more frugally. I have always enjoyed hanging our clothes on the clothesline, but I am now clipping coupons, shopping at thrift stores, garage sales, and tomorrow, I am planning on cutting down our bills. My husband is joining me in this crusade and I feel so wonderful to be living a more simple life. I especially enjoy being home in the day, as I feel like I am more in tune with my neighborhood, surroundings, and the details of our everyday lives.

My husband and I both are FIRM believers that one parent should stay home with their children. Especially now that I run a daycare, I see first-hand how parents working out of the home can negatively affect their children. It CAN be done! In an ever-increasing technical world, we all need to get back to the simple pleasures and live our entire lives that way. I am finally doing what I know I was meant to do. I now hope that soon, I can do the other thing I was meant to do-be a mother!

--Erika in Jackson, California

Coming Home Story #25

I was a 25 year old social worker fresh out of graduate school with a Master's degree. My husband of 10 months was an operator with a quick service restaurant. We were doing very well. Nice house, cars, new businesses, a comfortable living. Except, I hated my job. All of our business partners had wives who were SAH moms. Each day I went to work, the more I envied our business partners.

I got pregnant with our daughter after a miscarriage. I was considered high-risk. I was so happy to be high risk because that meant bed rest. After days of coming home frustrated and almost in husband told me to put in my 2 weeks notice. I hardly took any thought to how we would make it. I was just happy not to have to return to that place.

I took a trip to Europe. It was a way of celebrating my new life. After returning, I spent money as though I was still working. It was tough. I eventually went to work again full-time until I was 7 months pregnant. I quit for good. My husband got another job as banking center manager at a well known bank. He also took a second job with the quick service restaurant as manager. Although bills were being paid, my husband was tired.

I decided it was time to help make it easier on the household. I had student loans and went into forbearance. I began clipping coupons like crazy. I bought diapers and wipes from discount places. I did my own hair. I cut up credit cards. We decided that if we didn't have the cash...we didn't need it. I got by on just a few outfits. Going out
(movies, dinners, etc.) was reserved for birthdays and our anniversary. I became an excellent cook. Our expenses were mainly for the baby's health and welfare, my husband's car and wardrobe for work, and our investments. It worked well.

We are now expecting a son. It will be 2 years in October since I've worked. We are still honoring our choice for me to be a SAH mom. Finances are still tight, but that pales in comparison to the joy experienced in our household. I give all the credit to God. For without Him...this wouldn't be possible.

~Tonia in College Park, GA

Coming Home Story #24

My name is Cyndi and in January 1998, my husband and I set a goal for me to quit working before our second child started Kindergarten. (A little backwards, I know, however, I felt I had missed so much, and the kids too.) I wasn't quite sure, how I was going to do it, I just knew it was important to our family.

I found your book in my favorite grocery store (which of course now, I would look in a used book store) and picked it up. It was worth every cent, even with the grocery store mark-up! It was more than just your
common-sensical tips, I felt like I had support from a friend...and we never even met.

Well anyway, I stepped out in faith and quit work August 28, 1999 ...we too took a 50% cut in pay when I did. I have become a very successful frugal shopper and consistently save between 41 and 55% on my grocery bill. We disconnected our cable in April 1998, and do not miss it, we get ABC and CBS on antenna and have very little time for television anyway. Both of our children excel in school and I get to work in their classroom weekly. I started a small business consulting and spend 5 to10 hour a month, getting paid what I am worth!

Needless to say, our family has become much closer, less stressed and VERY happy!

~Cyndi in Lompoc, California

Coming Home Story #23

I had a career for 10 years working for the Division of Drinking Water with Washington State. I was a single Mom and needed to work to support my daughter. I was the most frugal person you knew. I paid off my debts (credit card, car and student loans) and then started to save for a house. I bought a simple home and met my future husband the same month.

Shortly before we married, I had an opportunity to move with a promotion. We rented out the home I bought while single and moved. Suddenly having two incomes was a shock, and we indulged each other. Trips, furniture, books, CDs, red meat, tickets to the play. All the things that I never could afford when alone. When we decided to have more children, all that changed. I had arranged for wonderful care for our son with my neighbor (the woman is a saint with 5 children and a childcare center), and went back to work after three months leave. My husband always worked long hours, volunteering for overtime to make extra money. When the third child was due, I started to have migraines. My husband worked an average of 50-60 hour work weeks and I was pregnant and had a 2 and 10 year old. We discussed the hours, and my husband agreed to work his regular 40 hour week. The migraines stopped.

After baby number three was born, I went to work again after 6 months off. I worked 80% time and was gone 12 hours at a time. I would come home and kiss my youngest good night. I didn't see him at all on the days that I worked! A friend loaned me "Your money or your life" and mentioned that it was a really good book. I number crunched our budget and discovered that although I made $40,000 a year, I only saw $600 a month due to all the working expenses. I began the plan to stay home. The next eight months we paid off all our bills, and began saving. I started to reevaluate our budget and found that I could cut our grocery bill (3 kids, husband and my Mom) to less than $350 a month. We didn't need most of the things that we were buying and using. I started to sell the baby clothes and toys that the youngest had outgrown and made over $400 at a consignment store. Then we started to simplify our life and sold "things" that I either didn't really like or knew I didn't need or would miss. The house seems larger with less "stuff" and it's easier to clean! I read all the "tightwad" books I could get my hands on. We hang 25% of the clothes on the line to dry, cooked from scratch, shop the loss leaders, make a menu, stopped the lawn service and cable, didn't renew the magazines, increased the deductibles on the home and vehicles, buy from thrift stores for clothes, make gifts, make gift wrap and cards for birthdays and special occasions, shop for groceries twice a month, and the list goes on. We saved thousands this summer when my husband took his vacation time to replace our roof and build a fence himself. The best part is that we haven't missed anything!

I quit my job, and started a home business assisting water systems in complying with regulations. I work a few months a year and can supplement our income with the money that I make (like a vacation and savings). We live on my husband's income of $38,000. We also save more than we ever have in past. I have time to have the kids in a cooperative preschool and take them to swim lessons during the day. I can be active with my daughter's girl scout troop and school. My husband comes home to dinner prepared, the house in order and the errands run. We have been called cheap by family and "friends," but our house is paid in ten years (when we are both 47), we have bought Guaranteed Education Tuition for our kids (check out, we have no debt and continue to save. We plan to keep our lifestyle and retire at 55.

~Ellen in Seattle, WA

Coming Home Story #22

Looking back, I cannot believe the mess we got ourselves into financially. I came from a family that did not have a lot of money and was raised to be very careful and wise with money. And I was good with money until I met my husband, who grew up in a family who always had money and provided him whatever he wanted. He did not understand what it was like to have to watch pennies. Somehow, instead of my influence encouraging him to spend less, I got a taste of how fun it was to have anything my heart desired. And in my hubby's defense, I took it to a whole new level and went "crazy" with my spending habits and my "wants". It got to the point where the bills and credit cards (which I never even believed in before) were out of hand and my husband started complaining about my spending. We have four children ages 9, 7, 4, and 4 (as of 11/99). When I became pregnant with the twins, I was ordered to go on bed rest and my husband was forced to quit his job and take care of me and my then 5 y/o and 2 1/2 y/o. We were managing a small apartment complex at the time, which brought in $600 a month.

Needless to say, that was barely enough to live on, and the "non-essential" bills went unpaid, gathering interest and finance charges. By the time the twins were about a year and a half, we were contemplating bankruptcy since some very close friends had taken that option. We even got the paperwork to file, but after much discussing, we just could not feel good about that decision. We (more I) ran up these bills, and we felt that it was wrong for us to try to get out of paying them back. We believed that God would bless us later for doing the right thing. So I went back to work (as a waitress) and continued to manage the apartments, while my husband got a decent paying job at a lumber mill and kept working himself up to higher and higher pay. I sat down and created a list of our bills and was shocked to discover they reached nearly $12,000 in outstanding debt. We cracked down, and after one year of me working, we had knocked off over $9,000! Then we got comfortable with that and started living the high life again (NEVER on credit-always cash) like eating out regularly and hobbies and recreational shopping.

My husband was home with the twins and the older two were in school, but since he works nights, he was sleeping alot more than watching the kids and my house was a disaster every day when I came home. I spent so much time cleaning up the messes that I couldn't keep up on my laundry or even cook decent homemade meals. I was tired all the time and became very depressed. Yelled at my kids all the time, fought with my husband, and mainly just cried most of the time. At this point, both my mom and my husband started begging me to quit my job and stay home. I wanted to, oh how I wanted to, but I was just too scared we couldn't make it on one income. I still had two bills to pay off (around $2,000) and two kids into sports, ballet, scouts, etc.

Finally, my husband and I agreed that I would work thru Xmas 1999, and then quit my job and stay home, I was so happy. Then suddenly, in June 1999, my boss decided to give up her lease on the restaurant as of July 1st. I was hysterical, I had less than two weeks to prepare to live on one income. So I came home with much fear and uncertainty. I quickly developed a routine and became very happy staying home. My kids were happier, my husband and I are getting along better than we ever have in our marriage, and my 9 year old's stealing problem stopped literally immediately. Two weeks after I lost my job, my boss found another restaurant and asked me to come back to work. I agreed (my husband was less than thrilled, but I was still really scared) and was devastated that my time at home would end before I had even had time to get bored. The closer it got, the more unhappy I became. Five days before the restaurant opened, she changed the schedule we had already agreed on and I told her I would not be willing to work a schedule that would compromise my family ever again. She was unwilling to change her mind, so I chose not to work for her. It was the best decision I could have possibly made!! We go to church again (I was working Sundays) and we spent the whole summer camping almost every single weekend.

This is the best quality time I have ever had with my family. It has only been 4 months now, but we are making it, and none of us have ever been happier. I am still learning the ways to be frugal by getting books (from the library) and visiting frugal web sites. We are truly going to be okay, and I know this is what God wanted for our family.
Just took me awhile to listen!!!

~Angie in Tillamook, Oregon

Coming Home Story #21

I was a diesel mechanic and decided that I wanted a family. I had 3 daughters. My husband and I got divorced and I got the kids and the bills and he got his freedom. I became a truck driver for 3 years. It killed me being away from my kids but thanks to a loving and supportive family I managed. I made enough in 3 years of very long hours and work to buy a mobile home and get our bills gone. Now we live a very simple life. I no longer drive a truck and although I got married again and inherited another 2 children I can truly say I am happy because I am thrifty. I only shop resale stores for the kids clothing and you would be surprised what you can find at those places.

My husband works full time and now I teach as a substitute. The hours are great for the kids and I enjoy the older kids. It lets me know right quick that my kids are not only normal but also really good kids. I am out in the summer and snow days with them and I get home from work before they do. I make a game out of grocery shopping. The kids and I sit down once a month at a family meeting and come up with a menu for me to shop from. I then sit down with sale papers. We live in a small town and that is fairly simple since there are only 3 stores really within driving distance of our house and buy the meals for one month then. It is great to buy all at once rather than to have to make several trips. Since the kids help decide what will be on the menu they are far more likely to eat it and we work as a group which helps us feel more like a family mixed though we might be. My kids now range in ages from 2 13 years old (boys, inherited) One 12 year old girl. One 11 year old girl, and a 6 year old girl. I love subbing because if one of the children has a field trip or is sick I can refuse to work without it hurting our chances of making the bills.

I had an attorney once tell me to get a life. I told him I had one and was very happy with it. He said what are you going to do when your kids grow up and leave home. I smiled at him and said the same thing I am doing now. Make my husband happy and stay busy. I have time for myself in our busy schedule because I have not only taught my children responsibility but also the value of money. My husband brags about how smart his wife is and this year we are able to afford a trip to Disney. Life is good.

I remember an old movie once called cheaper by the dozen. The main characters had 12 kids and the whole issue of the movie was kids are expensive but when dealing with a large family they actually do feel cheaper. I would not trade the happy memories we have for all the money in the world and being able to make sure my kids are enjoying their childhoods without fear of drugs, unwanted pregnancy or unsupervised time is great. I truly enjoy your website and just wanted to let you know that there are other moms out here who enjoy it as well.

~Jennifer in Chapmansboro Tennessee

Coming Home Story #20

I had a great job in newspaper , which successive promotions, when I had my daughter. The job was a long commute, though, and my husband worked nights, and we decided it wasn't possible to pay for babysitting and never see each other. I took on a part time job for the evenings that he was home, and my mother watched the baby one or two nights a week. Well, I ended up working 30 hours a week (nearly full time) and our money situation was still just as bad. Because we didn't know how to live frugally. I'd take her out for pizza, splurge on gifts for relatives at holidays, etc. When my daughter (now 7) was 2 1/2, I was pregnant with her sister (now 4) and had to cut my hours back. Bills piled up, money was crunched, and things were very tight. When the baby was born, we maxed out our credit cards just to buy formula and diapers. I cried hysterically when they let me out of the hospital because I didn't know how we were going to make it on the money we had. For almost a year we budgeted $60 a week for groceries, including baby formula , food and diapers. I didn't go anywhere, like the mall, or on unnecessary errands, to save gas and temptation, in my 8 year old car. We were blessed with gifts of children's necessities (clothes, a new crib mattress) from generous grandparents who were kind enough to ask what we needed for the children for holidays. One friend asked what we needed for the baby and I asked for film to take pictures--we couldn't even afford that!

Then I discovered Amy Dacyzyn's Tightwad Gazette Books. Each one offered new insights into savings. When I first read the books, I thought, this idea or that ---well, that's going too far. Y'know what? every time I read it, I find something else I can use. I thrift shop, garage sale, (watching out for yearly sales with the right sizes in my town) and accept all freebies given. (Zucchini, couches, clothes, shoes, anything!) I always get compliments on my kids' clothes. I repair sew only, am trying to learn how to make clothes, but I think it's cheaper to buy stuff at tag sales.

I haven't worked now in 4 years, just went back to work 10 hours a week to pay for things like ballet class and Girl Scout uniforms. It's painless, cuz my husband is home for those 10 hours, and I enjoy the job. He's also learned a few things about being at home! I make things from scratch, bulk buy, reuse everything from birthday candles, gift wrap, waxed paper cereal liners to scrap paper, leftovers, and water "sport" bottles. We throw catalogs into the
garbage when they arrive. We don't impulse buy. We wait for things we need, and buy each other necessities for holidays--he's bought "me" a new toilet seat, I've bought him a new snow shovel. We understand that. Husband still wants to be able to spend lots of money on his hobbies (computers, etc) but he's eased way back. He likes having me home, it eases things on him when he comes in from work. We enjoy our simple life, and things are certainly easier
than when we had to worry where the money for diapers was coming from. That's the security frugal living has brought us and our 3 daughters---ages 7, 4 and 2. Good luck!

~ Susan in Dover Plains, NY

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