Monday, March 12, 2012

How Can I Quit My Job and Stay Home?

Library of Congress:  A Farm Couple doing their bookkeeping at home, 1930.

I frequently hear from readers who want to stop working and stay home with their families.  They wonder how it works? They say it is financially impossible, and want help. (This is for two-income couples.)

Obviously each situation is going to be different. Some mothers might be able to make a few adjustments and quit right away. Others are caught in so many financial obligations that it might take them months (or longer) to get everything in order before going home for good.

I want to recommend a couple of books, make a few suggestions and then ask the readers to share their own testimonies or ideas.

1. Essential Books

"The Complete Tightwad Gazette." - This is a manual for home economy, which is priceless. There are also sections to help the working mom who wants to stay home.  I wish a copy of this book was given to every new bride!

"Aunt Jane's Hero"
by Elizabeth Prentiss. - This beautiful story was written in the 1800's. It depicts the life of a humble family who live on very limited means.  You will be inspired, encouraged and motivated to have such a life.

2. Suggestions

- Write down every single penny you spend for a month. Then analyze this to see what you can cut out if you are no longer working.

- Make a budget based on your husband's income only.  See what you need to do to live on those means.

- Make a list of all the things you are willing to do to save money. Will you cook foods from scratch? Will you carefully watch over the utilities to keep the bills down? Will you stay home more to save gas money?

- If you are no longer working, you should be able to lower your insurance rate because your car won't be used for "commuting."  (Find other little ways to cut expenses. Each one will add up to a large annual savings.)

3. From the Readers

Readers, have you worked outside the home and found a way to quit?  Will you share some of your experiences with us in the comments section? We'd love to hear from you!   (You are also welcome to write a blog post and link back here.) 

I realize this is a very serious subject for those who truly do not want to work outside the home. I know many  mothers would love to be home full time with their husband and children. I hope the advice from readers will help!

If you are one of the mothers who wants to quit your job to stay home, please share some of the difficulties. Perhaps the readers can answer some of your specific questions in the comments.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Peaceful Living - Simplicity of Old Fashioned Homemaking.

Such wonderful Wisdom - I Remember Mama - lessons from a Norwegian Family in 1910.

Is this true? - Only Rich People Have Clean House.

Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book -Mother's Book of Home Economics Paperback, 312 pages.

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Nicole said...

Ten years ago we made the decision for me to quit my career as an attorney to come home to care for our family full time. We lost half of our income and not even close to half our expenses. On paper, we were going to be in the whole $900 a month. We NEVER missed paying any bills and never overdrew our checking account. We even managed to pay of $30,000 in debt that we hadn't made a dent in while I was working.

Once you make the decision to be frugal, your whole life (and perspective) changes. We canceled our cable, went to the minimums on everything. We started giving our children $20 per month that was to be used for ALL their recreation. If they wanted McDonald's or to go to the movies or to buy something, they had to use their allowance.

More than anything, we just gave our decision to God and he made it work.

Since then we have brought our children home to homeschool them.

Our family has thrived in our relationships based solely on our decision for me to come home.

Bonnie said...

I wanted to quit my job for a different reason (to start my own business), but maybe my experience is still helpful to wives & mothers who want to stay home.

I cut my food expenses by getting to know the local farmers and buying food directly from them. In the summer, I can and freeze as much as possible, when the produce is plentiful and cheap. If you can afford it, buying meat in bulk from farmers (like a quarter cow) brings the cost of meat way down and the quality way up.

My friends & I save money on clothes and household items by trading what we aren't using. We also trade treats for treats (like homemade cookies for homemade cheese). I joined a local swap group too, where I trade homemade dishwasher detergent and other cleaners for homemade soap.

It helps to have some money saved because then you can save on mandatory expenses (like auto insurance) by paying in full or buying in bulk. Even if you can't do that, being part of the local homesteading or simple-living community saves a lot of money and builds good relationships. It's a very satisfying way of life.

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

I wrote a post just last week with ways to use it up wear it out make it do or do without. You might like to look at that.

It can be done. We have been through hardships since I quit working (I made more than my husband.) twenty-one years ago. Those hardships are nothing compared to the benefits of being here for my husband and children and homeschooling.

Pray together and get ready to lighten up and tighten up. You can do it!

Laura Lane

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the first step toward making the decision to stay home is to figure out what it is COSTING you to work. I am an RN who worked outside our home until our son was born. We sat down and figured out what working cost and by the time we added in child care, discovered I would be working for about minimum wage! Gas, tires, general wear and tear on a vehicle. Eating out more because you are too tired to cook after work. More money spent on groceries because you don't have the time to clip coupons or shop for bargains. Childcare. Fancier wardrobe needed for a career than for at home. Then take a look at the things you think of as "necessities" in your life. Drop the gym membership and get exercise by cleaning your own home and doing our own yard work. Do you really need cable? Learn to cut your own and family members hair. Learn to give yourself a manicure and pedicure. Reassess your food habits and learn to shop/cook based on nutrition per dollar spent rather than what your taste buds dictate. Learn to sew and mend. Many clothes are found at yard sales and thrift shops because they need a seam repaired or a button replaced and the owner was not willing or able to do that. Cut out the use of disposables as much as possible. Paper towels, plates, etc. are expensive! Buy quality where it matters and take care of the things you own. Replacing a cheap set of dishes every few years is more expensive than one set of Corelle that will last your lifetime. Same for pots and pans.
Those are just the basics off the top of my head. It can be done with a bit of diligence and determination!

Unknown said...

The best piece of advice I got before I was married was never live on your husbands income. We socked my income away into savings and by the time babies started coming we were in a good place.

Also I truly believe God blesses those who tithe. It might not make sense to start giving away 10% of your income in order to stay home, but God has strong promises regarding tithing in scripture.

LeAnn said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for the links;and the first book sounds like a great wedding gift. I had to work on and off through the years and it was hard. At least one positive came out of it. The children learned to cook and clean. In fact my three boys are great cooks and their wives thank me for that one. If I would have had a choice; I would have stayed home fulltime.

Anonymous said...

This post couldn't be more timely! Two weeks ago, I called up my boss to officially resign from my position as a foreign language teacher at a local high school (which they'd been holding for two years - "family leave" in NY).

While the desire to stay home is simple, getting to the point where you can hardly ever is. It can seem (and admittedly, for many people truly is) impossible.

It took us two years of minimizing and downsizing, a serious realignment of our priorities - and honestly speaking, a couple arguments along the line - for us to commit to saying "no" to two incomes.

Although I've always loved my work, being at home is an incredible blessing. All the cliches are true: You never do get any time back, and what your children most want (more than extra things and activities) is your time and attention.

I may be inspired to write about our journey to this point on my own little site, and I thank you Mrs. White for being such an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Staying at home, & living on just the husband's income can be done, if one is smart & resourceful. There can be very little "slacking". If your children are little now, you have a great advantage in that you can train them not to whine for silly things like fast food meals, cheap toys, trendy clothing that will be out of style before it even shows any wear...all of that. You will feel as though you're saying "no" all the time, but the whole family will be learning valuable new skills, like self-control & deferred gratification, sharing, patience, & the ability to see worth in a slower life.

I had a part-time job for about 5 years, starting in 2006 (seasonal work, very limited hours). I can tell you that I never could have taken on even that little bit if I hadn't already put into place a system within my household. And even so, I was dreadfully tired when I arrived home from work. I could see cracks forming, so to speak, in my resolve not to depend on any meals out, or allow the work around our house & yard to go by the wayside. I did feel as though my children did not get my best, but what I had leftover (as far as time & attention goes).

Our financial situation lately has forced me to be even more creative with our very limited grocery budget. Sometimes my head hurts from thinking so hard about things! But, what if I'd never had all those years, earlier, to hone my skills cooking, baking, preserving, mending...just learning to make do? I really believe our circumstances now would frighten me, & my children would feel deprived.

Blessings to all you women who want to try & come home, for good. I don't think you will be sorry.


busymomof10 said...

When my 1st child was home, my priorities changed over night and I wanted to be home with her so badly! Unfortunately, my husband's heart did not change as quickly. It took a period of time, a lot of prayer, and lots of "discussions" to get to the point where we were in agreement about me being home full-time. As a technical writer, I made as much as he did. The first thing I did was to go part-time (which had not been done before, but I talked to my boss about it, and they worked out something for me). Then, after about a year, I quit my job, but I was able to do some work for my company from home. That was BI (before the internet!) It would be a lot easier now~! That was 25 years ago!

It has not been easy, but the Lord has seen us through!

The BEST BOOK I've ever read on the subject is the HEart has its Own Reasons by Mary Ann Cahill. It was published by La Leche League back in the 1980s. It may be somewhat dated now . . . but I still think it would be helpful to any mom who is agonizing over this decision!!! I found it on Amazon --

thanks for this post! I trust it will help many women make one of the most important, life-changing decisions they can make!


Jessica McCarty said...

What has been hard for me is that my husband is not in agreement with the importance of me staying home. I have been home with my 2 year old since she was born and it has gotten harder and harder. My husband is unwilling to make any other sacrifices and wants me back to work now at a good paying job full-time! I've tried things from home and now have a position that will help a little but it's not good enough for him. It's very trying and stressful and incredibly hard on our marriage. He thinks our daughter will be fine at a babysitters and doesn't realize how hard it will be on us for me to work full-time. He will have to help around the house, I won't be able to do it all. I've been an emotional mess about this. I love being home, I thought once I was home that all would be good but it's a constant struggle.

Anonymous said...

Hi! First of all, thank you for this amazing blog, it's helped me so very much, and also for all the great comments, too!
I have been married for 30 years, stayed at home when my first Son was born, 27 years ago, and never again took another outside job.
My family consists of my husband, me, and our two Sons. By choosing to home birth our children, we were able to save many hospital and Dr. bills. We also home churched and home schooled all their lives. We live in a secluded area where we had a small garden and wild blueberries to eat. Homeschooling was done with different methods, but we basically let them choose what they were interested in learning by going to the library to choose books, which was free except for the gas, but I used that time to do other errands as well since we live so far away from everything. I shopped at discount stores and clearance stores. The boys shared their clothing, and they really didn't need much living the way we have, not like if they were going to school everyday and needed clothing for that. We drove used vehicles. I was willing to settle for very little material things, meaning that I learned to sew and made quilts and mended and re cycled old clothing. I made bread from scratch every other day and baked all the goodies. We would read stories at night for entertainment, and also watched movies. For exercise we walked the trails around our home. During the early years, I shopped Goodwill on the ten cent rack for everyone and that was just the way it was for us starting out. Now things have improved so that we can always have new things. While hubby worked I stayed home all day, almost every day and went to do errands only a couple of times a week to save on gas. By staying home and watching them grow up, I have realized the blessing of time and what is important and what is not. If I would have worked outside the home all those years of their childhood, never would I ever get those moments back. However, those moments will stay with me and my family forever in our hearts, and who can put a price tag on that?? So, if you can, stay at home with your children while they are yet children, because those special childhood moments will be gone in a blink of an eye. Hope this has helped someone, somewhere. God bless! Susan