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Are you an aspiring stay at home mom looking to cut back on your expenses? Or maybe you are just interested in what a real life stay at home mom budget looks like.
Either way, I’ll be the first to tell you, it hasn’t always been easy.
Early in our marriage, we were downright freakin’ broke. Starting a family without any real money or a real career hasn’t always been easy.
There were so many months that I wondered how we were even going to make it to the next. It was a very real and very scary place.
But aside from not making a lot of money, we were also doing it all wrong. We were making BIG mistakes when it came to how we were handling our finances.
So what better way to than to share my best-kept budgeting secrets than to show you my real-life budget as a stay-at-home mom and how we make it work as a one-income family.
First Things First – Our Expenses
Here is what a typical month looks like for our family of 5. If there is one thing you should take away from living on one income it’s to plan for everything.
These days we have a pretty lean budget but it hasn’t always been this way. One major change that has happened in the last few years is that we do not have any debt.
Paying off all our debt has been a huge blessing to our finances and has made saving and planning for the future so much easier.
I am in no way suggesting that you copy my exact budget.
Everyone’s budgets are different depending on their family size, location, and priorities. This is just what works for our family and has been a great balance between living and saving. It’s always a work in progress.
To keep track of our expenses I have been using this free budget template from Every Dollar. I love it because of how simple it is to set up and use and you can access it from any mobile device. If you are looking for a great way to ease into budgeting or you just prefer a more basic style budget this is for you.
- Rent: $1,340 (Build your credit while paying your rent. Boom reports your rent payments to all 3 credit bureaus making it easy to build and increase your credit score without going into debt.)
- Electric & Gas: $120
- Wireless (2 smartphones): $173.86
- Entertainment: (Netflix & Disney +) $19.98
- Internet: $90.00
- Groceries: (This includes all food, household and toiletry items) $800.00
- Eating Out: $70.00
- Personal Spending (Fun Money) $80.00
- Auto Insurance: $84.69
- Gas (2 cars): $120.00
Savings (Electronic Cash Envelopes)
Saving for later is always a good idea but it is especially important when living on one income.
We personally liked to keep our savings in a bank account rather than pulling cash out every month and sticking it in an envelope.
If you have trouble saving or are not sure where to start I highly recommend using a banking provider like Albert. Albert analyzes your income and spending, finding extra dollars to save automatically. You can also earn up to 20% cash back on purchases and if you set up your direct deposit through them you are able to get your paycheck 2 days earlier.
Banking services like this can be incredibly beneficial while you are navigating single-income living.
Here is what we are putting in our electronic cash envelopes every month:
Celebrations: (this includes birthday’s, anniversaries, weddings etc) $100.00
Auto Repair/Maint. $100.00
Medical :Funded (see below)
Emergency Fund: Funded (see below)
House Fund: Varies (see below)
My Favorite Budgeting Tips For Saving On The BIG Things
Housing is one of those choices that can be super controversial. Between how much of your income should go towards housing as well as if paying a mortgage is actually cheaper than renting. There are so many opinions out there.
Early on we made a decision that we were not going to own a home as long as we were a one-income family. This decision might sound crazy to some but owning a home is expensive!
Aside from the large downpayment needed to purchase a home the cost to maintain one can become just as expensive.
The month after we moved into our current rental there was a busted water line in the attic. Water filled the ceiling in one of the bathrooms which not only caused extensive water damage but mold. The entire ceiling and surrounding walls had to be torn out.
It was such a nightmare.
I couldn’t imagine having to fork out money for all of that. Instances like that are one major reason why we have opted out of buying a home on one income
Outside of rent, food is definitely our next biggest expense. It’s no secret that food (or really anything for that matter) isn’t cheap in California. But thankfully not all of the $800 goes solely towards food.
Anything that is needed to run the household for the month is included in this budget mainly because more often than not they are purchased at the same time and place.
In our grocery budget we include:
All Food except for take out (we have a separate budget for that)
Household items (Laundry detergent, cleaning products, etc)
Toiletry items (Shampoo, toilet paper, etc)
We don’t always use every single penny out of our grocery budget for the month. Because I keep a basic stockpile of our every day necessities I don’t always need to purchase the same items every single week or month.
And if you are looking for some extra quick ways to cut your grocery bill fast this app has helped me save more than $100 a month.
Personal Spending (Fun Money)
Personal spending aka fun money is a category that most people tend to forget about or try to cut out completely.
But let me tell you, it’s important!
If you never allow for a little bit of personal money for you and your spouse to use as you wish every month you will get burnt out quick!
We don’t delegate a lot of towards this every month and primarily that’s because we are trying to reach a bunch of financial goals. But that’s not to say that there aren’t months where we do add more for our personal spending. It’s all about balance.
Whether you are budgeting $60 a month, or $10 a month will depend on what matters to YOU!
How We Save (Our Electronic Cash Envelopes)
Having money tucked away isn’t always about preparing for the worst.
I mean, it is but it isn’t. Hear me out.
Having an emergency fund for those life changing events such as a crippling illness or loss of a job is a M-U-S-T.
But what about the everyday things like Christmas, birthdays, weddings and car troubles? Those are the very things that get most people in trouble with their budget.
It did for us too.
Being prepared for day to day life is so important as a one income family. Even the smallest of things can but a damper on your budget and if there is one thing that you take away from this post, save for everything.
What Exactly Do I Need To Save For?
I created electronic cash envelopes for the things I know I will need to spend money on eventually. These are the things that are going to cost you a nice chunk of change down the road.
Instead of waiting for a crisis to happen I simply put money away for it on a continuous basis as if it was my phone bill. I can’t stress enough how important it is to pay yourself.
The first time I created a separate savings outside of my emergency fund was for Christmas. At the time we could only afford to throw $50 a month towards it because we were paying off our debt. I remember thinking how dumb it was that we were only able to put $50 dollars a month towards it. How much is of a difference is $50 really going to make?
But let me tell you, that $600 was so nice to have when Christmas came around. There was no absolutely no stress about how we were going to pay for Christmas because we already had the money. I can’t begin to tell you how freeing it is to be prepared for all the little things even if it feels dumb saving for Christmas in January.
In addition to an emergency fund here are some of the heftier expenses most families tend to have. Setting up separate savings accounts (or even cash) for these items will ease the burden of having to budget for them as they come up.
Celebrations -Birthday/Wedding/Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/Graduation/Anniversary
Living on a budget is so important (especially when you are a one income family) but more important than that is to be be prepared for all the things (big and small) to come! It’s so easy to get hung up on the dollar amount and I know it can feel ridiculous or pointless to only be putting $10 a month towards something that you know will end up costing you so much more. But trust me when I say, it will be so worth it!