I meant to write this post awhile back, like back when it happened, but then the baby arrived and then the no sleep thing set in and then the lack of being good at balancing it all came into play. And then, wouldn’t you know it, a chunk of time had passed and this post was still on my list of things to do that just didn’t get done… Until now;)
Back at the end of October, before the baby arrived, I was able to leave my job at the state that I had for 8 years. It was a big decision for us and it was bittersweet too. I worked for a Judge that I had/have a lot of respect for and I really admire him.
When I became pregnant I started researching my options about what to do when the baby arrived. Normally, I would’ve just taken my three-month maternity leave and been back to work full-time probably putting the baby in daycare. But, since I made the switch to a part-time employee for the last year and a half at my position I wasn’t protected by the state’s Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that full-time employees benefit from. For those of you who aren’t familiar with FMLA it essentially protects your job for you so that you can go have a baby (or deal with another family issue), have time off after the birth, and still have your job when you return. FMLA protects your job. Of course, there are other details about how it works but that’s a quick, truncated version of it.
Since I wouldn’t have the option of taking maternity leave we had to decide if I would take my vacation days plus medical leave which would only add up to about 3 to 4 weeks. If 3 to 4 weeks wasn’t enough time we’d have to come up with another plan. I had a feeling that 3-4 weeks wouldn’t be enough time and I’m glad I stuck to that hunch because I didn’t start feeling like myself again until closer to 10 weeks postpartum.
We decided that even though it would be a stretch financially and that we would be stepping out of our financial safe zone that I would quit my job with the state and that we would re-assess the situation when the baby got to be closer to 3 months. I figured I could always apply for a different position with the state, if needed, and go back full-time.
Since we were going down to an official “one-income” family it meant that we had to re-evaluate all of our expenses and all of our income streams. So that’s what we did.
Time to Evaluate
We do have our wedding photography business and that has become even more important to our family as a means of survival and income. I also do freelance writing for Babble and they give bonuses if you have a certain number of visitors and that really helps out (that’s why I do those compilation posts of my favorite Babble posts from the month. I need your help in getting the bonuses so we can eat! You know, no biggie;) I also am a Staff Writer for Wise Bread but I’ve had a little bit of a dry spell over there. This blog does generate a small amount of money through Google Ads and sometimes I will do sponsored posts (I try to only work with brands and products that are a good fit with the site’s message). I’m trying to make it all work; I’m trying to find that elusive “right” mix of everything. Sometimes it all comes together better than other times and I always try to take what works and leave the rest. Because really, what other option is there?
Since I evaluated all of the income streams I also had to look at what money was going out. On the chopping block were the ol’ cell phone data plan and gym membership. I did some research and found a pre-pay plan that was somehow $30 less a month then what I was currently paying AND it offered more. What the –?! So I called up my phone company (Verizon) and politely told them that I wanted to have the plan that was $30 less a month. I mean, duh. They told me that I had one month left on my contract so I was all set to call back in a month and just get the lower plan. Then, miraculously, they were able to access a “loyalty plan” and give me the lower price if I was just willing to extend my contract. I am happy with the coverage and service and know that I would most likely be sticking with that company anyway so I decided to go for it. Just like that, $30 saved!
(For a limited time get a single line smartphone plan for $45 monthly access with 1GB of data on Verizon Edge. Unlimited talk and text.)
(Oh, and this doesn’t really go with the story but I have to tell you, I traded in my old iPhone4s and they gave me $299 credit for it. I was then able to get the new iPhone 5s for free. Might be something worth looking into if you are looking to upgrade. I wouldn’t have upgraded if it was going to cost me anything but since it was free I didn’t pass it up!).
Next, I called my gym. I asked to talk with the membership coordinator since they would be the one with the string-pulling power and I explained how I wouldn’t be able to go to the gym consistently for a while. I asked if they could work with me on the monthly membership price. They said they could give me $20 off per month.
For 10 minutes worth of phone calls I was able to cut out $50 a month in expenses! That adds up too. Over a year, that will be $600 saved for a couple of minutes of work.
Having this experience reminds me how important it is to regularly evaluate what income is coming in and what expenses are going out. It’s so easy to get in a routine of just paying for what you’re paying when really, you might be leaving money on the table. Let’s not leave money on the table!;)
Also, this experience makes me even more grateful that I took action with deciding to do the Spending Fast, suffered through it, and got out of debt. If I still had that $23,605.10 in debt (I don’t even want to think about how much more it would’ve been at this point with interest and accruing even more debt) I wouldn’t have the freedom to even consider staying home with the baby and piecing together the different freelance incomes. I am so grateful that I have that choice today.
When was the last time you evaluated your expenses? Is it time for another look? What would your life look like if you didn’t have debt and would you make different choices if you were debt-free?
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Congratulations on making a choice that fits with where you are in your life now. That is often a challenge but living an authentic life seems like it is always worth it in the long run.
I am at the other end of the life spectrum and decided on taking an early semi- retirement and explore aspects of life long put aside. This is very challenging financially and I continue to need to consider my income/expenses regularly. It can trigger a lot of anxiety, but i just keep at it.
One change I am working on is to eliminate my storage space. I spend $60/month and need that money at this point. I can’t get rid of much that is there, but I will need to find a way to store it at home.
Again, congratulations and enjoy this exciting chapter!
Hi Jane, It is so worth it to make some sacrifices and thank you for the congrats! That’s great that you’re looking to get rid of your storage space. We got rid of ours and I never looked back! Good luck!
Wow! It’s incredible just how much you were able to save just by asking. My husband and I sat down for the first time in a while last night to look at our expenses and (like many of the population) we went from saving big for our wedding to now spending way more than we make each month. It’s definitely time for us to re-evaluate our priorities and pull back where appropriate (which is going to be in many places). Thanks for the tips.
Also, it’s crazy cool that you were able to get a phone upgrade just by turning your old phone in!
I know! I was shocked too!
That’s great that you had THE TALK with your husband. It’s amazing how just reviewing expenses can save boatloads of money each month.
Thank you for sharing this!! Right now, we’r’e on a one-income family situation, pending my husband receiving a green card (which cost $1500 to apply for and takes up to a year to go through!!!), and your tips and stories are really helpful in our process of buckling down on a budget and spending fast.
I’ve cut out the $60/month gym near my office, for a $15 a month membership for a BRAND NEW gym that opened up right by my home! (Check out Blink Gym – you get unlimited guest passes as well so your spouse can go too and you basically get two gym memberships to a brand new facility for $15).
Hi Dani, Hang in there with that green card process! I’ve heard it can be really tedious and trying! I’m also going to check out that Blink Gym. I wonder if they have any in Colorado? What a cute name for a gym :)
We are lucky in that we are pretending to be a one income family, and using our second income to pay off our house. I love knowing that if we had to live on one income we totally could. It is so easy to get used to how much money you have and think you will always need that much.
I read somewhere that gym membership prices are ALWAYS negotiable. Which totally blew my mind I assumed they were set prices. You just proved it right though!
You are so smart to be living as a 1-income family even though you’ve got two! What a wise, wise way to live. My goodness!
I hadn’t heard that before about the gym membership prices being negotiable. That’s cool! I’m still shocked at how easily they knocked the price down. Made me wish I had asked earlier!;)
CONGRATS! I was laid off in January so I decided to turn into a unemployment opportunity and work on my own business. I also went through a similar expense-cutting, here’s what I did.
> Cut out cable, bought antenna for basic channels. Also bought a router for the internet ($20) so I didn’t have to pay TWC’s ridiculous $6/mo rental fee.
> Cancelled $50/mo gym membership, bought an elliptical on Amazon for $200
> Changed car insurance. Went from $85/month to $55/month
> Quit smoking (my biggest money and life saver)
> Started making my afternoon iced coffee at home
That’s so awesome that you turned a possible negative situation into a positive one. Love all the changes you made too! And MAJOR Congrats on quitting smoking!
Congratulations! How gratifying that getting out of debt allowed you this amazing opportunity! My partner and I recently started a business and decided to go down to one salary to allow him to focus on our business full time. It is definitely a HUGE transition to lose an income! But it has been so satisfying to follow our dream.
You have been a real inspiration to me. Those weeks when the bills are paid, but there isn’t much money left for the grocery store – I think back to the beginning days of your blog and think “if she could eat all the old cans of food in her pantry, so can we!”. So thank you for your continued honesty and encouragement.
I commented on your post about laundry pods and expressed disappointment in your choice to promote them. I just wanted to thank you for your thoughtful response and let you know that I do understand your need to support yourself via sponsors and it in no way takes away from my love of your blog or what you are doing here. I truly believe you have done an incredible thing by helping people rethink their spending and realize that living in debt forever doesn’t have to be the only way to get by.
Yes, it is SO satisfying to have your hard work and sacrifices pay off. I’m so glad you and your partner have been able to take the leap too!
I’m so glad this blog has been inspiring for you and thanks for your comment on the laundry pod post. :)
ANNA! I’m so stoked for you. I quit my job too (in December) so I could stay home with my little guy and STILL haven’t blogged about it. Good for you! We are operating on half of our income but I also do freelance illustration. I’ll be checking your blog more than ever for $$ saving tips. Congrats to ya!
Hi Sarah, Thanks for the congrats and I’m so happy you’ve been able to stay home too! If you figure out any tips I’d love to hear about them!
Congrats! That’s so exciting. And such a good reminder that just asking for discounts can result in a better rate.
i’ve been a silent reader (lurker?) for a while now and i just wanted to say that i think it’s fantastic that you’re staying home with that sweet baby. definitely a goal of mine–thanks for the inspiration, always, to pay off my debt!
Thanks for commenting, Kat. There are a few blogs that I lurk on too so I’m there with ya;) So glad you’ve found inspiration here!
CONGRATS! THIS IS HUGE!!!!! If you ever want to chat or talk about biz stuff, let me know. Happy to help however I can! :)
Thanks J! I just might have to take you up on that too!
Happy to hear you’re all making it work! It’s so gratifying when making the hard choices finally pays off.
Way to go, Anna! And what a sweet baby!
I did a similar evaluation recently, when we experienced a decrease in income. I canceled cable and bought an antenna (kept Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming, added HuluPlus) (savings of about $70/month); found MUCH better car insurance (Geico), modified homeowners’ insurance, canceled umbrella policy (savings of about $140/month); stayed with T-Mobile but got a better/cheaper plan (savings of about $35/month); changed internet providers (savings of $30/month); began DIYing all gifts; began eating at home more with fewer processed foods; and will attempt to do our own taxes. I regret nothing! :) What surprises me most is how little I miss cable TV. It makes me want to cut more and more expenses…to see how far I can go.
I did the Hulu Plus trial and wasn’t very happy with the selection. I felt like maybe I was missing something with it since I know a lot of people who really like it.
You’ve given me some great ideas too! ;)
Way to go on finding easy cuts. :-) And congrats on making a strong decision. We definitely spend more than we need to, but it’s also consciously. We’re waiting a year or so to switch to a cheaper mobile plan since the cancellation fees will be low enough then to be covered by the new company. We’re also looking into cutting cable despite the fact that it does make having roommates easier…
I bet it does!
Way to just make some phone calls and save that cash! I tried to cancel my internet a few months ago when I moved – I’d had a wireless hotspot since I was so nomadic, but it just wasn’t worth it staying in once spot and they dropped my monthly payment from $50 to $25 for 3 months. So I’ll call back and cancel after that time frame.
LOVE IT! Lindy (formerly of mintingnickles) highly recommended your blog. So glad I checked it out!