When we decided (before children) that I would be a stay at home mom, we realized that we needed to discuss in depth what mattered most to us. We needed to assess our current situation (me in college and Tyler working and in college) and determine how to re-prioritize before children entered the picture.
We were already accustomed to living on one source of income and even though Tyler's pay at the time was gross of about $27,000 (if we were to have a baby at that time we would have been about $500 above the poverty level), we were confident that God would provide for our every need.
At the time I had a terrible habit of spending ridiculous amounts of money on organic groceries - yes I believe in investing in our health but this was even "junk" food. Organic cookies? So not a priority OR healthy! I was seriously spending about $300 - $350 every two weeks! AH!!!!
Clearly I had to re-prioritize.
God provided Tyler with an amazing job, but he had to stop college (for now). This meant that we had to leave family housing but to rent an apartment was going to be a minimum of $200 more than family housing! We would also have to pay for more utilities with a regular apartment. Thank God our frugal bones started to awaken and me and Tyler decided to accept my parents offer to live RENT FREE in their camper! We only paid about $40 per month living in the camper! The $40 paid for a little electricity, a bit of water and propane.
Making the choice to live in my parent's camper in their backyard was the best financial decision we have ever made. We truly started to budget, pay off our vehicle with fervor and we learned about living within our means. Because of our re-prioritizing we were able to purchase a home that is 25% of our monthly income and in a location we love. We have a reasonable and realistic goal of paying this house off in 15 years since we chose a more simple (yet lovely) home.
Re-prioritizing was the first essential step to being able to afford being a stay at home mom.