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Budget Tips and Tricks from The Humbled Homemaker

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Author, latest, You Can Stay Home With Your Kids, (Harper Collins, 2018)

Founder of The Humbled Homemaker, a blog designed to equip and encourage mothers in the trenches; has received over 32 million visitors since it began

Married to Will

Four children

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Growing up, Erin succeeded at everything she tried. She was her high school valedictorian and awarded the “Most Outstanding Female Graduate” medal at her college graduation in 2003. “I was the president of more clubs and organizations than I can even remember, and I was on the editorial team of my college literary magazine and editor-in-chief of the newspaper,” shares Erin. “Success and achievement were my norm.”

Then in 2008, Erin gave birth to her first child, and she says nothing stretched her like motherhood. “Here I was–this former valedictorian-honor-graduate-overachiever-at-everything-in-life person…feeling pretty much just as weak as I had ever felt,” shares Erin. She desperately wanted to stay at home with her newborn as her own mother had done with her. However, her husband, Will, was in school and worked part-time at their church.  Their house had sunk underwater and wouldn’t sell so they were relying on Erin’s income and health insurance from her job. Erin had no choice but to return to full-time work when her daughter was six weeks old. She worked full-time outside the home until her daughter was six months old. When her daughter turned thirteen months old, Erin and her family moved across the country to the town in North Carolina where she had grown up. Her husband accepted a low-paying job as a high school Spanish teacher and they decided to stretch their pennies enough for Erin to be a stay-at-home mom. “At the time we didn’t even own a vehicle (my parents loaned us one of theirs), but we were determined to make it work,” shares Erin. They could barely make ends meet each month–a reality that eventually drove them to apply for temporary government aid. In 2012, they hit rock bottom and were forced to foreclose on their home and declare bankruptcy. By this time, their firstborn was more than three years old, they had a toddler and Erin was expecting their third child. She needed to return to full-time work, and Will needed to secure a higher paying job, or they needed to find some way for her to generate an income from their home. Erin had started The Humbled Homemaker as a hobby blog in 2011. She wrote about cloth diapers, natural remedies, and homemade cleaners. Three years ago, Erin’s blog post, Staying At Home With Your Kids When You Can Barely Afford It went viral. The post has been viewed by more than 1 million people and has been shared nearly 700,000 times. Erin says, “Eventually we were able to recover financially with the income generated from The Humbled Homemaker blog to buy a house and send our girls to the school of our choice.”

Erin is thankful that God has given her a platform to encourage more women than she could ever meet in person. To date, the blog has received over 32 million visitors. Erin felt God calling her to write while she was in college, but she did not want to be stuck behind a computer screen writing all day. Instead, Erin wanted to live in Latin America and use her Spanish to truly see the impact she was making for the Kingdom. Late one night in the student newspaper office she felt God say, “Erin you will reach more people through writing.” The words were not audible, but a distinct calling nonetheless. It would be a decade before God’s calling on her was fulfilled as she started her blog and wrote her first book. “Writing became a tool God used to rescue us from our cycle of low-income living, one blog post at a time.  In late 2016, Will resigned from his teaching job so we could both work on the blog full-time. Writing has become the conduit through which God is fulfilling His missionary calling on my life.” Erin and Will both realize it was not them -- but God who turned their financial situation around. “He was there – leading us, opening some doors and closing others, and teaching us to depend only on Him, every single step of the way,” shares Erin.    

In February 2017, Erin and Will added a wonderful surprise little boy to their family. “Motherhood has taken on a whole new journey with being a boy mom,” says Erin.

Maybe your dream is to stay at home with your kids or maybe you just want to learn how to stretch your money further than you ever imagined. In Erin’s latest book, You Can Stay Home With Your Kids, she gives tips and tricks she has used over the years to help anyone no matter the income level or season of financial well being.

Curb Spending – "You can usually live on a lot less money than you think, and living on less than you make will enable you to achieve greater dreams down the road because of the money you save in the process,” shares Erin. For Erin that dream was to be a stay-at-home mom. She offers the following suggestions to help you curb spending:

  • Set up a basic budget. Erin shares, “If I’ve used up all the grocery money by the 15th of every month, then I’ve got to get creative and feed the family from the pantry and freezer for the rest of the month. If gas is running low, I may have to say no to a play date and stay home instead.” They do not use credit cards. “We have no debt, and we have no interest in acquiring any. We simply cannot afford to get into debt!”
  • Take a financial planning class or check out financial planning books from your library.
  • Refrain from shopping, a pastime for many. Erin shops for food once a month, we do not go shopping except for items like used clothing and furniture. I grew up in a family of shoppers–and that’s okay. My mom, sister and even my dad see shopping as a hobby. I used to like to browse places like Ross, Kohls, etc. as well, but I do not now. Why? We simply do not have the money. If we were to just go browsing, I’d be tempted to buy things I do not need with money we do not have,” reveals Erin.
  • Set aside mad money, which can help with overspending because it gives you and your family a boundary.
  • Save for Christmas year round by designating a portion of your monthly budget to Christmas gifts.

Create More Income -  When Erin and Will decided to explore new ways to create more income, they investigated many options, but none of them added up to the significant income source which they needed. Erin eventually honed in on blogging, which has become her family’s main source of income. She and Will now run thehumbledhomemaker.com together. Erin’s suggestions for creating more income include:

  • Make and sell homemade items on websites like Etsy.com, craft shows and personal websites.
  • Utilize your skills by freelancing. Erin has a degree in journalism and Spanish. For several years she wrote for the local newspaper. She also brought in some money through blog advertisers.
  • Teach or tutor if you have knowledge or expertise in an area that others might find helpful. Before Erin’s second child was born, she would tutor a couple of homeschool kids in Spanish each week for extra income.
  • Manage social media for some of your favorite small business owners. Ask if they would be interested in you managing their Facebook page. Erin worked as a virtual assistant for other bloggers in the past and as a freelance editor of eBooks.
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