How We’re Reaching Financial Freedom On One Income – Mom’s Income.

[Hey guys! Liz, the Chief Mom Officer stops by the blog today to share her journey to financial freedom as the sole breadwinner of her family of 5. If you don’t feel empowered after reading this, I’m shutting down the blog!! (Okay, no I won’t, but I will wonder what’s wrong with you… ;)) Enjoy!]


Many people think it’s impossible for a family to just live on one income nowadays. In fact, 60% of families are dual income, with both mom and dad working outside the home, while back in 1960, 70% of families had only the dad working outside the home.

My family is different – we’re in the 6% of families where only the mom works outside the house. And we’re not just living on one income. No, we’re on FIRE in a big way, saving and investing more than half my income and working toward financial independence in my early 40’s.

We’re a “traditional” family, but in reverse. I’m the breadwinner who heads to work in corporate IT while my husband stays home caring for the kids, cooking, cleaning, and running errands :) I support my family of five humans – me, my husband, and three boys ages 13, 9, and 2 – the dog, and the cat.

How did we end up like this? How do you pursue FIRE on one mom’s income? Let me show you…

How It Happened

When my husband and I first got married over 15 years ago, we were both blissfully ignorant and naive.  I fully expected we would both work forever and earn roughly the same amount. I was 21 years old working full time in a call center, putting myself through full-time college debt free, and my husband worked full time in a factory. We didn’t make a lot – roughly $25k each – but it was enough to get us by.

Our oldest son was born a few years later, and I had gotten a better job paying $35k per year in corporate IT. We originally shopped around for daycares, but had to look at different paths once we realized we couldn’t afford it on our salaries. At first, my husband switched to the third shift at the factory, but that took a huge physical toll on him (working overnight is rough!). I then got a decent raise at work, and we calculated that my husband could leave the factory job and take a well-paying part time night/weekend gig turning apartments into condos. So he did, but after a year and a half the work dried up and he went back to the factory to work the second shift (evenings instead of overnight).

I would work 6 AM until 3 PM, come home, then my husband would immediately go to work from 4 PM – 12:30 AM. We saved and invested for retirement and college, eventually selling our condo and buying a house.  Our middle son was then born in 2007, and we were getting by OK. The downside of this schedule, of course, is only seeing each other on the weekends. Life continued on this path for a few years until the Great Recession.

Then things became difficult. My husband’s factory closed down, and factory work where we live was impossible to find. We didn’t know it then, but my husband would never work another full time job again. Although the job loss wasn’t ideal, we were able to figure things out.  I was in an MBA program and could go to classes on nights and weekends while working full time, and we still managed to pay our bills while saving and investing. Though it was definitely a struggle, and at times we took on some debt.

Finding a job in the depths of the Great Recession that would (1) allow us to continue having someone at home all the time or (2) pay enough to cover daycare expenses proved impossible.

Then, the unthinkable happened. When my husband was 37, five years ago, he almost died of septic shock.

Overnight, his unemployment evaporated. Working became impossible. It took about four months for him to recover enough drive a car, let alone care for our boys again, so we pulled the youngest out of preschool and enrolled him into daycare full-time. We stopped all savings and investments, and had to get by on less income to free up more money to pay for the extra $1k/month in daycare costs, plus all the new medical expenses now.

chief mom officer dad son

That event was our financial turning point. It was then that I realized we could live just fine on my income, and eventually thrive off it. We figured out how to cut all expenses to the bone, eventually getting used to – and enjoying! – our new normal.

Debt, even “good” debt or “small” debt, kills you when things go wrong. I had vowed to get rid of all our debt and achieve financial freedom once and for all. I got extremely aggressive about freeing up cash flow, and within 18 months we terminated the remaining $33k from our car and MBA loans.

That was three and a half years ago now, and ever since we’ve lived on only my income. We use more than half of it to save, invest, and pay down our mortgage. My financial goals now are to be mortgage free by the end of 2019, fully fund my three boys college compact, and achieve financial independence in my early 40’s.

How We Thrive On Mom’s Income

In my real life, I don’t know any other moms that work full time supporting their family while their husband is a stay at home dad. And I don’t know anyone for that matter who’s pursuing FIRE, even on two incomes, and especially not people saving/investing over half their incomes.

Here are five keys on how we’re able to do it:

#1. Artificial Environment of Economic Scarcity

I don’t budget (gasp! Horror!) except when I was aggressively paying down debt. Instead, I automatically save and invest to reach my financial goals, and then I spend the rest on whatever’s needed for the month.

Dr. Thomas Stanley in The Millionaire Next Door refers to it as creating an “artificial environment of economic scarcity.” Since I don’t have money in my checking account, it’s not there to spend. I took out a 15-year mortgage specifically to force myself into higher payments. I automatically save/invest for college, retirement, and mortgage freedom. And then I only spend what’s left over after I’ve put aside what I need for my goals.

#2. Income Inflation, and Lifestyle Deflation

Back in crisis mode, I deflated our lifestyle while increasing our income. As they say in the London Underground, “Mind the Gap” – I take that to be the gap between income and spending.

During our financial turning point, I eliminated tons of expenses that have never returned to our life. We sold things, ended subscriptions, lowered our fixed costs, and have kept them low. I happily pay $4 for my Ooma phone instead of the $50 I was paying before, and then $25 for Netflix and HBO subscriptions instead of whatever ridiculous amount cable costs nowadays. I shop at warehouse clubs for all our groceries and household goods, and shop around for car and home insurance every year. We go on camping vacations and road trips and have a blast – no expensive day trips or vacations.  While my coworkers shop for second homes, we go to the park to play.

As for the income inflation side? Well, I finished that MBA about four years ago, and combined with my career strategy, my income has increased by over $40k since. Now over half of every dollar I earn goes straight to buying freedom. I’m no longer willing to work for “stuff” – I work for myself and my family.

#3. Frugal Fun

My co-workers on two incomes have new homes, second homes, new cars, expensive vacations, home remodels, expensive weekend trips, and so on. We live in the house we bought 11 years ago when we only had one kid (we’re now up to three).

We do fun things like spending $11 on day trips (thanks to Groupon, used book stores, and free museums), go to free hot air balloon festivals with homemade muffins, and we even host “Chopped Championships” with food we have around the house. The library is our friend, giving us free books, movies, and even a 3D printer! Free and nearly free activities consume our spare time, and we have inexpensive hobbies. Think kids need to be expensive? They’re only as expensive as you let them be.

#4. Not Caring What Others Think

People may find our lifestyle weird, strange even. A married couple with three kids living on mom’s income while dad stays home? Pretty rare. On top of that, living well below your means results in living very differently than folks used to the lifestyle inflation that two incomes typically bring. I don’t really care what other people think of our family arrangement, though, nor our frugal life or pursuit of FIRE. We’re doing what works for us!

#5. Crystal Clear Priorities

There’s nothing like a near death experience to clarify the priorities in your life.  Buying stuff? Going into debt for a car? Using raises and bonuses to go on fancy vacations or second homes?

Hell no.

Using money to buy mortgage freedom, college funding, and financial independence?

Hell yes.

Moms On FIRE

I started my site specifically to cater to other moms like myself – interested in personal finance and investing, financial independence, family breadwinners, and/or high income earners.

I’ve been fortunate to meet other amazing moms, virtually, who are also the breadwinners of their households in all kinds of different ways. Some are the higher income earners of a two-income family, others go to work while their spouse stays at home, women millionaires, moms working to support their family and their own parents at the same time, and women interested in all the fun details of personal finance and investing (and not so much in extreme couponing).

We may still be uncommon, but we’re a growing force in the world.

To other women out there, I say this: whether you’re the breadwinner, earning a high income, a single mom, in debt, a millionaire, or anything else – you too can set yourself on FIRE!

Whatever’s happened in your life, you can overcome it and achieve your wildest dreams. Get clear on your priorities, stop caring what others think, and live your life the way you want!

Liz writes over at Chief Mom Officer, a site dedicated to helping other moms with money, work, and frugal family life. Every Wednesday she publishes a new interview with a breadwinning, six figure, and/or millionaire mom. Connect with her over on Twitter or Instagram!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Speaking of FIRE, check out this in-depth article on the originals of the FIRE movement. It spans over 800 years, did you know that??? (For those new to the scene, FIRE = Financial independence, Retire Early)

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  1. Mustard Seed Money May 26, 2017 at 6:02 AM

    Awesome post Liz!!! I can’t even imagine the roller coaster of emotions I would have felt if my spouse was battling for their life in the hospital. It is clear that you are incredibly mentally strong and no doubt that you will be reaching FIRE exactly when you intend!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 6:49 AM

      Thanks MSM! It was rough but when you’re faced with that kind of situation-you just do what you gotta do! Sitting back and feeling sorry for myself, or complaining about how hard things are, would get me exactly no where. Gotta get up when you get knocked down, and just keep going!

  2. The Giving Budget May 26, 2017 at 6:28 AM

    Well, you were right I feel inspired! Liz amazing job with pushing through some tough obstacles to come out ahead! I personally think its cool that you are the breadwinner and your husband can stay home with the kids.

    Having frugal vacations, in my opinion, are the best anyway! Who wants to spend so much on a vacation that you end up working more just to pay it off?

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 6:47 AM

      Thanks! I’m so with you on the vacations, you can have a great time without spending a lot of $$$. I have a friend who went to Disney and Universal Studios (quite a flight from CT) and took out a loan that he’s still paying off…two years later

  3. Nicole @ Budget Like a Lady May 26, 2017 at 6:50 AM

    Liz just fueled my FIRE! Like you, I too am in a high paying, six figure job and frugal. I’m not the breadwinner but my family can definitely be more frugal.

    Thanks for sharing your story! So motivating!

  4. Mrs. Groovy May 26, 2017 at 7:30 AM

    Talk about wake-up calls, Liz. I don’t know anyone who’s been through what you’ve been through, and come out the other side stronger, smarter, and willing to share the experience to help others. As Dave Ramsey says, you’re a hero.I’m inspired!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 8:18 AM

      Thanks Mrs. Groovy. I always wanted something good to come out of this whole situation-so I’m hoping that sharing my story can help other people who might be facing some kind of adversity. When bad things happen, you can either shut down, or you can get back up and move forward.

  5. Dave May 26, 2017 at 7:32 AM

    That was truly an inspirational story. You have proved that a family can thrive on one salary. I related to working hard for low pay in your 20’s to put yourself threw college and be debt free. My wife and I both took that approach to college. Most importantly, I hope your husband is well.

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 8:35 AM

      Great to virtually “meet” someone that went down the same college path! I don’t know many in my real life. And my husband is doing pretty well now-things will never be the same, but they’re much better than when he was first recovering.

  6. Miss Mazuma May 26, 2017 at 7:48 AM

    Liz, your story always touches me. People find out how strong and resilient they are in the face of adversity…you, my friend, are a rock. :)

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 8:42 AM

      Thanks Miss Mazuma-if you asked me before all this happened I would have said “I could never do that.” I’ve had people tell me that, too. But I learned you’re stronger than you might think.

  7. Laurie May 26, 2017 at 8:10 AM

    What an inspiring post! I’m so glad you got to share your story on Budgets Are Sexy! Way to go Liz!!

  8. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance May 26, 2017 at 8:16 AM

    Hi Liz, I started to follow your blog recently, and I’m very inspired by your hard work and creativity. There have been so many ups and downs, but you still come out strong. I’m so glad you and your husband are on the same board on your decisions. Wish you all the best! :)

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 2:22 PM

      I’ve been really enjoying talking to you over on my site-glad to see you stopping by here!

  9. Owen @ PlanEasy May 26, 2017 at 8:21 AM

    Thats awesome Liz. I’m also a pay yourself first kind of budgeter. I like to think of it as “reverse budgeting”. Start by saving, cover fixed expenses, and then spend whatevers left over. It creates a bit of tension in your discretionary spending, especially when you have an aggressive savings target. That artificial scarcity make it easy to prioritize the spending that really matters to you.

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 2:23 PM

      Yes it’s my favorite method. I’ve used hard core budgeting before-and it works great-but I find this method easier and more sustainable in the long run.

  10. Budget on a Stick May 26, 2017 at 8:35 AM

    I love the 5 keys! As I’m reading them all i could think was, “that’s exactly what we did and didn’t even realize it.”

    Not only did we do number 1, we did it in an extreme by accidentally messing up our w-4 and had the government taking out way too much of our taxes.

    Also, i haven’t cared what people think since college so that was the easy one. ;)

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 2:25 PM

      Glad you could empathize with the five keys! Accidental scarcity is awesome- “surprise! Extra money!”

  11. The Savvy Couple May 26, 2017 at 8:46 AM

    Love it! We try and do the same thing. Some awesome pointers to remember when trying to live on one income.

  12. FullTimeFinance May 26, 2017 at 8:58 AM

    We also do the auto savings type of cost control. We’ve been a single income family for only a short while and that’s coming to an end. I can confirm it’s perfectly doable if you control your spending and work at it. In fact I’d dare say that’s allowed me to up my pay more hen if we were both full time. My wife is about to go back to work as a contractor though. That’s less about money and more about a desire to work.

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:28 PM

      I can totally empathize with your wife-even if I won the lottery I would still want to work. Staying at home isn’t for me. Luckily my husband is great at it!

  13. Mrs. Picky Pincher May 26, 2017 at 9:03 AM

    Go you!!! There’s nothing wrong with a breadwinning mom or a stay-at-home dad. I love that this is becoming more common and accepted. As long as everyone is fed and alive, who cares who brings in the money?

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:30 PM

      Thanks exactly how I feel! It should be just as acceptable as a dad going off to work and a mom staying at home. Or two parents working. Or a single parent. It’s all about figuring out what kind of arrangement works for your family!

  14. Mrs. Adventure Rich May 26, 2017 at 9:16 AM

    What an amazing story! I am very impressed by the approach you and your husband took… looking at the situations at hand and creating a bright future together despite some crazy set-backs or curve-balls. Mr. Adventure Rich and I are early in our marriage (4 years this October) and it is helpful to hear stories of couples who approach life with teamwork, partnership and love throughout. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:33 PM

      Thanks so much! It’s interesting to me just how complicated life can be. But you can let it knock you down, or you can keep trying to get back up again. And when you’re with someone else you need to work together-for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, as they say.

  15. Lisa O May 26, 2017 at 9:25 AM

    Girl Power at its Best! I think doing what is best for the family is the key. You & your husband have a united front and that is so important when raising kids.

    I think #4 is great…. “Not Caring What Other Think”…..because it is hard to do! This age of money and material things determine a worth of a person is just soooo wrong!

    Enjoy your life… it your way.

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:35 PM

      It can be hard! But it’s so key to living the life you really want to live, instead of a life chosen by someone else. After all, we likely all have different hopes, goals, and dreams-we shouldn’t let what others think stand in our way!

  16. ZJ Thorne May 26, 2017 at 9:29 AM

    Frugal families who are healthy and loved are EVERYTHING! Well done on living the life you value.

  17. Brian May 26, 2017 at 9:31 AM

    Thanks for sharing Liz! So wish you didn’t have to go through what you did to get on this path, but glad to know you’re on it now. Continued success to you and the family!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:38 PM

      Thanks Brian! The way I figure it, bad things happen to lots of us. The only thing we can do when they happen is to move on, and do our best to use the situation to help others if we can. That’s what I hope I can do.

  18. Dads Dollars Debts May 26, 2017 at 9:45 AM

    You go Liz! Not caring what others think is a tough one, particularly when those others arrce your parents and siblings. Still this is great. Finding ways to get on Fire rocks. We are one income too, but luckily I am a high earner which affords me the ability to make some mistakes.

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:40 PM

      Luckily my immediate family is frugal and spends wisely. Not my husbands though, and that’s caused some issues over time. Luckily I’ve had almost 20 years now to convert him to the “dark side”-and he’s been totally on board for a long time now. Well, except for occasional video game and action figure purchases :)

  19. Joe May 26, 2017 at 10:18 AM

    Thanks for sharing your story. It’s great to see that your family can thrive on one income. Your husband’s health problem sound really scary back then, but sometime it takes that kind of thing to get us out of our routine. You’re doing really well.

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:42 PM

      Thanks Joe! I’ve been a fan of your site for years, so I’m really happy you stopped by to leave a comment. :) These kinds of things definitely change your life. Hopefully for the better in the long run.

  20. The Luxe Strategist May 26, 2017 at 11:30 AM

    I think your life seems pretty great! I don’t have kids, but I was once one, and I agree that they don’t cost nearly as much as people think they do. We just live in a culture of “stuff” now, where people feel that’s necessary to keep up.

    My mom was also the breadwinner in the family, and before my dad stopped working, they’d trade shifts at the factories. That made a HUGE difference in terms of childcare costs that many white-collar workers can’t avoid.

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:45 PM

      Love that your mom was the breadwinner! It’s still not very common, but was even less common in the past. At least now we can get to know other women online who are going through similar situations.

  21. Chelsea @ Mama Fish Saves May 26, 2017 at 1:35 PM

    Awesome post, Liz! It was so great to get to meet your family on your roadtrip through Boston and connect with another breadwinning mom family pursuing FIRE. You rock!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:48 PM

      No, you rock Chelsea! :) You’re doing amazing, and I loved meeting you & your family last month. It was awesome to meet someone who’s also a breadwinning mom on FIRE!

      1. J. Money May 28, 2017 at 2:26 PM

        I wanna meet up with you guys!!! FINCON, please? :)

  22. The Tepid Tamale May 26, 2017 at 2:01 PM

    Thanks Liz! We are like the sex opposite of you. Wait, let me explain! I am the only income as the father, and I have all daughters, vs. your sons! But, everything else is the same. We are still able to live awesome, fun lives and also save/invest! As you say, kids are not the end. There are definitely costs with kids, but you can’t let that be an excuse that keeps you from saving. As you have shown, you can definitely do it!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:49 PM

      Awesome to meet a gender reversed family in the same situation! :) I figure that maybe I’ll have granddaughters one day to make up for the lack of girls in my house. Even the cat and dog are boys here. Lol.

  23. Stockbeard May 26, 2017 at 3:23 PM

    Thanks for the inspirational article! I am myself the only income of our household, but did not experience the hardship you had to go through!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:51 PM

      Thanks Stockbeard-very glad to hear you found it inspirational. Have a great weekend!

  24. Friendly Russian May 26, 2017 at 3:42 PM

    Everyone of us had a turning point a lesson that changes our lives. And nobody says it’s easy but it worth it. Every day of living freedom is priceless. Thanks for your post

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer May 26, 2017 at 3:52 PM

      So true! Life isn’t easy. Everyone has different challenges, some worse than others. But every day we’re still here is valuable.

  25. Dee May 26, 2017 at 4:40 PM

    HI Liz,
    Just had to say, I was the breadwinner while my husband stayed home with the kids and we did this in the mid-80’s into the 90s! Dave found two other “house daddies” in our town and they formed a support group/play group. I am happy to say we were able to put both our kids through college debt-free and paid off our 15 year mortgage at the same time. All of your ideas are awesome and we used many of them. Kudos to you all!

    1. J. Money May 28, 2017 at 2:27 PM

      Love it :)

    2. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer June 2, 2017 at 7:07 PM

      That’s great news Dee! It’s great to meet one of the women that helped pave the way for other families like mine to not just survive, but thrive. Glad I’m not alone!

  26. Betty May 26, 2017 at 4:59 PM

    Thanks Liz! Your story is inspiring! I definitely relate. I’m the breadwinner in my family and my husband hasn’t been employed since a traumatic car accident in 2005 left him with severe back problems and resultant surgeries every few years. Luckily, he gets around pretty well for what he’s been through but it made more sense to us as a family for him to stay home with our children and manage the household. It alleviates some of the complications that might come up in the workplace like needing to sit, stand or move around much of the time. And since I’ve had several job promotions in the meantime that fill the gap, it fits us well.

    I’m with you….I don’t know anybody else in my situation. But now I’ve read about you and know there are more of us out there! I’m definitely FIRE’d up and have my date in set. No consumer debt, affordable house, strive to sock away more and more in savings each year, etc. Your story hit a chord with me and I really look forward to reading more!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer June 2, 2017 at 7:09 PM

      That’s awesome Betty! I hear you about medical conditions playing a big role in making the decision. My husband also has had to have surgeries & other complications over the years, which makes working difficult. Sounds like you’re doing great-keep it up!

  27. Logica @ The Land of Logic May 26, 2017 at 8:01 PM

    Thanks for sharing your story. Over the years I became the main breadwinner due to some health issues my husband had. He’s back to work part time now but we try to save his income when possible. We are helping out our daughter in college so some of it goes to her. After a few hard years it’s good to be back in a spot that we can start really saving, better late (40’s and 50’s) than never!

    1. Liz May 27, 2017 at 5:52 AM

      I think that’s one of the good parts about adjusting to living on one income – when/if you can get a second income going, you can save and invest it (or like in your case, use it for college) because you know you don’t need it for daily living expenses. I hope your husbands health issues are better now!

  28. Lyn May 27, 2017 at 10:28 AM

    Absolutely love this post! I, too, am a Mom in Chief. Years ago my husband and I made the decision that he would stay home full-time with our children while I worked full-time supporting the family-on a high school teacher’s salary, no less! He worked part-time in the evenings and returned to work full-time after the last baby entered kindergarten (2011), but still is flexible during the day to pick up and care for our kids, while I fetch and care for them in the evening. We aren’t debt-free, but we don’t have credit card debt, our used cars are almost paid for, and we have LOTS of money socked away for retirement. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in our financial journey is that we need to live the life we want to live, and not worry about everyone else’s opinion of what our lives should be. I could go on and on (I’m a teacher and I love to talk), but it’s heartening to know that there are other Mom in Chief’s out there, living the dream!

    1. Liz May 31, 2017 at 6:41 AM

      Thanks Lyn! Glad to hear about your story. Sounds like you and your husband are doing great!

  29. A May 27, 2017 at 10:37 AM

    Liz, love your story. My husband has cancer and a few other medical problems. We’re in a similar situation, but no kids at home anymore. There’s a term for growing emotional after turmoil. It’s called “bounce forwrd.” You and your family have definitely bounced forward.

    1. J. Money May 28, 2017 at 2:29 PM

      I hope you guys are able to bounce forward okay!!

    2. Liz May 31, 2017 at 6:42 AM

      Hi A – I’ve never heard the term “bounce forward” before, but I like it. I hope you and your husband are also able to bounce forward. I hope you and your husband do well – one day at a time.

  30. Yssa May 27, 2017 at 12:39 PM

    Hi Liz,
    This was a fantastic post and extremely motivational. I’m not even a mom yet, just a young woman getting married next year. My fiance and I are definitely working on reaching FIRE in the near future and your story meant so much to us! Thank you for sharing :)

    1. Liz May 31, 2017 at 6:49 AM

      Thanks Yssa – I’m glad that it can help motivate you.

  31. Brent May 27, 2017 at 8:07 PM

    Hi Liz,

    That was very inspiring. What a story.

    A classic “when the going gets tough story”.

    You should be proud!

    1. Liz May 31, 2017 at 6:51 AM

      Thanks Brent – glad to hear you found it inspiring.

  32. Lily @TheFrugalGene May 29, 2017 at 2:19 AM

    Atta girl – this is an amazing story! I’m really surprised at the 6% statistic – that is a scarcity in it of itself! I’m surprised at the no budget tidbit. Does your family employ the use of credit cards often?

    1. Liz May 31, 2017 at 6:50 AM

      No, we only use debit cards except for things we buy online (which is not often). So we just watch the checking account balance.

  33. Jen May 31, 2017 at 10:04 AM

    Love this! My husband decided to stay home full time when our daughter was born almost 4 years ago, and now with two kids, he plans to continue to do so until our youngest is in school. I am fortunate to have a good paying job as an engineer, but we still stick to a very tight budget. No debt except for our mortgage (on the fence on whether we want to pay it off early or not…) but we fully max out my 401K each year, as well as IRAs, college accounts for the kids, and have a hefty emergency fund. And yet we never feel deprived :) It can be done! It’s always so nice to hear about other moms who are in the same boat – we are definitely in the minority!

    1. Liz June 1, 2017 at 5:48 AM

      That’s why I love the internet – we’re in the minority in real life, but online we get to meet other families doing the same things! :) I’m with you except I have decided to pay off the mortgage. Of course, that’s my conservative side kicking in after all the bad things we’ve been through. It’s definitely NOT the financially optimal decision!

  34. EdithKeeler May 31, 2017 at 8:53 PM

    This is great, and inspiring. But I’m curious about your plans for health insurance when you retire. I assume you are located in the US, but perhaps I’m wrong?

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer June 2, 2017 at 7:11 PM

      Yep, located in the US. Health insurance is a big concern, because I can’t go without it. Since the legislation is in such flux right now, I’m not making a specific plan. I’m going to wait and see how the laws are when I’m older.

  35. Dan June 2, 2017 at 7:52 AM

    Fantastic story! Incredibly inspirational stuff Liz! Thanks for sharing :) So many great nuggets in there that I hope to institute in our family’s plan.

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer June 2, 2017 at 7:11 PM

      Thanks Dan-I hope you find the tips helpful! Have a great weekend

  36. Dividend Daze June 2, 2017 at 11:02 AM

    Congrats on your progress and being a true inspiration for people. I can’t imagine what that is like to go through so much in a short period of time. Most people can barely afford living with 1 income when they are single with no kids or 2 incomes as a family. Hope you reach FIRE soon, and keep inspiring!

    1. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer June 2, 2017 at 7:14 PM

      Thanks DD-the way I see it, you need to play the hand you’re dealt. So like might have knocked me down, but im using it as a tool to inspire me. Instead of thinking about how much easier it would be if things were different, I’ll do what needs to be done!

  37. Almhultgirl June 13, 2017 at 7:30 PM

    Hey Liz. What a beautiful story of making things work for the good of the family. I know many Filipina nurses here in the US who are doing the same. The husbands go back to work when the kids are old enough to start primary school. Thanks for sharing your story.

  38. Sam June 24, 2017 at 4:22 AM

    Great article. Just one thing we say “on the London Underground” not “in” . And yes you do indeed have to mind the gap. ‍♀️