Guest post by Melissa Kaiserman
In the spring of 2013, my husband was in his seventh year of a position that had gone from dream job to highly toxic work environment. The stress was getting worse by the week and affecting both him and our family. Despite his best attempts to just focus on doing his job well and not let it get to him, it reached a point where he really believed he was supposed to quit.
While my husband is (thankfully!) not a big spender, he is definitely the Free Spirit while I am the Nerd. I’m the one who knows the budget inside and out, divvies up the cash into spending categories, and pays the bills. So I was trying my best to be supportive and not panic as I analyzed how the finances for our family would be impacted since I was a SAHM with just a little side business that I was doing mostly for fun.
At this point in our marriage, we had been completely out of debt (except for our mortgage) for about five years, which was a major factor that allowed us to even entertain such a drastic change. So for the next few months, we saved the profit from my handmade business as well as our tax return and anything extra from paychecks. After we had accumulated about 3-4 months worth of living expenses, Dave resigned from his job.
He immediately started looking for another position in his field. While he was going through the process of applying and interviewing, he mentioned that I may as well teach him some ways he could help with my business since he was home and had time. So I did, though neither of us had any idea how vital this would turn out to be!
A few weeks after my husband left his job, I received an Etsy convo from a credit union many states away that resulted in an $1800 order! There is no way I could have fulfilled that request without my husband home.
From that point forward, we clearly saw God blessing my business and my shop continuing to grow. But while Dave had made it to the final interview round for three different jobs for which he was highly qualified, he wasn’t offered any of them.
After some initial discouragement, it hit us: Maybe God is closing doors because He wants us to do this together! We had assumed my husband would continue in his field and I would continue to be a SAHM who operated a side business that simply provided extra for Christmas gifts and vacations. Having a family business and working from home seemed like too big and lofty a dream.
For the past 2 1/2 years, we have supported our family of six with a handmade business which, despite the warnings of the pundits, has sold products exclusively on the Etsy platform. My husband gets to work in his field from time to time and keep his skills sharp, and while that only accounts for a small percentage of our yearly income, the opportunities always come at just the right time.
People often express amazement at our story and wonder how we are able to make it work. While there’s no magic formula–and while as Christians we believe the main reason for our success is that we’re doing what God has called us to do–I believe there are three very practical areas that contribute:
1. We are out of debt.
My husband quitting his job was a step of faith, and we couldn’t have taken it with confidence if we had been under the burden of debt. If you have a dream of one day quitting your day job to work from home doing something you love, I strongly encourage you to get “gazelle intense” about eliminating debt!
We have also stayed completely out of debt with our business. In the very beginning, I used cash to pay for a limited amount of supplies until I created some profit and could purchase more, increasing inventory as I went. We’ve never used and don’t even own a business credit card–only debit.
2. We work as a team.
While I am the one who manages pretty much every aspect of the business, my husband does not view any job I need him to do as beneath him. He doesn’t perform any of the sewing, but he completes so many of the intermediary and finishing tasks that I find tedious, freeing me to focus on the areas where I thrive.
The same teamwork principle applies to our home. In addition to being an excellent handyman, Dave washes all of the laundry (and passes it along to our four who fold!), does virtually all of the transporting of children as well as many errands, and is quick to jump on anything he sees that needs to be done around the house.
3. We live frugally and on a budget.
If we didn’t tell our money where to go, our money could easily tell us this won’t work and that my husband needs to return to a traditional job. The truth is, we love our life and want to do this for as long as possible. So for us, it is worth it to make sacrifices and forgo doing and having some things in order for that to happen. It wouldn’t be possible without choosing to be content and having a spending plan.
When I made my first cash envelope system wallet for myself over four years ago, I discovered that ditching the paper envelopes and having a pretty and durable way to organize our cash made living on a budget seem a lot more enjoyable.
Melissa Kaiserman is a wife, mom, and handmade business owner who designs cash envelope system wallets & accessories that put the beauty in budgeting. She also blogs at A Time for Everything and uses her experience and passion to support and mentor fellow makers at Makery Space.