Making the decision to be a stay at home mom isn’t easy. Typically, the biggest hesitation to stay home is the financial consequences of only one parent working. If you’re wondering “Can I afford to be a stay at home mom?”, there are a few things you should know. Learn everything you need to know before you decide to give up your job.
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What You Need to Consider
If the decision to stay at home comes down to your budget, you have a lot to consider. When determining if you can afford to stay at home, you don’t only have your spouse’s salary to consider. There are several other details that could influence your choice. You should sit down and do some math to determine if you can afford to live on one salary. After you’re done, the numbers might surprise you.
As you debate the issue, know that there are ways in which you can plan ahead. You may be able to get some savings before you decide to stay home. In any case, come up with a budget to determine how much money you need each month. It’s essential to make a distinction between how much money you want and how much money you need. If daily trips to Starbucks and frequent dinners out are something you value, make sure your monthly budget allows you to enjoy that.
When you make your budget, be sure to account for the following:
Insurance is something most parents overlook when trying to decide if they can stay home. Whose job provides insurance to the family? If your job was the one that provided the insurance, think about how losing the policy will affect your finances. Will your spouse’s job provide insurance? If so, how much does that cost each month? Insurance policies obtained through other channels can be quite expensive. Before you leave your job, figure out what you will do for insurance and how much it will cost.
You could forego insurance or end up with a limited policy. In that case, you save money each month. But keep in mind that there could be unexpected medical costs. It would help if you had savings set aside to cover medical expenses. While you crunch the numbers, consider how you can incorporate this into your budget.
Savings on Clothing, Food, and Transportation
Another often overlooked detail is the amount you spend on clothing, food, and transportation. When you work from an office, you have a long list of work-related expenses. There’s the cost of gas for your daily commute, which can really add up.
Another consideration is the expense of work clothes and shoes. Regardless of your industry, you don’t wear your casual clothes to work. You probably spend more money than you think on work clothes and footwear.
Even food costs more when you work. While you’re in the office, how often do you eat out for lunch? Or stop for a coffee and a donut on the way in to work? With so much temptation, it’s almost impossible to resist spending a few bucks each week. When you stay at home, there’s less temptation and fewer expenses.
Once again, you won’t completely eliminate the cost of clothing, food, and transportation. But there’s a good chance your expenses in this area will be much less once you begin your stay-at-home lifestyle.
If a household has two parents who work, they usually spend money on babysitting services. Whether you use a regular sitter or only need a babysitter for the occasional sick day, the expense is a part of your budget. Calculate the amount of money you spend each month on babysitting. When you stay at home, you won’t have that cost.
The same is true for daycare. It’s a little easier to break down the cost of daycare, because the fees are often listed by the month. If you paid for any additional services at daycare, incorporate those costs into your calculations.
As you do the math, remember that you still may need a sitter. If you have regular medical appointments, need a date night, or just want a break, you will find yourself in need of a babysitter. It won’t cost as much as your full-time services, but should still be included in your budget. Grandma won’t always be able to take the kids!
How Much You Pay Outside Help
When two parents work full-time positions, it can be challenging to get things done around the house. In fact, it might be downright impossible to handle the cleaning, yard work, or laundry. To make up for your lack of time, you could hire outside help. And on two salaries, you can probably afford it.
If you decide to stay home, you get more time to handle duties on your own. Although taking care of kids is a full-time job on its own, you might have time to do some cleaning or yard work. Fixing broken things around the home also becomes easier. Instead of relying on paid professionals for everything, you could do household chores on your own.
When considering your budget, factor in the amount of money you save on housekeeping, lawn, and other services. If you plan on keeping those services, don’t forget to include them in your expenses.
The Lost Wages
This one is obvious but belongs in your calculations. When you quit your job, you’re down one income. But this could mean your spouse works a few more hours each week, or that you are
able to start generating income from a side business.
Tools for Financial Planning and Management
Whether you’re trying to figure out if you can afford to stay home or you’re already done with work, there are some resources that can help you. All of the following resources could help you make your dream of being a stay at home mom real.
Google Sheets is a simple, straightforward tool that can help you calculate your monthly expenses. After you spend money on a bill or shopping trip, input it into the spreadsheet. You can use formulas to tally up expenses and do the math for you.
If you don’t want to download anything or you’re an Apple user (no judgment here), you can still use Google Sheets. It’s available online, or you can download an app on your smartphone.
Apps for Budgeting
These days, there’s an app for everything. And that certainly includes budgeting. If you’re looking for an app to help you budget, you have a few choices. One popular family-friendly option is Mint. A free app, Mint automatically does your budgeting. When you make a payment or transaction, Mint tracks it. The app gives you real-time tracking of your finances and alerts you when you spend more than you should.
Another popular option is Clarity Money. When you download the free app, you can link your financial institutions together. Clarity tracks and categorizes your spending. It even cancels those subscriptions you keep forgetting to cancel.
Helpful Videos and Books
In order to successfully live on a single income, you need to create and stick to a budget. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to help you with that. There are videos available online aimed at teaching you how to budget for a family of your size.
If you enjoy reading, you might benefit from a book such as “The Total Money Makeover.” Written by Dave Ramsey, the book details ways in which you can eliminate debt and improve your finances. Today, Ramsey is almost a household name.
Meal Planning Resources
By meal planning, you can save significant money on your grocery bills and eat out less frequently. And, if you do it right, meal planning can be fun for the family. It allows you to explore new foods and get the kids involved with the cooking or dinner decisions.
One of the best apps for meal planning is
MealBoard. With this app, you can plan your meals, get a grocery list, and manage your recipes all from one location. It’s easy to use and makes saving money on your food expenses simple.
If you want to use what’s left in your pantry, consider using BigOven. The app features recipes and allows you to find recipes that incorporate whatever you have in your pantry. To save more money, you can scale up the recipes and freeze or reheat what’s left.
Timing is Everything
You might not be able to afford to be a stay at home mom today. But next year, things might be different. If you plan ahead and start saving up money or changing your spending habits, your hopes of staying at home may only be months away. Managing your finances with care could be all you need to quit your job.
If staying at home seems like a distant dream, take steps to save money. Try to spend less on groceries or limit your Amazon spending. Use some of the financial management tools above, and you could see a considerable change in your financial situation. Before you know it, the timing could be right for you to become a stay at home mom.
The next time you ask yourself, “Can I afford to be a stay at home mom?”, keep an open mind. Don’t just look at your current financial situation. Think about what life will be like next year, or even the year after that. If you have certain expenses this year, there’s no guarantee you’ll have them next year. While you can’t see the future, you can predict when your baby will be out of diapers or when you won’t be stuck paying for an expensive pre-k.
No matter what, don’t lose hope. You never know when the timing will be right for you to stay at home with your kids. With a little planning and a positive mentality, you may be able to leave your professional life behind.
Conclusion: Can I Afford to be a Stay at Home Mom?
So, can I afford to be a stay at home mom? It all depends on your situation. You need to sit down and do the math. After you crunch the numbers, you can accurately determine whether or not you can afford it. As long as you’re comfortable with your new budget, you don’t have anything to worry about. It may only be a short time before your home with your kids all day, starting a new career as stay at home mom.