When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it often feels like you really need two paychecks to keep your family afloat. Even though you might want to stay home with your kids, it can seem that it’s just not financially realistic. Staying home is a luxury that only rich suburbanites can afford, right?
The truth might surprise you. Sure, being a stay-at-home mom might require a bit of adjustment, but it’s actually a lot easier than most people realize. In fact, when you factor in some of the savings you get from having a stay-at-home mom, you’ll see that it’s something you can work for. If you want to be there for the kids, make it happen.
Benefits of Having a Stay-at-Home Mom
With a stay-at-home mom, you have someone taking over the job of caring for the children. You’re able to be there as your child meets all of the little milestones, from taking her first step to drawing the first picture that actually looks like something recognizable. Many parents appreciate the opportunity to develop a strong bond with their children. As kids get older, they often start joining after-school activities that require mid-day transportation. That’s difficult for working parents to manage.
Most importantly though, you’ll get to save on daycare costs. Depending on your area, daycare can cost as much as $600/month for an in-home provider, $1,000/month or more for a daycare center, and $3,000/month or more for a quality nanny. Subtract that from your monthly earnings and you may find that your net monthly earnings for working a full-time job are $1,000 or less. When you look at it like that, the idea of going back to work starts looking a lot less appealing.
Drawbacks of Having a Stay-at-Home Mom
Of course, most women make a significant sacrifice in their careers when they choose to stay home with their children. The family will have to get by on just one income, and mom might have a hard time returning to work if she ever wants to. That gap in experience means missed opportunities for promotions and career advancement, so you have to realize that your position upon re-entering the workforce might be lower than it would be had you stayed on your career path.
Staying at home with the kids can also be somewhat isolating. A mom at home might start to feel resentment when her “job” – taking care of the kids and housework – starts to feel like an unpaid 24-hour-a-day gig. Not everyone enjoys being home with the kids, and you’ll have to decide if it’s the right thing for you emotionally as well.
Let’s Take a Look at Finances
To determine whether staying at home is a feasible choice for you, you need to look carefully at your finances. If you don’t already have a budget, make one to see where you’re spending your money. If you’ll be able to handle all of those expenses on a single income, then you could become a stay-at-home mom.
Don’t be discouraged if the budget initially looks like you really need those two incomes. Sometimes, when a parent stays at home, there are spending categories that would decrease. For instance, if your gas costs are high because you’re commuting an hour each way, you’ll reduce those expenses by staying at home. If you’re spending a lot of money eating out because you’re too tired to cook, you might be able to save money by cooking at home when you’re a stay-at-home mom.
Online Budgeting Tools for Single Income Families
The right online budgeting tools can help you understand your finances. Of course, if you’re thinking about dropping down to a single income, you will probably want some free and helpful resources to guide you through this process. Fortunately, there are plenty of great ones. Check out:
Making the Transition
It’s wise to create a plan to make the transition to becoming a single income family. Many people don’t think about it until after the baby is born and maternity leave is about to end. If you wait until this point, you’ll probably be unprepared.
Before you quit your job, take some time to get your financial life in order. Cut back on your spending to pay off any debts and build up a solid emergency fund that you can fall back on. You don’t want your experience to be marred by financial stress.
Taking a Team Approach
If you’re going to become a stay-at-home mom, you need to take a team approach with your partner. For instance, even though you’re “home all day,” it’s not fair to expect you to take on all of the housework. Raising children is hard work too, and you deserve a break just as much as a husband coming home from a “long day at work”. Every family is different, but you need to work together to figure out a system that will work for both of you.
Finances should be a team effort as well. Though you may not be earning a salary, you should still feel like you’re making a contribution to the family and should be able to spend some of the family’s money for things you want. On the flip side, the primary earner shouldn’t feel as though he’s entitled to spend money on extravagances the family can’t afford. If you can’t work together, this arrangement won’t work.
Being a stay-at-home mom is a very rewarding experience, but it can also be draining. But when the times are hard and you are sleep deprived, you can think of how your children have a mom at home all the time, who is never leaving their side. And once your family is well-prepared for the transition, you’ll find that things go smoother than anticipated.