I always wanted to be a 100% stay-at-home mom. But, like many families, money was a little tight so I made the decision to work for a season.
I’m currently back to being a stay-at-home mom again and here’s where my family saves:
When I started staying home full time, I was able to cook more so we spent less money on convenience foods and restaurant meals. Even so, I was still shocked to find that without trying, our grocery & eating-out budget dropped by over $300 per month.
I’m sure that if I clipped coupons or shopped sales, I’d save even more.
Obviously, if I’m not driving to and from work, a sitter’s, etc. then I’m saving money in gas. Many families are able to get rid of a car when one spouse stays home, thus saving even more.
3) Childcare/other outside help.
I didn’t pay much in childcare because my mother-in-law babysat or I’d take the girls with me to work (a benefit of being married to my boss!). But we did have a mother’s helper come one day a week for two solid years to help with schoolwork and cleaning.
Nathan and I had also discussed hiring out for laundry or yard-work. Staying home negates the need – and expense – for all of those things.
Whether I’m at the office or in my home, I do want to look nice. But when I’m home I can get away with wearing a smaller – and less expensive – variety of clothing than I could otherwise.
5) Things for my children.
It’s not fun to admit, but I often felt guilty about working. And while I didn’t spend a ton on my kids, I would buy them an occasional “treat” to help appease my guilt. Or I’d take them somewhere fun in the evening or on weekends since I wasn’t with them during the day. Now, we find frugal or free things to do and they agree that it’s a worthwhile sacrifice we make in order to be able to stay home together.
The bottom line, financially speaking?
Without even trying, my family trimmed our budget by $1,000 a month just by me no longer working. Once we started trying, we saved even more! And this was without the cost of childcare – that alone could have easily added an extra $1,000 to our monthly expenses.
Do the math.
For a mom who makes $2,000 per month, that’s $461.53 per week or $11.53 per hour for a 40-hour work week. After subtracting 15% (or $69.23 each week) for taxes, that brings the weekly total down to $392.30 which adds up to $1,699.96 per month.
Then take a very low work-related expense estimate of $1,000 from the $1,699.96 earned per month, and that leaves the take-home profit at $699.96 per month or $161.53 per week. For a 40 hour work-week that would bring the $11.53 earned per hour down to a total profit of $4.03 per hour.
If you’d like to stay home but don’t aren’t sure that you can afford it, really look at your budget. How much would you save in food if you weren’t buying restaurant meals or prepackaged food on a regular basis? What about childcare? Gas money? I gave you an example to help you get started, but don’t just leave it at that. Do the math with your own numbers and figure out exactly how much you’re profiting per hour.
And then decide: Is your time worth more than that to you?
For my family, the small profit I made simply wasn’t worth the strain it put on all of us.
So we decided to cut back. We currently don’t take expensive vacations, we rarely eat in restaurants, we definitely don’t drive fancy cars (our newest vehicle is 13 years old!), and we only go to the movie theater about twice a year. Yes, staying home can be hard. Yes, I regularly need an hour-long break. And yes, sometimes I think it’d be nice to have more money in the bank.
But we have enough. And we’re together. That’s well-worth any financial sacrifice we need to make.
Money Management Series
Part One: Can You Afford to be a Stay-At-Home Mom?