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Ask Jesse: What financial aspects should I consider when becoming a stay-at-home mom?

I have been thinking about becoming a stay-at-home mom. I have a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. I am going to start my budget to see if we can afford to live off of one income. My parents informed me that I would not be able to contribute to an IRA since I would have no income. What other things should I take into consideration when making this decision? I know I will be saving on gas, work clothes, daycare, etc. What else am I missing? Thanks so much! -Lori

Staying home and devoting your life to nurturing and raising the next generation is a wonderful thing. That said, many who want to make the jump from working outside of the home full-time to working inside the home full-time are realistically not financially able to do so.

If you are thinking you may be able to do it, what I recommend you do is to first sit down with your husband and create a written budget based upon his income alone. You may need to cut back, eliminate or restructure some of your budget categories and expenses in order to accomplish this.

Then, continue working while you attempt to live only on your husband’s income and see if you can pay for all your necessary expenses. If not, go back through your budget and see if there are other areas you can cut or expenses you can reduce.

While you continue to work, bank everything you earn towards an Emergency Fund. This will not only provide a training session on how to make it on one income, it will also give you a good savings cushion for you to draw against if you need to once you quit working.

Now, pertaining to the IRA contributions you would supposedly miss out on, non-working spouses can still contribute to an IRA through the special spousal contribution allowance even though they do not have have an earned income. SmartMoney Magazine has a good piece explaining the contribution limits to IRAs for non-working spouses as well as the deductibility of the contributions to traditional IRAs. Here’s a snippet of the obviously-outdated article:

A nonworking spouse can make a deductible IRA contribution of up to $5,000 for 2010 ($6,000 if age 50 or older as of 12/31/10) as long as the couple files a joint return, and the working spouse has enough earned income to cover the contribution. However, the deductibility of the nonworking spouse’s contribution for 2010 is phased out for couples with adjusted gross income (AGI) between $167,000 and $177,000, provided that the working spouse is covered by a qualified retirement plan (via a job or self-employment). The working spouse’s ability to make a deductible contribution for 2010 is phased out between AGI of $89,000 and $109,000.

Contributions to ROTH IRAs are not deductible because they are made after tax; as such, you do not have to pay taxes on the back end when getting money out.

If you’ve transitioned from working outside the home to staying home full-time or part-time, I’d love to hear your story on how you did that.

Jesse Paine is a licensed attorney who owns his own law firm. He’s married to Crystal and is the numbers nerd of the MoneySavingMom.com team! If you have a question you’d like him to answer in a future column, you can submit it here.

The content of this column intended for informational use only and is not to be construed as providing legal, investing, accounting or other professional advice. Your situation is factually specific and you should accordingly seek qualified professional counsel concerning your specific legal, investing or accounting needs.

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100 Comments

  • My situation is a little different since I had 12 weeks of strict bed rest with the twins. I went from a normal work week to training my replacement from bed. However, we had already started living off one income before I went on bed rest and going through Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps.

    We are thankful for the insurance we had during that time because the girls came 2 months early even with bed rest. If you currently get your insurance through your work make sure you have another policy in place before you go to full Stay at Home Mom. You never know what will happen and it is smart to be prepared. If you are still working use that money to pay off debt and build up your emergency fund.

    Raising kids is fun, challenging and rewarding all at the same time. Hope the transition goes smoothly for your family. It is amazing the blessings and memories you will have by spending the extra with your kids. Although, it is not something everyone can do.

  • Kelly Hess says:

    I did a complete series on going from 2 incomes to 1, however in our case, it was my husband becoming a stay at home Dad!

    http://spendless2savemore.blogspot.com/2010/12/going-from-two-incomes-to-one-part-4.html

  • Michele says:

    Back when I had my first child, I took maternity leave and time off for one year. Then I transitioned to a part-time position within my company while my daughter went to a Mother’s Morning Out two mornings a week at a local church. It was a great way to make the switch because I still had some income plus the ability to go back full-time if it was necessary. Fortunately, my husband’s income increased about this time, making it not necessary. I stayed part-time until the birth of my 3rd child when I realized that I could not juggle three young children, a part-time job with a long commute, and child-care responsibilities. Now that my youngest is almost 4, and I’ve been out of the work-force for 4 years, I am going back to work part-time. This time it’s nearby and just during nights/weekends/school hours. While it still takes a lot of juggling, working part-time helps keep my skills up-to-date and keeps me sane. I love being a SAHM, but sometimes I just need some adult time without a child hanging on me from morning until night.

  • Sarah Richardson says:

    I have had many friends say to me “You are so lucky to be able to stay at home!”. While that is true- I am not lucky- it is hard work and we gave up a lot to make it a reality.

    We were planning on selling our small townhouse and moving into a larger house when I found out I was pregnant. Losing my income did not allow this. We are still in our 2 bedroom townhouse and even though it is tight- the mortgage payment is low.

    We also gave up our gym memberships, pedicures, nights out, weekend trips, I do not go shopping as much, we don’t eat out as much, don’t go on as many date nights as we used to and when my husband’s car died- we did not buy another one. We only own one car and my husband borrows his Father’s car so we only have to pay gas for that vehicle.

    I started reading MoneySavingMom and now use coupons and play the drug store game and try not to buy anything at full price anymore.

    It has been hard. I miss doing the little things for myself that I used to do and the past 3 years have been rough- BUT- to me it is worth giving up many of the “things” in life to do something that really matters- raising my two sons myself at home.

    • crystal b. says:

      I get frustrated at those comments ad well. Yes, there are times when it’s impossible, but 99% of the time I find that people just don’t want to make the necessary sacrifices. Which is fine, but no need to downplay what we do as just being “lucky” because sometimes it really is about choices.

      • Rachel E says:

        I’m gonna say Amen! to that Crystal. So agree!!

      • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

        I don’t know that people are trying to downplay what you do…I believe that you SAHM’s are the most amazing people on the planet!! Aside from the finances (I actually am the primary bread winner and have the healthcare) of it, I know that I love my children very much, but I do not have the patience to do everything that you all do!! Not to mention I DESPISE housework!

        I think (at least I hope) when people say that you are lucky, they mean you are lucky to be doing what you want to do in life. I don’t think it’s about trying to demean all the sacrifices you make to do it.

        I hope you can find the admiration in people telling you how lucky you are…and be PROUD of what you do every day!!!

        • Sara says:

          What a great perspective; very well said!

        • Jane says:

          I am a working mom that generates the most income for our household, so being a stay at home mom for me will not happen.

          I will note that I shouldn’t say “lucky” anymore when I learn that someone is a stay at home mom..but (there is always a but) I think that you need to realize we don’t mean it as you don’t do anything – only that you are fortunate that you are dedicated to giving yourself to your kids and enjoying them grow up – giving up those pedicures, date nights, etc. You are able to be nurse, teacher and mom all day long – that is great.

      • kate w says:

        Oh my gosh! I get so sick of hearing… “You are so lucky you can stay home!” My husband and I SACRAFICE a TON to allow me the privlidge of being able to raise my daughter. We don’t have cable. We use cloth diapers. We don’t go out to eat or go to movies. We coupon like mad. We got a roomate in our house to help lower the mortgage costs. We get all of our clothes at second hand stores. We each drive 10 plus year old cars that are paid off. We have no debt except our home. I start in January slowing buying gifts for Christmas, so that when December comes I am not trying to spend a lot of money in only one month.

        I gladly sacrifice this and would do much much more for the honor of being able to raise my daughter. There is no greater joy to me then to be there for her firsts. And I have not missed a single one.

      • Christy says:

        I do appreciate how Jesse said, “many who want to make the jump from working outside of the home full-time to working inside the home full-time are realistically not financially able to do so.” I am the “breadwinner” in the family if you can call it that–on a teacher’s salary–LOL! I make more than my husband. The two of us combined make less than most single college educated individuals (I say college educated b/c I realize a lot of people make less, but we are both college educated and our combine income is less than that of most single college educated people).

        I work full time and do many of the things listed by commenters below (coupon, not go into debt, put off home-repairs, forgo vacations–only visit family as other’s say, very little eating out, consignment shop for clothes, haven’t had a pedicure in a year and I didn’t pay for that one–haven’t paid for one in 4 years, still live in a tiny townhome that we thought we would have “graduated” from by now), so it frustrates me when people say it is just because I am not making the necessary sacrifices (I have heard this from others as well). If anyone stayed home, it would be daddy and he fully admits it is not his thing!

        Also another issue that I see someone posted is health insurance. If I was to quit working, my sons and I would have to go on my husband’s health insurance, so we would be actually living on far less than his current take-home pay. I actually have a good friend who stays home with her twin babies, but will not be able to do so forever because the amount they pay for her and the babies to be on the husband’s insurance costs MORE per month than daycare for 2 babies! I realize that some have better premiums for others so this may not be a roadblock for everyone.

        I think that God put me in the situation I am in because I am truly meant to teach young children (this is what I do and despite repeated arguments with God, I am finally learning that this is His will for me). I am good at my job and I enjoy my job–when I am there, I am focused on my “other children,” although I always struggle to balance everything. I am grateful that I have breaks, summers, and will basically have the same hours as my children once they reach elementary school.

        • Meredith says:

          Well said, Christy! Those of us who have to work for financial reasons, STILL have to make sacrifices… Thankfully I love my job, which is teaching. There’s no better job for a working parent. I’ll have the same hours as my kids when they’re in school, and now my kids are the first ones picked up from daycare. I have summers off and vacations, too. I LOVE being with my children and I love my job. My husband and I still have to make sacrifices, but we’re lucky people.

      • Amanda says:

        I think one biggie is health insurance. In our family, hubby’s job doesn’t have health insurance, so if I quit we would not only lose my income (which I would be willing to sacrifice) but we would have NO way of having insurance (pre-existing conditions). There really are situations that make it hard to stay at home….

        • Jill says:

          There are other ways to get health insurance. I work from home so I can be with my kids. My husband has health insurance but to add me to his health insurance would be over $1000/month. So I am on something called “the Great West Network”–it isn’t the greatest, but I have heard of worse and it covers my needs for less then $200/month. Also, while my husband was in school I had the whole family (3 kids) on this same insurance for less then $400/mth. So if you really do want to stay home then insurance does not need to be an issue, you can find something else out there.

    • Emily says:

      thanks for sharing. Soo very true and thanks also to Crystal–agree with what you have said. Sometimes staying home is a sacrifice. For me, it comes down to the fact I believe children are better off with thier moms, so we were willing to do whatever it takes to have me home. It is a blessing to be home with my kids. However, I do make sacrifices similar to what Sarah has shared to do it. We rarely eat out, we only go on dates outside the home maybe once every four months, we don’t take real vacations (just visit family) and for now our college savings for the kids is on hold. If my husband’s car died, we would be in the same boat as Sarah–one car family. It’s just the way it is. I don’t regret for a minute being home with them, and the sacrifices have been totally worth it!

    • peever says:

      Agreed. I love staying home with my kids and wouldn’t change it for the world, but we have had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to do it.

      I wasn’t planning on staying at home with my kids. I wanted to, but I thought I would have to work for a while to build up our savings, etc. Well, my daughter had some medical complications and I needed to stay home with her so we weren’t really prepared. My husband is self-employed with an irregular income so it has not been easy and there’s been months when I wonder how we’re going to make ends meet, but God has always provided for us.

      We are able to make ends meet, but we have not been able to save any extra for things like home improvements, vehicle upgrades, college, retirement, etc. So there are definitely days where I wonder if I’m making the right choice by sacrificing those things. I’ve been home for 3.5 years now and the things we’ve been putting off are starting to get to the point where they need to be taken care of – like new shingles, for example. I’ve been trying to find some work from home for some supplemental income, but obviously that’s hard to come by. I’m hoping to hang in there for 2 years until our youngest starts kindergarten, but then I struggle with going back to work when she’s in school and not being able to volunteer for everything like I’ve done for my son. It’s hard being a mom!

      • laura says:

        check out demandstudios.com. i can’t say enough good things about working for them and they’re always hiring!

        • Ellen says:

          In regards to demand studio…how much experience do you have to have in order to be hired? Do you know?

      • Sara says:

        Not trying to say you shouldn’t stay home, but if you are not able to save for retirement, that will be a huge burden on your kids later (I know, I am currently in that situation with paying for my mom and I am under 30). Maybe find a balance of working part-time?

    • Annie says:

      Sarah,

      You’re living the life I did and heard the things I did!

      My oldest is almost 18 now. I retired from my career at 30 when she was born and walked away from an income double that of my husband’s. We survived, and I do mean survive ($40 a week for groceries), because we bought our home using only his income when we were first married. Sometimes a very tight squeeze at 1,300 sq ft. During the years before our girls were born we burned through our incomes without a thought of the future. The only exception was diligent contributions to our 401k’s and leaving them alone. Now facing 50 and finally living on a budget below our means, we are not afraid of retirement because of those two “small” choices when we were young.

      Our girls are lovely women of God and we have absolutely no regrets. I picked up part time work off and on when the youngest entered school to help us reach our goals along the way. For us it was a marathon, not a sprint.

      If I may share one small piece of advice to all you young moms out there…..be mindful of when you put makeup on. Is it when women’s group is getting together or whatever, or when you step outside with your husband? I learned this simple way to honor him that he appreciates so much.

    • Emily says:

      I would just like to suggest that perhaps when some people say “You are so lucky to be able to stay at home”, they aren’t speaking of you being lucky financially to be able to stay at home. I know that, for me, I choose not to stay home with my kids and to continue to work full-time because I am in a field where it is extremely hard to take time off and transition back into after that time off. I’m a molecular biologist, and the biological sciences are always changing. I had a hard time just taking 1 year off between my PhD and postdoctoral research positions. So much had been discovered while I had been home with my son. I think that in many jobs, women can take the years off when their kids are young to stay home and not have as hard a time transitioning back into work. I often think many women are “lucky” to be in those jobs. Of course, I know that I chose what career path I wanted, and I otherwise love my work.

      • So true. I was a work-study student in the same molecular bio lab for 4 years while getting my BA in biology. We had several PhD and post-docs. One quit after having her child, to stay home. Others returned after just a few short weeks. After I worked in research for 1.5 years, I realized it would not be the ideal lifestyle for me (plus I was tired of riding the “el” home stinking like dead mice!). I went on to earn a Masters of Public Health and work in state government and am transitioning to part-time. Part-time government positions are few and far between and I had a 2-year fight to get one. Research is a cut-throat field, although you do have the advantage that you can shift your work hours. You can run that gel at 2am just as easily as 10am and get to those school events, etc. Government is an 8-5 M-F no exceptions.

    • I understand what you guys are saying, but from the other perspective I feel like you guys are “lucky/blessed.” I want to stay home more than anything, but we can’t financially.

      We haven’t been out to eat in probaby 4 months, I don’t go shopping, I use coupons, I’ve only had 1 pedicure in my life (the day before my wedding) and we are willing to sacrafice a car, tv, etc but it still doesn’t work out on paper.

      I don’t think people are meaning that you don’t sacrifice anything. I just assume that SAHM sacrifice pointless stuff like that. BUT even after all the sacrifices you can still stay home! not everyone can do that no matter how much you sacrifice.

      We even tried putting our house on the market for 6 months, but it didn’t sell. Both my husband and I have college degrees, and we still can’t.

      Please don’t assume that just because someone so badly wants to stay home doesn’t mean they haven’t already or are not willing to make the same/more sacrifices.

    • Meagan says:

      Okay, I’m going to be the dissenting voice here 🙂

      I wish people would stop complaining about people calling them “lucky” to be able to stay home. Ladies, you are EXTREMELY lucky to stay home with your kids!!!!!! I know it is a sacrifice (I am a stay at home step-momma to 3 amazing boys-15, 12, and 11) and I know that we do give up a lot of things, and I know how expensive raising children is. However, you get to stay home with your kids. You get to be there for their firsts. You can get to know their kids. You get to decide what they eat, what they watch, when they get up….NOT SOMEONE ELSE! That is such a blessing. You should count yourself lucky to be so involved in your kids lives. Stop looking at the “negatives” or sacrifices that you have to make. Think on all the positives and the blessing you are able to be to your children since you are home!!!

      • crystal b. says:

        Obviously, i love staying home with my babies or I wouldn’t do it. For me the frustration comes because yay!ply the people who say that to me are the people who could do it if they chose to-people whose husbands make significantly more than mine. People who take expensive vacations, buy new cars every year or two, shop at gap and aeropostale, etc.

        Yes, I’m blessed to stay home, but the people who say that to me say it like I’m spoiled in some way, like I’ve received some break that they haven’t and usually that’s not the case. We sacrifice a lot of things that most people wouldn’t, and that’s okay, life is about choices and priorities.

      • Annie says:

        I say we as women need to stop beating each other up with all this name calling and finger pointing.

        I encourage SAHMs, including myself, to be detached when they hear comments they don’t like. We all fall short of the Glory of God. We all are living the vocations our choices have made. Only God knows the hearts of His children. Every woman is lucky if they are able to have children, and those children can be raised in a free country.

        Let us all think upon those things that build the Body of Christ.

      • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

        I want to point out that I got to see all my baby’s firsts, even though I work!! BOth my girls took their first steps right before my eyes…the only first I missed was when my second DD rolled over for the first time…and I was taking a tinkle, not a work!!

        I actually like to hear how a comment I have made many times, could be construed from a different perspective…Like I said before you SAHM’s amaze me and I know for a fact that you have a harder job than my outside job!

        IF I had all the money in the world WITH the ability to hire someone to do all housework I would probably take off these first few years, but I would also want to go back part-time when the kids are in school. I REALLY love what I do at work every day. I find my work fulfilling, because I do get to help people and I have made so many connections with wonderful people over the years. I would miss that.

        At the same time you don’t want someone telling you you are lucky, I don’t like when people assume I’m NOT being a good mom because I CHOOSE to work. I want my girls to grow up to know that they can do whatever they want in life, whether that is working or staying at home they have a CHOICE! I don’t love them any less bc they are in daycare…to me that just means they have lots of other wonderful people in their lives, lots of other children to play with and they are learning things that I would not have even thought they could! I would not have known that my 3 yo could so easily tell me “Today is May 17 and it’s Tuesday”. I would not have know that my children can use a computer with ease!

        I think they gain a lot of experience going to daycare and then having me give them my FULL attention when I am with them. I skip a lot of things bc of money, but also bc I don’t like to be away from them…nights and weekends belong to them!

    • Megan says:

      Good for you! You’re right -it’s not luck. It’s very hard for most people !!

    • Shannon says:

      I wrote a whole essay about always being told how “lucky” I was that I could stay home with my baby/babies, and it got published in The Mothers Movement Online! (Link here: http://www.mothersmovement.org/essays/06/06/hyland-tassava.html)

      I totally agree: I am not lucky in the sense people it. We own only one car also, we live in a small townhouse, we do not travel or go on vacations, we eat out only very rarely, and we go without tons of little “extras” and “luxuries” that others consider normal parts of daily life—all to afford having me stay home full-time with our daughters while living on my husband’s modest grant-writer salary. It can be done!–maybe not for everyone, but for many, if you’re willing to make major sacrifices.

  • Kristen says:

    I just wanted to follow up on the info about a Roth IRA. I am a stay-at-home wife and I was able to open my Roth IRA just a few weeks ago because my husband earns an income. Just as Jesse said about everything!

  • michelle says:

    For the first 4 years we were married we lived off my husbands income with the intent of me staying at home full time once we were blessed with children. During that time we were able to replace a car (paid with cash) set up an emergency fund, and pay extra on our mortgage principle. Once I was pregnant I switched to a different field to get part time work and then completely quit once my child was born. This worked smoothly for us, but I realize not everyone is in the same situation.

  • Rae says:

    Yes I have had a Roth IRA for a few years now and am a stay at home mom 🙂

  • Jen says:

    We knew when we first got married we would want to start a family and have me stay at home, so we began our married life living off his income and saving mine. The nicest part of that was never having to feel the pinch of moving to one income. (I give that advice to every engaged couple!) While money does get tight at times, we’ve been able to make it work. And we do contribute to my Roth IRA every year! Works great!

    • Amy says:

      We did the same thing. When we were engaged we sat down and created a spending plan with just my husband’s income. We paid off my student loans in just over a year using all of my income. Then we continued to live off his income and saved mine. It was REALLY tight back then (ramen noodles and bologna tight), but we knew that one day I would stay home with the kids. I worked for about 5 years before we started our family. We’ve been married for 12 years. I continue to stay home with the kids, we live on a budget well below our means, we are completely debt free, have great retirement accounts, college savings for the kids, and a nice savings! It was tough in the beginning, but the hard work and dedication to sticking with our spending plan and goals really paid off.

  • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    I have worked in the financial industry for 16 years, it always amazes me how much people rely on friends and family for financial advice! The things I have heard over the years could provide me with a nice manuscript for a book!!

    When making big financial decisions, you really should see a professional, I know advisors get a bad rap bc of those that do wrong, but I have worked with many over my years that really care about their clients. It’s important to speak with professionals (like Jesse is in his field) when making big decisions. Bankrate.com has a lot of nice pieces on finding the right advisor for your needs and Dave Ramsey has ELP’s on his site that they recommend!

    I truly think it is very important to ensure that you remain involved in the financial decisions in your home and continue to maintain your own retirement accounts and checking/savings (maybe even at least ONE credit card!) when you decide to stay at home. In my years I have seen many women be lost after losing their spouse either to divorce, incapacitation or death. It’s especially important in divorce situations, because often they are left with no savings for the future and being out of the workforce now facing having to return in order to care for the children. It is a sad thought, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!

  • We’ve always lived off of one income even when I worked. We don’t want to stretch our income where it becomes a necessity to support a family with 2 incomes.

  • L says:

    I love being a stay at home mom and do not regret it. I have been home with my kids for 16 years. Financially we have been able to make it on one income. In saying that, we have done zero travelling and have watched our spending rather closely. The only drawback now is that my skills are not current and it is hard to get back into the work place. At the time, I was not able to go part-time at my job, but had it been a possibility, I would have stayed at my job part-time, just to keep my foot in the door and keep my skills up-to-date. (It may not always make financial sense to go part-time, but down the road, you still have a job that may go back to full-time or at least have something current on your resume.) I just wanted to point that out as something to consider when leaving your job….will you ever need or want to return to work. I also miss the people contact you have when you are employed.

    • TeamBonk says:

      My mother, who was a stay-at-home mom for 30 years, always advised me to “keep my foot in the door” at my job … just because “you never know!”. 15 years into my marriage, I don’t anticipate our marriage dissolving but as someone above mentioned, death and illness can take you by surprise. I don’t consider myself a pessimist, more a pragmatist, and working part-time over the years has helped both my husband and I feel more secure that we could each handle things should something happen to the other of us. (I should also add that it has taken a lot of pressure off of my husband to be the sole income earner for a family of six, with two special needs children, and, I’m proud to say, my working part-time has enabled my husband to follow his dream of becoming self-employed!).

      I’m very fortunate in that by simply maintaining 15 hours a week at my job, I’ve been able to keep my full benefits package (I’m up here in Canada so things may be a bit different … :)) Also, I’ve had some fairly flexible work arrangements over the past 15 years … for example I am currently working Friday afternoon/evening and Sunday afternoon/evening so while I’m working, our children are being cared for by their father. I think it has been a valuable lesson for him to learn what it’s like to look after all four of them on his own!! lol!

      Finally, I should add, that we’ve been blessed with extended help from both families … my mother is a doting grandmother and she spends many days a week here at our home, allowing me to take our daughters to therapy but also allowing me to return to work part-time days in a few months while knowing that our children are being cared for by the next best thing to mom … mom’s mom! (Three of our children will be in school full-time and one will be home with Nana.) I am helping my husband fulfil his dreams, I am contributing to our family’s financial future, I am home more than I’m at work (4 days to 3), I am able to use the valuable skills God has given me, my children are able to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with their grandmother … it’s win, win in our books!

      • me says:

        My FIL cheated on my MIL after 20-something years in marriage, with kids in middle school and high school. She has struggled financially ever since, working all kinds of dead-end jobs. Always a great idea to have a foot in the door–not saying your husband would do this, but as you said, you never know when death or injury may unfortunately happen.

  • Diane says:

    We planned for me to stay home before we got married so we wrote our budget off my husband’s income. I worked full time for our first year of marriage then we had our first child. I work 8 hours a week while my husband is home with our child and that gives us extra income. I do think it’s possible for moms to stay at home but you have to be careful with your finances. I think the rewards are very much worthwhile, though. I would be so sad to leave my child every single day just to have to pay for 2 cars (we have one), more gas, more processed foods (I have time to make our meals from scratch). We aren’t “lucky” to have me stay at home, it takes work and organization, but we are blessed and I am thankful for the opportunity to raise my child.

    • Eli says:

      Funny enough, I work full time but we use one car and my kids don’t eat processed food.

  • Meredith says:

    I became a sahm because I didn’t earn enough income to keep working. The company I was working for provided insurance but it was much cheaper through my husbands company. They didn’t match 401k nor did I have any short or long term disability. The cheapest daycare, (I lived in a very large city at the time, I don’t now!) was $400 a week. I made 402.64 a week. So I would essentially be going to work for 10 dollars a month. I would have had to pay for gas, clothing, makeup (a luxury I don’t use anymore) on 10 a month to break even. The pregnancy was a surprise and it was hard to get used to the one income but we literally had to jump into it without thinking budgeting, etc. I just saved as much as I could from my job, and my husbands, before I quit my job. We were blessed when my husband got transferred, with a nice raise, to a place where the standard of living was much lower. We bought a house and it’s much easier for me to stay home.

    • Mara says:

      A lot of people don’t do the math – for our family, we were the same way. I would have lost money going back to work. Daycare is expensive, and by the time you add up all the extras you need for work (clothing, drycleaning, etc) it doesn’t always make sense.

      • Christy says:

        I always see clothing as a work expense. I guess since I teach elementary school, I don’t need that much work clothes. We can wear jeans on Fridays with our school t-shirt. So I only need work clothes for 4 days a week and I wear the same shirts with pants/shorts when not at work and buy inexpensive “work clothes” I mean they get paint, glue, throw up, etc. on them–LOL! and I am trying to be more like Crystal (less clothing) since I do wear the same things over and over again anyway–I currently wear 2 pairs of dressier crocs that I got for $13 each (brown and black) from a moneysavingmom.com almost every day! I do realize that some people have to buy very expensive suits.

        • Christy says:

          Oh and I usually wear whatever I wore to church Sunday to work on Monday since I only wear it for a little while on Sunday. All my dresses, work pants, and shirts can go in the washer and dryer (I check labels before buying) – again, paint, glue, snot, flu season, etc. etc.

  • Janice says:

    I think doing the “test run” of practicing living on one income would be a great exercise to see how it will really feel. When my husband and I first married, we both had good paying, full-time jobs. But we also had quite a bit of debt. Our goal was for me to be able to stay home with our future children, so we used my income as strictly “gravy”. The nuts and bolts of our budget came out of my husband’s salary, and my salary was to pay off debt and save for the future. We paid off thousands in debt, bought a fixer-upper house, paid cash for all the home improvements, and we were able to have a significant savings built up for “just in case”. I am so thankful that we were able to “practice” living on one income for almost 5 years. Some months are harder than others, but our “just in case” fund is a comfort.

  • Charity says:

    We did just as Jesse suggested. When I found out that we were pregnant with our 2nd child, we knew that we wanted me to be able to stay at home. We took day care expenses for our 1st child and my portion of the tithe out of my paycheck and put the remainder in savings. This gave us time to adjust to living on one income and boosted our savings. I feel very blessed to be at home with my children. On a side note, we had cut our budget as much as possible and I was really seeking ways to reduce the only thing left that seemed variable (our grocery budget) and that’s about the same time that I discovered money saving mom. I always thought that I knew how to coupon… boy did I have a lot to learn. 🙂

  • Laura says:

    I quit my job a year ago, where I made 75,000! The only reason I was able to do this was that we had gotten ourselves so in debt early in marriage, after we came out of our spending stupor, realized we owed $50,000 in CC debts. So, we paid it back over 4 years, about $1100 a month and coupled with day care costs of $850 a month (therefore $2000 a month of my income), we paid it off and if you can believe it, I see it (the debt) now as a blessing. If we had not had that amount to pay each month, we would have been tempted to buy a bigger house, etc….so we paid it all off now I don’t work and we even homeschool our 2 kids now and we are working on our second adoption (also being paid for by God’s grace alone). God works DESPITE us. Thankfully!!!!

    PS We have also had to cut back, but not terribly. I even now don’t use a whole lot of couponing (except for household products) since I have in the past 6 months switched us to all natural and organic foods. I just stopped spending money on stuff like getting my hair cut and colored every month to the tune of $110 (includes tip) – what was I thinking?!??!?!

    • Annie says:

      Laura,

      $100 on hair a month (not including nails)….sounds so familiar!! Ahhh, those were the days. I was gorgeous and had fun but boy was I stupid. HAHA.

  • Don’t forget to consider SAHM expenses. There are playdates at McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A, maybe the occasional Mother’s Day Out program, the night “off” with the girls, and so many other little expenses that we didn’t have time for as working mothers. I’m NOT saying that being a SAHM mom is easy and filled with extra time. It just seems that I spend more on frivolous things because I don’t have the strict schedule that I did when I worked outside the home. When I worked outside the home I was eager to stay home. Now that I’m working at home, I am eager to be out. I’m sure many of you can relate 🙂

    • Emily says:

      I can totally relate. I stayed home for 1 year when my 2nd was born (and we have just moved to a new city, so I was home while looking for a job). Anway, when I was home, I was always out and about with the kids….at the library, running errands, at the park, wherever. Now that I’ve been back to work for over a year, I just want to come home and do the things that I no longer have time for when I’m gone all day.

    • Jill says:

      This is definitely true. You have to watch how many times you go out to lunch or snacks just to get out of the house. It would be even worse if I took my kids to the zoo or other children’s museums or play places very often. Those are expensive!

    • anon says:

      None of those things are really necessities, though. I have been home with my children their entire lives and we rarely do any of those things.

      • Melissa N says:

        We are lucky to live close(ish) to the Houston Zoo. I consider the $80 yearly membership to be SO worth it. It’s a playground, a water park, a preschool (map skills, biology, etc., etc., etc. ), and more all in one. Plus free parking and bring your own food, and it can’t be beat. Except for the fact that it’s in Houston, so you can probably imagine the heat from May-October. That’s why we joined the Children’s Museum (another $80 a year) – air conditioning! So that’s $160 a year for two wonderful places I can take the kids year round.

        I know this was off topic, sorry!

  • Jen G says:

    Our friends gave us Dave Ramsey DVDs and books as wedding gifts! We started our marriage w/ a lot of debt. The last time we used credit cards was on our honeymoon 4 years ago! We followed Dave’s plan (debt snowball, emergency fund, living below our means, paying cash for things), and paid off all of our credit cards and our two cars. Setting a grocery budget is key. I take out cash twice a month- when it runs out, we make due with rice & beans! Budgeting is liberating! I am new to couponing

  • Jen G says:

    Our friends gave us Dave Ramsey DVDs and books as wedding gifts! We started our marriage w/ a lot of debt. The last time we used credit cards was on our honeymoon 4 years ago! We followed Dave’s plan (debt snowball, emergency fund, living below our means, paying cash for things), and paid off all of our credit cards and our two cars. Setting a grocery budget is key. I take out cash twice a month- when it runs out, we make due with rice & beans! Budgeting is liberating! I am new to couponing. I have a new calling since becoming a mom and wouldn’t trade it! I want to be a good steward! With relation to the housework, The Fly Lady has been sooo helpful!

  • Jodi says:

    Becoming a SAHM is all about sacrifice and living within your means. When we chose to have another child (our kids were 12,18,and 20) we decided that I would stay home with her. We planned for it and refinanced our home and paid down/off bills we owed. Basically put everything in order so that we had only our mortgage. Couponing has also made it possible for me to stay home!!
    One thing that is difficult is to keep it this way…not keeping up with the Joneses! We know that this is what God wants us to do, and when the envy bug bites us it can be hard. But it is sooooooo worth it. My older kids have told me so many times how happy they are that I am home with them now, and their 2 yr old little sister! If you can do it, find a way!

  • Jessica says:

    I just switched from being a WOHM to a SAHM last year when my kids were 2 and 4. I think you have a good handle on what will cost you less, but make sure you consider what may cost you more. Do you want to sign your kids up for any classes? Preschool? My grocery bill went up because my daycare fed the kids lunch and snacks before. They also did the kid’s laundry if they got really dirty during the day.. so now I do MUCH more laundry. I used to wash one kid outfit a day, now it can be up to 3 (especially with potty training now!). Also, we used to let the heat drop during the work day, now we need to keep in warmer and we use electricity when we are home so heat and electricity went up. I would DEFINITELY make sure somewhere in the budget and plan, you get a few hours to yourself a week. You are used to spending more hours kid free than you will have in the future. Also, I had to buy casual clothes because I had enough for 2 days a week, not 7. We go more places during the week, that can be an expense we didn’t have.
    On the saving side, a BIG saving for us was that our tax bracket dropped with me leaving my job. Across federal and state taxes, that really helped soften the blow (and of course no daycare bill!!) I also save more by never buying lunch out and less dry cleaning. Save as MUCH as you can now and get rid of as much debt as possible. A month after I left my job, our car was totaled. While we were very lucky we weren’t even in the car when it happened, we were VERY happy to have a healthy emergency account. I worked longer to make sure that account was healthy.

  • Beth says:

    My mom always says to consider what you can SAVE your family when you stay home. You have more time to devote to couponing, cooking from scratch, doing projects around the house, hunting down deals on gifts, etc. I’ve found this to be true!

    • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

      Maybe, it’s me, but this is kind of what I mean. If I stay at home and I now and the one soley responsible for all the cooking, cleaning, errands and such…what do my kids do while I’m doing all that? Yes there are nap times (but my kids are almost done with that) but what does everyone do with their kids while having to focus on the “house care” too.

      I’m legitimately asking, not trying to be mean! I wonder this because when we are home together, my kids are underfoot ALL the time! I will start putting on laundry and someone needs to go potty or get a diaper change. I’ strat getting to work on dinner and the kids are fighting over something. I try to sit down to pay the bills, and the kids turn the house upside down!

      How DO you do it?? 🙂

      • Becky says:

        I’d love to hear an answer to this, too. I’m a SAHM, but I always feel like the mommy-to-housekeeper balance isn’t quite right.

  • I had always said that I’d probably go back to work after the second child, but if we had a third, I’d stay home. So when my oldest was 2 and I found out I was pregnant with twins, I figured God had made the decision for me!

    I found out very early on in the pregnancy, so we dumped every penny of my income into savings and paid off the last bit of our car payment. We wanted to be debt-free except the mortgage and living on just my husband’s income was not only good practice, it allowed us to build up our emergency fund.

    I still was a bit panicky about leaving my job while having 3 kids in diapers… so I actually asked for a one-year unpaid leave of absence… which was granted. Shortly before the year was up, I was 100 percent certain I wasn’t going back and gave my notice.

    I love being home with the kids, but it is hard work and sometimes you feel isolated. It’s very important to get out of the house and have conversations with grown-ups!

    You also need to make sure you protect yourself… no one likes to think about it… but bad stuff can happen… and you don’t want to face a dire financial situation during a time of emotional difficulties. Be sure to save for your own retirement, keep your resume alive, and make sure you and your husband have wills and life insurance.

  • JenJen says:

    As a banker, I just wanted to contribute a few words of advice financially. First, as long as your husband makes more than $12,000 a year, he can contribute $6,000 to his IRA AND $6,000 to yours, as long as you have absolutely NO INCOME.
    Second, if I were considering taking any loans or knew there was a chance we’d need to do so (to make home improvements, refinance a car, etc) in the next few years, I would go ahead and apply for it NOW. Income is ALWAYS a consideration when giving someone a loan, and unfortunately, from what I see, no one ever applies for a loan/LOC until it’s too late. If I were in your position and knew I wouldn’t be moving in the next five or so years, I’d go ahead and apply for a Home Equity Line of Credit before quitting my job. Essentially, this gives you access to money if you need it, but you are not obligated to borrow from it. ALSO, you should only pay interest on what you actually borrow. Just my $.02…

  • Christine says:

    I have been a stay-at-home mom for over two years. My husband and I have two daughters (ages 2 and and 3). My husband got his first full-time job last year and he made about $47,000. Before last year, we averaged making about $33,000/yr for the first four years of our marriage. In those four years, we managed to save $20,000 (with one full-time income). We started aggressively paying off my husband’s school loans September 2009 and 17 months later, we paid off a total of $39,000 of debt and we are now debt-free! It can be done!!

    Of course, with all the savings and paying off debt came with lots of sacrifices. When my husband and I moved to Raleigh from Florida for his grad-school, we moved with my in-laws to save on rent. We’ve also tried to live frugally and try to teach our girls to the same. It’s the little financial choices that we feel helped us accomplish our financial goals in such a short time.

    Staying at home with my children has been a huge commitment–emotional and financially–but I wouldn’t change anything about our decision.

  • Before we decided to try to get pregnant, my husband landed a dream job, nearly doubled his income, and we were able to buy our first home. We decided that we would live off of his income only and save all of mine while we were trying and while I was pregnant to see if we could do it. We did, with surprising ease, and I decided to stay at home with our daughter. My job is to care for our daughter, our home, and to save us as much money as I can through coupons, deals, and frugal living.

    If you’re thinking about staying at home, I suggest a trial period of saving your income while living off of one only and see if you can really make it work. If you can do it, fantastic!, and you’ve got a bit of money saved for emergency fund, etc.

  • kim says:

    Many of us working moms would love to get to a point where we can make the choice and sacrifice to stay at home. And yes, I have done both, but right now I don’t have the luxury – yes, it is a luxury even if sacrifices are made – to stay home to raise my son full-time.
    We’ve never had cable, we don’t have internet, we have old cars that are paid for, we shop at thrift stores, blah, blah, blah… but sometimes that’s not enough. In the mean time, I’m giving all I can to my son and he loves daycare, so I’m counting my blessings and we’re working toward our goal.

  • Beth says:

    This post could not have been more perfectly timed ~ definitely a God-Thing! I am currently on maternity leave with my fourth baby, and will be returning to work soon — at which time I plan to submit my resignation, and leave my full time job, with excellent health benefits.

    While I’m equally scared as I am thrilled about our new transitions, I am at complete peace that God is going to provide every need for our family. Right now we can live on only my husband’s income, and I hope to possibly bring in some money on the side through watching a neighbor or friend’s child, or a very part time position somewhere in the evenings or on the weekends – this would provide us with extra money to put toward things like home improvements, family vacations, etc.

    We are (finally!) learning how to live below our means, and what the value of a dollar is. I wish I (we) had learned this many years ago, especially early in our marriage! But today we’re “changing our family tree” and will be teaching our boys these important financial lessons as they grow.

    I am interested to check back to this post to see others’ advice, to see if we should take anything extra into consideration.

  • Becky R says:

    In order for our family to afford going down to one income we had to work extra hard paying off all our debt and building an emergency fund. All credit cards, cars and home equity loan had to be paid off. We are cutting cable, I cut my family’s hair and coupon like crazy. To be honest, finding this website, which led me to Dave Ramsey, is what changed our life. It has been a lot of sacrifice and I do feel like it will be a challenge to go back to work in 5 or 6 years but my kids are only young once and for me it is worth it. I have been surprised at how much we’ve saved with my being home. Not only on gas, clothing, and lunches, but little things like co-worker’s birthdays, holiday gift exchanges and fundraisers. It is not for everyone and I certainly don’t judge mothers who work outside of the home either out of necessity or choice. I’ve done both and each one is a challenge.

    • Heather says:

      Good point on those hidden working expenses. When I was single working as a teacher (ie. low salary), there were often incidentals that my coworkers didn’t blink at because they had spouses pulling in a better salary.

  • Hilary says:

    I have been blessed enough to be able to stay at home and have a part time in-home job. I get to teach about 80 homeschoolers Latin each week for an online academy. We were struggling quite a bit due to moving expenses for my husband’s first job out of college. But, I began couponing a couple months ago and we can afford things like body wash again! : ) This has been a great experience to teach me how much we really need to spend (and don’t need to spend).

    Thank you so much for putting time into this blog. The free Mothers Day card offer was a really enjoyable free gift to give to my mother! She couldn’t stop looking at it.

  • Kim P says:

    I have been blessed to be a stay-at-home-mom & daycare provider for two years now. The way we were able to make that work was…. that God blessed me with a first job in which I made very little money! My first teaching job was a small private school at which I made about half the normal teaching salary. Loved it, but when my first son was born, I wanted to teach part-time. I then found a part-time teaching job at an affluent district, where my part-time salary was almost the same as my previous full-time salary. Then, after my second son was born, some dear friends of ours asked me to provide daycare for their children full-time. And guess what? The amount they offered to pay me was very nearly what I was making as a part-time teacher. God has blessed my family immensely simply by providing what we need, when we need it. We don’t have many “extras” in our lives, and we have always lived frugally. I feel so blessed that we didn’t have to adjust too much in our budget in order for me to stay home.

    And, I can also say, like some others, that I have been a working mom and a stay at home mom. God calls each of us to different vocations and as long as we are following His will for our lives, He will bless us and our families.

  • ashley says:

    don’t forget about those “little” yearly expenses when planning your budget either!! figure up ahead of time how much you will spend on christmas gifts, license plates, newspaper subscriptions, etc. that only come around once a year and plan that into your budget. i know some people who ‘had it all figured out’ but forgot about christmas and ended up putting everything on a credit card. don’t put yourself back at square one!

  • Katie says:

    It is very possible to live on one income! We are a family of 5 (3 kids 4 and under) and my husband makes under $30K a year and we do not take government assistants. It can be done but you have to determine what your priorities are! We had one car for until 9 months ago, and we live in a 2 bedroom apartment. We also have two kids with an auto immune disease (celiac disease) which requires a strict diet that is NOT cheap. We spend about 1/4 of his income on food alone. And one child with asthma. It is possible if you really want to stay home, it just takes being creative and a little hard work, a strict budget, and faith in God. Because He really is the one who provides all things.

  • I have been a stay at home mom four four years and even though my kids drive me crazy I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    We had to cut back on everything for me to stay home and I had to start couponing like crazy for us to have enough money to make ends meet and have nurses each of my children for a year each to avoid buying expensive formula (being home all day made this much easier).
    One thing I am very happy about is that my husband and I started having kids when we were 24 so we hadn’t bought a house yet which made it easier to downgrade our spending (we moved from a very nice and expensive apartment to an in-law apartment at my parents with rent that was lower). If we had a house then it would have been harder to cut our expenses to the point where we could live on one income.
    For the past few years I have been working 10 hours every Saturday a small company doing office work while my husband is home with the kids. I have been fortunate to be paid very well for this one day of work and it has tipped the scales a bit so that we have some breathing room but at the same time getting this great job wasn’t by chance- I took an online class from local college on using Excel when my son was a newborn. That $80 has been one of the better investments of my life!
    With all of that said, had our circumstances been different, I would have probably had to work and understand why some moms have to.

  • Jenni says:

    To clarify from earlier comments made… us SAHMs are lucky. We get to raise our children and enjoy all of their milestones along the way! Yes there are sacrifices and we have bad days like any other job, but the rewards of staying home are far greater than those at a “real” job. If you are a SAHM and someone says how lucky you are, you should appreciate their comment and know you truly are the lucky one.

  • I am slowly working toward this myself. I’m transitioning to part-time and when my daughter begins kindergarten, I plan to quit so I can be more involved with her education while raising our son who is an infant.

    I would caution about medical expenses. I am young-32- but have had a variety of medical issues, including postpartum depression after having my son, which was so severe I had to be hospitalized for 4 days. I was also recently diagnosed with a lifelong thyroid condition and a vitamin deficiency that has caused health complications and will require medications and lifelong monitoring.

    As for bringing in some income, three years ago I started freelance writing for Demand Studios Media and examiner.com. My first year, I earned $6k, last year I earned $3k and this year I’ve earned $2k so far. I write articles while my kids nap or watch a movie. I get paid by the article and page view. You do have to claim this as income on your taxes, but it keeps your resume up to date and brings in some extra $$$ without the need for work related expenses. There are some requirements, such as for Demand Studios Media required a published writing sample and proof of expertise in a field- I have 8 years of experience as an epidemiologist and have a Masters of Public Health, which is my field of expertise. I concentrate on health-related articles for them. For examiner, the pay is much less but the requirements are fewer.

  • Laura Spicer says:

    I’ve been at home with my two children for almost seven years, and somehow we make it work on a teacher’s salary. Though I shouldn’t say, “we”… it’s really been God’s provision.

    I was a teacher when I found out I was pregant with my daughter. We had always thought we’d wait another year until we had more savings built up, but God had other plans. The man from whom we had been renting had sold us our house for well under market value, so we were able to refinace so that I could stay home for that first year after my daughter was born. Again, God had other plans. When it was time for me to apply for a job, God provided a new teaching position for my husband, closer to home and with significantly better pay and benefits. I was overjoyed to be able to stay home again, and then that year I became pregnant with my son.

    After my son was born, we decided we needed more room (our house was TINY), and we also knew it was a good time to sell. Our house went under contract within two weeks of being on the market (did I mention it was 2007 – a MUCH better market back then!) for TRIPLE of what we had paid for it! However, we were priced out of the area and had to relocate about two hours away. But again God provided a job for my husband and we were able to cut our mortgage in half by buying in a lower-cost area of the state. And I was able to continue to stay home.

    When we moved, our plan was for me to go back to work when our kids went to school, since teaching and paying daycare costs for two children were almost pointless. We cut costs wherever we could – no cable, minimal haircuts, hand-me-downs, simple vacations, and eating out maybe once a year on our anniversary. I also began to make more of our food from scratch; we invested in a grain mill and bread suddenly cost us only a few dollars a month!

    Then my husband felt God leading us to homeschool, which made little financial sense at the time. After teaching in public high schools for six years, he was seeing the detriments of a “one size fits all” curriculum as well as negative social influences on many a “good kid.” I was hesitant, but God changed my convictions and I became a tutor with a homeschool group, covering the costs for supplies. But more changes were to come.

    About two years ago, my husband and I began to desire land. When we had first gotten married, our pastor had warned us that he could easily see us becomming a well-to-do, worldly couple, so homesteading was a total 180 for us! Around that time, my husband ran into the man who owned his great-grandparents’ farmhouse back in the are from which we had moved…and found out he was thinking of selling!

    To conclude, here we are, two years later. We bought the farmhouse and five-and-half acres of the original farm a year ago and are trying to live more sustainably. On the downside, we had to sell our other home after the market plummeted, and though we had a lot of equity in it, we have less in the bank than we’d hoped and many of our home improvement projects will be DIY. Though I’ve taken some side jobs over the years and continue to tutor, we’ve primarily lived off my husband’s salary…and somehow manage to save. Eventually, we want to sell what we raise/grow…we’ve invested in laying hens, two calves, and fruit trees. As for retirement savings, our hope is to pay off our mortgage before retirement and continue to live off the land and use my husband’s pension for other expenses. Eating healthy, local food keeps us from sickness and we continue to cut costs as I mentioned above.

    I’m really not sure if what we’re doing makes pure, financial sense, and trust me – I wish I could hire a contractor today to redo our kitchen and bathrooms! So our situation is not without its struggles, but we know the Lord has called us to be good stewards of the land and to educate our children at home. And as He promised, He has provided all our NEEDS.

  • Jamie says:

    Just want to share a quick story…One time, while getting my hair cut, a stylist asked me what I did for a living. (It was a Monday morning and I was alone. (No kids in tow.) My youngest was in Kindergarten at the time.) After telling her I was a stay-at-home mom, she said, and I am not exaggerating, “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I just don’t really like watching soap operas that much.” Sadly, she wasn’t making a joke. She was completely serious. I was floored. I kept my cool though and simply said, “Well, luckily that isn’t a requirement.” I KNOW for a fact that the great majority of women in the workforce do not feel this way about stay-at-home moms, but I thought it was too funny of a story to not share. It still makes me laugh. 🙂

  • I wish I had the time to read all of the comments, because this may have been mentioned already.

    I don’t say this to scare anyone (because I’d rather be home with my kids and dirt poor), but health insurance was our shocker. It just never occurred to us how much it would cost for me (and kids) to be on hubby’s plan. I think we figured a few hundred dollars, but it’s over 700 a month. Totally blew our budget. Like I said, it’s worth it and can be done, but if you’re planning a budget be sure you check how much that is going to be.

    • Dawn says:

      We are a family of five and purchase our plan individually (meaning not through and employer) and it’s much less than that. You should shop around, getting insurance through your employer(s) is not the only option out there.

    • Becky says:

      That was a shocker for us, too. We bought independent plans for our child and me, and the cost fits our budget, but the deductible is enormous. Thankfully, most preventative/healthy visits, etc. are covered w/out deductible, and both of us are generally healthy. Also, I’ve found that our pediatrician’s office is great about working with people with minimal insurance. Finally, we’ve found that we can get some things taken care of at the health department. It’s not ideal, but it works.

  • HP says:

    If God is calling you to stay at home with your child(ren), He will help you find a way to make the transition. I have been shocked at how God provides for us in small and large ways on a daily basis. Our friends and family are amazed that we can live off of such a small income. But I have found that money saving AND money making opportunities come up quite frequently. I’m able to do small things to add to our overall income while still enjoying time with my son. Sites like this help as well as friends who can encourage your decision–even if they choose another path. I hope things go well for you!

  • Tonya says:

    When we got married, we had about $13k in credit card & personal loan debt. I knew that one day I would like to be a SAHM, but we were barely keeping my head above the water with both of our incomes – I knew I did not want to bring a child into that mess. People always say that if you wait until you’re financially ready, you will never have a child, but I disagreed. I knew with hard work, sacrifice and persistence, we really COULD be financially ready to have a child.

    So, one month after we said our vows, I sat down with my spreadsheet and worked out a plan to get rid of that pesky credit card debt after putting $1,000 into an emergency fund. It only took us 7 months. After that, I focused on paying off my husband’s car, then we saved for a down payment so he could get a new car. It was a little more than a year after we’d paid off our credit card debt and I was pregnant by this time, so we needed a vehicle that was more family friendly. Once we got his new car, we made the minimum monthly payments on it for the next 2 months while we aggressively paid off the car payment on my car. That was in February 2008 – we then saved every dime of my income between then and when I went on bedrest before having my daughter at the end of April to ensure we had a large emergency fund that would last us several months. We then spent another year aggressively paying off his new car.

    We are able to live very comfortably on his income. He is a junior NCO, so it’s not like we have a ton of it at our disposal, but thanks to free housing, free health care and being able to shop at the commissary, as well as take advantage of numerous military discounts, extra income from deployments and just being all-around smart with our finances, we are able to have money for date nights, eating out 1-2x a week, trips to Disney World, cruises to the Caribbean, trips back home to see family, have 2 reliable vehicles, all while maintaining an emergency fund, a savings account for a down payment on a house when he retires in 10 more years, his retirement account and a savings account for our daughter. Don’t get me wrong, we had to sacrifice a lot to get where we’re at now but we have definitely earned being able to reap the rewards of it now. I am extremely fortunate that the military allows us to have the financial freedoms that we have. Without those, I would likely still be at work, missing out on so much with my daughter while she is at day care.

    I plan on re-entering the workforce when she starts school at our next duty station.

  • Candice says:

    It was a no-brianer for us. Even though our health insurance over trippled when going on my husbands plan @ work, we did the math & were shocked. After our son who was 2 months early, we were told by daycare that he would cost extra being a preemie. Eventually we found a daycare & a few sitters that would take him, but the cost was outrageous. After adding up the cost for childcare, fuel, work clothes, lunches out & packed…etc costs, I was going to have to pay to work. We made the right choice for our family. I am now working part time & have gone back to being a firefighter again, so I only work 24hrs every 6th day. This schedule and the choice we made works for our Family very well.

  • Rose says:

    Reading these comments a lot of them are like our situation….we have been married for almost 31 years…we decided from day 1 to live on my hubby’s income and bank mine, no matter how tight the budget. When we decided to dig up roots and move 800 miles from family and friends, my hubby was making $6 an hour…yes, this was 1982, but sometimes he was only paid for 20 hours a week (he worked outdoors, weather etc..) So to say the least we had a tight budget. I had left the best job I had ever had in a corp. Art Dept and moving up on the ladder..to a very small town that was 13 miles from anywhere..could not find anything in my field for over 2 years…and then I was making less than half of what I had been making..worked for 7 years at that job and part time after #1 son was born, traveling up and down a mtn. at 10 pm to avoid daycare. When #2 son came along I retired from everything but freelance and summer work at a camp doing laundry! We still managed to put 3 of our sons into private school (while working at the school to pay off some of the tuition…)and I coupon, cut my kids/hubby’s hair, hang ALL of the laundry to dry, eat mostly at home, keep the heat and A/C at the minimum, garden and can, sew curtains, pillows, etc., and have still kept a small calligraphy business going for all of these years…and lived in 800 sq. feet (5 of us at that time…) for 17 years! We moved closer to town and have doubled the size of the house…but SURPRISE, God threw us a curve and I now have 4 sons…(preg. at 46..) he is now 7. So, since I had gone back to work full time, I now decided to stay home again to avoid daycare, etc and have not gone back, but still keeping the small income from the Callig business (we use it for splurges..) So, I am outdated and cannot return to what I did before, but we are not hurting (even though the economy has reduced my hubbies income) We are living on one income and we believe that being faithful and titheing has sustained us all these years…So do as God leads you to do…

  • Stephanie Shelton says:

    After our son was born, I had to go back to work because my husband had been laid off. I worked full-time until he was 18 months old. After my husband was established in his new job, we looked again at our finances. I realized that I was only coming out ahead $100 a month! We were paying for daycare, gas, extra diapers (the daycare had a diaper changing schedule and would change even a clean diaper), food that my son could feed himself at daycare, and the big one which was medical expenses. Being in daycare, my son was sick a lot!!! I would miss hours at work to take him to the doctor, the co-pays, money for medication, and heartache from having a sick child.
    I now teach private instument lessons from my home. I teach on my schedule and only take students when it works for me and my family. I am now making $200 plus dollars a month and can still stay home to raise our precious boy.
    This was not without sacrifice. We have a very strict budget and ended up having to sell one of our vehicles. We have to be organized and plan ahead. When we are able to save up for something, we are much for grateful for it. I’m glad to say we are better for all of these changes. In the end, we have a happy and healthy family that would rather sit around a home-cooked meal than eat out.

  • Aunna says:

    It pains me when I hear moms say they wish they could stay home but they can’t afford it. We live on a cop’s salary with two kids and somehow manage to make it work. It just takes sacrifice. We shop at Goodwill, only buy stuff on sale, live in a small house with a low payment and only have one vehicle. We don’t get to go on vacations or eat out at nice restuarants…unless of course we have a gift certificate bought at 80% off! But every sacrifice made is worth the time I get to spend with my boys!

    • Sherri says:

      Be careful how you come across when saying things like this. You don’t know everyone’s situation. I googled a cop’s salary and found anywhere from $35K to $75K depending on experience and location. That’s a pretty nice salary, compared to what a lot of people around here make.

      When I was kid, I used to have teachers who would complain about their “low” salary and how they had to take a summer job. Thing is, their teacher’s salary was more than BOTH of my parents’ salaries combined. My mom always worked because we had no choice. We rarely ate out, shopped yard sales, vacationed at my grandparents, and other frugal standbys. It wasn’t that our sacrifice was too small. It was that the salaries were too small. My dad worked hard and was an excellent employee, but cleaning floors only pays so much, no matter how good you are.

  • jenny says:

    I have enjoyed reading so many accounts, from both sides of the fence. I am currently almost ready to quit my job. I am just not making money, having 2 kids in daycare. So far, no more than $20 a week. I don’t have any benefits and we are already on my husbands insurance. I do have an Etsy shop, and am hoping if I quit, I can find ways to make that more successful. We put in a MUCH larger garden this year, and I freeze and can like crazy in the summer. We have a flock of laying hens, and the food costs are largely covered by selling extra eggs. We are trying our hand at raising a few turkeys for holiday meals. I make almost all of out meals and focus on healthy meals made from scratch. I stayed at home with the kids all winter while I was laid off, and we were fine. We didn’t have extra, and had to really watch our spending, but I feel we can do this. Esp. with summer craft show season getting starting, I hope that I can sell bags like a mad woman, lol!! Thanks for sharing all of your expereinces, it is helping me to feel more comfortable with making this decision!

  • Meredith says:

    I just get the impression that everyone is now trying to one up each other… whether you’re a SAHM or WOHM. Be grateful for your family and realize everyone makes sacrifices and that just comes with being good parents.

    • Traci says:

      Meredith…my thoughts exactly. I say be grateful to be able to stay home if you can. I would love to be at home, however I am the sole provider in my household so I have no other choice…but I am grateful to have a job to be able to provide.

    • Amber says:

      Thank you, Meredith. As I’m reading this (from my desk at work), some of these SAHM moms make me want to cry because I’m not making the sacrifices necessary to also be a SAHM. Some things are choices, and some are just reality. Period.

  • Alea says:

    This likely has already been mentioned – but health insurance will probably be a killer unless you’re already covered by your husband. That’s the one thing I wish we didn’t have to pay for. We pay $300+ for me and the kids (4 of them). And it’s not that great of insurance either! I remember working years ago and my part of the insurance was such a little amount!

  • Becky says:

    I taught in a public school for 12 years before our child was born, and that’s enough time that hubby (who is also a teacher) and I were just hitting six figures when I became pregnant. After we tithed each month, the rest of our budget looked something like this: 19% charitable giving, 11% mortgage and related expenses, 10% food/entertainment, and then insurance, phone, gas, and all the other stuff. We frequently went significantly over our budget in in the food/entertainment category, going out to eat 3-4 times a week. Although I see now that we threw away a lot of money on “fluff and stuff,” we still lived significantly below our means.

    We knew that if we ever had children, I would stay home at least for a few years; in hindsight, we really should have focused more on putting money into savings during our two-income years. The year before our child was born, we lived on my husband’s income alone and put the rest in savings (minus the giving — we did not feel it was time to cut back there yet, although we knew we would have to cut waaay back once we truly had only hubby’s income). I discovered this website late during my pregnancy and began learning how to save money using coupons, shopping the drugstores, etc.

    I know we have been blessed in our job situations, and the two biggest things we’ve given up so that I can stay home with our child are giving and eating out. When we were writing out a preliminary budget for one income, it really hurt to cut out most of the giving — most of it was to various missionaries we know personally. The one area of giving we kept in the budget was our child sponsorship through Compassion International. To be honest, it also hurt to cut out eating out — we went from 3-4 times a week to 1-2 times a month. I’ve become a much better and more creative and frugal cook, but I do miss restaurants. 🙂

    Beyond that, we cut out our clothing budget (we occasionally pick up a thing or two at a thrift store), we’ve probably been to two movies since our child was born (same age as Silas), we do some bartering, we’ve become more creative in gift giving, I teach two mornings a week at the local university to make money for insurance payments and put a few dollars in savings, and trade childcare time with a friend (she watches my child while I teach, I watch her child one day of the week so she can have some “time off”). It’s tight sometimes, and for a few months it seemed like one extra expense after another kept hitting us, but I love love love spending the time with my son and taking care of my home and family. We believe the Lord wants me back in the classroom full-time once our child is in school — I always viewed my teaching job as a ministry — but I am so thankful for this current season of my life and my family’s life.