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Ask the Readers: Do you spend less when you’re a stay-at-home mom?

Today’s question is from Amy:

I was wondering if you could post my question. I’m pregnant with my second child and thinking about becoming a stay at home mom (Currently working full-time). For moms who have done this, did you find that you spent less because you were able to do more things yourself? Like cooking from scratch, couponing, making homemade cleaners, or more energy to take care of things like cloth diapers? Or are these unrealistic savings expectations? Were there any extra costs that surprised you? -Amy

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181 Comments

  • Melissa Bell says:

    I found that I spent less. I think it varies greatly depending on your circumstances. I worked in an office, and I spent a lot on clothes/accessories. Will your wardrobe requirements and expenses change? Some women still want to buy the nice clothes. That’s okay, just consider it. Next, I had to drive 45 minutes each way… Consider the cost of savings on gas/vehicle service. Next, the cost of childcare while I would work was over $1000 month. This was a huge expense! Consider the cost of childcare, if applicable. Also, I would eat out a LOT! Typically I would eat lunch out 4-5 times a week, breakfast from a drive-thru several times a week, expensive coffee way too many times a week, and a lot of dinners out (because I was too tired to come home and cook). Also, now I have 2 kids, and the childcare would be over $2000 a month. Pray about this decision, and let the Lord guide you. He knows what’s best for your family.

    • Halie Johnson says:

      Melissa – It’s funny you mention the clothes because I had the opposite problem when I started working. While I was working I pretty much only bought work clothes and came home and changed into sweats or even my nightgown. I didn’t need much in the way of casual clothes. When I started staying home, I realized I didn’t have any regular clothes and looked like such a bum all of the time! (Not to mention my body had changed drastically since baby). I ended up having to buy a new wardrobe to stay home 😛

    • Kimber says:

      Great advice – especially the last two sentences.

  • Holly says:

    Yup it depends for sure! I work seasonally and this last tax season I was pumping, which took up all my break time, so I spent way less. I also don’t have time to meet friends for lunch and do mindless shopping so I feel like I spend much less when working but I stick to the basics for my work wardrobe and only have one child so coming home and cooking dinner at night was totally feasible.

    • Tara C says:

      I hear you on the tax season stuff! I am don’t have kids, but I did find that I worked so much that I was spending much less money in most other areas of my life. I did order out a little more, but overall, I spent less and earned more.

  • Joann says:

    I think the decision for me to stay home made us more responsible with money. We prayed about it, and little by little, God showed us what we were overspending on (thanks a ton to moneysavingmom as well!) I used only cloth diapers on my second-born, except when we were going out for the day or on vacation. We started making freezer meals, my husband started bringing his lunches to work, we coupon (not as much as some).

    I’ve also made a game called “can I live without it?” If I am looking at an item at the store, even a super-cheap item, and I am close to spending all of my alotted cash, I will try to think of something at home I can repurpose instead. We save a lot of clutter and become a little more resourceful each time.

    I am also starting a garden in my back yard this year. We have fruit trees and berry bushes and will be growing tomatoes to can into salsa and spaghetti sauce. As a bonus, hopefully my kids and I will become pro gardeners together.

    God bless you wherever he leads you!!

  • Amy-

    I was a stay at home mom for 13 years before I went back to work a couple of years ago. We definitely saved money with me staying home, but we did without a lot of “extras” too.

    It was worth it to us to sacrifice extras like vacations and eating out to keep me home, but we struggled financially when we didn’t have enough saved for emergencies like unexpected flat tires and a renter who didn’t pay on time and bounced her checks. I always had something going on that helped to bring in extra money, whether it was eBay, sewing, or being a virtual assistant. I’d work during nap times and when the kids were occupied with their toys.

    We now spend more on food (convenience), clothing for me, commuting costs, and $176 per week for my son’s daycare. It was a hard decision to go back to work, but was the right decision for our family at the time. I am lucky enough to work for a great company that is very flexible and lets me work from home when I need to put my family first, like when the kids are sick, or preschool graduation falls in the middle of the day.

    It was totally worth it and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, but only if I had a savings account to help us through the rough patches.

    Good luck!

  • Robyn says:

    Amy – YES!!! It saves a TON of money to stay home. Yes, by my fourth child we did you cloth diapers, etc….BUT we didn’t start out that way. I stayed home and genuinely enjoy cooking. It’s true, there were chicken nuggets in the freezer for the days I wanted a ‘quick fix,’ but learning to cook was an adventure – a challenge. Even if you are not a fan of the “from scratch” method – a ham sandwich at home will always be cheaper than the salad you grab while at work. Childcare is obviously cheaper – and if you want ‘Mommy time’ there are usually Tues/Thurs schools for your older one – churches usually offer them for a very small fee. We progressed to the point that we homeschool – and save quite a bit of money at that as well. Yes, I purchase curriculum, however we ‘hand me down’ to the next child – AND we don’t have to make and take anything for the ‘other kids’ or for the teacher, or for the school. We save on gas, we save on buying ‘snack size’ foods – that honestly cost more for their convenience. The BEST part of staying home – even for a short time – is that YOU get to know your kids. The babysitter, or teacher, isn’t telling you about their day, what their new favorite color is, or what they are especially gifted at – YOU know firsthand!!

    • Emily says:

      It isn’t only stay at home moms who get to know their children. I work full-time, and I know my kids quite well. A mom who works full time outside the home can know firsthand what her childs favorite color is, what they are especially gifted at, how their day was, etc. just as a mom who stays home can.

      • Emily says:

        I agree with you. I work, but I was there the first time my daughter crawled, took a step, got a tooth. Having a child on daycare isn’t paying someone else to raise your child. No one can ever replace you as their mother. I enjoy BOTH working and mothering.

      • Robyn says:

        My intention was to degrade mothers who choose to work – it was to point out that the benefits of staying home are not just financial. Every family haste decide what is appropriate or thei situation.

      • Emily says:

        I agree, Emily. I work, but I was there the first time my daughter crawled, took a step, got a tooth, etc. I’m not paying someone else to raise my child. As mothers, no one can replace us to our children.

        • Jenna says:

          Staying at home or working… I think some stay-at-home moms can easily spend the same or less time ‘with’ their kids. (I.e. I’m sitting on the couch next to my kid right now, I’m on the computer, he’s watching TV. I don’t count that as spending time with my kid.). I’m definitely a supporter of anyone trying to stay home if they can. I think parents need to be intentional about whatever time they have with their kids–whether its 1 hour after work or 12 hours each day.

        • Beth says:

          Emily,
          I have to agree with Robyn in that obviously the more time you spend with your child, the better you get to know them. I understand that some women have to work, some women want to work, and we all have the right to make the best choice for our own family. Of course, no one can replace you as the mother Emily, but how can you say that you aren’t paying someone else to raise your child if your child spends the majority of their waking hours with the paid child care provider? That just doesn’t make sense. Sure, you can still know their favorite color, what’s their gifts are, etc., but you can not truly know how their day was if you were not there to spend it with them.

          • me says:

            Because millions of children have been raised while their mothers worked and they were in day care. All of that goes away when they go to school. Not everyone can/does/wants to do homeschooling. I know families who have absolutely no business homeschooling their children–each parent barely made it out of high school-and yet they do. Why? so they can ‘know their children’? My parents know me extremely well and I live 1200 miles away. It’s the effort and quality of time that you spend with your children, not whether or not you’re attached to them 24/7.

          • Sarah says:

            Sorry, but that’s a little like saying I could never know my husband as well as his secretary does because he’s at work all day…

            • me says:

              Depending on the person, you’d be surprised how much one spouse tells a work colleague over the other spouse. I spend 10-12 hours with my work husband and at some point you have to talk about other stuff.

            • Sarah, EXCELLENT point. And, really ladies, WHY do we have to get into this arguement over and over again?

          • Emily says:

            Ahh, but my children do NOT spend the majority of their waking hours with the paid child care provider. There are 168 hours in a week; my kids are in daycare for 40 of those hours. And I CAN say that I am not paying someone else to raise my children. My husband and I are doing that quite fine, with both of us working full time.

          • Jen says:

            I find this criticism of working moms insulting to all mothers – don’t judge anyone else’s decisions on how to parent as long as their children are safe. If you don’t be something nice to say, keep it to yourself. Seriously. Why do you even care if someone else chooses to work?

            • Crystal says:

              We have a LOT of working women/moms here — some who work part-time, some who work full-time, some who work at home, etc. We love all of you and we’re glad to have you here.

              Let’s focus on encouraging each other — even if our choices are different than someone else’s. And let’s focus on the question at hand, not on questioning someone else’s choices, okay? Thanks so much for helping to keep this an upbeat and inspiring site to be on!

              {Hugs!} to all of you. And thank you for all the amazingly insightful comments that have been left on this post. I appreciate you all so much!

  • Shelah says:

    My opinion is not to expect great savings from making/baking/etc yourself. I’d make the budget based your life now (obviously minus your salary). Taking care of two little ones is a hard job; you may not find yourself jumping into a full from-scratch menu if you haven’t been doing this before. Over time as you get your feet under you and your kids get a little older, you’ll find that you can do more and more of these cost-saving measures.

    I’ve been home for 8.5yrs and have 3 kids; I worked before we had kids. There have definitely been seasons where I did more to save money…..usually the baby season is NOT one of them. 🙂

    That’s my two cents.

    • Michelle says:

      I agree with this. Oftentimes working moms underestimate how much work Stay at home moms actually do (I certainly did!) just keep in mind that you are paying someone else to do that job now, so it is still a job even if you don’t get paid. No matter what you are still losing an income, so even if you are able to cut costs, you probably wont be able to replace your salary by doing things like freezer cooking, etc. so while i do feel like we spend less, we also make less. I have never added up the exact “savings” but I know that for us, after daycare, gas, food, and work clothes I would only be bringing home about $500 a month and it just wasn’t worth it to me. You have to weigh the pros and cons. I have friends though that enjoy working and have said as long as they are not losing money by working they will continue to work, because that’s the right choice for them. Just remember that it is doable, and there might be sacrifices but you can make it work!

    • Diane says:

      I’m not sure it’s any season….I’m definitely spending more now that I have teens than I ever did when my kids were babies.

      • Denise says:

        I can definitely relate to this with 3 teenagers. Just uniforms, underarmor, spikes, etc. for 2 kids in track seems like it cost more than diapers ever did! Our family was fortunate in that either my husband or I were aways able to be home (except for very short periods of time) with our children. We are in jobs where we could juggle our schedules, shifts, etc. to make it work. While it was definitely hectic when the kids were little, it worked for us. We’ve always bought second-hand, cooked ahead, eaten out very little, etc., but we’ve also enjoyed the benefits of a second part-time salary. Each family has to make a decision that works best for them. I think where you live plays a big role as well, since the costs of daycare and commuting vary so widely.

    • Andrea says:

      This is very true. DO NOT jump right into meal planning from scratch right away with a new baby. This is definitely something you have to wean yourself into. I know I had to.

    • Sara says:

      I totally agree with Shelah! Before I had my first baby I thought I would save all this money by staying at home because I would cook from scratch, prep freezer meals, make all this homemade stuff for the home, etc etc. But then the baby came & just caring for him is a full time job! Especially if you’re expecting your second, you really shouldn’t expect yourself to do ALL these little things to save money right away. Mine is just now 6 months & I’m JUST starting to do more at home to save money! It’s hard- don’t expect too much of yourself or you’ll just feel like you’re disappointing yourself! But, to me, even then it’s worth it to stay home!

  • Jennifer says:

    I definitely save more being home (2 y/o daughter, another child on the way). I do not use cloth diapers or make my own cleaners, but I do save a fortune by couponing and cooking from scratch. Not to mention becoming a 1 car family, not spending money on daycare, lunches out, work clothing, etc. You would be shocked to see how much you can accomplish on one income.

  • Karen says:

    I also think you should think about the type of person you are and prayerfully consider several questions in addition to those already posted. Do you enjoy cooking from scratch and making your own cleaners? If so you’re more likely to do that with your time. There’s a temptation when following “money saving” blogs to go out and buy deals. You would have to go shopping every day to hit all these deals. I enjoy staying at home, and I know there will be some deals on the day I shop, but I can live without many of them. In addition to work expenses already mentioned, ask yourself how much you can save in transportation costs. Here again, if you enjoy staying at home, you live in a neighborhood where you can walk and visit people, you’ll probably save a lot just in gas and maintenance on your vehicle. As for myself, I don’t have children, but when I went from full time to part time, I became a better housekeeper. Up until then, I thought I hated cleaning, but it turns out I just hated being tired and not having the time to clean. Hope this helps.

  • Krafty Momma says:

    Yes, it really depends upon circumstances! Four months ago, I quit my job so I could be a full-time stay-at-home mom to our then four month old son. Honestly, it was the best decision my husband and I ever made. I can’t adequately describe how much our quality of life as gone up!

    We’re both very frugal people, so we were using many money saving ideas already. We’ve taken the attitude that my job as a stay-at-home mom is to save us money. By making our own bread, tortillas, and other items from scratch, we’ve managed to save over $50 a month off of what we thought was a bare-bone grocery budget. I also have time to play the drugstore game (and it’s good for us to get out of the house each day) so I usually save $30 a month couponing as well. We also have more opportunities to buy items at garage sales. When I was working, both my husband and I felt like we were just surviving each week, not living.

    I was blessed with several opportunities to work from home as a freelance writer, so by the time I figured in daycare costs, gas and wear and tear on the car to commute to work 45 minutes each day, clothing, and the meals we didn’t eat out, I only made $86 more per week by working full time. At least this way I can see my kid grow up!

  • Stephanie says:

    Honestly, we do not spend as much money as we did when I worked…or if I worked now. Since leaving my job I know have 3 kids under 3…and a 12 year old. We save a ton of money eating out only once a week, saving on the money to maintain another car that drives to a workplace and home, not paying daycare, breastfeeding!! and using coupons.

    I tried a lot of the homemade cleaners and can’t say that I didn’t spend as much as I would’ve with a coupon, was not happy with the results or plain just don’t have the time chasing around 3 little kids.

    I tried cloth diapers and found it didn’t work for me. I have 2 in diapers and was doing 2 loads of diapers a day…plus 3 loads of other cloths. The only soap that the diapers didn’t still have a urine smell was expensive. Oh, and I had to change them all the time!! Then I had issues with my littlest one being super sensitive and breaking out in a rash in cloth diapers. This was opposite of everything that I read on line, but the rash went away in a couple of days when I changed back to disposables. By the way, I started using swagbucks all the time. I don’t have any referrals and I get enough Amazon gift cards to pay all but $15-18 a month of diapers. It goes right to my door and I love it!

    Breastfeeding has been such a blessing. My first daughter had ear infections all the time…and horrendous allergies. My next 3 are healthy as the proverbial horse. Between all three there has only been one visit to the doctor outside of wellness exams for the rash on my little one’s bottom with the cloth diapers. I can’t say for sure that the breastfeeding was the secret…but that’s what I am giving credit to. The down side is that my kids don’t have a bottle…which is much cheaper. All I’ve bought was a nursing cloth and a set of washable breast pads. The down side is no time without the babies….at all. I just tell myself, this too shall pass. There will be a time when they are older, like my twelve year old, and don’t want to be with me.

    We drive old cars that are paid for and keep liability only insurance. We have one car that fits all of us…since there are 6. My husbands back and forth to work car is just that. I save lots of wear and tear not driving the oldest to school (we have a bus or she walked in our last house) and I make one trip for groceries each week. My gas bill is only a 1/4 of what it was!

    There’s probably a lot more but it has become second nature now 🙂

  • Erica says:

    After losing our business and my husband and I both becoming unemployed at once our income qualified us for discounted health insurance for our kids (one silver lining) . I also found that we spent much less on doctor visits and prescriptions since our daughter always seemed to catch any and all bugs that were going around daycare. Daycare and after school care plus gas and work licenses took up my salary and then some so it made sense for us to have me stay home. We also save a lot on entertainment for the kids since I can take them on the discounted week days. I also take the kids used clothes and toys to consignment stores now which I never made time for in the past and use a lot more coupons.

  • Katherine says:

    You CAN save money by doing things like cooking from scratch, couponing, etc. if those are things you are interested in doing anyways. Otherwise, you might try them out, but get burnt out on them and not do them.

    I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for a little over two years, and because I’ve developed an interest in it, I do a lot more cooking/baking from scratch than I used to, and have started living a more simplified and “green” lifestyle. But like I said, it stemmed more from my interest in those things than from necessarily staying at home. And like others have said, the baby stage is not necessarily the easiest time for those things either.

  • Emily says:

    I spent some time home with my kids after my son was born and I was transitioning from grad school into the next part of my career training (we had moved and it just so happened that I ended up being home until he was 18 months until I found the right career opportunity). I think we definitely spent less on certain things, like eating out, gas money, etc. However, once I returned to work, I make far more money than I ever saved by being home with my kids, even after daycare is paid. I think this must vary, depending on where you live and what type of work you are in.

  • Laura says:

    I actually spend less when I am working. I still bring my lunch, so lunch isnt a factor. When I was home I would go to lunch with friends, go shopping and have time to look and spend. When I am working I run in and run out…no time to spend more.

    • Michelle says:

      So true! Saving money takes discipline no matter what you do! I am a sahm, and when my husband and I started Dave Ramsey, we took a hard look at where our money was going, and I was spending a fortune at Target and Starbucks, just to have something to do and get out of the house. Now, I try to plan things to do that are free, like the park, library, play dates, the zoo (my mom bought us yearly passes so we get in free). I find that if I have a planned activity it staves off the “I’m bored, lets go to Target, just to look of course” and then coming home with $60 of stuff I don’t need (seriously, can anyone go in that store without spending at least $60??? 🙂

  • crystal williams says:

    I certainly spend less at home, don’t waste gas, we were able to buy a swing set and sandbox so no need to drive far to have fun, I have more time for couponing and surveys and mystery shops, I do cook from scratch a lot and my kids are loving helping me cook and bake, I do all my banking from home, I love the new remote deposits so I pretty much don’t need to go out unless its to take my son to Cub Scouts or baseball or my daughter to color guard 🙂

  • Anna says:

    I agree with people saying it depends on you, For instance when I worked two waitressing jobs on top of going to school when I was single, I literally never had time to shop (including grocery shop) or go out to eat, I would just eat food the cooks messed up or or whatever. Now that I am a mostly stay at home mom the temptation for online shopping because of the coupon codes I get in my inbox or spending more at the grocery store because of new recipes I find on pinterest…. ugh you get the picture lol.

  • Jenna says:

    Oh gosh! I am not a spender, I am a saver & very frugal. I began staying home after my first child was born. Frankly, I think I spend more now that I’m staying home. When I was working, I travelled extensively and my goal was to take home as much of my per diem as possible. I didn’t have time to go shopping, although I’d occasionally order stuff online. I went out for lunch when I wasn’t travelling–maybe once a month.
    Now, I’m home full-time. We keep the thermostat more comfortable ($$). I visit my parents every month or two (over 3 hours each way), we do programs with the park district & community stuff during the day that cost money.
    Though-after having kids, I would say we’d definitely spend more if I was working, BUT our income would probably increase by more than our expenses would increase.

  • Victoria says:

    I’ll just throw this out there… I haven’t actually done the math, but I think I spend more on things like clothes, shoes, and groceries being a SAHM. I get bored and want to try new recipes, so I’ll run to the store for one little thing, then while I’m out, why not stop at Goodwill, and so on. Like others have said, you can’t try and chase every deal either. You really have to think about if you need what you’re buying.

  • Maria says:

    There’s a TON of complications and aspects to this question. When I was working at a childcare facility, after the costs of tutition for my first child and all the other deductions, I was bringing home about $200 every two weeks. We realized rather quickly if we had more children, I’d be working there and owing them money!

    When you switch to staying at home, you lose the childcare deduction for taxes. However, I *think* my husband was able to add me to his ‘dependent deductions’ though I’m not 100% sure on that one. Of course, if you have less income, you also pay less taxes overall. We were surprised that when we went down to one income, we also qualified for the earned income tax break, as well as WIC. If you know what your new income will be, a quick online search will help you see if you qualify for these.

    I find myself spending less money, mainly because I do cook more often and I don’t need fanicer clothes. Interestingly enough, somehow family and our church community have really come in and helped us in spontaneous and unexpected ways to help support us in our decision to rely on just one income. We usually get about half of the kids’ wardrobes given to us, and I’m given clothes often enough to feel like I’m updating and rotating my wardrobe more than if I had a job.

    One of the other surprises we had was when we both were working, we worked in areas that had air conditioning, and we didn’t feel like we were home ‘long enough’ or after being in the freezing-dry-air at work, the ‘natural’ air in our house was a nice change. However, when you are home ALL DAY, you feel the heat, humidity, and stifleness a lot more, and we find ourselves turning on the AC earlier and earlier each year (or the heat, depending on the circumstances), which made the utility bill go up some.

  • Emily says:

    I’m in a unique situation where I am paid full-time for part-time hours, but I definitely spend less than if I stayed home full-time. It just depends on your personality and where you live. My best friend stays at home with her daughter and goes stir-crazy, so she eats out at least three days a week. She also has a house-keeper because she’s tired after running after a 2-year old all day. Most afternoons she heads to the coffee shop before she takes her daughter to the park. I eat lunch daily with my daughter and husband at my daughter’s school, but it’s a lunch I make at home. Our house doesn’t get too bad bc she’s not there during the day. Varies so much by person.

  • Andrea says:

    I definitely feel like we are saving money with me staying home. After we had our first child, I continued working part time opposite hours of my husband so we wouldn’t have to pay for day care. After awhile we realized that never seeing each other was rough and the little income I was bringing in could easily be made up if my husband worked 2 hours of overtime a week (which his company was always willing to let him do). Unfortunately I still felt guilty after coming to this decision and started looking at ways to save money. After everything was said and done we are better off financially now than when I was working. We eat out maybe once or twice a month now while before it was a weekly event. I pack his lunches and I eat at home with the kids rather than eating lunches out. Couponing and eating in season has helped greatly as well. But the biggest help was that I was that we finally started budgeting. I think it is definitely worth looking at your budget to make it work. Plus you get to see your children develop and learn more than you would if they were in day care. (So worth it!)

  • Jill says:

    Spent less on everything else because I had more time to concentrate on where our money was going. It will take a couple of months after the baby comes for you to adjust staying home. Our utilities may have gone up a little from being home all day but I do my best to pay attention to not wasting any electricity.
    Call your auto insurance company and see if they can offer you a discount since you will not be driving back and forth to work. They did for us.
    I have to admit that my marriage is better because I stay home with our children. Less stress on my husband. There is no rushing around when everyone gets home from work and he can hang out with the kids while I make dinner. We eat better because I make all of our meals and we do not eat out very often.
    I have been a stay at home mom since I had our first born so this is just my experience. It is what works best for our family but it doesn’t always work well in other families.
    If you can, live off your husband’s income starting right now and bank yours into savings. This should help you to see if you can actually do it.

    • Really Good Advice Jill. Bank your income, that is so smart!!

      • Becky says:

        I saved all of my income as I was preparing to stay at home. It made “practicing” our new budget less stressful and was a great cushion to pad our savings when I did come home!

        • Kim says:

          This is also a great idea for any newlyweds out there who think they would like to stay at home someday. It was by far the best piece of advice we got when we were engaged – we always lived on one income from the first day we were married. It was a great way to build up savings for those first years, and then there wasn’t a strain on our regular budgeting once we had our baby. I love staying at home and am so glad we made that decision.

  • Jessica says:

    I started staying at home after my second child was born 5 years ago. I didn’t coupon or anything like that at the time. I don’t feel that we saved much money…perhaps mostly on gas and childcare. We probably could have saved more if I knew about couponing back then. One challenge that I had to overcome was that I thought that I would have so much time and that the house would be so clean. It wasn’t necessarily the case…we suddenly spent all day of most days in the house so it was much more of a mess. It is just trading one kind of busy for another (But I do love it!). It would be hard to put expectations on yourself about trying to save by cooking more, cleaning more, washing more…evaluate if you love that sort of thing or find it challenging.

  • I did spend less. I didn’t drive as much, I didn’t eat out as much. I didn’t need new clothes for work. I did make more food from scrach, and my own cleaners. And I recycled “trash” to make crafts. And well when you have more money you spend more.
    But when you stay home you are not able to buy the extras that you were able to before. Gifts become homemade.

    • Kerri W. says:

      Such a good point: When you have more money you spend more. So true!

    • Michelle says:

      Love that! This question is often asked, but it is very hard to answer because you spend what you have. As long as you can cover your basic nessecities on one income, then if you want to stay home badly enough, you will make it work.

  • Danielle says:

    I spend less, but I have made the conscious decision to stay out of the stores. I find that when I go to a store to pick up one thing, I end up with much more than that. I stick to my list and try to stay away from clearance or other departments. Even if it is a good deal, do I really need it? I cook most of our food from scratch which saves money, but more importantly has us eating healthier. I try to purchase organic when I can afford it and do not buy many processed foods (mostly for hubby) so I can’t say that we save a ton on groceries. Most importantly, our lives are less stressful and I can keep our household in order. I don’t know how working moms do it. Kudos to you all!

  • Sarah G says:

    I think all the savings you mentioned have proved true for us. The one unexpected expense that came up was gas. Because I’m a stay at home mom, I sometimes feel isolated. For a while I dealt with this by planning something out of the house everyday, which added up to a lot in gas. Now, I do a lot more combining trips/inviting people over/making a phone call to an old friend at nap time. I still feel connected, I just had to change how I was getting that connection a bit to make our gas budget work! Good luck!

  • rkokes says:

    I spend a lot less. Less on gas, less on clothes, and no more daycare costs. I also have time to do price-matching and couponing now, and save money on buying presents because I do Swagbucks to earn gift cards. I also make more meals and snacks from scratch (I have the time to do it, and I have time to find new recipes online) and I buy less processed food. And best of all, I spend more time with my kids, and my husband and I don’t have to spend all evening long working on household chores because I can get more of them done during the day.

  • Lisa says:

    Saving money on all those things you mentioned, yes. Extra costs, none that I can think of.

    I’ve got 3 kids (ages 8,5, and 1). I can’t imagine the cost of full-time daycare for the 1 and 5 year olds and the added cost of after-school care for the 8 year old. At the job I had before having my first, I would have brought home $50 a MONTH after all our expenses from putting her in daycare. My job was also incredibly inflexible, so if she was ever sick and couldn’t go to daycare, my husband would have to be the one to take off, and his job was really the one keeping us afloat.

    One tip I do have is to find a local moms group and join it. Playgroups and other activities with other moms give you free entertainment for the kids (everyone else’s toys are always so much fun) and much needed socialization for you.

    • Kim says:

      I completely agree about the moms group. MOPS is a great program and has provided me a lot of encouragement and advice from moms who have “been there.” I also attend a morning Bible Study once a week, both of which provide child care. It’s wonderful to get some adult interaction, and your child gets to spend time with other kids. Plus, when you have those kinds of low-cost activities (play groups are often free, MOPS is a little less than $30 for the yearly membership plus my group charges $4 per meeting to cover costs, and Bible Study is free) you are less likely to go out and spend money for coffee or lunch.
      Again, when it comes to savings, I think it comes down to knowing yourself, your budget, the lifestyle you are comfortable with…

  • Charity says:

    Im a stay at home mom as well. We definitely save more money! I think a lot of that has to do with us living 45 min from a mall or any real convience. There is a walmart 20 miles from us but we only go to walmart on planned trips. I watch a couple kids to help bring in some money, and I use swagbucks daily. Weve never been more financially stable.

    But I have a question, my husband wants me to go back to work. How do I convince him that Im more needed at home. And what income I will make wont be much more than what I make babysitting bc I refuse to work full time and like I said the closest job would be 20 min away. That’s 40 miles both ways. After gas we really wont be making anymore. What can I do at home to be more useful. Right now I just try to have dinner ready for him when he gets home and a clean house. What else can I do to make him want me to stay home? I don’t want to manipulate him, but I really just want to stay at home with the kids.

    • Lisa says:

      Charity-
      I’d write it all out for him. Once you see the numbers in black and white, it’s hard to argue that staying at home might be the best option.
      Hope this helps!

    • Jessica says:

      I would make an excel sheet of your monthly take home pay after taxes. Then deduct those extra expenses of childcare, gas, work clothes, eating out, and anything else that you can think of. Also think of all those extra things you do to save money like clipping coupons, cooking more from scratch, etc. that you won’t be able to do as much of with a full time job. We did this and it just wasn’t worth it.

      Also talk to him about the things that you will need help with around the house such as cooking and house cleaning if you go back to work and how much time it will take. I think that is one thing that my husband loves is that he doesn’t have to come home and clean and cook! It is less stressful for both of us!

      • Sol says:

        Emphasize the value of being able to care for your own kids. No matter how good a sitter or daycare is, NOBODY loves your children or has such a vested interested in them like YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND.

        Each day, when he comes home from work, I make sure I talk about our day (about gymnastics, the playground, the library). I tell him stories about what the kids did and the quirky things they said. Sure you might get these stories from a sitter but to witness their development for yourself is worth all the money in the world. There really is no better job for me at this point in life. My husband FEELS my joy everyday (note you should make an effort to stay positive even if the kids drive you crazy) and thus he gets motivated to keep this arrangement going. 🙂 Good Luck!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Maybe ask him what your plan for childcare should be if you go back to work? Does he want you to work when he’s home so that he can care for the children? Will he be able to take over dinner chores on some nights when you work? Will you need to puchase new clothes and where will that money come from? Be nice and make it clear that you really need his help because you’re just not sure how it will all come together if you’re not at home.

      I’ve been home for about four years, and we’re better off financially than we were when I worked because of all the things that others have mentioned: gas, lunches, work clothes, etc. My husband does not want me to go back to work, and that’s at least partly because I take care of a lot of things that he use to have to do such as mowing the lawn, running errands for him, and taking the cars to be serviced 🙂

  • dina says:

    I’ve been a stay at home mom now for 3 years. We have saved in many ways. 1. No daycare cost for our two boys. 2. No cost for my previous job: wardrobe, commute classroom materials (these were high as the school wasn’t able to supply much for teachers’ classrooms) 3. I’m able to meal plan two weeks at a time, freezer cook, and coupon/sale shop to stock the pantry. 4. When I’m able with 5 & 1 year old boys I do as much around the house as possible that we would have paid someone to do previously. 5. because I can plan ahead we don’t run into the grocery stores for 1 or 2 items and wind up spending $50. We have set shopping days 1 time every 2 weeks and if needed milk and produce in between.
    We feel it was absolutely worth it. I have a career that isn’t too hard to return to should I want or need to go back to work. and most of my salary would have gone to a lot of “time saving” items as well as daycare.

  • Kerri W. says:

    I found that, although we cut our income in half when I had my daughter and quit my job, it hasn’t been as much of a struggle as I’d originally thought! I save a lot more now that I’m able to coupon and do a bit of research (and meal planning) before weekly grocery trips. I’m much more savvy with how I spend our money!

    Also, a huge savings would be how much less I spend on gas. Where I worked before, it was a 60 mile round trip—5 days a week! That adds up fast. Now I only fill my tank once every couple weeks (sometimes longer).

    I was worried we’d be paycheck-to-paycheck once we agreed I could stay home, but that hasn’t been the case at all. It’s much more doable than a lot of people think! We live in a ridiculously expensive part of the country (Southern CA) and my husband doesn’t have a huge salary, but we are totally making it work. You can make do with less, and it doesn’t really feel like a sacrifice (most days). 🙂

    Good luck with your decision!

    • Kerri W. says:

      I’d also like to point out how much you save on childcare when you stay at home with your child (or children). If I had gone back to my job, it wouldn’t have been worth it, because I would have been spending more than half of my paychecks on childcare for my daughter and gas for my car. No, thank you!

  • Need A Nap2 says:

    I agree with others, it depends! 🙂 But it is really possible to make it on one income. I started staying home after our 2nd child was born, we knew this was our goal and we worked hard at it. At one point my husband said he was working hard to bring in the $ and it was my job to spend it wisely, he couldn’t work any more than he already was doing.

    1) find frugal friends – you’ll want to have playdates, etc with other mothers. It’s hard to say no but I couldn’t eat at Chick-fil-A every day. This was a really unexpected expense for me, even now we have 4 kids and homeschool. Our homeschool group does a lot of “excursions” or tours – I’d love to go but the prices add up when you have 4 kids!
    2) ask family for gifts that will help you such as a local zoo membership instead of a ton of toys for the kids.
    3) be willing to take a risk – ask the store clerk for a discount, ask if they’re willing to barter, be willing to return that item if it doesn’t work.
    4) keep learning – ask others to help you, maybe your friend makes great bread or knows how to sew. Borrow or buy cheaply (yard sale, Goodwill, etc) until you know you like it and will really do it. Example – I have a lot of scrapbooking supplies – I’d like to do it but don’t really have time or artistic talent for it but I could see digital scrapbooking being a better choice.
    5) start a gift closet – stock up when you find something nice on discount/sale, having something on hand keeps you from buying at full price when events come up.
    6) find substitutions – try to find easy recipes without expensive ingredients or see if the recipe will be okay without some ingredients, read the comments if it’s an online recipe – if you’re wondering about it someone else may have too.
    7) love your husband then love your children – it sounds backwards in today’s world but it is the correct order of things. Ask your husband what his preferences are – so you know where to spend your time and effort. Maybe he doesn’t mind a simple meal if you’re working on a from home business or maybe he wants you to focus on good food while the house gets messy.
    8) pay off as much debt as you can, save as much as you can while you’re working. We paid off my student loan and our minivan loan before I quit work.
    9) find what works for you – I used to tell myself I had lots of time and little money (time rich, money poor). Your thoughts change when you think like that. Before when I was working I had little time and more (never lots!) money. When I stopped working, I started doing things I didn’t have “time” for before, such as pouring over the grocery ads to find deals and ad match at Wal-Mart. I started doing online surveys like MySurvey (Money Saving Mom has posts about this sort of thing), now I do Swagbucks. We shop at small discount stores that have limited hours, I couldn’t go before because of working. I would find the best deals I could on disposable diapers, I never could bring myself to cloth diaper. 🙂
    10) pray, pray some more. God will guide us and provide for us. Sometimes we have to ask and that’s where a local body of believers (church) can help. Our church has started a women’s mentoring group. My friend is getting help from an older woman, she’s paying for someone to come watch my friend’s kids for 3 hours so she can grocery shop (in peace!). 🙂

  • Yes, I spend considerably less being a stay at home mom. The savings rack up from clothing, lunches out, transportation, childcare, convenience items ( more dinners out), services (house cleaning) and the biggest one, is taxes. My income on top of my husband’s was taxed at a higher rate so we figured even with my MBA salary that if we made a few cutbacks to the tune of 500-1000 dollars a month, we could make it work.

    Being home, I was able to life a guilt free life. I could happily cancel the day’s plans to nurse a sick child, network with other moms over play dates and crafting parties, grow organic food, cook healthy meals, volunteer at my children’s school and extracurricular activities and support my husband’s rocketing career by being around when he had a business trip or late night meeting. Its been a happy and satisfying life but….

    Having just read, Sheryl Sandburg’s “Lean In”, I paused to consider the high price I paid to leave the work force. For several years there was a savings to our family but in the long run, consider that when you do go back to work, you will earn much less and may even have a hard time getting a job at your current level. Ms. Sandburg suggests that while the years of daycare are a financial drain, staying in the workforce and the opportunities that follow will more than make up for a few lean years. And the truth of the matter is that kids do fine both ways. Its up to you! Good luck with your decision.

  • Melody says:

    I did this a few years ago and the first step you should be taking is going through every inch of your budget and bills before making this decision. I know childcare is a pretty big expense in anyone’s budget and sometimes it is just not worth it to go to work if you are coming out with close to nothing to show for it but paying for someone else to be with your little ones. In the beginning I didn’t think so closely about the electric going up since I was home all day but after the first couple of months of seeing that I am more aware of what I should be setting it on to keep the cost down. Not too easy living in phoenix. It can get pretty hot out here. I also cancelled cable and got Netflix which saved me $60 a month alone. I love being at home and spending more time with the kids and have actually found how much I really do like cooking. I also supplement the income by selling things on craigslist, babysitting, and cleaning houses sometimes. I am really big on couponing as well. It helps to have a stockpile especially at the moment when we are on a tight budget with a birthday coming up. It can be tough at times living on one income but if you just work at it and figure out what works best for you, it can be done. Congratulations on the new baby and good luck.

  • Jessica says:

    We save money by me being at home, but not in the areas that we had planned to save like cloth diapering. We save more on gas and entertainment, because we are content to spend our evenings at home with our little one.

    One way to look at it is: What will your hourly wage be if you work and factor in childcare and additional expenses you might have such as eating out more, etc.

  • ive been a stay at home-mom for almost 5 years and for the past year and a half ive been on this frugal phase that i cant shake off..
    A) starting your DIY recipes (from scratch) DIY cleaners DIY laundry soap etc can actually put a dent in your grocery bill or budget, ONLY in the beginning though, because your starting to load up on extra stuff youve never had before.. however slowly you will see your grocerie bill almost cut to half in time with patience and with discipline! (LOL, You tend to be go to the aisle your so used to!! ) and because their will be trial and ewrrors on what works for you..It also depends on how far and extreme you wanna go on saving.
    For example we used to spend about $25 on Paper Towels for the kitchen alone in one month… (we like VIVA the cloth feeling kind, which are very expensive) we tried cheaper ones, we didnt like them at all, they would tear and didnt clean up like I wanted them too unless i used ALOT of them.. which turned out about almost the same money spent, so i decided to purchase Actual Hand Towels for the kitchen, that put a HUGE dent since i purchase alot so i didnt have to DAILY wash them, but YOU know what?? MONEY SAVING!! i actually only purchase paper towels now for our guest which last us a very long time and we splurge on the good kind since we dont buy them often..
    The best advice i can give you is to start with one thing like DIY cleaners and then when you are managing ok in that department move on to DIY other things, one thing at a time.
    ALSO dont just go off what people say its the best choice on how to start see what changes can easily be done right away without causing to much trouble
    for me it was the Laundry detergent. I wash daily so DIY laundry detergent was the most practical one to start with, considering that i wash our hand towels which i do every other 3rd day now…
    ALSO i agree with alot of the ladies comments, though you do save alot, “theres also alot of extras you DO without” bc there is a lost of Income.. mostly wants, needs will most likely always be met but wants will always be trumped.. things to consider.

  • JillSusanne says:

    Yes!
    Obviously we took a hit on income when I gave up my job. Since I stayed home from the beginning with our first daughter, I am not sure what childcare would actually run for 1 (now 2!) kids. We originally put together an estimated “budget” when we decided I would stay home. We have found we stay well below our original estimates for food, gas, and automobile expenses. Also, we are able to save on car insurance (snapshot discount through progressive) because I put very few miles on my vehicle.

  • Halie Johnson says:

    I’ve found that because I have more time and energy, my grocery bill has gone way down and we eat out a lot less. I used to rush to a more expensive grocery store out of convenience and never had time to cut coupons or consider them while I was in the store. I would spend $150 each week for 3 of us and we’d still end up eating out a lot – sometimes because I didn’t have enough food and sometimes I was just too tired to cook. We rarely had breakfast and lunch foods, either. Now, my cooking is much better, I save an average of $50/month with coupons, my average grocery bill is $125, and I always have a ton of extra food to run into the next week (including snacks, breakfasts, and lunches).

    On the flip side, I get really bored and end up shopping a lot, too. It’s all about self control and I end up taking a lot of stuff back once I get home. If you can manage being a SAHM, do it. You will LOVE the time you get to spend with your baby!

  • Carmen says:

    Slightly different viewpoint as it’s my husband that stays home, not me. We decided to handle things this way because his income would have been eaten up by day care – so instead of using it all to pay someone else to take care of our child … he does.

    I’d say we’re spending less now – mostly on food. My husband is a great DIY’er. He often makes bread, has figured out a great and fast pizza recipe (saves on take-out), does all the grocery shopping – which means I have food to take for lunch each day (saves on more dining expenses). We don’t coupon – but we watch for sales and buy in bulk (use a vacuum sealer to repackage).

    He does most of our household shopping too. Even with all the errand-running, we still probably save about 1/2 the amount of gas he used to use. Plus, he was often eating out for lunch as well. We’re saving on clothes – the jobs he used to work in (e.g. construction) were really rough on apparel and we had to buy new each year.

  • Angela says:

    Yes! Being a stay at home mom can save lots of money. The cost of child care, gas to and from work, work clothing are only the tip of the iceberg. It’s not always easy, I have a one and 3 year old, but when your home, you find alternative ways to save money, from diapering, I do buy disposables but use coupons and make my own wipes, to freezer meals it has all been worth it. A little bit of sacrifice can go a long way if you and your spouse have a common goal in mind. Good luck on your journey and may The Lord bless your decision either way!

  • Sol says:

    Generally a resounding YES it is less expensive. I’d recommend reading “Staying Home” by Darcie Sanders. There are many challenges to this wonderful adventure that you may not be aware of.

  • Cindy Norman Crabtree says:

    My husband is a CPA and I am his office manager. One year when I was teaching a ladies class on being a mother, we worked up a spreadsheet to compare costs versus average income of different levels of professional and skilled women. The amount of money earned by the second income in a family was non-existent until you reached college educated salaries. Then the cleared income after expenses was not enough to entice me to come home tired each day after giving my all to my employee/clients. In other words, I would rather focus on spending time with my kids, making my home a more organized, serene place to be and saving money where I can than going out to fight the corporate world while someone else is spending time with my precious children.

  • This is a great question! I haven’t read the other responses yet, but I recently quit my traditional day job and am now a stay at home wife working from home on my own business part time. While you theoretically have more time to devote to saving money, it doesn’t happen naturally and it is a lot of work. If I didn’t put forth serious effort to keeping my spending down, I would actually naturally spend MORE money know that I’m home full time!

    I have a lot more time and tons more energy to pursue hobbies, shop & run errands, try new recipes, work on home improvement / cleaning /organizing projects. I’m also at home many more hours to notice things that could be done around the house and am able to go out shopping or shop online a lot more than I could when I was gone to work for 11 hours a day.

    The things I easily spend less on are transportation (I had a long work commute), clothing for myself (no need for a professional outfits every day), and eating out (I always have time to cook and almost never eat out). Those things I would spend a lot less on even if I weren’t consciously trying to.

    I know a lot of people say they save money on groceries when they quit their day job, but I haven’t found this to be the case. I spend about the same amount on groceries. While I do cook from scratch more, I also have more company for meals and am focusing on eating healthier. I know that eating healthier doesn’t automatically have to cost more, but to be completely honest, while I was working I was often overwhelmed, stuck on survival mode, and eating really cheap processed carbs and from scratch baked goods, so we spent very little on groceries.

    Also, I was pretty motivated to keep my spending under control while working full time, because we were saving so I could come home. Since I was already on a budget, there really weren’t many places to cut.

    Bottom line, I think your savings will depend a lot on your specific situation. I don’t think saving money will be magical or easy. It will still be a lot of work, and if you’re already living on a tight budget while working, you probably won’t be able to save much. There are many costs that won’t change at all when you come home, but, again, it depends a lot on your specific situation.

  • Meredith says:

    I do save more because well, my salary was gone! However, I did learn that after awhile, my child is older and I still stay at home, that I do spend more on myself. I don’t know what your financial situation is but when you are at home with no where to go but the grocery store and park, it can take a toll on you. Baking a pan of cookies didn’t lighten my mood after awhile so I decided to do more for myself. I now volunteer (gas to the center where I work), I gig part time and play my instrument for free (sometimes money, sometimes gas money), and I always try to do things like have a lunch out with a friend or get my hair done. Basically, there are some expenses in there you may not be counting on.

  • Lee says:

    I save money on most things. I don’t make the money I used to though, so some of that is forced saving. The one thing that surprised me was the amount I spent on toilet paper once I was home all day, and had a daughter home with me. :). It’s not the cost of childcare, or anything, but it did surprise me.

    • Jeri says:

      Lee, I’m smiling because what you wrote is the truth–when you’re home all day, you spend far more on toilet paper. My retired friends have also remarked on this.

    • Heather says:

      Yep! When I was in college, my roommates and I tried to make a point to use the restroom on campus before heading back to our apartment – just to save on TP costs! Super cheap, I know, but most of us were super poor!

      Crystal should do a series on saving money in college . . . .

  • Aubrie says:

    We definitely spend less now that I stay home. When we were both working full-time, we ate out at least three times as often and spent a lot less time looking at our budget. I also made more runs to the grocery because I didn’t take time to plan meals, which always means spending more money.

  • Christine says:

    I spend less by not working. Even working at home, I spent more on convenience foods.

  • Jessica says:

    I quit my job a year and a half ago, when my ODD was almost 5 and my DS was 1.5. Now ODD is in kindergarten, DS is almost 3 and we have a new baby who is 4mo today. At this point, childcare would be more than I’d earn. I have a Masters and I had 8 years of experience in my field. I worked in government. My DS got sick all the time in daycare, so we had a lot of medical expenses. Since I quit, he got sick just once that required a doctor’s visit- he caught a cold that triggered his asthma and he needed a prescription for steroids and an inhaler.

    I have time to pursue some money saving things. We tried cloth diapers but they worsened our kids’ eczema. I tried nursing the new baby but my thyroid disorder went haywire after delivery and caused my milk supply to plummet then dry up, so she’s now fully on formula 🙁 — however, I ask for samples at each well child exam, I got on the list for coupons from each company and I buy store brand when my samples and coupons run out. The regular formulas are all basically the same and she’s growing great, even with me giving her whatever brand I can get for the best price.

    I shop secondhand whenever possible. Rummage sales, thrift stores and consignment- in that order. I don’t go out shopping that much. We do without a LOT. I’m the barber, gardener, cook, etc, etc. DH is the IT support, mechanic, handyman.

    For amusements, my ILs get us family memberships to the local zoo and kids museum so we can go there whenever we want, the only cost is the gallon of gas it takes to get there and back.

    I’ve been going through clutter- most of it obtained when I worked fulltime. I see that I wasted a lot of money buying an excess amount of toys and clothes that we truly didn’t need.

  • jenn says:

    When our son was born in 2006, I had intended to go back to work part-time, but with my husband deployed, we decided it was better for mom to be home full-time. I would not change those years for anything!

    I started back to school when he was about 2 1/2. Only 1-2 classes/semester and he went to a child watch for those hours. Once I was in my nursing progam FT, he went to daycare 5 days/week. Last year, he was in half-day kindergarten and while I studied for my boards/looked for job, he went to day care in the afternoon 4 days/week.

    As a nurse, there are so many schedules available. My first job was a ‘weeked package’ where I worked Saturday/Sunday 6a-6p. My husband worked overnights Sat/Sunday so we would pass in the morning as in, I was getting up to go to work, he was going to bed after work. Yes, it was awful giving up my entire weekend but it allowed us to pull him out of daycare to be home with me after school/through the summer. I recently switched postions and now working Part-time evenings (3-1130). Now my husband is done with classes for the semester, he will be home in the evenings. I will only work 1-2 weekends/month and my husband will be home. He is now going to a every other weekend schedule again so I will be home when he’s working.

    It’ll work out if you make an effort. Our finances are vastly different now than at any other time during our marriage but it all works out.

  • Cristy says:

    I didn’t read all the comments and I’ve never had a job outside the home since having children. A few things that I think a lot of people don’t consider in savings is the gas money and the wear and tear on your vehicle, you can save by just plain and simple not driving anywhere (tires, gas, oil changes, maintenance, etc.) and the other is without your added income you pay less taxes, I don’t know what difference that will make but you may lower the amount you pay in taxes. Plus with extra time you are able to find the deals that are out there instead having to pay a higher price because you don’t have time to research things.

  • j k says:

    Although I made significant income working after my first baby, I noticed that I did spend a lot of money. Money for gas, daycare, lunch, take out dinners, work clothes (I had to wear a lot of suits and formal attire). And, no time to coupon or look for coupons since time did not allow. But if you are organized and diligent, I believe one can still spend less while working. A lot of my spendings were out of convenience as well. I stay home now with my kids, homeschooling (my current full time job) and trying to make it on a budget.

  • Katherine says:

    I definitely spend less. I spend less on gas, clothes, eating out, holidays and gifts. But I spend more on groceries because we’re always home to eat. And our utilities are a little higher but again that’s because we’re home all day.

  • Amy says:

    I feel like we saved a lot of money when I quit my job to stay home with my first son. Of course, there was the gas expense of commuting to work, and a lot of other work-related expenses. Our grocery budget went up, because we ate more at home, but our overall food expense went down, because we ate out a whole lot less. The one thing I didn’t expect was how quickly my boys would need adult-sized portions. I thought I’d be able to get by making just a little more for dinner for a long time, but the things people say about the way boys eat is true – I have a 2 year old and a 19-month old, and they already eat as much/more than I do!!

  • Donna says:

    The best advise on money management is that you need one person to be the wage earner, and one to be the gatekeeper. It takes time to spend money well, time researching for the best deals, best places to hire, best value, time to cook/shop/store food, etc. When you have the at home mom, they have the time to spend the one wage to its fullest potential. You can still be tempted to spend on the quick things you did while working, but if you purpose to be the best gatekeeper of that money, you will find many ways to save money. The great book, The Frugal Christian.

  • You’ll save on childcare, business clothes, and commuting, for sure! Be sure to tell your car insurance company that your car isn’t being used for commuting anymore. That will save you, too. And if you choose to change your diet to more home-cooked meals and you shop smart for your ingredients, that will also save you quite a bundle.

    Be careful of expecting to save much on other things. Homemade cleaners won’t save you hardly anything versus using effective, low-cost commercial cleaners, and with couponing, the homemade cleaners might cost you more, for instance. And the savings of cloth diapering is also very small compared to Wal-mart-brand diapers.

    As far as “more energy”…hahahahahahahaha! Ahem. Sorry.

    I’m having #3 in the next couple of weeks, and I’ve been a WAHM for years.

    • Jill says:

      I can agree w you on some of this, but the cloth diapering has def saved us money! I used the target brand diapers (so I wasnt a name brand specific person either). I bought pre-owned cloth diapers and some of the less expensive new ones $8-10 per diaper, was also given some hand me downs. I’m due w baby #4 in June and will have 2 in diapers. When my twins were in diapers we spent approx $100 mth on disposables, so I will be saving that amt by continuing the cloth diapering. There is an initial investment for sure, but I stocked up slowly and at first washed them every night, now I have enough to wash every other night, but plan to add to my stash again slowly before the next baby arrives.

      • True! I was comparing it to new cloth diapers. My friends who did cloth diapers were grossed out by the idea of used cloth diapers. (Doesn’t bother me!)

        The cost of each wash is generally around $.75 per load, detergent plus electricity and water. My Parent’s Choice newborn diapers will average $1.12 per day, which will gradually decrease to about $.80 per day as the baby grows. So you CAN save with cloth diapers–but the savings isn’t huge. A month of newborn diapers would be an $11 savings if you’re laundering the cloth diapers every day, and eventually, you’d end up with only $1.50 in savings per month, the so you’d have to get a GREAT deal with the cloth diapers to come out very far ahead.

  • August says:

    Being a stay at home mom shouldn’t be about money, per say. So many people just do it to save money, but in reality your sacraficing more than just a job. I’m a stay at home mom because I’m a full time student and don’t have time to work. I’m a full time student because I don’t want to be a stay at home mom. I have other goals in life that are just as important to me.

    You need to make sure that being a stay at home mom is still going to provide the self worth that a job does. Mothers will tell you all day long that being a stay at home parent is the best job in the world, but that isn’t always the case. I would lose my mind if I had to stay at home all day.

    • Yes, I agree with this. You have to WANT to stay home– otherwise you will go stir crazy. I wanted to stay home, but I’m the first one to admit that I sometimes wish my husband and I could trade places so I can leave for work and he can stay home. It is an exhausting, thankless job. The good news is if you decide it isn’t for you, you can always go back to work.

      • I get thanked every day by my family. My 9-year-old just thanked me for something, actually! My husband is good about thanking me for meals at the meal, and the children have learned to follow his example.

        This post that I read on another blogger’s blog made tears come to my eyes. http://beautyandbedlam.com/school-lunch/

        • That was a beautiful post, and I hope we are doing a good job in instilling those values into our boys. They are five, two, and eight months, so while I know they are thankful, they don’t always know how to express it— which is fine with me. I know they love me, and my five year old is really good at expressing how much he appreciates me. My husband is amazing and so happy I’m able to do what I’m able to do at home and thanks me often. When I refer to “thankless job”, I’m speaking more about society and it’s view on stay-at-home parent’s . I just wanted to clarify that– my family does, in fact, appreciate me.

      • I can empathize with this – it can be really tough at times if you are at home all day with your kids and they are really young. Some people more naturally find things to do with them, but for others (like myself) it can be hard to not have professional work outlets. My husband is in law school and is an extrovert, and complains sometimes about how he sits in the library all day and doesn’t get to talk to anyone, whereas I, an introvert, would love to be stuck in a library all day :).

  • Whitney says:

    Absolutely – as long as you make a list of those savings, and then make a conscious effort not to reroute the savings to something else. There are the obvious ones: lunch out, work clothes, gas, and then the ones you mentioned: meal prep, coupon clipping, etc. Going from working to not working is a huge transition, though it might be easier since you already have a child. Make an effort NOT to leave the house as a SAHM (this can be the hardest) as much as possible – unless the outing is completely free and within walking distance, and you’ll really see the savings. Too many people I know take their kids to every indoor play area, gymnastics class, etc., in an effort to fight off boredom, and only succeed in spending more money and creating kids (and a momma) who aren’t content to stay at home.

    You will see an increase in spending in a few areas as well. Utilities and toilet paper come to mind. 🙂 You will also have a dirtier house in general (because you are home all day messing it up – and no, you won’t suddenly have lots more time to clean – this extra time is eaten up by the increase in mess), and you’ll be running the dishwasher more often. But if you were previously paying for childcare, these extra costs will be minor in comparison.

  • The situation really is different for everyone. I’ve been at home for nearly six years. I know for a fact not only do we save more money, but have also managed to pay down quite a bit of debt. When I worked, we spent money on whatever we felt like. I drove a brand new gas-guzzeler that had huge payments to a job with a 45 minute commute each way. I found some old check registers recently, and every other entry was at some sort of restaurant. It was ridiculous how much money we spent. Add all of that to work clothes, gas, childcare costs, and we would have been spending waaay more than what I could have earned.

    Staying home re-set my mindset about money. My new job consisted of taking care of my new baby and figuring out ways to save money. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, so cooking from scratch was an easy transition. We never did cloth diaper, but I do make cleaners, coupon for the things that I know we will use, and recycle/reuse as much as I can. I became very aware of budgeting and what money needed to go where. Before, I just made sure we had enough money in the account without going into the red. Now, I know exactly how much I can spend on groceries, clothing, etc. I take advantage of free or low cost activities for my kids. There’s so much information out there. Try living on one salary for a little while and see how it goes. That’s my best advice.

  • Read briefly through the comments and didn’t see anyone address this, so let me add that it depends also very much on YOUR temperament. If you are perfectly content staying home, then you’ll probably save yourself money. If you’re someone who can’t stand to stay home all day, you’ll find yourself “out” more, which costs money (gas, wear & tear on vehicles, convenience foods, admissions, etc.), and your savings might not be as much.

    Personally, I’m not a “shopper” and only go into a specific store with a specific list of things I’m going to buy. So, when I get bored, I’m not tempted to go shopping. I’m very much a homebody as well, so the kids and I spend our time in our yard or the park we can walk to which means we’re not paying entrance fees to the local petting farms or driving all over creation to get to the weekly playgroup (or not having time to fix lunch and just buying something since we’re already out).

    Having said that though, I personally think it’s worth it whether you’re saving money or not!

  • Hannah Reid says:

    I would recommend the book In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. As I recall, she deals with this issue in detail.

  • Emily E says:

    I definitely spend less. More home cooking, considerably less gas costs, no more eating lunch or breakfast from fast food, etc. Plus, I’m a thousand times happier- so there’s always that. 😉

  • Guest says:

    Hi Amy – I am not a SAHM though I do work full time from home so my answer is based on still having two incomes. I definitely save money on clothing and dry cleaning but I’ve found I actually spend more in other ways. As an extrovert by nature, I have had to actively create opportunities to get out of the house and be with other people so I’m not saving on gas because I would previously have just driven to work and back. I also do drop off and pick up from school for one of our children which is more gas. Since I am at home, I do enjoy doing more things from scratch but I’ve found that I actually spend a lot more money now buying things for ‘projects’ that I didn’t do when I worked in an office.

    My opinion is that it’s based on two factors – what your financial situation will be on one income (i.e., if you don’t have the money, you can’t spend it so you’re more incented to find opportunities to save money) and what is your personality/nature (i.e., do you like doing things from scratch, repurposing? Do you find saving money to be a fun adventure or a brutal chore?). Once you’ve thought through those things, you’ll have a better idea of what is possible and what is likely.

    Best wishes with whatever you decide!

  • Dee Wolters says:

    Great question! I think you can save a lot of money by staying home, and in various ways. Lots of wise mamas have shared those: gas, insurance, day care, eating out, office clothes, etc. There are also less noticable ways that I feel save money because I am a stay at home mom. Less stress: no worries about who will keep the kids if they are ill. And I think kids who are at home get sick less. Both kids and mama can have less clothes (saving money) because I can wash more often. Cooking from scratch does save a lot of money and helps to stay healthy too. Also, no pressure to buy gifts for people in the office, buy stuff office friends’ kids are selling, office parties, etc.

    And on the other side, I found I could use my time more creatively and save money. I made gifts for xmas and other occations. I mended our clothes when needed. I had time to shop at the thrift store and consignment stores frequently to get bargins. We used the library A LOT! Free books and movies, plus summer activities. I was able to volunteer and often would received a free meal or maybe a little something that was left over from event.

    Hope it works out for you

    • Elizabeth says:

      We definately spend a lot less money on doctor bills since the kids and I are home. It seemed like there was some kind of bug going around daycare/school every week.

  • Jenn says:

    There’s a lot of great advice here and I think in most cases you can save money while staying home but it does take discipline. One thing that helped me reduce spending while staying at home was to give myself some cash mad money every month. I included enough for one lunch out, one admission to the popular play space and 4 fancy coffees. It gave me some fun each month without breaking the bank.

  • Whitney says:

    I think a lot of people will assume that you will always spend less when you’re an at-home mom.

    I’m a work at home mom, and I find that when I’m working (whether here or at another location), I spend less. I know lots of SAHMs who shop a lot for food, crafts, etc because they have more time to do things. I really think moms underestimate this because they’re not going out to eat as much or spending money on work clothes.

    When I’m working, I’m REALLY busy. And when I’m busy, my idea of fun isn’t to shop or to spend money, but to rest and be with family. And I find that saves me money in the long run (and adds to our income, which is the best way to save, frankly).

  • vickie says:

    It’s so funny after reading the comments that the world has not really changed much from 30 some odd years ago when I had my first. I first went back to work and couldn’t stand the child care route so I quit and started working at home -homemaker! We saved money by using cloth diapers, cooking from scratch, and making do. Seems as though by doing those things we were able to go on vacations (to see his parent) etc. But when they were older they needed more things as teenagers so I found a job the same hours as their school and was able to buy the things they needed (wanted) and help send them to college.

    • vickie says:

      I should have also said we didn’t buy as many things as when I was working so we spent less for sure. It was worth it.

  • Jennifer says:

    For us, me being home has been a much better way for us to make it as a family. My first was an easy birth and I hadn’t been working because no one around us would hire me pregnant(We had literally just moved when we found out I was pregnant!), so I was at home, prepping for the newest arrival and doing other things to earn and save for us. Having a set plan for the income you know you have and things that must be paid is what saved us. Buying secondhand from people we knew, not havings things that we honestly didn’t need also helped.
    I have a large family of children and it’s never been an issue to get hand-me-downs for my first thankfully. Though the larger they get, the less there is since they’re all pretty close in size now.
    Our second-born has a ton of health issues with many surgeries. Given the time I would have missed from work, I’m not sad at all to say I was home. Plus I was given the advantage of being able to be up and with my child every moment they needed me. Two of their surgeries were extremely difficult and the healing time afterwards even more so. A daycare wouldn’t have been an option after the last surgery for several months, and I imagine after missing that much time(since I have no family to help watch them due to their own schedules and children), any job I had would have fired me. (I live in a no fault state, they don’t have to have a reason at all)
    So for me, cooking, cleaning and being there for them through all these past 7 years, yes it’s been worth it. I believe we’ve spent less(well I know, any childcare for #2 would have been astronomical!), but I also believe this will be specific to you and your family.
    Think it through, talk with your spouse and you’ll do fine 😉

  • Heather G says:

    I had a job that I really had to spend very little on clothes, etc. I found that when I became a stay at home mom, I saved a lot of money just on gas alone. Not to mention day care. There were some sacrifices we had to make like not eating out as much, buying thrift store clothes, which you can find a lot of nice ones and you will have more time to shop and find good deals when you aren’t working. It is definitely worth it to have the time with your babies, they are only young once!

  • Jamie says:

    You definately save when staying home ~ This is coming from a mom that worked full timefor years, then stayed home five years, then has been back at work for two years, and guess what? Next year I am going back to NOT working! We sat down and figured out how much we saved/spent when I was staying at home, vs. when I was working before, and then during these past two years of working. When I was staying home with my children, we were paying down debt, I was couponing, baking and doing what I could while I had two babies at home. Despite only having one income, we were making great financial gains because we had a better handle on our money. Now that I have been working, I don’t coupon as much and this has really caused our grocery bill to skyrocket. My children in childcare have had a ton more doctor bills, and we purchase more convienence items now as well. Long story short ~ It all comes down to money vs time. What’s your time worth? Next year, I might have a non-existent income, but I know despite this we will get back on track financially, because I will have the time, not the money, to devote to better managing our finances.

  • Jan says:

    I spend less! Gas, clothing, eating out, daycare, etc can really add up fast. At home I raise a garden, cook from scratch, and occasionally babysit. When my kids were smaller we went to the weekly library programs and had play dates with friends. These were usually free or very low cost. I hit up yard sales and thrift stores and refurbish items for the home. I have time to look for kids clothing at yard sales, etc and only buy clothing in great condition, this saves tons of money. I trade kids clothing and toys with friends. Sometimes I will babysit for freinds and make a few dollars, or they will bring over dinner for my family in trade. We save for big purchases and vacations. That helps motivates me to cook more from scratch or refurbish items to sell.

  • Melissa D says:

    If you do make the move to staying at home, start by saving money where you already have a leaning. I love to cook, so I tend to be more of a steward with recipes and making my own bread and chicken stock. It does help to ease into cooking 3 meals a day, every day, before you quit your job (although really I cook things that are good for 2 or 3 meals at a time). If you’re more of a DIY person or a good couponer, start with those strengths. (I’m abysmal at coupon clipping.)

    When my oldest was about 6 months old, I began to work from home as a writer, and my writing gigs have expanded and contracted throughout my season of life as each child was born. I felt like it was time to do it or regret not doing it for the rest of my life… so I took a leap there and didn’t regret it! Three kids in less than 4 years, and hyperemetic pregnancies, sort of made it go slowly for a bit, but I love it. Good luck finding solutions of your own!

  • Lindsey C says:

    For us, it’s cheaper in the sense that we budget less for gas, food, clothes (I have TIME to look at garage sales/consignment/etc), but it doesn’t make up for the deficit that not working leaves. We can live on DH’s income, though 🙂

    What I see SAHM’s spend money on (the ones who spend!) are the lunches, taking the kids to $$ places (museums, zoo’s, ice skating, summing, LOTS of lessons, etc), and general consumerism/my kid has a XYZ. So, evaluate your circle of friends- are they the ones for picnics in the park, or want to go to Chick-fil-A 3x a week? Neither is wrong, but figure out what your budget would allow for.

  • Jill says:

    I think just the fact of being at home and not feeling the pressure to “keep up” w everyone else as far as clothing styles ( not that you have to be unfashionable), vacations, after work entertainment, etc helps save money. We spend less now on eating out, I’ve started cloth diapering. Plus we just know we don’t have as much to spend, so you just do what you have to do!

  • Pamela says:

    Obviously the decision to stay home with kids is an individual choice…however, it would be good to think a bit beyond just “will we save money.” I would suggest that you have a plan for retirement savings and for health care costs. Women are more likely to live in poverty after age 65 than men are, making retirement savings an important thing to consider. Also, employers often subsidize employee only or employe plus children health insurance more heavily than they do family coverage, so that’s something to think about. In addition, even if you believe that you and your spouse will never divorce, death or disability are real possibilities (I’ve read a statistic that the average age of becoming a widow is mid-50s, but I don’t know how accurate that is). Getting additional life insurance for your spouse and/or a short- or long-term disability plan for him could be a good idea, and you’d need to budget for those premiums as well. Also, think about what he’d do if something happened to you! He’d need to pay for childcare at that point, possibly a housekeeper, etc., so a life insurance policy on you could be a good idea also.

    Obviously, we can’t plan for *every* contingency, but sometimes I think the above ideas get a bit lost in the discussions of stay home v. work.

    • Jeri says:

      Excellent points.

    • Stephanie says:

      Funny you should mention this- it turns out that I am very, very ill (I’m 38) and will probably not be here when my 2.5 year old goes to Kindergarten. Even if I do have an unlikely happy outcome the doctors told me not to expect to ever work again. We have money coming from me when I die so they will be ok but it will be interesting with the bills until then. We have fabulous insurance so far which helps. Make SURE you have disability insurance on BOTH parents no matter what you have to cut to afford it even if you paid into Social Security. I worked and then stayed home after the girls were born, even though they will be too young to really remember it I am glad that we were able to have me stay home.

      • Laura says:

        Saying a prayer for you now. Blessings upon you and your family. Praying for the unlikely good outcome.

        • Stephanie says:

          I have great doctors and the hospital has one of the best lung programs in the world so we shall see. It turns out that there is nothing I could have done to prevent/fix/slow down the progression of my disease but if you have a small problem like a lingering cold that won’t quit get it checked out because it may not be just a cold but your lungs telling you they are just done. I am so glad that we made sure while I was healthy there will some money after because the kids will have to go into day care, otherwise I don’t know what my husband would do.

  • Kristine says:

    We spend less now that I’m not working. We also save less. And the majority of the “savings” have been cutting out the “wants” – the same needs have to be met whether I’m working or not. We still need to eat, wear clothes, and keep our buns warm (or cool)!

    Even though you’ll have all this “time”, you won’t, really. And the time you do find, is easy to fill with stuff you want to do! Becoming a SAHM hasn’t suddenly transformed me into a wonderful housekeeper. Because I don’t like doing it. At all. In fact, the house is normally pretty messy because we’re now home all day, and I find most of my domestic efforts are put towards keeping up with dishes, laundry, and feeding these people! Who has time to vacuum the blinds?? Who WANTS to vacuum the blinds?? I didn’t like doing it when I was working, I don’t like doing it now.

    I also find that while I was working, I was content to be home. Now that I’m home all.day.long, I want OUT! I find myself coming up with “errands” to run on weekends just to get out and get some time to myself. Before, working filled that need in me. And it had the bonus of MAKING me money, not COSTING me money 🙂

    • Kristine, do you have any really fulfilling hobbies? What do you LIKE to do? What do you want to do?

      You could paint, draw, sew, garden, learn photography, refinish furniture, or do something else creative that makes YOU happy.

      Yes, the house will be a little messier because of it. However, you will be happier and more content to be at home, and leaving the house won’t matter as much.

      • Kristine says:

        I craft and garden (at least during the thawed months here 🙂 ). But the reality is I just need time away from everybody to recharge my batteries. And I don’t get that when I’m home all day everyday with them. That 1/2 hour commute home was wonderful, and I honestly miss it.

      • Laura says:

        I haven’t seen anyone mention it here, but I found that I needed to hire a babysitter for a few hours each week to give me “alone” time. I would do the shopping and work out, get nails done occasionally, hair cut, etc. I really recommend budgeting that in your budget. Hard to go from being at work all day to no break at all from little ones. It can be done, of course, but I was happier having a little support at home. Well worth the money.

        If you can find a babysitting coop or a local middle-schooler, this doesn’t have to break the bank.

  • Tia Robertson says:

    I’m doing the exact same thing (left work two weeks ago, without much in the line of money saved to cover expenses once I left) 🙁 I will say YES, I noticed I spend MUCH less now than I did before :
    (use to fill the gas tank once a week, but haven’t filled it in three weeks so far)
    (lunch expenses daily- $8/day saved)
    (dinner at home every night- saves us $25/week avg. on pizzas, take out etc.)
    (no impulse purchases- since I hardly have to go to the store-everything is already here)
    (so much to do at home to get ready, I haven’t had time to shop!)

    As far as other ‘savings’, I can say safely I haven’t noticed much of a difference. I started making my own cleaners, soaps and lotions over a year ago, cut out our cable and home phone a couple months ago and use cloth instead of disposable everything (except tp, I’ll never go cloth with that!). We decided early on that cloth diapering would be the way to go with this little one (still timing contractions, so she’s not here yet) so I saved money while I was still working buying ‘experienced’ cloth diapers (previously used, but still new condition). We have a plan to only buy used baby clothing (unless I can get it for less than $2 at Gymboree or some place) and the rest we are praying works itself out. Even with everything we are saving, we are facing a $300/mo shortfall when this baby arrives, but this has forced us to get creative and find other ways to make money while I am at home. Not sure if any of this will help anyone! If anyone has any other money saving tips- I’ll be glad to try them out!)

    • Tia, I’m sure you can not only buy tons of used baby clothing (garage sales and items at .50 and $1 each, including coats, shoes, etc.) but you will probably be offered hand-me-downs many times in your life.

      There are many ways to cut $300 a month. You can do this!

      Can you get by on one car? Though you would use less gas at home, not having insurance, registration, and general wear and tear on another car can be almost your $300 a month alone.

      Can you change your menus to eat for less? My family eats for .40 per person per day. I spend half on my family of 9 than what I did when it was just my husband and I ($200 a month for 2 people to $100 a month for 9 people).

      There are so many things that you can do to make up that $300 a month just in savings.

      • Tia Robertson says:

        We’ve been toying with the idea of selling my car, but with the value being less than what I owe (and not having the income enough to support a separate loan to cover the difference) we kind of hit a wall with that one. I have started a menu plan (have five weeks planned out so far, and with couponing, I usually spend less than $50/wk on the three of us). We live in a condo (upside-down on that too) with an exorbitant amount due each month for HOA fees (that alone eats up about half of my husband’s take home each month, and no one is buying). In an effort to save as much as possible, we shut off the pilot light to our fireplace to save $10/mo, grow our own herbs, share a garden across town with our best friends who have a yard, started selling what we do not need to create an emergency fund of sorts to stay afloat, and I have SO many hand-me-downs, I’m able to create a spreadsheet of what I have so I can begin looking at garage sales to gather what we don’t have/or will need for the future seasons. We kept our cell phones ($50/mo. for both) but got rid of cable and the home phone (as previously mentioned). Just not sure what else to cut, when it seems like we’ve cut everything 🙂 So far, selling stuff has been our only way to make ends meet, but that can only go for so long (until I run out of stuff to sell!)

        • Jill says:

          Is it possible for your hubby to get a PT job a couple of nights a week? My husband is in law enforcement and has a couple of off-duty jobs that he does (security at a hotel and working for our Major League Baseball team during baseball season) we don’t actually use that money to live off of, but we do use it for extras. It’s a sacrifice on both our parts bc he has to work more, therefore I have to work more caring for the kids w no break:) the bonus is also that he can get free tickets to the game, they give him vouchers for food out there and we get a discount at the hotel chain he works for. I would think maybe a pt job (depending on the area of work) might offer you some perks like discounts on top of the additional income that could be very worth it to you! Just an idea:)

  • This really depends on who you are and how much you were earning at your job. I have working and non-working mom friends, and the working ones do it because it would cost them quite a bit to not work. One makes well over 300,000/year, while the other makes a decent amount but needed the health insurance that her company offered (her husband is self-employed and it would be considerably more expensive to pay for their own insurance).

    I would also like to note that they are both great moms who love and care for their kids and do lots of things with them. It takes a lot of organization and effort to be a working mom, just as it does to stay at home – they are just different animals.

    • Money isn’t everything, though. A couple I know had the situation where he was making $100,000 a year and she was making $200,000 a year. She wanted to be home. Her husband suggested that he stay home because he made less. She said nope–and she quit her job as a lawyer to be home with their only child. She’s been home for 9 years now.

  • Becka says:

    We are definitely spending less since I quit working. I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes and have become very conscious of using up everything purchased in a timely manner to cut down on waste. My wardrobe needs have changed but I now have time to look for things I need at thrift shops. I shop less often so this also helps on gasoline costs. If you and your husband truly think this is what the Lord wants you to do He will help you find a way.

  • Sandi says:

    My one suggestion would be to use cloth diapers. It is not as hard as you would think and my pediatrician recommended them. It will save lots of $$$$!

  • Maia says:

    I am a single mom who homeschools and basically am a stay at home mom. I work about 5 hours a week at an outside job. I also go to school full time. I find that I need to keep just the right balance between being busy outside our house and staying home for quiet time. If we’re too busy I get overwhelmed and we eat out a lot, if we get to bored, we might go shopping or buy things to try and fill our socializing void. It’s a delicate balance.

  • If you get too many hand-me-downs, you can also sell the extras at a children’s resale shop. They give more if you take store credit. Use the credit to get other items you need for the baby but didn’t get at a shower, such as a crib, larger sizes in clothing, etc.

  • Kristine says:

    Something else that occurred to me, and was surprising. I gained 15 lbs becoming a SAHM. At work, I ate what I took. At home, I can pop bites in all day. A bite of sandwich left from lunch? Wasteful to throw it out – Mom will eat it. Feeling snacky, here’s a piece of cheese, a handful of crackers, etc. Especially now that we’re living a dog-less life. It was a lot easier to throw scraps in their bowls. Now I’m that bowl, and my pants are showing it :/

  • beth says:

    I definitely spend less on clothing since staying home. I only need a few really nice dresses for church and special events. I cook very nearly every meal at home and from scratch–breads, soups, etc. I also take time to make extra food to put in the freezer for the lean times or the busy times. I am able to walk just about everywhere I go in town so that I can save on gas.

  • Angie Malan says:

    I worked full-time until my first child was 3. We made the decision to homeschool and I was able to come be home with my baby. We now have three and I wouldn’t trade the things we have to sacrifice for the world. I missed so much with my oldest! We were terrified to make the decision because of the loss of income, but we obeyed what God was leading us to do and He blesses us more than we need every month. We save money on daycare, gas, car maintenance, and food. I love to cook and so I cook from scratch. The kids help and it’s fun for us. We coupon some and try to eat whole foods mostly so our grocery budget is higher than some, but still much less now that I have time to go to more than one store and plan meals around sale items! I have also been pleasantly surprised how much less time we spend at the doctor’s office! Not being around lots of other kids has greatly reduced our sick time! If you feel like God is leading you to this then He will equip you with all that you need and more. You may not be the best teacher in the world but no one will love your kids like you do and care about their hearts like you do! So if you can do it…stay home and love on your kids for as long as you can!

  • Jess says:

    I decided to stay at home after the birth of my third child, and I left a great career in finance. On paper, it just made sense to stay home between the cost of childcare, transportation expenses, and clothing expenses! Do I spend less? Absolutely! I have to, but also I find that I do not have time or energy to do much shopping because I always have 2 or 3 little ones in tow. The biggest benefit to our family is that we are not rushing around like crazy in the morning to get out the door, and we aren’t rushing around like crazy in the evening to eat/homework/bathe/get to bed/pack for the next day. It is definitely a financial strain for us, but they will only be little for a short time and I plan to return to work when they are all in school.

  • A says:

    I’ve been back a forth a few times, between working and staying home. I recently went back to work full time after taking a year off after having my second child, and I definitely think we spend more now. Obviously between child care costs, work clothing, food, etc I spend more. But I also find I spend more without even consciously realizing it because I know I’ll be getting another paycheck. Whereas before, we spent much less because we had to. This bothers me, because we really should be saving this extra income, when in reality it’s just getting absorbed into other areas. So yes, I do feel we spent less when I stayed home, mainly because we had to.

  • Julie says:

    When I was pregnant with my second child, I was full-time working mom as well. I knew that working full time with one child was difficult, and I could not imagine continuing at my job with two kids. I was very frightened about the financials, though! I had worked continuously, at part-time or full-time jobs, since I turned 16, and this would be the first time I had not had a regular paycheck. It was a real leap of faith. My husband fully supported my decision, though, and made a few sacrifices together. We went from two cars to one (only one car payment, less gas, very low insurance premiums), ended paying for day care, and stopped eating out so often. We did very well in the beginning, but it is still hard to minimize those trips to Target (to get out of the house, and so many fun things to buy!), reduce the urge to run through the fast food drive through on the way to sports practices, and to stick to my grocery budget. Four years in, I wouldn’t change my decision for the world, and if I found a way to do it, so can you!

    • Annie says:

      It’s a lifestyle change to take an extended “leave of absence” from your profession, but becoming a mom is a huge lifestyle change anyhow. We save more, but we also pass on more – eating out, trips, etc. We feel that it’s worth it. You may be able to find a small source on income anyhow. The only unexpected cost increase was utilities since we were home all day long.

  • WilliamB says:

    Not that I’m a stay-at-home mom but I did have a period of unemployment, which meant I was at home instead of working. The expense I didn’t expect was increased utilities – I could no longer turn off heat/AC during the day.

  • Janell Hughes says:

    I was “forced” into becoming a stay at home mom 13 yrs ago when a drunk driver hit me and I became disabled. My daughter was 5 at the time. Your mindset has a lot to do with if you can save money. I do cook every night except one. I make my husband a lunch to take to work and depending on my daughter’s schedule now that she’s attending college (locally), I also make hers. Clothes wise, I don’t spend a lot. I LIVE maxi dresses because they are cool in the Georgia heat and also cover all the scars on my legs. I wear them at home with an apron over them and then im dressed to leave the house. During the winter I live in jeans and sweat shirts. I have a friend that is stay at home mom and she always orders stuff online. I just feel I don’t NEED that much. If you need clothes to get you started to stay home, see if you have a friend you could swap a few of your work clothes with for a couple of pairs of jeans or pants and a few basic tops that maybe you have a scarf from work clothing you could add to it to spice it up. Good luck.

  • Ann says:

    If you want a calculator to help work out the numbers, this one looks like it covers things well:
    http://www.parents.com/app/stayathomecalculator/

    The one thing I often see ignored is that when you stay home, you are not earning credits towards social security or putting money away for retirement in a 401K or other employer matched form.

    I am very lucky that my job is flexible and pays well. Even when working, I walked to work, came home for lunch, didn’t spend much on clothes, had inexpensive daycare, etc. So the loss in income would have been huge…not to mention I was so bored on maternity leave that I took the babies to work with me 🙂 I’m also in a field that if I left for a few years, I would never be able to get back in, especially at the same salary level.

    So my advice would be…know yourself. Know what you enjoy, what you would do with more time at home, what works best for you and your family. And if it doesn’t work, you can always do something else 🙂

    • Rachel says:

      Don’t forget there is also an opportunity cost of not working. If you want to work after your kids are grown, it may be hard to reenter the workplace, and even if you are successful, your pay will likely be much lower than if you had continued working. Different careers and different fields will have different applications, but something to keep in mind for the long term.

  • Michaelene says:

    I think the savings depends on how much you are spending now. I work full time, but I also cloth diapered, breastfed beyond 1 year, and cook from scratch most of our meals. I rarely (1-2x/mo) go out to eat with friends, do not buy coffee shop coffee, and buy most of my business attire (on the rare occasion it’s needed) from thrift shops.

  • Paula says:

    I’d like to share my experience with you. On February 1st, I brought an idea to my superior about me starting to work only part -time. Because I’m a valuable and loyal employee, they jumped at the chance to work with me on this, rather than lose me entirely. These last few months have been great – for many reasons (that I don’t need to elaborate on now) – but I would have NEVER believed at how much money our family has been able to save in this amount of time! It has been great to find somewhat of a balance with my family & work, and, it has given me the confidence to be able to set a quit date for the near future. Good luck to whatever you choose to do, just thought I’d share a different idea with you!

    • Chrystelle says:

      This is a great idea (Paula) and one that I’ve been afraid to broach with my employer — even though I think they might go for some version of it. I would be interested in whether or not part-time work (and keeping kids in part-time daycare) would be worth it to keep the foot in the door. I’ve been doing the financial comparisons using FT salary/daycare compared to no 2nd salary and no daycare, but never thought to use a hybrid in our planning.

  • thar says:

    We definitely spend less. Back in 1999 and prior, I was a full time cardiac RN and part time airline agent. I ended up quitting both jobs to stay home with our adopted newborn daughter and first child. Some things we do on our single income budget include: couponing, shopping for sale/clearance items, making Aldi our main grocery store (we eat mainly whole foods vegetarian, and there are plenty of choices at Aldi to make it work), buy clothing almost exclusively at Goodwill, cooking from scratch, paying cash for wants after budgeting for them, using Chase Freedom for purchases (ALWAYS paying off in full at the end of the month) to earn cash back for Christmas shopping, and doing Swagbucks for additional Christmas $$$ (had $220 this past year in Amazon gift cards).

  • Sarah says:

    I agree with some others that have said to budget the way you live now minus your salary. That said, we save a lot by me staying home but of course we would have more at the end of the month even if I only worked as a nanny, as I was until my 2nd was born. My decision to stay home was based on enjoying life more and being less stressed. So, I do cloth diaper (part time) and cook from scratch and we use less gas for the car and I have time to shop second hand but I really enjoy these things and we are committed to saving money because me being home works well for our family. Hope you find what works for you!

  • Mary Ellen says:

    Did I spend less than putting my child in childcare and letting someone else take care of him for me? YES.

    Daycare is $175-200 per week here. I think if you can spend less than that being a stay at home mom, you’re doing just fine. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

  • Sophie says:

    I can’t speak from personal experience (my first is on the way) – I know that growing up it was more cost effective for my mom to stay at home (which frankly all of us kids LOVED). Part of the time she did work from home, but, due to circumstances, that wasn’t a long-term beneficial option.

    I suggest that, if you haven’t, transition to living and saving off of your husband’s income while you still work. This does two things: 1. sees if you can make ends meet that way and 2. allows you to bulk up your savings account or pay down your debt, or create a “baby fund” or whatever you really need that “extra” money to do.

    My husband and I have been living off his income solely since we got married and using all my income (after tithe) to pay off his student loans. Next month we should be debt free! *happy dance* When my baby comes I don’t expect us to “save” money … I expect our budget to look about the same with some revisions (namely, no debt payments from his income, budgeting for baby needs, and being able to save just a little more from his income).

    Ideally, we hope that my boss will be open to me working from home a few days a week and bringing baby into the office the other couple days so we’ll be able to use my income to initially fund (or kick-start) our emergency fund. I do hope to be out of the “traditional” workforce entirely before the holidays hit this year.

    All that to say – financially act like you’re staying at home now as a “trial run” (if you’re paying for daycare, I think it’s fine to pay for that out of your current income since that expense will disappear if you leave the workforce) and see if it works for you. Each family is different, but I wouldn’t expect to jump straight into huge savings. I think the whole thing (and really all of life) is a learning curve!

  • Jen says:

    So many comments already (which I don’t have the time to read all of now). But I’d like to comment on the thing about having more energy for making more homemade things and cloth diapering. I have way LESS energy as a stay at home mom than I did as a working mom. I guess it depends on what kind of job you have, but sitting at a desk all day left me with energy to DO things at home. Chasing after 3 young kids all day leaves me exhausted and I find I need the convenience things now more than ever! It also depends on who you will spend your time with. Everyone says you need mommy friends. I was fortunate to find a great group of women with kids the same ages as mine. We do lots of playdates. However, some of them have quite a bit more money than my family and at first I found I was spending quite a bit on trips to the zoo, museums, etc. My advice is to make sure you have some frugal ideas to keep your kids busy and free things you can do in the area to get out of the house every once in a while.

  • Katie D. says:

    Something else to consider is the benefits (if any) with your job. We don’t have kids yet, but my job offers great health insurance at a lower costs than my husband’s job, I also have life insurance for both of us and 401k matching.

    • Tina says:

      Save money yes, but with a lot of sacrifices and lots of coupon clipping. At baby number 3 we decided it was worth it for me to stay home until our youngest enters kindergarten, i have to say financially its been hard. SAVE SAVE SAVE before you stop working, it will give you a small buffer for the sheer shock of going from two incomes to one. Something to consider is your husbands perspective on you staying home. It caused a lot of tension at the start because he must have thought i sat around and ate bon bons and watched soaps all day, until i made a detail list of my daily responsibilities which didn’t start at 8 and didn’t stop at 5. I have loved being home for a few years it has been a huge adjustment for me being a career woman and difficult for me personally but defiantly worth it. You do sacrifice putting your career on hold and after over 3 years out of the workforce i feel like i am starting over ground zero again and have put nothing away in retirement since i left the workforce due to our tight budget but if your spouse understands its a sacrifice your making for your family and is appreciated then its worth it. Extra money other then bills i forgot to consider before staying home would be vacations, kids sports and date night. Forgot to add those in to the budget before i stayed home so Ive had to do garage sales, sell on ebay and do odd jobs to raise the money for those things.

    • Renae says:

      I plan to start being a SAHM next fall. Right now, I work a VERY good job, and have 2 kids in full time daycare. I bring in 3x the income that my husband does, carry the insurance for the family, contribute a lot to 401k, lots into savings, etc. HOWEVER, we have decided that we want to homeschool our oldest child, and have more children. It has always been the long term plan for me to be at home. So, we’re planning ahead. We know that once I stop working, we won’t be able to put money into savings, or into retirement. We have extensive budgets and spreadsheets for now and then. We’re saving up for a good emergency fund, and to buy our own house. I already don’t commute, don’t buy clothes, bake and cook from scratch, etc. Also, I will quickly become obsolete in my field. Being at home WON’T save us money. It WILL allow our family to function in the way that is most important to us. Please don’t think that staying at home is just about saving money. If that is the only goal, please try and exhaust other avenues to achieve that goal first. If there are other reasons, then give it a try!

      • Chrystelle says:

        We are in the same boat here and after reading Renae’s post, it was as if I had written it myself. Planning well in advance of becoming a SAHM, getting that emergency fund together (even though it is sooooo hard because we are trying to save for a down payment for a house right now), and watching every penny will hopefully make staying home a reality some day! I will also become obsolete in my field pretty quickly, re-enter the workforce at a much lower salary years from now, and take a huge hit in future retirement…but these are all things that we are praying about and asking God to give us clarity and confirmation on — day by day!

  • LAnn says:

    One of the things that you need to consider is the type of stay-at-home mom you see yourself becoming. Many, many years ago, when my kids were small, I stayed at home, as did many of my friends. And I truly stayed at home with my kids. We did go to the playground and library and take the rare trip to the zoo, but aside from grocery shopping and doctors appts, we stayed at home and thus spent very little money. Many stay-at-home women I knew would go out to lunch with friends and their kids several times each week. Afternoon matinees at the movie theater were weekly outings, as were trips out for ice cream. Strolling a mall or shopping center to get the kids some fresh air and exercise always resulted in them coming home with a treat for themselves or a craft project for the kids. Even their simple trip to the playground usually involved driving through McDonald’s for a milkshake. Maybe they easily could afford those things; I couldn’t. I would be honest with yourself – how often will you need social interaction or planned activities for you and your children? If you see yourself needing to get out regularly, will you be happy with simple, free activities or are you going to want the showy, costly ones?

  • Kristin P. says:

    I like to put it this way: I work full-time to put my 3 kids in an exclusive, high quality private school. Ironically, my job is both headmaster and head teacher of this private school. 🙂 We definitely save money having me at home. We do not take vacations – yes in part because the money is not there, but also, more importantly, we are always together and have lots of family time, so we don’t feel as great of a need as many working families do who do not have this kind of time together. We have more time to shop at thrift stores and thus get our clothing there. I cook, I have time to plan things for our family, I make my own coffee, I do make some of my own cleaners (working at doing more of that), I have the time to look for the best deals on many things. We have one car because my husband has a work van. We don’t eat out often because I do have the energy to cook for my family (most days!).

    I also have the time to do some things to earn money at home – like selling things, selling homeschool books, doing a bit of childcare. Over the years I’ve done web design and some waitressing. I would like to be more crafty and make items to sell.

    Here is something else to consider: stay at home moms have more time to serve the church body. This means making and bringing meals, helping families pack/move/clean, mentoring and discipling young women, visiting people in the hospital, visiting the elderly in nursing homes, caring for your parents as they age, helping with church functions, etc. Most working women just do not have the time and energy to do these things (though I know many would love to be able to) and it is something to consider as you think through your decision.

    I do agree that working moms can still have great relationships with their kids – no matter what, your kids will still look to you for your example and help as they grow up. It takes time and effort to build relationships with your kids and it’s still an area that I personally need to get better at even though I am at home with them.

  • Nichole says:

    My son was in daycare for 4 months when my husband and I decided it wasn’t working for us. We sat down and figured out that after paying for daycare and the stress of making sure we were there on time just wasn’t worth it. Since I made more money and carried the insurance we decided that I would continue to work full time while my husband learned how to be a stay at home Dad. We didn’t have any savings, had to buy formula, still had 2 cars. etc so I’m not sure that we really saved money, but our quality of life improved. I knew my child was safe and sound. My husband made dinner every night and ran errands. The yard work was done during the week so we had family time on the weekends. It was stressful at times as others posted because we didn’t have much savings so my husband would do odd jobs (cut grass, painting, etc) to help make ends meet. One thing to consider is that your electric/gas bill will be higher (vs turning down heat when at work all day and cooking more meals at home). Over time we did learn how to lower some bills by planting a garden, not eating out, not using as much gas in the car. I’d say look at it from not only a money point of view but also social. There were many times my husband didn’t get much sleep, the baby wouldn’t nap and he could’ve used a break or was bored (not many stay at home dads and didn’t have any adults during the day). Good luck! 🙂

  • katie t says:

    hello, i just wanted to add my two cents on being a stay at home mom. im 26 years old and my daughter will be 15 months on may 4. I was just about to quit my job because of stressful situations and had been thinking/praying/journalling about how lovely it would be to stay at home, raise a family and cook,clean,take care of my family. for those of you who have been through their first year, first baby, you know its not as easy as it looks…YES! you save money, because somedays you have time to cook from scratch (i have to add that i was already a krazy coupon lady prior to having a baby….)and you save because your not traveling to work..your not buying clothes (if that is a must in your position)…and the list goes on…i also live a very frugal live before we had a baby because of past relations that had “enlightened” me to be better financially responsible. that being said…your a mom…you figure things out…you will cut corners, find freebies, freecycle…accept any handmedowns graciously…and figure it out…around 11 months i started cloth diapering my daughter because it made sense..we are home most of the time..especially with the endless winter we’ve had this year…you find what works for you..and moneysavingmom inspires me everyday..{her post about cloth diapering is what kicked my toosh into gear on it} and i wish i would have started from the get go…my gf was a stay at home mom and i wanted to be just like her..there a days you want to pull your hair out…..for lots of reasons…but you figure it out..you pray about it..and you do what you gotta do…i dont play the drugstore game like i did before baby..because i just dont have the energy to run to every store with my daughter..but…you find what works for you..coupon..and make things easy on yourself..nobody..and no family is the same..as long as you get to spend the “time”…with your family…its that investment..that pays of big..i quit my job because i was investing time i would never get back into people i didnt “love”…so invest in your family..and take it day by day. 🙂

  • Jessica Valentino says:

    I think you can definitely save money as a stay at home mom. It doesn’t’ t necessarily happen automatically though. You have to make a conscious choice about the things you will do to save money for your family. If your family eats out a lot, for example, you will have to say now that I’m staying home I’m making a goal that we will only eat out once a week, or twice a month, or never (whatever your goal is), and stick with it. It will take extra work, you will still want to eat out a lot if that is your habit.

    I save money for our family by making most of our meals, planning and shopping carefully to make the most of our food budget, not having to pay for childcare, cloth diapers, less gas money, researching purchases and finding out how to get the best deal, less summer camps in the summer and more at home fun, taking the extra time to pick through thrift stores and garage sales to find our clothes and household items, keeping track of our budget, and making a lot of food items for less. I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of that if I was working.

    I think some of the things that can end up costing more are using more electricity during the day, extra trips to Target for just “one” thing, and maybe expensive hobbies if have the tendency to want to try things once you aren’t’ t working.

    • Living So Abundantly says:

      It depends. I was a Christian school teacher and didn’t make enough to warrant going back to work. Apart from the money, my husband and I prayed about it and made the decision, knowing that’s what I’m suppose to do for now. On the other hand, one of my closest friends is a counselor. She makes a lot of money at her job, and it’s what God has called her to do at this time. So, it actually saves their family more money by her working. We both have close relationships with our children. You have to do the math, but don’t forget God in the equation. 😉

  • Joanna says:

    I haven’t taken the time to read all the comments (there are a ton on this post!) so I hope I’m not repeating anyone, but I had one thought to throw out there.

    If you are making the switch from mostly eating out to cooking from scratch, I think you will reap the rewards in more health and energy, and save money on medicine and doctor visits. I stay home with four kids, and cook our meals from scratch. We eat out MAYBE once a month. And by eat at home, I’m not talking microwaving convenience food from the grocery store. I even make our own granola and whole wheat bread. It’s been years since I had a serious cold (I’ll get a little cough and stuffy nose a couple times a year), and my kids are rarely sick as well. (Except stomach bugs. My kids tend to be pukey.) My husband, on the other hand, will get sick and be in bed for a couple of days, then have lingering symptoms for weeks. He’s pretty much the only member of our family who has ever gone to the doctor to be treated for an illness, or who takes over-the-counter medicine. I attribute it to the fact that he delivers pizzas three nights a week, and eats the fast food pizza for dinner while he’s there. I really think he’ll stay healthier once he’s able to quit working there.

    • Ashley says:

      Your hubby is probably the one bringing the bugs home lol – at least that is what happens for us. I only get sick if my husband was around sick co-workers. Our 10 month old baby has only been sick once, w/o vaccination – so just that alone is worth staying home in my opinion.

      Just wanted to add that 🙂

  • Ashley says:

    I think all of the ladies really hit home about the savings from stay at home. But a very important question that you need to ask yourself is what will make you a better mom?

    For me, staying at home, taking care of my baby and the home is good for my soul. Even before children, work stressed me out way too much, and I just did not like the person I was. Now, I of course still get stressed because I work from home and toddlers can do that to you, but it is much more manageable. Of course, I thought staying at home should be a requirement that all moms needed to do, until I talked with a cousin.

    She felt she was a better mom when she went to the job she loved and came home because she spent her time at home concentrated on her child and husband. Now that she is at home with two children all the time, she feels more stressed out.

    That was just some food for thought. It is amazing how God will make a way for you to stay home if that is on your heart and part of His will. It may not look like you can afford it at first until you start cutting out all of the extra necessities. For example, do you really need the extra phone line or cable package? What if you downgraded your cell phone to the lowest package or chose a more affordable home/car? It is fun to get creative 🙂

  • Amy says:

    Thank you all for your helpful responses. I’ve wanted to stay at home since the birth of our first son, but my husband is a graduate student at the college I work at, so I’ve been working mostly to help cover that (we only pay 33% of tuition while I work there full time), he’ll be done two weeks after my maternity leave is finished. I felt that I spent less while on maternity leave, but wasn’t sure how that works in the long run.

  • Sarah says:

    Amy,

    Being a stay at home Mom does mean you can save money in many areas but it also means learning to live without and learning to be happy with living without.

  • Sabrina says:

    When I lost my job 5 years ago we were SO scared that we wouldn’t make ends meet. However, we didn’t consider the savings of being home at the time. Savings: Gas money from my commute of 40 minutes and general wear on the car. Child care – that was huge. We were paying $2000/month for daycare for two kids. We cooked back then, but sometimes it was skillet meals and more processed frozen stuff. Now, I’ve learned how to coupon and am able to cook more from scratch. We rarely go out to eat now but splurge once a weekend usually. However the biggest and most unexpected advantage of me being home for the last 5 years was that I really got to be so close to my kids. I never knew I wanted to be home which probably sounds strange to a lot of people. My job loss was a blessing in a way. Now they’re bigger (6 and 10), I’m returning to work full time. I’m sad to leave them but they’re in school full time now so the child care expense will be very low. We’ll be able to save more for retirement now and hopefully enjoy some more family vacations. Good luck with your decision! And congrats on the new baby!

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