You’re probably wondering how to afford to be a stay-at-home mom in this economy.
The reality is that we aren’t living in the age of our grandparents. Back then, things were cheap to buy and the cost of living was low. So, although women staying home had more to do with the lack of equality in the marketplace, it was at least still financially feasible.
But today, as more moms are choosing to stay home, it can seem financially impossible.
Most households require dual income just to stay afloat. To top it off, one study shows that raising kids costs nearly $300,000!
So if you want to be a stay-at-home mom, it certainly needs to be something that you can afford to do.
As a mom who has transitioned from a decade-long corporate career, I’m here to share how it’s possible.
So whether you’re a mom who wants to be home with your kids or one who just wants to start a home-based business, you’ll want to follow the steps that I’m sharing.
How much money does it take to be a stay-at-home mom?
Knowing how much it takes to be a stay-at-home mom is entirely dependent on your household. At a minimum, you need enough money to be able to cover your necessary household expenses.
This includes things like rent or mortgage, transportation, food, clothing, utilities, and more.
But I’m sure you want to do more than just stay at home, right?
If so, you’ll need to consider those added costs as well. So in addition to baseline living expenses, considering the cost of things like:
- Saving for your kids’ college
Add all of these expenses up. That’s what it will cost to be a stay-at-home mom.
How do you know if you can afford to be a stay-at-home mom?
If you can reduce your household expenses to be covered by one income, you can probably afford to stay home.
In some cases, it can save you money to be a stay-at-home mom. For instance, if the cost of child care is equal to or exceeds your salary, it may be ideal for you to stop working. In this case, you’re actually losing money.
I’m sure you’re wondering how.
Well, although you’re a working mom, there’s the added expense of your daily commute, having to pay for work clothes, eating out for lunch, and more! So there are cases where you can’t afford to NOT come home!
So, if your husband works and you can live below your means, then you can afford to be an at-home parent.
How to afford to be a stay-at-home mom
There first step in determining if you can afford to come home from your career is to evaluate you current financial situation. Will taking a break or permanent departure from the workplace delay your financial goals?
1. Calculate your household expenses
You’ll need to know exactly how much it will cost for you to be a stay-at-home mom. To get this value, you will need to add up all of your household expenses. Here are some expenses to consider:
- Debt repayment
- Credit cards & other debt
How much does this add up to per month? This is how much income you’ll need to be able to afford to come home from your full-time job while maintaining the same lifestyle.
2. Create a budget based on one income
Now that you know what your expenses are, it’s time to create a budget. Putting these numbers in a spreadsheet or on paper will allow you to see if you can truly afford to live on one income. And, if not, show you what you need to adjust to make things work.
Although you’ll be losing your income, you’ll also be saving some money that you should account for. This may include:
- Daycare costs
- Transportation costs
- Cost for lunch
- Work-related expenses like professional clothes
Plug your new scenario into your budget and identify areas of opportunity for you to cut back on your spending.
3. Cut back on spending
If your monthly expenses are more than your spouse’s income, then you’ll need to find ways to reduce them.
What can you realistically cut out to get your expenses down?
Well, you can start by canceling any unused subscriptions and memberships. Another way is to negotiate your bills.
From there, consider these frugal living tips that can help you reduce your expenses even more.
The idea is to remove anything that you truly do not need from your budget. This will free up funds to go toward your necessities and make living on one income more feasible.
4. Eliminate debt
As you reduce your expenses, a major goal should be to get out of debt.
A study done by Northwestern Mutual showed that 30% of most monthly income goes to debt repayment other than a mortgage. So if you want to relieve some of your expenses, get rid of debt!
There are several debt repayment options that you can use, but the idea is this:
- List out all of your debt
- Put extra cash toward one debt and pay it off
- Apply the extra money from the first debt being paid off to your next debt on the list
- Continue until all debt is paid off
The best time to start paying off debt is when you have two incomes. While you’re still working, find ways to make extra income so that you can speed up the repayment process.
You can pick up a side hustle, a part-time job, or start a business to quickly increase your income to pay off debt.
5. Save for emergencies & future expenses
In addition to paying off your debt, you’ll want to also begin saving for emergencies and future expenses.
Again, you’ll want to do this while you have two incomes. Doing so now is a lot easier when you have more money coming in.
So as you’re actively decreasing your expenses and paying off debt, apply your income to put more into savings.
Some things that you should consider saving for include:
- Emergency fund
- HSA/Medical expenses
- Car repairs
Although you’ll no longer be working, it’s still important to have money saved for retirement. So while you’re still employed, max out your retirement savings and Health Savings Account (HSA) for future use.
Putting money away in my HSA was particularly helpful in covering medical expenses after leaving my job, while also giving me a tax deduction. Take advantage of this if you can!
6. Maximize your current income
No matter how badly you may want to leave your job, it’s still a great opportunity to make money. This is money that can be put toward debt, saving, and other financial goals that you may have before becoming a full-time parent.
So while you’re employed, maximize your income. This means:
- Asking for a raise
- Qualifying for bonuses
- Temporarily taking on a higher-paying position
Keeping the goal in mind, find ways to make the most money while you’re still employed. This will afford your the ability to be able to comfortably come home from your career.
7. Start a home-based business
One way to afford to be a stay-at-home mom is by replacing your income. So instead of going down to one income, you can either replace your full income or a portion of it with business income.
There are tons of business ideas for stay-at-home moms that still allow you to focus on your kids. In particular, you can consider starting an online business that allows you to make passive income. This means that you can make money without trading your time.
A few businesses that you can start include:
- Selling digital products
- Opening an Etsy shop
- Becoming a virtual assistant
- Coaching or consulting based on your professional experience
8. Adjust your tax withholdings
Since you’ll no longer be working, your spouse may be able to adjust his tax withholdings to reflect being the sole earning in the home. This will allow more money to come into your household instead of being put toward taxes.
Of course, you don’t want to do this without reviewing this with a tax professional. They can provide guidance on when the appropriate time is for these updates to be made and what implications it may have. to understand what he should be withholding to avoid paying excess taxes
9. Get all medical exams while you’re employed
If you’re not already on your spouse’s health insurance, you’ll likely soon be. Any new additions can mean higher deductibles and a higher out-of-pocket max. So, I recommend handling all of your medical procedures and checkups before you forfeit your insurance. This includes checkups for your children.
If you’ve just had a baby, you’ll have likely reached your out-of-pocket max. At this point, exams and other expenses may be free or drastically lower. If so, get those exams at much a lower cost.
And the great news is that you don’t have to worry about it for at least another year.
How to be a stay-at-home mom on one income
Now that you can afford to be a stay-at-home mom, here’s what you need to do to manage on one income.
Get on a budget
It’s important to be intentional about managing money, especially on a single income. The way that you do this is with a budget.
You’ll want to create a family budget that you use to plan and track expenses. I recommend using a zero-based budget, which you can grab in my budget binder.
Again, it’s important to be intentional about your spending. So look for ways to keep expenses down and save money.
Here are some things that you can do to help save money:
- Use cashback apps
- Use coupons
- Shop sales/thrift
- Shop off-season
- Repair items instead of replacing them
- Find free alternatives for activities
- Meal plan & prep
- Regulate your utilities
5 Ways to make money as a stay-at-home mom
Just because you’re a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean that you can’t make money. I’ve already shared a few home-based business ideas that you can start as a mom. Here are a few more to consider.
1. Become a virtual assistant
A virtual assistant is someone who provides administrative support to a person or business remotely.
Many moms have built five and six-figure businesses from their homes as virtual assistants. In fact, I share how Abbey Ashley of Virtual Savvy turned her VA business into a multi-seven-figure business. (Yes, she makes MILLIONS)!
She is pretty much the go-to person for all things virtual assistance and starting a VA business. She helps other moms learn how to start their own VA business so that they can also have time and financial freedom.
I suggest grabbing her FREE virtual assistant checklist & starter kit to learn how you can start your own VA business. She also has a Become Booked Out Webinar that you can enroll in if you’re really ready to get started.
2. Become a social media manager
Everyone is on social media, including businesses. These businesses, in particular, need help to manage their accounts.
They need someone who can post for them on Instagram, who can reply to comments, and someone who can post things on their social channels.
If you’re good at social media, creating content, scheduling, and engaging with people, managing social media accounts for businesses is definitely an option for you.
To start, just set up a profile as a freelancer on websites like Fiverr, or Upwork.
A proofreader is someone who ensures that written content is free of grammatical, punctuation, spelling, and other types of errors. They can also correct for proper formatting and word use.
You don’t have to have formal training to do this, but there are courses that you can take to become proficient at it.
Proofreading and freelance associations offer an opportunity to network, find jobs, and have access to continuous education. You can also leverage Fiverr to market your services to potential clients.
4. Freelance writing
Writing is another great way that you can make money from home.
As a freelance writer, I’ve made as much as $600/mo for writing services doing a few articles here and there for other blogs.
However, there are tons of people who have made careers out of freelance writing.
Not only can you write for publications, but you can also write books to sell online. I talk about this and all the ways I’ve leveraged writing to make money online in my post on how to make money from writing.
5. Sell digital products
Selling digital products is one way that I’m able to make money as a stay-at-home mom.
I’ve literally made thousands of dollars in extra income in a month from selling things like printables, courses, and digital downloads.
Selling digital products is a flexible option as a side hustle or full-time business. Because this is a virtual business, it gives you the option to be able to work from home or literally anywhere! The best part is you can start with $0.
I go into a LOT more detail in my post on post on how to start selling digital products
So can you afford to be a stay-at-home mom?
Being a stay-at-home mom has so many wonderful benefits and is certainly a labor of love. So being able to afford it is such a wonderful privilege. Hopefully, you’re able to take these tips and steps to make it financially possible for you to become a stay-at-home mom.