17 answers

Question for SAHM'S

How do you do it?? I know there are some of you that are blessed to have a spouse with a wonderful, high income job. But I also know there are some of you like me, middle class, trying to make ends meet! My husband and I talked about my staying home for a year, but no matter how we juggled it, we didn't see it working without using credit, something we've completely avoided. Any suggestions? We still discuss it every time we pay bills, as I would love to even start planning now and stay home when my daughter is a toddler. Even cutting out all the "extra" stuff, going out to eat, impulse buying...just our main bills come so close to what my husband makes there is no way we can find! Since I see the SAHM label quite a bit, I had to ask!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi J.,

Maybe you could look at working part-time. I work 2 and a 1/2 days a week. This allows my daughter to have interaction with other children her age at day-care and allows me to have some 'adult time' at work. It is still hard financially but it works for us. I admire the mothers who stay at home but it's not something that would work for me, I need to get out and work for my own sanity. I love my daughter and am pleased that I don't have to work full-time and that I can spend quality time with her 4 days out of 7. It's a compromise.

Merry Christmas.


More Answers

In our culture, it is a sacrifice to stay home to raise our children. I am constantly reminded of that SACRIFICE. I do much the same as your other responses, buy second hand, stock up on good deals, use coupons, cook from scratch, be mindful of unnecessary outings (cost of gas), drive older cars, almost never eat out or go to the movies, get great hand-me-downs, drink water instead of pop or juice, use a little less laundry soap, use foaming soap dispensers instead of straight soap for washing hands or baby soap, use both sides of paper before tossing it, plan meals ahead, lower you thermostat no more than 5 degrees during the day, have garage sales and buy at garage sales, go to the park or zoo for 'family vacation" instead of going to disney, buy diapers only when you have a coupon, shop CVS for their extra care bucks reward system (you can get things for pennies or even free from thier ECB program), go to www.hillbillyhousewife.com for other good ideas.

I do try to sell things on ebay for extra income. It is minimal but so is the time and effort. I earned about $600 this year selling things that I had around my own house that I was not using or just wanted to get rid of. Most of which were books and coupons.

Let me tell you about the coupon thing - if you are not using formula.... you can sell the formula coupons/checks on ebay and get good money! If you are using formula buy the coupons on ebay!
I had a coupon that was a $9 value for Enfamil. It sold on ebay for $7.52! I came to my mailbox for free and it only cost me .42 cents to mail it - I never even had to leave my house to ship it out.

It is time to get creative and think frugal. Allow your husband bring in the money and you do your best to cut corners in other ways.
Also know that your decision to stay home is the right one. God gave your baby to YOU for a reason. She needs YOU.

I hope this helps. Hang in there and treasure every moment with your little blessing - even the difficult moments.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm a medical transcriptionist. I type medical reports from home for hospitals and doctors all over the U.S.A. It is a wonderful skill to have because you can do it at home or in a hospital or doctors office. Also, there are companies you can work for that do provide insurance benefits and paid days off, which is really nice if you are a single mom, or if your husband does not get really good benefits or no benefits for some reason.

I am NOT a certified teacher, but I have been doing this job for 9 years, so I do know what I'm doing, and I'm offering to teach people how to do it on-line (after the New Year). The course is about 6 months and costs $500 (much cheaper than college). If you are interested, e-mail me at ____@____.com for the full course information.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,

Maybe you could look at working part-time. I work 2 and a 1/2 days a week. This allows my daughter to have interaction with other children her age at day-care and allows me to have some 'adult time' at work. It is still hard financially but it works for us. I admire the mothers who stay at home but it's not something that would work for me, I need to get out and work for my own sanity. I love my daughter and am pleased that I don't have to work full-time and that I can spend quality time with her 4 days out of 7. It's a compromise.

Merry Christmas.


My daughter will be 3 in March and I have been a SAHM since she was born. We are also very middle class and we live generously and no credit cards. I am very good with money, I spend when I can and don't when we can't. It is very hard some days, but I have to say watching my daughter change over the years has been worth everything. I do work PT in the evenings not as much anymore but I did do it 5 days a week for minimum wage. It was great extra money for the extras, if you can try and find something on the weekends or in the evenings it is worth it to stay home if you can. On the other hand if you and your spouse are stressed about money that can only hurt the child so you have to weigh your options. Sometimes you overlook the things that cost the most, my suggestion is to create a spreadsheet and write down everything that you spend money on (including the pack of gum) and track where you can cut - you will be surprised! Good Luck and enjoy every minute you have with her smiling face

Consider working opposite shifts from your husband a few times a week... that's what we do. I work from the house teaching piano in the afternoon/evenings when my husband is home. I work 4 very busy days a week.

The downside is we only have family time for 3 days a week, but it works well.

Honestly...sometimes it can't be done. Some households (actually most) have to have two incomes. It sucks I know...you want to be home with your kid(s), but reality is...it might not be possible.

Hi J.~
Sometimes it's tough. My husband makes a good living, but we could always use more money. I was blessed to be able to go back to work part time because my daycare provider happens to be family. It offers me the best of both worlds...I can 'do what I do' and know that my children are with somebody I trust explicitly, in an environment where they are able to interact with other children, as well as forming a strong bond with their cousins b/c they go there, too. I realize not everybody has that situation, but if you have to work don't feel bad. It is what it is and sometimes you can't change it. We don't use credit, either. I am SO against it and so is hubby. It's not worth it. We have friends who are so deep in credit debt that they can't even take a day off of work b/c the need every dollar just to make the min. payments. Sounds like a miserable life to me.

Don't beat yourself up for working, esp. in this economy. Instead, feel blessed that you can provide for your family and still give your kids the love/time they need!


I went back to work for a few months after having my daughter and I would come home and sometimes my husband had already put her to bed. My job was really demanding but important to me and I really never dreamed of quiting, my income was the same as my husbands at the time. We had to refinance our car and play with our tax deductions and 401k contribution, but we finally did it. I really felt like we would be a mess financially, but we have gotten by while still indulging in some things (my big spending is on kids shoes--I by the $45-$60/pair). I do confess to having a wardrobe mostly made up of Target clothes, but that was an area that I spent a ton of money on while I was working. Also, you will pay less income tax so your husband can claim 3-4 so his take home every month is higher (just make sure you check with your accountant to make sure you aren't claiming too much and then you would owe). My husband is glad I'm home because it lets him focus on work and not worry about leaving on time to pick up from daycare or who will call in when baby is sick. for us it is great--almost 4 years of being jobless.

Hi J.,
As one of the other moms suggested, work a couple of days outside the home opposite your husband. I was a full time SAHM but the economy we were never getting ahead. So I found a job and work 3 days a week opposite of my husband. That way he gets some time to have with the kids and we don't pay a sitter. On average its about 300 dollars a week so it helps us get ahead a little bit. One thing we did when I didn't have a job is we went down to 1 car for awile. It was quite an adjustment because we had to plan ahead to see who needed the car. My husband works really close to our home so it was something we could do. Good luck.


I am a SAHM mom of 5 boys ages 13 years to 23 months old.

Some things we do are put in a garden and I can and freeze fruits and veggies in season when they are plentiful and cheap.

Also stock up on sale items, such as meat and boxed/canned goods from the grocery store and store them at home so when I need something I have it here and don't need to run out to get it at full price.

I also garage sale for things, you would be amazed at what you can find that is almost new for a fraction of the retail price. Kids clothes, household items, it really helps stretch the budget.

I also shop all year long for gifts, if I see something on clearance I pick it up and stash it away until someones birthday or christmas, if you plan ahead you can still give nice gifts for not alot of money.

I also cook as much as I can from scratch, such as quick breads, and I have even recently found a way to make homemade yogurt in my crock pot! This is great as my kids eat lots of smoothies.

I think the trick is in advance planning. Also we are debt free, I think if we had much credit card debt it would be a lot more difficult. We typically don't buy something unless we have the cash for it. Occasionally we make an exception, but will have the credit card paid off completely in a month or two.

I hope this was helpful, and if you would like more details about anything that we do I love to talk about it!

HI J. ~ we do alot of what everyone else here has listed, garage sales...which I LOVE...second hand shopping...even for myself and my hubby...Goodwill has good sales the last saturday of the month and I find work pants, t-shirts once I found a NY&C long green (my favorite color) sweater style jacket all for a $1 or $2 a piece...while we don't look like we shop the expensive stores we also don't look like we shop goodwill either :) We really don't eat out much or go to the movies...although we do have netflix...which keeps cost even lower while providing some entertainment as we don't have cable or internet either. We went down to one car about two years ago and while it can be difficult we make it work because we know it's worth it. In all honesty I have not been home 24hrs a day 7 days a week, but I do consider myself a SAHM. When our first child was born we owned our own home and both of us worked full time. After my maternity leave was up I switched to third shift so my hubby and I could work opposite shifts, care for our own child and not have to pay for daycare. This worked great as I don't need much sleep to function. However after finding out we were pregnant with our second, which was a bit of a suprise, we traded our own home for a three bedroom townhouse which was much less a month to rent and if things broke we were not responsible for fixing them! Since then I have almost always worked somewhere pt time...once I did floors at a laundrymat near my home 7 mornings a week. I made minimum wage, but it worked because I could get the work done early before hubby had to leave for work. Now I currently work as a "fill-in" their, so when someone gets sick or needs time off of work I cover their shift. It works nicely because my hubby is currently on third shift and so again we rotate caring for the kids. Another thing we did just recently was meet with a Primerica Rep who showed us ways we could start saving...as that has sort of taken a back seat. He helped us arrange our car ins, renters ins and life ins so that we had the same coverage as before, but it cost much less! Also walked us through changing our deductions to open up some additional cash every week, but not so much that we would owe money at the end of the year. It was such a blessing and has helped immensely. Staying home is a pretty major lifestyle change which can seem pretty scary, but if your hearts are in it and your willing to make those sacrifices (some of which take time to implement)I think you'll find that it is easier than you thought and you'll also discover many other area's which can be cut or reduced. Oh, another thing we just did, which has helped with our electric bill is to put all of our TV's and computers on power strips and turn them off when not in use...the first month we did this, we saved $20 on our electric bill...then we went and switched about a 1/4 of light bulbs to the new bulbs...we still have many more to switch, but can't wait to see the savings add up!

Good luck in whatever you choose and...Merry Christmas!!!

One option to stay at home would be to become a licensed daycare provider...
I have 3 kiddos... No degree... so my whole check would cover ONE child daycare... Not an option for me to work out side the house. Thankfully Hubby has a degree and a good job. But there is still VERY little wiggle room in our checkbook. I became licensed and care full time for kids in the summer and part time during the school year. It gives me some $$ and helps out with those last minute purchases. Knowing what it is like to have daycare cost eat up a bunch of $ I give my families a LARGE break on it.
Being a SAHM on one income is a lifestyle change. The scariest part is doing it. Once you do, you will adjust and see where there can be more tightening of the belt. We live in a society of "little extras". We have one cell phone instead of 2. Low number of minutes and only use the phone occasionly. Mainly as an emergency line for me and the kids if the van breaks down (and its happened :-). We don't have cable... Matter of fact we don't own a tv. We can watch 99% of shows online for free... And it only costs the same as internet. We bundle our phone/ internet.
I have a garden in the summer and instead of buying meat only when we need it we buy sides of beef... (cheaper per pound)that takes a huge hunk of $ off the grocery bill.
I price compare (walmart meets ALL local stores prices, but YOU have to keep an eye on it and tell them.) I havn't paid more than $2.50 a gal for Milk or OJ.
Add in coupons... I just wish more places doubled coupons. Walmart take internet coupons that you print out as long as it scans...
Store brand diapers and formula is just as good as name brand. Actually 99% of store brands are the exact same as name brands. Same products just different packaging.
I also do not buy clothes full price. I buy things a year or so in advance off the clearence racks at the end of the seasons.
If you do stay at home your auto costs go down. Less gas and wear and tear on the cars.
If you do make the leap and stay at home have hubby start a change jar... That is YOUR extras $$. Every couple of weeks you should be able to treat yourself to a treat to help break up the monotony of not having much $. Even if its just a coffee while not at home its suprizing how much it lifts your spirits.
Good luck!!!

We have a 2 1/2 year old and are expecting our second child in April. I consider myself to be a SAHM although I teach a parent-tot class 2 mornings per week. The pay just covers my gas money.

We live in a 830 sq. ft. condo with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Although this is not ideal we are happy and "cozy". So many people I know have much larger homes but both parents have to work all day. For us, we are happier with my husband going to work and me being able to stay at home.

We do have some debt and student loans that are not paid off but we do our best. It also REALLY helps that my husband has a company car so we only have one car payment and one car insurance bill.

This is just what works for us. We don't have a ton of extra money and we haven't started saving for retirement or college yet...but we're happy and that's all that matters to me right now.

I am a SAHM and my husband is currently unemployed so I totally understand. To be honest, we do use credit cards for some things, but we always pay them off each month. We do not go out or really have money other than our bills which are definately starting to squeeze tighter. Because of this I started selling Tupperware, it gets me out ocassionally and brings in on average $150+ per demo/party. My husband and I recently found a company (very new) that is determined to bring clean and healthy water to the world and started helping them educate, equip and empower people with the knowledge and solutions they need to lead healthy and wealthy lives. It is very rewarding when you help to teach people all the bad stuff our government doesn't tell us about our water and that water, pure healthy high alkaline structured water is a way to prevent many health issues (or at least help) including cancer.

If you are interested, let me know, we can certainly show you how you can very quickly replace your income with some hard work and dedication. No get rich quick, it is work, but it is really rewarding on so many levels.

It sounds crazy, but giving to God/charities, even when you don't think you can afford it always comes back to help you. Think "Pay It Forward", if you haven't seen the movie, it is worth renting (unless you find it at a garage sale or Walmart for less than $5). You'll totally understand after seeing the movie.

will yoube paying for childcare??? Have you calculated what it will cost for childcare and how much money you will have left from your check after you pay childcare?

For many families the cost of childcare is almost as much as the take home salary.. so what are you really working for?

I think I was making a few dollars an hour after I paid for childcare.

I am now staying home.. I also suggest working a second shift so you dont pay so much childcare..

It is very hard to leave a young baby in day care.. but once they get to be 3 is it much easier as they enjoy it and learn a lot.

Hi J.,

I was a stay at home mom for 7 years. I just now started part time at an elementary school. We sacrificed just as many before me have written. We however also did use credit when we had too. I know this is not a good thing but I thought it was worth it to be able to be with them when they were tiny. They are now both in school and I have the same work schedule as their school schedule. (since I work there.) We have the second income to help pay off the debt that we acquired to afford me to stay at home and nuture them. I do not regret a single minute even with the debt that we accured.

I've been home 5 1/2 years and have loved it. We just changed the way we do things to afford it. When we looked at what child care would cost to what I would make it just wasn't worth it to us. We wanted to know who and how our daughter was being raised. I've done in home day care = money and a play mate for your kid too. I do some gardening, every bit helps. I used everything I could as a teaching experience.
We get a ton of kid clothes as hand me downs, grandparents always want to buy her something like shoes or a jacket. We ask for clothes for christmas, and so we spent 100.00 or less on my daughter and myself this year. I do laundry a lot anyway so we don't need a lot of clothes to get through the week. I make most of the kids gifts we give by hand. I'm working on some felted sushi right now.
I do most cooking from scratch, and have had a blast making international foods. I try to teaching my daughter math, and nutrition while cooking.
Our group of friends rotate dinner parties for fun. We do see 1-2 movies out a year. But most of the time prefer to hang close to home playing checkers or something.
Good luck, A. H

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