Afford to Stay Home?

Updated on February 07, 2010
L.B. asks from Gastonia, NC
26 answers

I would LOVE to be a stay at home mom (I have a 21 month od daughter). But I'm fairly certain we cannot affort it. Do any SAHMs have any tips or ideas? Thanks!!

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answers from Greensboro on

This is what I do. Once there type in code 24395-wealth. Feel free to email me if you have questions. M.



answers from Minneapolis on

If you decide to stay home, I have an opportunity for you to earn a little extra income each month. It's a big decision to stay home. You have gotten some great input so far. Good luck mamma!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I never thought I would survive the transition form a FT career to a Pt status, being laid off, working PT for half of my previous salary then being rehired PT at my previous salary, but you know what? We did it. Get a Dave Ramsay book and get your finances on the path to squared away. If you get your debt and spending under control, you can live on O. income. You may have to scale back some things, but it CAN work! You would be amazed how much less you spend when you at at home. Just wanted to offer encouragement. Good luck!

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answers from San Antonio on

I always wanted to stay home w/my now 2 year old son and 3 year old daughter but didn't think we could afford. Well, I was laid off from work and began my search at work at home opportunitites and found one that I absolutely love and now I get the best of both worlds!

I am working from home w/a debt free, international, solid 25 year old company who is in excellent standing w/the Better Business Bureau and I am very happy to be working with them. I don't have to sell, carry inventory or make deliveries. I work with my computer and phone; setup customer accounts and some online marketing. We are a WFHBO but we are NOT MLM. We work as a team (which is amazing, by the way), we all help each other succeed.

The best way for you to see if this company would be a good fit for you would be through a 30 min information call or if you are more of a visual person, like I am, our company has a webcast which we can setup a time for. The webcast takes about 40 minutes.

Either way you will be impressed with what you hear! Send me an email if your interested: [email protected]

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answers from Dayton on

Hi MaddysMom,

I love this question! We had to answer it after our third child, because by then I would have been working to pay childcare and I figured if I tried I could save more money staying home than I made going to work.

First write out a REALLY detailed budget of what you spend in a month. Then make a list of the expenses you incur while working, for instance childcare, gas to and from work, lunches, clothes, parking or anything else that you spend for work. Then subtract those things on the list that you have added into your budget. Then start brain storming ways to save money.

Here are ways that we have saved money:

We are very careful with our grocery shopping. I make a detailed two week menu for meals and snacks and make my grocery list off that menu. I buy everything I can from snacks to dishwashing detergent at the Dollar Tree where everything is a dollar.

I make all the breakfasts and lunches for my husband and my kids (we have 5) so we don't have the expense of school lunch or eating out. We also use coupons and shop where we get the best deals even if it means I end up going to three different stores. Lots of stores have their adds online and if they have a store benefits card, like a Kroger card, you can upload the coupons onto your card from the internet and when you shop and enter your card information it applies the coupons to your purchase automatically.

We got rid of cable tv. For less than $10 a month you can get netflix which allows you to rent 1 movie at a time that they mail to your door and unlimited streaming from their watch instantly menu straight to your laptop or pc. We even get them to stream to our television through our xbox 360.

We got rid of our home phone. We use our cell phones. You can always do it the other way so that you get rid of your cell phones or just go to a plan with very limited minutes and unlimited texting. You could also get rid of long distance and just use your cell which usually has unlimited long distance.

We refinanced our car for a lower interest rate which significantly lowered our car payment.

We got debt consolidation loan and paid off our credit cards. Because the loan had a lower interest rate we were able to pay on the loan for less than we were paying each month for our credit cards.

If all of this doesn't completely get you home you could consider working part time which would be a compromise or going to a shift that would keep your daughter with you during the day and with dad in the evening. Then you could apply the money you aren't spending on daycare to pay down your monthly expenses until you wouldn't need your paycheck and could afford to stay home.

Hope this helps,


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Memphis on

First step is to change from "fairly certain we cannot afford it" to either "certain we can't" or "certain we can." To do that, you have to take a close look at your income minus your expenses. If you save your receipts, you can look back; if you don't, start now and see what you actually spend. Your bank statements and/or credit card receipts can be helpful because they can tell you where you spent your money, although they cannot break down what you actually spent your money on (toilet paper, etc.).

Once you have a good idea of where your money has gone, you can see where you can tighten up. If you find yourself eating out three times a week, or grabbing fast-food every day, then as a SAHM you can cook at home for a lot cheaper and thus save a lot of money. If you're spending frivolous amounts on toys and other amusements for your daughter out of guilt for not being at home, then those likewise can stop. Obviously, if you're paying for day-care now, that would be another expense that would be instantly gone. Another thing might be lower taxes, since you might be in a lower tax bracket. By looking at where your money is going, and what would be different as a SAHM, you can see if you can actually live on your husband's income with these modifications. Of course, seeing that it is technically possible and then actually doing it are two different things, unfortunately. :-(

A budget has to be realistic -- you can't say, "If we can get by on $100 per month in groceries..." when you currently spend $1000 on food; or if a realistic but frugal sum is $300 for your family. Some expenses are set (mortgage/rent, e.g.) and others are variable but fairly stable (electricity). Looking back at past bills can help you see exactly how much is spent on such necessities, and perhaps also what have been unnecessary expenses. Could you reduce your cell-phone plan? drop your home phone? reduce or cancel cable? get a cheaper internet plan, or just go to the library?

You also have to make sure your husband is on board. I'd like to do things more frugally in my house (we have the highest-speed cable internet available in our area, and I'd like to go to the medium grade), but my husband likes to play online games with his brothers so he insists on it. So I give a little. If your husband is unwilling to give up premium cable or other non-necessary items, you may not be able to make a one-income budget work. But you'll have to sit down with your unique numbers and figure that out.

Check out for general financial and budgeting advice; and an absolute must is "The Tightwad Gazette" books (check your library first, then a used book store, or used books on Amazon), because it will totally change your way of thinking, as well as give you some awesome frugal tips.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

I agree with getting the book by Dave Ramsey! I know that has helped so many families in my area.
I also just switched from working full time to working part time (mostly from home). You could try that as a step. Then watch how your finances go from there.
It really got to me when a friend said to me, "I would give up ANYTHING to be able to raise my own kids." What is it worth? Is it worth a smaller house, one car, or no entertainment fund?
Some people try the tupperware-style sales like Mary Kay or Party Light. I couldn't do it, but it might work for you.
Good luck!

PS. If you're into couponing, my absolute favorite site is I check it several times a day!

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answers from Huntington on

Hi, I'm a SAHM to a 2 1/2 year old and a 9 month old.
I am an accountant by training, so I do payroll for a local company, and that pays a little (and I do mean a little, but considering it only takes me about 2-3 hours every two weeks, it's well worth it). What area is your current job/training in? Is it something that would enable you to work at home part of the time?

There are a lot of creative ways to save money. Here are a few I use:

1) Subscribe to the grocery game ( and start saving coupons. This has enabled me to save a ton on our grocery and personal care items (50%-60% on average compared to what I used to pay). Coupons are available online as printables, coupons that load straight onto your store card, and of course there are tons of coupons in the Sunday paper. The grocery game will explain everything you need to do.

2) Reevaluate your "needs" vs. "wants". If you have a gym/YMCA membership that you pay for on a monthly basis, volunteer to work in the nursery one day a month to pay for it (daughter can come too, of course!). Hubby & I both have cell phones, so we canceled our home phone. My car recently died and I really thought I "needed" another one. But so far, we've made it work with just one vehicle, which saves us a payment, insurance, and gas. (It does help that my hubby works close and I can drop him off at work on days I need the car.) Do you need cable tv? Do you need to get your hair done every 5 weeks, or can you put it off another a couple weeks and go every 8 weeks? Do you need those name brand jeans, or can you buy some cheaper ones (or just do without)? It will take some adjustments to figure out what sacrifices you are willing to make.

3) Do the math. As someone else mentioned, by the time you pay for daycare, work clothes, transportation, eating out for lunch at work, etc... you might not be making as much as you think you are.

4) There are a ton of home-based businesses out there, but they do take some time and some require an initial investment. Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, etc... But you can actually make some good money if you're willing to work at it.

5) Stop eating out - or make it a treat every once in awhile. Eating out is a huge expense - not to mention, not very fun with a toddler or baby, lol.

6) Watch some other children in your home. Other people have mentioned this, but it would pay you to stay home with your daughter. I don't know the regulations in your state, but I think it's usually up to 5-6 kids per supervising adult? You might not want to go to that scale (oh my, I'd be overwhelmed!), but if a friend needs someone to watch their child even 2-3 days a week, you could make some extra money and your daughter would have someone to play with.

7) Already mentioned, but make sure your husband is on board.

8) While you are still employed, try living just off your husband's income. Put your check straight into savings and see how it goes. If you have to use some of your income to pay for your daughter's daycare expenses or work-related things, that is ok because those expenses will go away if you stayed home. But just give it a trial run and it will give you a better idea of how things would go. It might also let you know if you can survive on less than you're making and can easily go down to part time without sacrificing much.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Huntsville on

I'm not a SAHM, but thought I'd offer some ways to look at your financial situation.

First, take your actual monthly income (what your husband brings home after taxes). Lets say it's $3,000. Then add up all of your monthly bills (rent/mortgage, car payments, car insurance, average electricity/water, etc). Lets say it's $1500. Subtract that from your income, and we'd have $1500. Now, divide that by 4 (weeks of the month)... we'd have $375. So, in other words, you would have about $375 per week to spend on food, gas, doctor visits, medicines, etc, and to save.

With that info, either look back at your past month's gas & food, etc. expenses, or keep track over the next month of how much you spend on these things. If that amount doesn't go over or come too close to your amount after bills (the $1500), then maybe you could do it!

You could even try going a month with cutting costs as best you can, to see how well you can manage. Don't go out to eat, to the movies, etc. as much. Cook at home, shop for groceries wisely (use coupons, look for buy 1 get 1 deals, etc).

Hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

There is a lot of great advise here. I would also recommend checking out, this is a lady from my church that has written a book that has GREAT ideas on how to become a SAHM. There are also a lot of things that you could do to become a WAHM. I am a Heritage Makers consultant, because that's what I love! (I was the Jan WAHM featured on the pband jahm website, you can visit my website; for more info.) I would love to help you get started if that would be an interest, but there are a lot other companies too, that could help you stay at home if that's what you really want. You'll be amazed at what you can do if you really set your mind to it! Good luck! Being home with your kids truly is priceless, and they grow up so fast!! I would recommend it, if at all possible!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hi there!
I work from home and LOVE IT! I have meet some amazing people doing this and I have so much more time with my family. Check out my website at and watch the videos of what it is we do! If you would like to talk please feel free contact me at [email protected] a Great Day!!

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answers from Phoenix on

Just some advice, I am a SAHM now and did not renew my contract to teach last fall when I found out I was pregnant. I really wish we had forced ourselves to live on one income for a while to see what it was really like. Going from two incomes to one has been a lot more difficult than I thought. I guess I was not very aware of where the money was really going from my paycheck. Anywaym good luck. If you cannot stay at home full time, maybe you can work part time?


answers from Boston on

I am currently expanding a business. I have helped other moms bring in enough money to stay home. I love helping moms because that's what I am. If you are interested in chatting let me know.



answers from Johnson City on

My Mother-In-Law got me this book:

and I used it faithfully to figure out whether I could stay at home or not. The book has budget
forms and such to help you see where your money goes and that helped me alot!

It took a few sacrifices on our part (no new mobile home at first) but we did it.
I quit my job on a Thursday, had my daughter on Sunday and now, 13 years later, I'm still a stay at home mom. And I Love It!



answers from Denver on

I have a wonderful home business that has been a blessing! I do 95% of my business online. Check out my website and let me know what you think: Feel free to call me at ###-###-#### or email me at [email protected] care!



answers from Wheeling on

Do I EVER have tips and ideas, advice and encouragement!!!

If you'd rather stay home with your baby than to do your job, then parenting IS your job! YAY! I did it (with 4 kids) and our daughter is doing it (with 3), and it CAN be done.

I don't know specifically WHAT you think you won't be able to afford, but I'd be more than happy to help advise you in any way possible. I'll send you my email address.



answers from Fayetteville on

I agree with the other lady to get the Dave Ramsey book to read or go through one of his seminars. It's amazing how much money you didn't know you had once you get a good working budget! It takes sacrifice to stay at home. I think anyone CAN afford it as long as they are willing to make those sacrifices. Some people say they can't afford to, but there are really other reasons behind it - like not wanting to give up those fancy "extras" or some moms simply want to work and enjoy doing so. But if it is really your heart to stay home then I would make a long term plan to budget, pay off debt and live within your means (not something poplular in our culture today.) We do without a lot of things for me to be able to stay home, like no cable, no eating out, we buy used clothes at resale shops.. etc. And remember with the high cost of full time childcare these days, it would be taking 1/2 or maybe even 3/4 of your income if you were working. So you really only have to think about replacing 1/4 of it to be able to stay home. And with changes in your lifestyle that is completely doable! Be encouraged!


answers from Hartford on

You'd be surprised at what you can afford when you put your mind to it. There are tradeoffs in terms of what you can do on one income vs. what you can do on two. I've done both, and I have to admit the periods I have been home have been some of the happiest both for myself and my children. I don't know your situation, but you really have to think about what's best for you first (some moms suffocate when they stay home) and then what's best for your family. Remember, some expenses will actually come down when you stay home (lunch, clothing, gast, etc.). In my case, whatever I had to give up in terms of money, was totally worth it simply for being able to enjoy the experience of being a mom. Good luck to you!



answers from Knoxville on

I sell Premier Jewelry...I bring home about $1,000 a month for about 10-15 hours of work. I would love to tell you about it if you are interested.



answers from Nashville on

hi, my name is R.. i stay at home and i think i am busier now then when i worked. wears me out every day. but life is good. if you are able try working 4 days a week or half days and see if you are satisfied. personally that is. some times you long for adult conversations. i've been home for about 12 years. i can get lonely. if half days or 4 day weeks work both for you and your finances maybe you could ease into a full time sahm position. good bless you and i is very rewarding. you can't ever get those years back. mom of 7 ages 29- 9. just have to say 3 grand children. so much fun. i can send them home when they wear me out to much.


answers from Raleigh on

My husband and I are trying to figure out the same thing (although I am already home with our son, we are trying to figure out how we can afford to continue to keep me home). We came up with a few solutions that I am currently working on. One is, do you have any friends who may be in need of some help during the day or who could drop their children off all day? I am lucky to have found a neighbor who needs me 6-10 hrs. a week for her two boys, but pays me $11 an hr. to do it (this is all under the table, and the money covers our weekly groceries). We have also looked into me becoming a preschool teacher or preschool teacher's assistant. The money is not amazing, but it would allow you to take your daughter to work with you, and give her a cheap option for preschool. I also sell Mary Kay, but I am not terribly aggressive with it, so it brings in money here and there. Good luck...we have cut back A LOT with me staying home, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. The time with my son has been so amazing, and I cannot imagine not getting to spend every day with him now!



answers from Indianapolis on

I'd make sure to look at all known and perceived costs.

I've always been a working mom. Until May when my previous employer downsized, I was the main bread winner with a very good salary. Then, our company downsized 200 of us. With severance, we had a few months of breathing room. Luckily, I got back to work in 3 months, but my salary is 80% of what it was.

Our kids go to a good, safe day care close to our house. It's not fancy, they're not learning to speak in french this week, but 2 kids (1 year-old and 3 year-old) cost us $19,800 in 2009 - that included 12 weeks of part-time care while I was looking for a job.

Then, there are the costs that having an older child brings with them. At 21 months, you're not going to experience them as much, but with our 3.5 year old, we're getting lots of invitations to birthday parties, the desire to join gymnastics, etc.

Even with our still relatively good incomes, I panic about money and whether or not we'd be able to weather another layoff as we're both in the pharmaceutical industry which is slashing jobs by the thousands each week.

Those are some things I'd consider as you make your decision. People do make it work - they just have to make sacrifices. If you can anticipate those sacrifices, and you're comfortable with them, I'd say do whatever your heart tells you!



answers from Raleigh on

I do love staying home with my kids as well. To help ease the financial burden you may consider doing a home business, like I do. Take a look at the mom owned businesses on this site! There are a lot of ladies that would love to talk to you about what they do and help you out. I can talk to you more about what I do to if you like.

Good luck! D..



answers from Louisville on

Look at the cost of child care. I used to be a working mom and i found that after i paid child care and insurance i only made about 20 dollars a pay check. NOT WORTH IT! Why let someone else raise your kid? To me it was me going to work to pay child care just didnt make any sense!


answers from Spokane on

I am basically a stay at home mom...we needed a lil' bit of extra income, so I applied in the bakery dept at our local grocery store and they hired me VERY PT (I have the best boss in the world, very lucky) but essentially I get up 1 day Mon-Fri and work from 4am-8am. This way I am back to my house before the kids have to leave for school. I also occasionally work a full 8 hr shift on the weekend. Just this little tiny bit of extra income saves us! My paychecks are very SMALL...but $100 a week for groceries works for us! Just an idea...



answers from Kansas City on

I am a stay at home mom and I've been running an in home daycare for a little over a year so I'm bringing in some income but not a lot. I really suggest that you get on a budget now so you are telling your money where to go and you know where it is going! We are doing the Davey Ramsey total money makeover and are doing great!!! I suggest that you use coupons for anything and everything you can we use of course you will save on clothes, gas, lunches etc from not working outside the home. We also set up an envelope system and are saving a little here and there for stuff that we know we have down the road like birthdays, holidays, school costs, summer clothing and winter clothing for kids, make a list of everything you know you have and est. how much you'll need for it. Good luck and it is the best job ever!!! I'm also teaching my daughter and niece preschool and feel so great that I am able to do this with them.

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