weBecoming A SAHM

Updated on October 24, 2013
C.B. asks from Los Angeles, CA
21 answers

We both work but I really want to be a SAHM. All my salary cover the daycare expenses, retirement fund, savings, and our medical insurance and expenses. So if I were to be a SAHM, we'd need to figure this into my husband's salary besides of course daycare cost. As we both work we spend way too much on eating out as we don't have the time to cook and don't coupon clip as we don't have time for that either. My husband is finally considering me being a SAHM as he's starting to understand that life at home would be less stressful as I'd take care of the kids and household stuff.

So my husband makes 95k a year. Our monthly mortgage is $2200/month and that can't change as the cost of living where we are at is expensive. Does anyone else live @ this amount of money and make it. It's hard for me to figure out how much we can live on as when I know I am in the situation to live frugile I can become very fragile and save a lot.

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So What Happened?

Only debt we have is our mortgage. My husband brings in 5700/month after taxes but if i quit it will be less as health insurance premium and 401k comes out of my check so then it will need to come out of his check. So after putting 10% into retirement and then health insurance premium it will probably be @4800/month. Take 2200 out of that for mortgage it will give us 2600/month leftover. That doesnt seem like much. And the question about my career starting back up when they are in school really i am thinking i don't want to go back to work till they are in high school. My youngest is 3. I think till then i will be busy with taking them to all their activities and school work and they do have all those holidays and summer time off.

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on


What you need to do is put your salary in savings for six months to a year to see that you can live off one salary. Yes, the portion that pays for day care would need to be used as once you become a SAHM - that expense won't be there.

You need to set up a budget. Do you not already have one? If you don't - go to the library and borrow books by Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman. They will help you gain control of your finances.

Once you get a budget in place you can see what you NEED to do. You already know you need to cut out eating out all the time. You need to start meal planning and making a menu for the week. Stop using excuses about being busy - make time for it. You WANT THIS? You MUST make time for it. this is a change in lifestyle. This isn't a temporary thing - this is for the long haul. So STOP making excuses about being busy and do it. You have plenty of time to go OUT for dinner? PAHLEASE!!! Get your priorities lined up.

MAKE time to clip coupons and plan your meals for the week.
MAKE time to get a budget in place.
MAKE a family calendar. Get your life worked out. If you want to make this happen you need to start acting like you want it to happen. Don't make excuses about not having the time. If you want this? You need to make the time.

* Take lunches to work.

* Dedicate one night a week to leftovers so no food goes to waste.

* Call your utilities companies and find out if they have the flat-rate plan. It will help you budget for this transition.-

* Make a list of errands and do them in order instead of zig-zagging across town.

* Stop using credit cards. When you buy something - ask yourself do you NEED this or do you WANT this. Understand the difference between WANT and NEED. Need - MUST have in order to survive...want - makes life nicer...for a set amount of time.

* Start giving yourself an allowance - same with your husband - and when that money is gone? it's gone until next payday.

* No more Starbucks. Really. Who needs to spend $5 on a cup of coffee?

* turn lights off behind you.

* turn the AC UP to 78 - yes, I know Southern California summers can be hot. Use fans.

* turn the heater down....use a sweater and wear slippers instead of being barefoot.

* Christmas? Tone it down. Don't know what you do but you can scale back. Start now by putting stuff on lay-away. Then you avoid the Christmas rush and you stay within your budget.

There is more you can do. But you HAVE to do it. YOU MUST MAKE THE TIME. Get a calendar. Put whatever is happening - soccer, football, PTA, etc. on it. Dedicate a day - like Sunday after church to coupon clipping and looking through the circulars - then make your menu for the week. You can do this. If you want to be a SAHM - you MUST do this.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Have you made a budget together to look at all your costs? What can you cut out? Add it up...how much on average do you spend each month eating out? We have a very similar situation...my husband makes about the same and our mortgage is about the same. We also live in an expensive area. But if you are not working and there is no way to save for retirement and medical stuff...that is not going to work. See if you can cut back on things and if your husband's salary will cover this stuff. We almost never eat out. My husband brings a lunch every day. We don't buy our kids a bunch of new clothes...we get hand me downs and I go to thrift stores. Or I look for an amazing sale.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would think that in California 95K is about minimum wage. I'd think you'd need to work.

Last year about this time your daughter was out of school for Thanksgiving break and hubby was home with her. So I assume she's a school age child. There's no reason she needs you home during the day. She's not there.

So you just want to stop working so you can be at home? That's not a valid reason to quit work and make things hard for your family. Most moms who stay at home are thinking about careers about this time, kids are gone all day and they can go back to work to make life easier, save money for retirement, save money in the medical plans so future health issues are not devastating, paying an extra house payment each month that is applied to the principle, and more.

If you work you can keep insurance, how is that going to be covered? It will cut into hubby's income a lot more, he won't have as much coming home. How will you pay for the extra groceries to cook at home all the time. It costs me double to cook at home. Truthfully. We can eat out nearly every meal by choosing specials. Like Perkins, kids eat free on Tuesday. If we go to Perkins on Tuesday we spend less than $15 to feed 4 people and we have a wide variety of food, from eggs, pancakes, meatloaf, to pizza. Everyone gets what the want.

To make even one of those items for dinner I have to go buy all the ingredients, use gas to cook it, then electricity to use the dishwasher, gas to heat the water, dish soap and dishwasher detergent, then sweep and mop, clean the area and wash the table down, etc...time and money all used up.

Your utilities could double, your cleaning supplies will go up, your time will be spent cleaning up after the family all day because when someone is home the house gets dirty.

Life at home isn't less expensive. It's more time consuming and more stressful.

About child care. If she's in school and in after school care that should be a very minimal amount of money. In Oklahoma child care for school kids pays about $11-$15 per day. That includes an after school snack and toys, drinks, activities, paints, books, etc...if you're paying more than that I suggest you find another mom in your little ones class that is looking for some extra money and pay them to pick up your child, bring them home, and keep them until you or hubby gets off work to pick her up. But don't pay her more than you pay now.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

As best you can, start living today as if you didn't have a second income.

You have to pay daycare of course, and your paycheck stuff will still be deducted, but beyond thouse things do not use your income. Put all the money into a savings account and don't touch it for any reason. Pretend it does not exist.

Look at your insurance options from your husband's work and figure the cost. From his take home pay, bank that amount into the savings account, as if you were paying it.

Give it 3-6 months. If you can figure out how to live on what is left, you can be a SAHM.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Dave Ramsey has a great radio show and website to help.

I can't help but wonder if you did a written Fraudian Slip, when you said you become very fragil! Your expenses maybe over your head for this right now. Retirement still needs to be funded and health care expenses will not go down when you quit work. You still need savings. $1000 emergency fund (cars still break down and refrigerators don't have eternal life) and you need 6 months of living expenses saved in case of job loss. Your mortgage is very high. I know you live in an expensive state and area but that may be the undoing of your stay at home plan.

When I quit work, we were saving half my take home pay. We did that for 3 years. It would be best to cut back while you still have a paycheck.
Put a plan in place first. Get to working on reducing expenses like eating out now. Don't think it's going to come naturally. If you can't disapline yourself now, it won't be easy peasy when you quit. You have a good goal and I am glad you are starting to think about your future. You have lots of planing to do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I don't think you're bragging. Life's expensive in California.

It almost sounds as if you can do it... but to me, $2600 to live off of each month would not cut it (groceries, gas, utilities, kids activities, gifts for birthdays and weddings and other events, unforeseen car repairs, household repairs, $2600 goes fast...)

Why don't you track your expenses for a month or two and see if you can keep it to $2600 a month?

What about saving for their college education? Or vacations?

Things to think about.

Any way you can go Part-Time for awhile and see how that goes?

You'd hate to be in a position where you are living paycheck to paycheck, and the Car Registration is due that month and suddenly that's a huge burden ($100+) to your fragile budget where before it would have been easily absorbed in.

Figure out exactly how much you are living on now (minus mortgage and Daycare) to see if you are already working within that $2600 a month. I'm always shocked at the things that come up during the month I had forgotten about or wasn't expecting (school pictures, yearbooks, soccer registration fee is about 8 months before the actual season, it's $90 for my daughter to participate in her ballet recital and so on).

Probably the best, foolproof way to figure out if you can do this is to work for 6 more months, putting your salary (or what's left after daycare) into savings, plus the portion of hub's that will start going to 401K and insurance, and see if you can really do it. What Wild Woman said. Bonus, you'll have some money saved up when you actually go for it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

My husband makes $70 ish, but brings home about $45/50 at best.
Our mortgage is $1200. We make it just fine. HOWEVER. I NEVER buy myself new clothes. We keep the same car as long as possible. We don't buy new furniture, unless it's an absolute necessity. We get in ruts of eating out a couple times a month, and see how fast that adds up so we avoid doing that as well.
I watch sales at the grocery stores. I don't clip coupons because we don't eat processed foods really. It can be done, you just have to sit and make out a spread sheet of what bills will be going out regardless of you working or not. Healthcare is pricey, but so is childcare. So that may be a savings or cancel itself out somewhat if ur hubby picks that up.
really only you can answer this question, since we don't know what your family's spending habits are.
Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Of course you can do it BUT if he has to now cover insurance that's huge. And here in Los Angeles Cedars and St Johns will not take any ACA ( Obama care) insurance so expect it all and to go way up. I think you should save your salary to 6 months and then try it. I think it's worth it!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

It's not always what it's cracked up to be.
If you eat out all the time, how do you even know that you like to cook?
You can start now by making a weekly menu - figure out what you are going to make for every meal in a week and buy what you need to make it.
If you don't use one already learn to use a crock pot.
Check your store's web site to see what's on special and some places have online coupons that you can apply to your store discount card and it automatically uses it at check out when you buy that item - it saves you the bother of printing, cutting and carrying around coupons.

Here's an example menu (prices are a little outdated but the meal planning is the same):


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I agree with trying to live on your husbands salary for six months while you continue to work and pay child care expenses from your salary. Another option would be to work half time. You would still have an income, but more time to cook and spend with your kids.

I have been a SAHM for 11 years, my husband makes less than yours, but I have always had a part time job of some sort, and I have never had a $2200/month mortgage. (We waited until the mortgage was nearly fully paid off to have our kids, so that made a big difference.) You may find that in order to stay at home you need to find a less expensive house, or refinance the one you have.

There are so many ways to save money, and if you are at home you have the time to do it. Child care, car insurance, shopping sales and second hand, cooking from scratch are all ways you can save by being a SAHM.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If you want to be a SAHM then you need to take a realistic view of your budget over a six month period. How much debt does your family have? Do you have a written budget that you prepare and look at monthly? That is where I would start. I would keep working and bank all of my take home pay to see how you can manage living on your husband's take home pay. You will also need to make an adjustment to his take home based on medical insurance costs, retirement contributions that he will now have to have deducted since they won't be coming out of your paycheck. Bank this extra money while you are trying out a six month budget. I went from working full time to part time to be able to spend more time with our kids. I know that is not always possible in different jobs. You can get good information on budgeting from Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman. A detailed budget will also give you valuable information on where your money is going and some ideas where you could make cuts or renegotiate expenses (car insurance, electricity, etc.) Good luck! By working part time for those years I kept up my professional credentials and I was able to slip right back into a full time position when my kids were in high school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

The best way to find out if you can do it is to try it.
Keep working bit live on hubs salary for a few months.

Many people don't want to cut lifestyle to stay home. Are you ok with that?
Check out Dave Ramsay.

(Personally, I think it can be done.) life is all about choices.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It's been suggested on this site many times, and I think it's a good suggestion, to bank your salary for a couple of months and see if you can live off your hubby's salary. Then you'll know for sure.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I'm sure there are tons of people living on much less near LA ;-)

Your overall costs will go down if you quit work, you are right. You will save tons of money on food, clothes, etc.

To figure out how much you need to live on, really take a look at your spending. I use mint.com to track all of our money. This helps me see what is necessary and what isn't. I have a rough idea of how much we "need," and how much is surplus. Then, once you can see where all your money is going, you can figure out where you can save. So, your income covers daycare. You won't need that. How much do you spend on eating out? Still allow yourself a restaurant fund, but cut it back by 90%.

In terms of savings, can hubby figure out a way to make a little bit more? This extra money then becomes retirement and saving money. For medical stuff, do you have the best plan? Are you maximizing savings with a HSA?

Also, as I am sure you will come to see, by your staying home, hubby can really just focus on work, and he should in the long run make more money. The divide and conquer approach works well for a lot of families.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

We have over 10K a month to live on, and that does NOT go far when you add the 5 kids and the healthy food, plus activities, etc. No debt except mortgage. People assume that it's a crazy amount...but it's not .

I stay at home with them and husband has a great salary, yes, but since I stay at home there are a lot of activities. It's not like we're just sitting at home.
So no daycare, but a lot of other stuff. :)
Just something to think about. The cost of living is high where you are, so be careful. I think you can do what you want with care. Do what is right for your family.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on


It appears you do NOT have a budget in place. If you did - you would know what you could and could not live off of.

I do not understand how you can become fragile. Do you mean frugal?

$2600 a month for groceries, utilities, gas, etc. is not bad. You have to be willing to give up and sacrifice. Get a budget in place. Stop guessing at what you have to spend and set up a budget.

Your budget MUST include:

car payments
car insurance
car registration
toll expenses
health insurance
utilities - gas, electric, water
cell phone
any HOA fees you might have
groceries (best way to budget for this is to track EVERY SINGLE PENNY for 3 months)
clothing allowance
hair cuts (for the family)
entertainment (this includes dinners out)

Once you have that in place, you need to make some tough decisions, what to cut, what to keep.

Your best bet? Work part time when your youngest gets into kindergarten. Then you can be home after school and take them to their activities.

In the mean time? Put all of your salary into a savings account as others have suggested. Do not touch it. Live off your husband's salary alone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I struggle with this question in my own life constantly. We live in SoCal where our mortgage (after putting 20% down) is still almost $3000/month. My first concern for you (as it is for us) is your retirement savings. As it is, 10% isn't nearly enough for the both of you. Have you visited a financial planner? We did this last year with the hopes that he could help us either (1) determine if it is doable at all for us, and (2) if so, what we need to make and how much we need to save for our retirement. I HIGHLY recommend you go see someone because that is the only way you're going to get a realistic view of where you are, where you want to be and how much you will need now and later. It was a reality check for us. Together, we make almost $200k/year. I currently put almost 16% in my 401k and my husband puts around 15%. After visiting the financial advisor and discussing everything in our life, he ran some tests through a computer. Sure, I could be a SAHM now, but by the time we were in our 50's, we would start to have to use our retirement money. By the time we were actually in retirement age, we wouldn't have enough retirement money to last the rest of our lifetime. We would essentially run out of money by the time we hit retirement age.

I think a lot of people are able to be SAHM's, but I also question whether they've really planned out things like retirement, college, etc. with a financial planner.

It's free to do this with someone, so I highly recommend making an appointment.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We make a lot less and live on one salary. We had to cut waaaay back
though on everything. You have to be prepared for that & committed.
-We never ever go out to eat!
-we don't take big vacations
-we have scaled back on kids' birthdays & Christmas gifts
-I no longer buy my nieces & nephews bday gifts. SILs/BILs/MIL/FIL don't
get anything anymore.
-I only clip coupons on a few good brand name items that I do not choose
to buy the generic brand. Otherwise.....everything is generic to save$.
-we cute cable back & will cut it out entirely if need be
-we do not go out to eat hardly ever!!!
-any extra $ goes into savings, IRA & college funds!
-we live on much less of an income & but our mortgage is approx $500 less than yours (this helps out greatly)
-I do not go many places, never eat out, group ALL of my errands together so I am not wasting gas driving all around town
-I don't rent movies, go to movies
-I find ways to make extra money (cleaning friends' houses, watching their
kids after school or when they need a date night out, doing their errands when poss, having garage sales etc.)
-I do not buy clothes for myself, use hand me downs for the kids when poss, shop at thrift stores if I need something etc.
So it takes work, needs to be talked about seriously & plan ahead.
Also, plan when you will return to work as at some point you will have to the way the costs of living are always increasing & we are living longer, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I live in the south bay, in Los Angeles. I quit my career to manage the home. We live on my husband's salary, he's a high school english teacher. My life is very modest and simple so that we can save for retirement and college. So, yes, you can easily live on and enjoy life with a $95K salary and mortgage. It will, however, require a change of lifestyle.

My recommendation is twofold. 1) Set a new budget, one that reflects your values and priorities, and start living on this new budget. 2) Deposit your salary directly into the bank while you're "practicing" with your new budget.

I recommend that you and your husband clarify your values, priorities, and goals in life. Then, start make the hard choices. You cannot raise your children, manage your home, invest $2000 into retirement each month, another $2000 into each college fund, pay for a personal trainer, piano lessons, karate lessons, gardener, housekeeper, upgrade to a bigger house, ect....

You have to choose and this can be difficult. But if you choose your values and priorities it will feel liberating.

Since I began managing the home our life has become very modest and simply, but I LOVE my life. I love my life because I spend my time and talents investing in the things that are most important to me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

You can do this. I clip coupons, we keep a budget and only pay with cash. We started Dave Ramsey last year and it's been wonderful! Both cars will be paid off next month. That "extra" will help savings and paying off the A/C earlier. Then we can focus on the mortgage and everyday bills. We too get in ruts where we eat out/fast food. But I use coupons for that too. We have garage sales. I don't buy new clothes for me. Our girls get stuff that they need not what they want.

If you can try to live on your husband's pay for 3 months. Put your money in savings. Stop eating out and make crockpot meals. They save time and money. I put our meals in the crockpot at 6am when I wake up. Let it cook on low all day. Then you only have to open a can of veggies and applesauce and dinner is done. It really is easy after you get used to it. I think you can be a SAHM if you really want too.



answers from Phoenix on

I just finished reading all the comments from the other Mom's, and they are excellent advice. Do check out Dave Ramsey, because he gives financial advice on getting out of debt. You know how people are having challenges making ends meet because of the high cost of living. What I do is help people develop another income for their family. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

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