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Can You Afford to Be a Stay at Home Parent?


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After holding that baby in your arms, it's hard to imagine going back to work. If you are thinking of being a stay-at-home parent, there are things you should consider. First you should take a look at your total family expenses and subtract your partner's salary. If it still looks like you can't afford, take a closer look at your budget to see if there are things you can cut back on.

Steps to Take

The first step to determine if you can be a stay at home parent is to track your total expenses for at least three months time. You might be surprised to find out where your money is going.

Make a list of fixed expenses such as mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance, food, gas, clothing, etc. Then make another list of luxury items such as vacations, evenings out, haircuts, gifts, cell phone service, etc. Then look for areas that you can save on such as. . .

  • If you are not commuting to work everyday, you will save on gas money.
  • Although you will need clothes, you won't need expensive business attire.
  • You probably won't be eating lunches out nearly as much.
  • You won't need to pay daycare or after school childcare expenses.
  • You won't need to pay for a housekeeper or someone to mow your lawn.
  • You will have more time to clip coupons or shop for better deals on food.
  • You could probably eliminate a cell phone or go with a cheap pay as you go phone for emergencies.
  • You could downgrade your cable TV service or if you are really ambitious eliminate it all together.

    Make a list of the pros and cons of staying at home versus going back to work. Some pros may be:

  • Be able to stay at home with your child and nurture them.
  • If they are sick, you don't have the hassle of calling off work or finding someone that is willing to watch a sick child.
  • No need for daycare.
  • You won't have the morning stress of getting yourself ready and charting your children off somewhere.

    Some cons may be:

  • You will have less income and will have to stretch your budget.
  • You will have less ability to save money or put away money for a college fund.
  • There will be retirement benefits accumulating for you while you are at home.
  • When you reenter work force, you will have to work your way up the ladder again.

    After you've done your homework and it seems like there is just no way you can financially quit your job then consider working part-time or see if your employer will allow you to work from home. Another consideration is moving to a less-expensive home although this might not be an option for some. As the old saying goes “where there's a will, there's a way, " so if staying at home is something you have your heart set on, then sacrifices must be made, but the rewards can be priceless.

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