Help! I want to be a Stay-at-Home Mom…but I don’t know if we can afford it.

[T]he title of today’s piece was the first sentence in an email that I received earlier this week. It’s a phase that I screamed for years prior to taking the “Stay-at-Home Mom” plunge just nine months ago. As I began to formulate a response to this sweet Mother’s plea for help, I found myself re-living my own story and I was reminded of the journey once again.

This time one year ago, I had never been so discontent in all my life. It didn’t make sense! I had everything…a good paying career as a registered nurse, working in an extremely prestigious hospital. I was enrolled in a Master’s program. My husband has a wonderful job also in the medical field. We have a beautiful home in a super nice neighborhood. What the heck?

Why the inner turmoil?

I had pushed for this “success” my entire life!

Yet, every morning I left my house…and as I drove away…tears welled in my eyes.

What would my children do today that I would miss? What conversations with my pre-teen daughter would be redirected toward someone else because I wasn’t there for her? How much money would I waste on convenience because I was too busy working to do it myself?

The Turning Point

If you’ve ever been in a situation like mine, you understand what I mean when I say…”I just couldn’t do it anymore!”

I wanted to be home with my babies — full-time. Raising them, nurturing them, teaching them.

But I didn’t think we could afford it!

If we lost my income, how could we afford our cars, our home, the expensive dinners, and the extra-curricular activities for the children? I realized we couldn’t, and that was the point! We had to make serious changes.

Making the Tough Choices

These are a few of the things that I remembered as I wrote a response to the Mother desperate for a life-line and a few words of encouragement.

“There’s always a way.” I told her. “You just have to find yours and be willing to make some tough choices.”

Do you know what…I have fond memories of the days when my husband and I were both in college and we had a newborn at home. Our combined income was probably — oh I don’t know — $15,000 a year (and that’s being generous). But we had it all, health, happiness, a roof over our heads, two cars in the driveway, and yummy food in our bellies. Then we “grew-up” and our income started to increase, but so did our bills and our debt…discontent set in.

It was our own fault really. Too many bad financial decisions.

Fast forward a few years and here we are…after making some pretty tough choices, I am proud to be a full-time stay-at-home Mom and we live comfortably off of one income.

Good for you, but I don’t know if I can afford it.

That’s what I used to say when I’d hear women talk about staying home with their children, and that subtitle was my biggest concern — I never thought we could afford it.

So here’s what my husband and I finally did to determine the answer:

  1. Create a budget. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…you have to track your spending! If you don’t know where your money is slipping off to, you can’t patch the holes. Read more here…
  2. Figure out how much it’s costing you to work. Eric (that’s my husband’s name) and I sat down one day and listed all the things that we spent money on just because I was working. Things like gas, convenience foods, child-care (a HUGE chunk), clothing, etc. And do you know what we realized adding all of those things up…it was almost to the point that I had to keep working so that I could keep working! My salary — a pretty darn good one — was being spent mostly on child-care, convenience, and gas.
  3. Realize that saving money is making money. Now, staying-at-home’s no joke! It’s a full-time job. I not only care for the children, but I work hard daily to make sure that by saving money on make-it-yourself products…we in turn make money. I cook at home. I make my own homemade cleaners for pennies. I homeschool my children (which saves us a ton). I make our own medicine and grow our own food. I use cloth instead of paper products. The list could go on and on. Saving money is making money…but it takes hard work and discipline. Read more here…
  4. Find a way to make a little extra money doing what you love. Starting Frugally Sustainable, and a little collection of wonders found in my Etsy shop, were initially designed to be a healthy outlet for me (and that they are). You too have gifts, talents, and things that you are passionate about! What are they? And how can you use them to provide a little extra income? I never expect to make millions doing these things, but they are (praise God) providing just enough income to help us become 100% debt-free. This is my mantra…”Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.” ~ Proverbs. Read more here… 
  5. Redefine wants vs. needs. When we started to redefine our wants versus those items that we truly need, that’s when things really changed. This was key in our acceptance of the fact that we could afford for me to stay home. Read more here…

What do you do that helps you and your family live comfortably on one income?

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Comments

  1. We’re not to the stay – at- home level yet, but before we had our first child we spent two years paying off debts, saving up a house down payment and learning to live with a budget. Thanks to this we’re both able to work our, yes, low paying, but also low stress jobs with flexible schedules that allow our son to be with at least one parent 4 -5 days a week (instead of 2 days a week if we worked regular Mon-Fri jobs).

    We’re not doing anything flashy with our “careers”, if you must call them that (we just call them jobs) and we currently couldn’t live on just one of these salaries(and still live in a safe neighborhood and eat good food in our city), but we live really well for our income bracket and live under our income and are working more and more each day towards the goal of a stay-at-home (or at least a stay-at-home-more) parent.

    We’re currently working on paying off our student loans as fast as we can, turning our new backyard into a food producing place and making contacts for good, local food.

    • I have started a new business venture. I am looking for more people to join me. The income is residual and this opportuinty is currently ground floor. This is the opportunity that is allowing me to stay at home with my daughter and work from anywhere. It only requires 8-15 hours a week. This is a rare genuine opportunity – It is life changing. I would love to pass it on. It has been such a blessing to my family.

      • Hi there. Reading your post had me curious about this business venture you talk about. I am a stay at home mama with two young daughters and am looking for something just like this for a little extra income. If you wouldn’t mind sending me some info, I would greatly appreciate it.
        Darla.s.sweet@gmail.com

        Thanks!

      • Have you continued to grow your business since this post? If so I would be interested in learning a bit about it. I am currently considering leaving a career in program development to raise my 8.5 month old son. My husband has an excellent paying career that he’s been in for over 20 years, though my college debt paired with my two soon to be college aged stepchildren to consider it doesn’t feel realistic to give up my income. On top of this I really enjoy working and generating my own income.

        Any information would be appreciated.

        Kind Regards,

        Lauren Chase, VT
        Laurenlvslife@gmail.com

    • Priscilla says:

      Hi
      I am a stay home mom and a friend show me a how to take care of my babies and make an extra cash ill be glad to show how.

      • pliz am a stay home mom of a 5yr old, 4yr old and 3yr old children.pliz come to my rescue and help me how to earn an income at home.my husband has a very low income and idont have a job.pliz help

  2. It’s been tight the past few years as a one income (enlisted military) family with five children. We had massive debt which didn’t help, but now that we’re about through paying that off (last payment going out next week), things should be a little easier. We are pretty frugal, buying used whenever possible, having a strict grocery budget the past few years (though we’ve upped it a bit this year with the kids growing), doing things ourselves whenever possible (hubby has bought manuals for our vehicles and self-taught himself how to repair them), etc… . I make most of our personal care items. Though that doesn’t technically “save” us money over buying the cheap stuff, it saves us a bundle over buying the safer products which tend to be more expensive. We used cloth diapers quite a bit for children 2-5, have a clothesline for decent weather (I’m not die-hard about it), and buy good quality food for our pets, saves on vet visits.

    • I have started a new business venture. I am looking for more people to join me. The income is residual and this opportuinty is currently ground floor. This is the opportunity that is allowing me to stay at home with my daughter. I would love to pass it on. It has been such a blessing to my family.

  3. Saving money is making money. Yes! As an accidental SAHM, I can’t tell you how many times I have thought this. People always tell us “It’s great you can afford to stay at home,” and I privately think “if you knew my husband’s salary, you might think we couldn’t.” But we live within our means and consider every penny that goes out the door.

    It helps that we were already making most meals and avoiding disposable projects before we ended up a one-income family with a small tot.

  4. We, too, are trying to find a way for me to be a SAHM and homeschool my kids. I love hearing how others have made that dream happen. I do have one question. You said homeschooling saves you a ton. Can you elaborate? Our twins are not yet in kindergarten but in the research I’ve done, home school curriculum seems to be needing its own budget line item – and I’m not including books we can get from the library and free online resources, nor am I aiming for the entire curriculum in the box type. I never thought of homeschooling as one of my savings items. Thanks!

    • Becky, I think you can homeschool pretty cheaply or you can spend a fortune, but compared to private school, it is really economical. We are a Catholic family. We used Seton Homeschool full curriculum and it was about 750/yr for two kids. Compare that to sending them the local Catholic elementary school which is 6870/year for two and the Catholic highschool that is in our price range of 5500/yr for one, you can see how affordable homeschooling actually is.

      Even public school has its costs with fees, uniforms, school lunches, etc. Though it won’t cost as much a private school, a good chunk of $$ goes towards just getting them ready to go to school.

    • Hi,
      I homeschool my son, who is high-functioning autistic. Our public school system offers an excellent homeschool curriculum (K12) and it doesn’t cost us a dime. He also goes to class once a week to spend time with the other homeschoolers and get extra help from a teacher if he needs it. The teacher is phenomenal and she also orders all of his courses, books, lab equipment, etc., for me. I realize that not every state offers this, but I wanted to share. Best of luck!

  5. Wow, this is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Thank you for sharing your personal story that has encouraged me to keep on keeping on. I will be a stay at home mom soon, full time. I’m a matter of weeks out and literally can’t wait! I’ve been following you for awhile now and consider it God’s timing and blessing in working out my SAHM-hood and finding your blog. I really have no tips to give, considering I’m still learning new avenues myself, but I’ve always loved vegetable gardening, being outside and using the resources tha God has given me to produce healthy, affordable food for my family.

    Again, thank you for being so o

  6. Wow, this is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. Thank you for sharing your personal story that has encouraged me to keep on keeping on. I will be a stay at home mom soon, full time. I’m a matter of weeks out and literally can’t wait! I’ve been following you for awhile now and consider it God’s timing and blessing in working out my SAHM-hood and finding your blog. I really have no tips to give, considering I’m still learning new avenues myself, but I’ve always loved vegetable gardening, being outside and using the resources tha God has given me to produce healthy, affordable food for my family.

    Again, thank you for being so open and sharing your experiences.

  7. I can remember dropping my 3 babies off at daycare, they were crying, I was crying…..it was awful. I worked full time as a nurse back then. I took 6 months, cut our bills to bare minimum, used the cash envelope system and paid off a huge chunk of our debt. My husband & I crunched the numbers and made the leap. I work just one day a week now, and my mother in law watches the boys on that day….no more tears. It’s a world of difference for us to have so much less coming in financially, but it’s been 4 years and I wouldn’t trade a single thing for it. I menu plan instead of eating out, we homeschool, we go to free activities at church and in the community instead of eating out and going to the movies weekly. There are many ways to save money. Great post!

  8. What a great post. I have been a stay at home mom since my daughter was born 8 months ago and absolutely love it. I love being able to fill my husband in on every little thing my daughter did that day that I got to experience first-hand. It is amazing the things I have found that we save money on just because I have the time to research them…weekly deals at the local grocery stores, free activities to do with the family, etc. To all of the stay at home moms (or dads), good work, stick with it. I know days can be long and challenging in their own way, but I truly think your whole family benefits from the commitment. To the moms wanting to stay at home, just keep looking for this little opportunities to help make it happen. Having the desire is the first step.

  9. I became a full time stay at home mom 1 1/2 weeks ago (again) and I wouldn’t change a thing. I originally went back to work when my youngest daughter was 8 months old and I regretted it ever since. I worked full-time as an RN at the local hospital, then went part-time….it can be done. It takes dedication and work but my husband and I believe that we are doing the right thing. We had to move to a much smaller house, my husband got another job, I cook everything at home, I can and garden, I pulled my sewing machine out again, and we are considering getting rid of the cell phone and using a land line. And, yes, homeschooling is an awesome way to cut costs. It takes research and work, but it can be done and done well. It took just over $500 to get our two daughters in public school for 1 semester and we hadn’t bought school supplies or clothes yet. I understand it doesn’t work for everyone but it is working for us.

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts. I believe that if you make up your mind that you want to stay home, you can find away. I have done it our whole married life and we have never had a lot of the luxuries, but my husband and children have someone at home to take care of them. That, in and of itself, is a full-time job.

  10. I became a SAHM a few months after I finished my Master’s degree when state budget cuts ended my position at the University I was teaching at part-time. At the time we had our then 8 year old boy and I was 6 months pregnant with #2. I looked for 2.5 years and just couldn’t find a job where we currently live that would pay enough to cover daycare costs, let alone pay for gas to get to and from work.

    For us, we decided that paying to work just wasn’t worth it even though I love working. We now have 3 children and our oldest was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD 2 years ago so my degrees get plenty of use here at home. At times I think about how I would love to be at a paid job, especially since our combined student loan debt is $162,000, but I know for now being at home with the little ones is where I need to be.

    We personally haven’t had to make any real changes in what we do. We were already a 1 car family, used cloth instead of paper, I repaired on our vehicle, made our own cleaning supplies, cooked from scratch, homeschooling and I have taken care of most of our medical needs for years. I do know when something is outside of my knowledge and when to seek outside help, but most of the time I can easily learn something from researching a little.

  11. Aprille says:

    Thank you for this. My husband works very hard for us and sometimes I just want to work to help out so he can have some pressure removed. Your first paragraph helped to remind me why I stay at home and make it work.

  12. Is is all about your choices. Day by day raising children seems like it will last forever – but it does not! When your children are grown (mine are all in their 20s) they will not cherish the time they spent in day care or the expensive clothes & entertainment you provided. They will remember their time with YOU. Making memories takes time. Time planting, cooking, building, and bargain shopping together!

    Becky, homeschooling CAN save you money. Once again, you do not need to register with the expensive programs. You can shop for used curriculum, network and borrow, go to public libraries, parks, & museums, AND most days you can go to school in your PJs if you want to! No junk food school lunches, activity fees, uniforms or designer clothes, expensive supplies & field trips…

  13. Which is more important, the things that bring your family closer together or the things that take you away from your family? A stay at home mother brings her family closer together. Every need in the home must be done by someone. The choice to pay outsiders to cook, clean, and raise your children pulls a family apart. There is no amount of money, social standing, or career that is worth sacrificing the closeness with your family. If you still think you can not afford to be a stay at home mother, then your priorities are not family centered. There is nothing more important than family.

  14. I became a stay at home mom 11 years ago, leaving behind my career, and we have never regretted our decision. I agree with many of the comments posted about the tug on a mommy’s heart strings when having to drop off her children. Calculate the real cost of Mom working outside of the home and the real cost emotionally to your children being cared for and raised by someone you don’t know or by someone who does not hold the same value system as you. These costs are HUGE! I have found that staying home has been the hardest and most challenging job I have ever done, but it’s been the most rewarding experience of my entire life!!

    There are many ways to homeschool inexpensively. There are lots of websites out there with free curriculum and it’s good! One of them is http://www.homeschoolshare.com. We use the lapbook section and my kids retain what they have learned using this fun method of teaching a subject. I might also add that we (I know I did) as the parent often think we need to do more than we truly need to do. Especially when your children are young, books like “3-in-a-row” are excellent and inexpensive curricula all from one book. You can teach your children while they sit on your lap and enjoy reading with you! Many blogs and free articles on help in this area. My point is don’t let the fear of whether or not you can do it or afford it keep you from moving forward. “Two Threes of Knowledge” is a great book to read about educating our children.

  15. My husband and I have been married for three years and have two children. We were committed to having a one-income home from the start. He’s a sub-contractor in a specialized field, which means that some months (okay, most months) are pretty scary when it comes to bill-paying and eating. BUT we have no debt, we rent an old house heated by a wood stove, we paid cash for our used vehicles and all his tools, we live with less and whatever we need we are able to find at thrift stores or Craigslist, and we always eat healthy meals. I strive to keep our costs down and I learn new tricks to make that happen all the time. Work is starting to pick up as our business is becoming more well-known and I’m very grateful for that. But I also know that even if work doesn’t pick up, we’ll still be able to make it. It’s amazing what you learn to live without when you simply can’t afford it… and how much you learn to enjoy everything else!

  16. My husband and I didn’t think that we could afford for me to stay home, but a difficult pregnancy during which I could not work for 6 months made us see that we could.

    It always seemed for us that when I stayed home with our son, everything seemed to last a long time (water heaters, washer, dryer, cars, etc) and there were times when we only had one car but we were both committed to me staying home with our son.

    I had to work for short periods while he grew up but each time I did, it seemed the money was taken up with car repairs, eating out because I had to work so late, child care, clothing, the appliances seemed to break down too.

    Honestly, I made a nice salary, but it was all eaten up and slipping away and out life was so much richer without me working outside of the home.

    We have been coordinators for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University several times and it really changes people’s perspective on what they actually need and how to make it happen. I would recommend it for any couple–even if you are just engaged! It really gets everyone pulling in the same direction!

  17. Just want to leave a quick comment for the working mom’s out there! Everyone’s situation is different, but it IS possible to be creative with some jobs if you need or want to work–if possible, work part-time or work partly from home. My situation has not necessarily been perfect or ideal, but since having children I have always worked part-time. I have usually had the freedom to increase or decrease my percentage of time at work from year to year, which is unusual in a professional career so I feel very blessed (but I would not have known it was possible if I hadn’t asked first!). When the kids were very little, I only worked 2 days a week so that I could mostly still be at home. Gradually I increased my time at work and now I work 4 days a week (the boys are now 16 and 18). I do not make a huge salary, but we have zero debt and our house is nearly paid off which has been good timing as our eldest will be in college in the fall and the youngest is not far behind. My salary will enable both to attend college at the same time as well if that is the situation we find ourselves in (non-private, in-state colleges).

    Just wanted to offer another point of view. :) This has worked well for us and I realize would not work for others, but I wanted to throw it out there!

  18. Great information! I have been able to stay at home with my middle school kids for the last two years and focus on them as well as myself. It has been tough financially, but so well worth it and somehow, we made it work. I will be returning to work as my husband’s job is in transition and also the fact that my boys are back in public school (their choice). But, we have learned so many things during this time and won’t be changing our frugal lifestyle! To all the lovely ladies that are asking about home school and staying at home, just keep up with the research and look to other families that have done it before for encouragement. That alone has been one of the things that gave me energy to stay the course. Information is free. Curriculum isn’t. I learned quickly when starting home school, was that there is so much information out in internet land and the library to keep us busy for a zillion life times. Let the world be your oyster! Allow yourself and your kids to follow their intuition and interest and you’ll learn so much!

  19. Love this post…..I have cut down my job recently from full to part time and its wonderful! great inspiration.

  20. Leslie Ann says:

    This was so great! I’ve been saying for years that the two (full) income family is not healthy for us, our society or the world. Ever since the jobs started to disappear at an alarming rate there has been the added strain of how is it fair that one family has two full incomes and another has none, a partial one or a meager one at best. We need to think about more than our selfish need to acquire more. Does this mean that one person gets to go out and pursue their goals and the other is tethered to the house? Not necessarily. Sometimes, as you have stated, a person follows a path because they think that is what they want and realize they want a different one. Other people hate their jobs but continue in them because they think they can not afford to not work that job. Even if both parents are happy in their jobs, they don’t realize they can try to work less to save more. People need to start questioning the unhealthy habits our culture has acquired and I’m glad you are one of them :)

    Oh and one of the saddest things along these lines is talking to people who are jobless and say they are struggling and then say they are bored. It just goes to show crippled we’ve become that people can’t realize they can be a “bread winner” by growing a garden, making some clothes or cooking from scratch.

  21. When my children were born I wanted to be a stay at home mom, but my husband was disabled. Then he had brain surgery and is no longer disabled. It has been a climb for us. Nine months ago I got to come home full time. We are homeschooling, gardening, and since finding this site are starting to make many different products that we use in our home. I am learning to bake bread and last fall finally figured out canning. So progress we are making as my husband builds a business so that we can have a business to leave to our sons one day.

    My coming home was a leap of faith for us. We planned when we met a certain financial goal that I would come home. However, my profession was as a mental health therapist and I burnt out so I had to quit before we met the goals. The Lord has been faithful and provided for every need when our income dropped 65% from leaving my career. There is not one minute that goes by that we regret my being home now.

  22. Christy says:

    Thanks for this post. I would love to be a stay at home mom. I have a 2 1/2 y.o. and am pregnant with our 2nd. I only work about 16 hours every 2 weeks as an RN, but I still have to pay childcare and I hate being away from my daughter. I remember going back to work after having my daughter, I would cry all the way to work and even when I would get there, I would cry periodically throughout my shift. This post was such an encouragement to me. I cook from scratch and am starting to make my own cleaners and bath products. I plan on looking seriously at our finances. I feel like I don’t have any talents though that I could make money from home. So I will be praying that God will show me. I pray that I can be a stay at home mom by the end of this year.

  23. I love that verse you paraphrased from Proverbs. It has become my mantra! I am single and am very tired of people telling me to work work work and make money! almost 6 years ago I was working full time in a job I did not like. After praying for a while, the Lord opened the door for me to quit that job and work part time doing something I absolutely love! Now I have time to minister to others, cook real food, and clean my house properly. And God has never failed to provide for my needs yet! BTW have you ever heard of George Meuller? He is my hero! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Shelley says:

    I loved reading this!! It is so disheartening to live in a society that tells us that it’s the “things” that matter. I have an 8 and 5 year old and have worked 2 days/wk since my oldest’s birth. We live modestly and we have never bought into the electronics and toys that are so prevalent today. I refuse to work full time to provide those things to my children! My income pays our mortgage and 2 days out of the house makes me appreciate my family and home that much more. We are involved in 4-H, raising swine and sheep. Obviously not a “cheap” venture, but so worth spending the extra money to see our kids so involved in the raising and care of these animals! Who needs tv or hand held games?? Not us! :) Our society needs to wake up and look around, things are going downhill waaay to fast. Thanks for your awesome and inspiring blog!!

  25. Making up our minds that I would stay home with the children was the key. I did care for other children in our home for a little more cash flow. We rarely bought new clothing, using hand-me-downs. We took care of what we had. If a piece to a puzzle or toy was missing we searched until we found. Our circle of friends did not have a big birthday party every year for every child, so much money was saved there. Our vacations were spent in relatives homes, not hotels. We used cloth, not paper. We entertained friends regularly in our home so the fun was at home, not out there.

  26. I needed to read this article! Thank you so much for writing it (as well as for the links you provided to other articles). I stay at home with my children, but I have a lot of stress about our finances. I think the stress contributes to some health problems. We have HUGE credit card debt and student loan payments that we’ll have to start paying soon.

    My husband will teach science next year and his income (the projected income he can make as a teacher) will not be enough to pay our bills. He got out of the military in 2008 (where he made decent money as an Officer) and since then, he has been unemployed for 2 1/2 years out of 4 years. It has been difficult for us and I have looked at other options to help us pay our bills.

    God has been the one who has kept us from having to file for bankruptcy; He has kept us well,He has kept our cars running and has helped us to have food on our table to eat. We have seen miracles happen after paying our tithes that we pay, and we have learned to always pay that first whenever we earn any money.

    I thought we were living pretty frugally, but I need to do more. We have quite a few things we can sell or donate. We live in a larger house right now, but my husband hopes to get into a medical program in a year and a half and we will have to relocate for that. We’ll be living in a smaller place then. Better to prepare now than later. ;)

    This really encourages me to look at our budget and see where we can save money. If I make all our meals at home, we can save money (and eat healthier). We use cloth instead of paper and conserve energy wherever we can.

    I really want to home school my children too! This is very encouraging and I think I can help my family more without having to work outside the home.

    Thank you!

  27. When preganant with our first born my husband and I were still in university. Our plan was for both of us to teach full-time. But once I held my son in my arms for the first time, I knew all those former plans were out the window. I did leave him with a sitter part time and my husband part time while doing my first teaching practicum and that was excruciating. But when my second practicum came around (I’d pushed it as far as I could) I just could not do it. I withdrew from that practicum and stayed home with my son. I did need to have a day home for the first two years that I homeschooled, in order for us to live on one main income but still repay our enormous student loans. But after those two years I felt the strong prompting to “come all the way home”. We’ve never had fancy vehicles, clothing or furniture. Nor have we been able to travel like my husband’s colleagues. We live on a tight budget but we’re happy and loved. We have peace in our home and our minds, knowing this was the right choice for us.

  28. Great post! I especially appreciate how you talked about wants vs needs and getting a budget in place. A budget is crucial…and a budget brings freedom with it. I live outside of DC in affluent suburbia and the constant pull of “stuff” is amazing. We kinda stick out like a sore thumb sometimes! You got to have this, you got to have that, your kids need this, that, and the best of everything. I need to regularly remind myself that stuff does NOT equal happiness. As Americans we have arguably the most stuff in nearly all the world, yet as a whole we are not a happy, satisfied people. And our kids do NOT need everything…and many are perhaps missing what they need most–a full-time parent. We are people. People need relationship. For our family, we have chosen relationship over stuff by having me stay home. We don’t have international vacations, but we have really fun ones at the beach with our extended family. Our kids don’t look like mini Gap models, but they have a few sharp outfits each season. Our kids don’t do ballet, soccer, baseball and swimming year-round, but they do enjoy a couple of fun short camps in the summer and will soon be starting one sport a year. You won’t find our home in a magazine, but I try to keep it pleasantly decorated and we’re always on the lookout for good deals (along with a few DIY projects). But I am with my kids, influencing them and helping to shape them and guide them into the whole, grounded, strong adults I trust they will one day become. Of course I have my bad days and crazy hair-pulling days–that’s life–but overall I am so grateful to be home with my kids. They are already growing so fast, and that’s time that once gone is gone forever.

  29. I have been a SAHM for 14 years. When my Hubby and I decided that I would stay home we got a ton of backlash from family and friends. Snotty comments about how it must be nice, and how lazy I was that I made Hubby earn all the money while I sat on my butt all day. NOT very supportive. But we persevered. We had one car for quite some time rented for nine years before buying the house we have now. It wasn’t always easy for sure. Who likes having to tell their kids they can’t have or do something they want? It’s all about making those hard choices and relying on God. Hubby’s business was doing great and then in 2008 business fell and we struggled for two years. This time we had a mortgage, taxes, and four kids. He ended up finding a regular job, not one he liked but something that would meet our needs. Again I got comments about how I should get a job. We couldn’t AFFORD for me to go to work! But, I did start making things to sell, raise animals to sell and making my own cleaning products. I’m a big believer in that if God is in agreement He will provide the way.

    • Karen B says:

      Don’t let what other people say stop you from doing what you feel is best for your family, which is ultimately all that matters. You will see the benefits of your efforts when your kids are older and well adjusted : )

  30. We are not on one income yet at our house but plan to be once we have our first child (in the next year or two.) Until then my husband and I are working feverishly to pay off debt and then save for an emergency fund and a down payment to buy a house. While I am currently a Public Relations Director for a non-profit organization, truly I am, and always have been, an artist. Over the last year and a half I have turned my art hobby into a small business. I now sell my work at markets on the weekends and online. I am working to build this business now so when it comes time for me to come home we will have a more seamless transition and hopefully not feel the income pinch all that much,

  31. I am hoping that someday I will be able to stay home again. I was home with my daughter for 1 1/2 years because I was laid off while pregnant and was able to learn a lot of ways to save money, but it just wasn’t enough to keep me home. And while we continue to keep a strict budget and still utilize our saving strategies with our increased income, we still have some big changes to make before we can get to that point.

  32. My husband & I struggle with big debt too. We did agree for me to be a SAHM when our first child was born, but the oil field work dried up 9 months later. I have never felt my husband’s respect in being SAHM but I do so because it allows us more freedom because of the type of job he has. We had a lot of disagreements because of our differences in how we thought about money. I had to go back to work to pay the bills, but when my Mom who had graciously agreed to watch my son became too ill, day care cut into our debt paying and I almost lost my job for lost time every time day care said he was “sick”. When I became pregnant with our 2nd, I had a lot of health problems and became primary caregiver for my Mom. The stress my husband felt about everything since we’d met caused a dealbreaker in our marriage. I in turn almost lost our baby in early labor the same day I put my Mom in a nursing home. I worked 1 more year but was getting a lot of harassment in how I did my job, we only got 300.00 from my wages after day care and I said I was DONE. It was difficult for my husband but he is starting to understand working as a team, taking responsibility, and while he doesn’t support my trying WAHM efforts he is seeing that my management skills will see us debt free within 3 years (without relying on my income, IRS returns, any raises, or bonuses). From within a less stressful time, he and I can work on how to save our marriage during the greatest stresses in the future.

  33. Beth Richards says:

    I too am an RN. Before kids I practiced as an NP in a busy Family Practice- I LOVED my job. I LOVED my patients. I LOVED my collegues. We began homeschooling our disabled son, and I cut back my hours. Cut back again by the time #3 came into our family. Then DH asked me to quit all together. I cried for days. What do you do when you love your job, you love your kids, you want a simpler life where you have trouble juggling kids, husband, patients, friends, family, church, weeds in the garden….? I didn’t want to miss out on firsts with my kids: walking, riding a bike, reading, writing a paper. I was aching to give my full attention to my kids.
    So I sacrificed my job. And that’s the hardest, most self-giving requirement. You give up your own stuff. BIGGEST REGRET OF MY LIFE!!!!! (That and not going to Europe while in college).
    Our homeschooling adventure took almost all of my time, being that two of my kids have disabilities. I was with them all day, everyday. And that was actually OK most of the time. But reality hit hard when my husband was was laid off and was unemployed for three years during the construction downturn. We scrambled for everything. No extras. Beans and rice. Coincidentially, my kids were early and middle teens- VERY HARD TO HAVE NO MONEY, no job at this stage.
    Meeting the kids’ needs was priority one. But there is so much you can’t do when there is no money- I made our homeschool materials stretch. There were no sports, no field trips, We gave up music lessons for a while. We drive cars that are ten- fifteen years old. We delayed driver’s ed because we couldn’t afford it or the insurance for teen boys. Our house has definitely taken a hit in terms of upkeep. No rcontribution to etirement funds for the last 10 years.
    Son #1 was recently accepted to a very good school, with a a very good scholarship, with a program designed for students with his geekiness and disability. As a homeschooler, he has 20 college credits and a 3.5 GPA. Son #2, a junior has also completed 20 college credits, is getting a 4.0 in those college classes, and is heavily involved in volunteering everywhere. Son #3 will likely go to a small high school next fall. And I will be working. Big changes.
    Lesson: if you can work even a few hours, do it. Sanity. Cashflow. Back up.

  34. I’m a stay at SAHM too, and every time the bills get really tight, I’m tempted to go looking for a job. But when I factor in driving costs, paying taxes, dealing with childcare, there’s no money left over after that anyways. Then we have to deal with the fact that my husband already works too much to take up the slack that would leave at home, and all the logistics, plus having less time to spend with the kids AND my husband…all means that there’s really no point. To clear even an extra $100 every month would require so much work that it would be stupid. I’d rather keep being creative about saving money at home by finding new ways to be frugal, and make more of our own food, like cookies, yogurt, and suppers from scratch. It’s healthier, the kids love it, and they love being with me, and I with them! I wouldn’t trade my time with them for the world – some day it’ll be over, and I’ll never get it back.

  35. Karen Blair says:

    Staying home to raise my kids was the best decision I ever made. However, I do wish I had worked at least limited number of hours on a part time basis, finding a career at forty-something has proven to be a great challenge. I would suggest finding a part time job (even if it’s just two or three days a week) at the school your kids attend so that your hours are the same, you have the satisfaction of knowing you’re contributing financially, and you have something to build on when your kids leave the nest.

  36. We made the decision about one year ago for me to stay at home. It just didn’t make sense for me to spend nearly all of my salary on child care, gas, clothes for work, etc instead of trying to save more while being home. The grocery bill is the biggest way to save, plus not signing the kids up for every single class out there. Allow yourself and the kids plenty of free time to spend it unstructured and outside.

  37. Jessica says:

    EXCELLENT post! Wonderful suggestions! My husband and I made sacrifices and worked hard to make sure I could be there to raise my kids and it was worth every hard day, every difficult choice. Every. One. It’s truly about priorities for most of us. We don’t wear designer clothes, take fancy vacations, eat out very often, or have brand new cars, but we have great fun not worrying about our thrift store clothes when we roll down the hill while other moms are saying, “not in your good clothes”, we have great memories from camping vacations, we have health from eating at home, and we have learned a lot about vehicle maintenance! Not all fun and games, but we love our life!

  38. An amazing article and so very well written. You deserve the very best for all your effort. We too, live a fairly frugal life but almost stress free and very enjoyable. Take a good look around your home and evaluate how much ‘stuff” you have that you really don’t need or use. You will be amazed at how little you need to make yourselves happy. Certainly no need to live up to the neighbours.
    We have also found a great way to save through couponinng. Don’t get me wrong I do not sit and search for or cut out coupons – I am too busy enjoying my life but every opportunity I see to save money, I grab. With the Olympics around the corner, how about showing support and encouragement for our athletes with gear from http://fansedge-couponcode.com
    Enjoy

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  40. Love this article! You end up saving so much by making your own things; be it meals, cleaning agents, or medicines.

  41. Cindy Wilson Kosloski says:

    love this, I am a stay a home Mom, my ex wanted me to work eerytime I went to my kids got sick, it was cost us more in Medi cal bills and daycare then it was for me to work.

  42. Here’s a few practical things we did to make it affordable for me to stay home with our kids:
    sold a car
    used cloth diapers
    borrowed videos from the library instead of renting or paying for cable
    traded used clothes with other families
    went cheap on birthday presents–this may be controversial, but I think parents feel tremendous pressure to spend money on junk that no one really wants. When my kids were young, we bought a membership to a museum and then gave an outing to the museum as a common birthday gift. The kids enjoyed it, the other mom was usually happy for the break, it didn’t cost us anything, and no plastic ended up in the landfill.
    I agree that what works will differ with each family. I really wanted to stay home with my kids, but as they got older my part-time work became increasingly important to me. The balance is different at every phase of life.

  43. I stayed home with our kids (now adults) and it was worth every sacrifice others may have thought we were making. I was fortunate to be able to develop a home-based computer-based business; both kids at various points were able to earn spending money when young and eventually university tuition and/or travel money.
    My advice is to get full value out of every purchase. Don’t buy substandard products (even clothing) when waiting an extra week or month will allow you to purchase a better quality item which will serve the purpose better, last longer, and save money in the long run. My latest venture into chemical-free cleaning products fits into the best-quality discussion, but also means we live healthier and have decreased our environmental footprint.

  44. Great suggestions Andrea! I would add to be sure to build or maintain your community. Having other stay at home moms to fall back on for occasional childcare (not to mention, some adult conversations once in a while) can really help you to make it work. I wrote about how I can afford to stay home at my blog and it’s a very popular topic! Thanks for sharing your story. I think it’s so important for parents who want to stay home with their children to know that they probably can!

  45. I found that if you make a budget and start to write down and record the money you are spending you start to have a clearer picture of where yor money is actually going. You can then start to scale back on all those expensive purchases. I found I was spending a fortune on coffee and magazines a month so I just started to trim my spending and reduce my purchases to once a week which I then felt was a sort of treat to myself. The next step was to reduce the clutter around the house by selling unwanted goods either online or at a garage sale. Once you start to do this excerise you really start to get a handle on your finances and do not tend to waste your incme so much.

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