Can You Afford to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom?

If you are expecting or have a little one, it can be hard to leave him or her to go to work everyday. It can also be hard for a family to live on one income. Find out how to figure out if you can afford to be a stay at home mom (or dad). One of the biggest decisions for a family to make when having a baby is if both parents go back to work after baby comes. For some, the choice is obvious. Some moms and dads love their careers and wouldn’t think of leaving them. For some, especially us mom, the choice really comes down to our current financial situation.

Trying to do the math on whether it is a better financial decision to become a stay-at-home parent or go back to work can be pretty tricky! There are so many things to factor in when you do the math. Add that on top of the fact that most people don’t really understand their own finances to begin with, and it can be nearly impossible to accurately figure out.

This post will help you to do the math on whether or not you can afford to be a stay-at-home-mom.

The first thing to do is make sure that you have an accurate picture of what your finances look like right now. The only way to do that is to track your spending down to the penny. Get yourself an awesome budget spreadsheet and come up with a system to make sure that everything gets entered into it properly.

Next, you need to make up a couple of mock budgets. The first will be your budget if you keep working at your current job. The second will be without your current income.

Here are some things to make sure that you factor into your calculations:

Will you need to pay for childcare?

This is the biggest one for most families, so make sure that you do a good amount of research. Check into the childcare option that you are most likely to go with – a day care center, in home daycare, nanny, etc. Find some places in your area and call to get pricing. The cost of childcare varies greatly from city to city, so you want to make sure that you have a correct number.

Can you work from home?

There are a lot of ideas out there now for parents who want to work from home. You can find an agency to freelance with, work in customer service, watch another child, start a blog, or work for a direct sales company. If you are planning to start one of these things to contribute to the family income, make sure that you use the low end estimates in your budgeting. The last thing that you want to do it create a budget based on an income that you can’t attain.

Would you save on fuel?

Your commute to and from work is costing you money everyday. If you are not driving, will that cut down on your gas cost?

Are there any “luxuries” that you can cut?

Things like cable, Netflix, getting your nails done, eating take-out, etc. might be worth sacrificing if they make the difference between your budget working and not working.

Is your health insurance about to skyrocket?

When we added a baby onto our insurance plan, the monthly premium tripled! Make sure that you know what your payments will be once you bring home that little one before you go through and do your math.

Can you cut down on food costs?

Couponing, using apps and websites, and pre-planning your meals may be a great way for you to save on groceries if you are not currently doing these things. Being home may allow you a little more time to plan and organize your grocery choices leading to lower grocery bills. Amazon Subscribe & Save is also a great way to cut down on household spending.

Does losing an income mean you qualify for government assistance?

If you are living close to the “low income” threshold to begin with, you may be able to reduce some of your food or medical bills by taking advantage of programs like Medicaid or WIC. Check into your local regulations to see if these programs could help you.

Are you willing to use cloth diapers?

For me, going back to work was one of the deciding factors in not going the cloth diaper route. Using cloth diapers may save you money versus the 1000s of disposable diapers that you will go through. It is more time consuming because of the frequency that you will want to do laundry – especially if you want to save by not buying very many.

Are there any debts you can pay off?

Things like student loans and credit card payments eat into your monthly income very quickly. If you have a little bit of money in savings, it may help you in the long run to pay off the remaining balances instead of continuing to make monthly payments.

Can you “downsize” anything?

While selling your house might be a little bit extreme, are there other things that you can trade in if you don’t need to keep up your professional appearance?  For example, could you trade in your car for a less expensive one or sell some of your business wardrobe staples that you won’t need to stay home with your family?


When you factor in all of these costs, the numbers may really surprise you. The difference between being able to stay home with your baby and going back to work may just be making a few adjustments to balance out your budget.


To the stay-at-home parents out there, were there any expenses that you found you could live without in order to be home?

If you are expecting or have a little one, it can be hard to leave him or her to go to work everyday. It can also be hard for a family to live on one income. Find out how to figure out if you can afford to be a stay at home mom (or dad).

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43 thoughts on “Can You Afford to be a Stay-At-Home-Mom?

  1. I have been a stay at home homeschooling mom for 24 years. We have had to cut corners and do without a lot of things other families had, but being on the backside of parenting (3 more years of high school) i can tell you that the question I would ask is, in the society we live in now, can you afford NOT to be a stay at home mom?

  2. Ah, the ultimate question for almost every new mama. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home but I decided to go back to work as I needed it for my own well being and to be a better mom and role model for my girls. I never regretted my decision.

    • Every mama and every family is different! I am glad that you were smart enough to figure out what works best for you. <3

  3. It definitely takes a financial sacrifice to stay home and it is the hardest work I have ever done! But it is definitely worth the sacrifice! I wouldn’t trade it!

  4. This is really informative and gives new parents an idea of the costs great post Thank you for linking to #ThatFridayLinky Please come back next week

  5. It’s crazy how it’s different for everyone. Some people can’t afford to go back to work, but some people can’t afford not to!

    • It’s crazy, isn’t it? The most important thing is that you really do the math carefully to make an informed decision.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Very helpful post! It does take some serious consideration, but it can be done! I work from home and home-school so I get the best of both worlds and it works for us 🙂

    Thanks for sharing with #MMBC. Hope to see you Monday x

    • I am glad that you were able to find something that works well for your family! Thank you for stopping by. Happy Monday. 🙂

    • I am definitely a fan of used clothes shopping! I get all of my clothes either used, on clearance, or from outlet malls/stores. We all prioritize out money differently, that is for sure. 🙂

  7. I love this post! We couldn’t afford for me to be a working parent, and I ended up going back to work. There’s good and there’s bad, but I’m glad I did it!

    • It’s a tough decision to make either way. I’m glad that you were able to find something that works for your family! 🙂

  8. #triumphanttales you are way more organised than me…i just went back to work and worked it out as we went along – although i can completely see why i should of planned, ops!

    • Different things work for each family! We run a very tight budget, so knowing how we spend our money is key.
      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  9. Great post. Makes me so thankful to be in the UK when I think about your health insurance costs. I just recently handed my notice in after having Oscar but I’m still working from home to make sure we can afford to live! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    • That is true – when it comes to health insurance and maternity/paternity benefits, the US is way behind.
      Working from home is a great option that it seems like more and more moms are using!
      Thanks for reading. <3

  10. These are all great tips! I have to honestly say that I don’t think my husband and I actually calculated any of those things 12 years ago when I became a Sahm. Thankfully, we’ve done fine and are very close to paying off the last of our debt which is our mortgage. We have been debt free besides that for about 3 years.

  11. This is such a handy, helpful post which I’m sure will come in use to many people. Personally, there’s no way I could be a SAHM not just for financial reasons but also for my sanity. I love working and the independence and identity it gives me. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty on occasion but on the whole it works for us. Thanks for sharing with #GlobalBlogging

    • That is so true – not all moms were cut out to be stay-at-home moms, and not all moms were cut out to be working moms! I’m glad that your family was able to find out what works best for you. <3

  12. I always wanted to be a stay at home Mum but maternity leave showed me that 24/7 at home drove me insane!
    Blogging this month has shown me that I at least can go part time and thankfully as my MIL loves spending time with Ben she’s even asked to still have him one or two days a week if I went self employed! #globalblogging

    • That sounds like you have found a wonderful balance. Having supportive family who are able to help out is a great blessing!
      Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

    • Thank you! There are a lot of things that have changed in our budget beyond what I anticipated, and I know how hard it can be to figure things like this out.

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