Congrats you had a baby! After experiencing the joy of having a child through birth or adoption, never-ending choices will need to be made. Unfortunately, there are confusing arguments for most choices revolving around parenthood and raising children. One of the biggest arguments is whether or not to be a stay-at-home mom or return to work.
If the desire is to be a stay-at-home mom (or parent), there are some logistics and steps to take to make it financially possible.
Live on One Income
First and foremost, families with a stay at home parent must be able to survive on one income. This process can start years before children arrive and can set couples up for financial stability.
If it can be afforded, live on one income from the beginning of a marriage. Use a second income to pay down debt, and build up savings. It never hurts to have money in savings for a rainy day, the next vehicle or unexpected home repairs. When purchasing a home, purchase it only with one income in mind.
Living off of one income is a healthy habit because it sets a couple up for stability if one partner loses a job or becomes unable to work. Couples frequently experience in marriages where one spouse cannot work or cannot find work.
Families who successfully afford a stay-at-mom or parent have a good understanding of their budget. If you want to consider staying-at-home and do not have a budget, get one. Living on one income without a budget is a recipe for disaster and accumulation of debt.
Programs crafted by Dave Ramsey such as Financial Peace University are a good place to start a budget. Numerous free tools exist to help track expenses through banks, websites and apps. In addition, professional financial planners and advisors can often help guide families on the right path to understanding their financial health. In our home, the stay-at-home parent spends the majority of the funds and monitors the budget. It is easier to be wise about expenses when there is an understanding of how it affects the budget.
For many families, sacrifices have to be made to afford a parent to stay-at-home. Some choices our family has made along the way is to do several tasks ourselves that we would likely pay for outside help if both parents worked.
We eat at home more than eating in restaurants. Our grocery and eating out budget consumes a significant amount of our monthly income. Eating at home helps us to save funds for other expenses. We rarely hire outside help for yard work or house cleaning. Because I am home, I slowly knock out house cleaning tasks throughout the week as well as some yard work.
Although it is a popular choice now, we cut cable a long time ago and have not had a landline phone in 12 years. Initially, when we cut cable, we cut it to cut expenses and to challenge ourselves to watch less television. It is not a choice that we regret, and streaming has allowed us to continue with that choice.
Want to read about some of the benefits of a stay-at-home mom (or parent)? Read it here.