Costs and savings of having a stay-at-home parent

This post comes from Lynn Svenson, who blogs at The Photographer's Wife. Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income.

One of the biggest impacts to my wallet (and heart) this past year was having a baby. Of course, there are plenty of expenses that go along with being pregnant and having a baby, like numerous visits to the doctor and the enormous amount of diapers. But in particular, I want to share how making the decision to have a stay-at-home parent has affected our wallets and our way of thinking.

We were overjoyed when we found out I was pregnant in the fall of 2011. However, along with that joy came some sadness. After taking a look at our finances, we realized we wouldn't be able to achieve one of our long-time goals of my husband staying home to raise our children. We do have debt, and my salary alone just wouldn't cut it. We ultimately took a big risk when we decided that my husband would stay home and I would bust my butt to get a new, higher-paying job after the baby was born.

Looking back, this was an absolutely ridiculous idea, but it considerably eased my stress at the time. It actually forced me to channel my efforts into a positive way of thinking. I went from thinking How on Earth are you going to do this? to I can do this! I am so grateful at how beautifully it all worked out, because I went on an interview at 37 weeks pregnant and got the job!

I started the new job right after my six weeks of maternity leave. However, we weren't in the clear yet. I still wanted to find ways to improve our situation. I became more creative when finding ways to save money, especially on monthly expenses, to improve our cash flow.

We refinanced our car loan to a lower rate. We saved 30 percent on our car insurance by having them monitor our driving habits (which was almost non-existent for my husband's car, since he is home every day now). We looked for discounts on all of our other bills. We are also refinancing our house to a lower rate. I might not have bothered with all of these things if I didn't have the pressure to improve our situation. When you really want something, you find ways to make it happen, and it never hurts to ask companies where you can save some money.

Some Financial Boons for Stay-at-Home Parents

Not having to pay for child care. I always knew day care was expensive, but it wasn't until I looked at the day cares near us that I knew the exact number (and may have let out a few expletives in the process). For decent day care (which depends on what we all consider decent) in our area, it would have cost us at least $750 a month, not including all those extra fees they like to add on. Also, depending on how soon we decide to have another child, we would have to consider having two children in day care at the same time. It hurt my wallet just writing that.

Not having to take sick days. This is beneficial for a few reasons. It is a known fact that kids that go to day care get sick more often. By my son not going to day care, we save 1) his misery of being sick more than he needs to be, 2) us from getting sick too, causing me to take off from work, 3) doctor's co-pays and medicine, and 4) paying day care even though he's not there. The same thing goes for vacations and holidays…you still have to pay the day care the same monthly amount even when he's not there.

Not paying for gas. I'm not referring to the extra gas you will be witness to with a new baby at home; I'm talking about all the savings in gas money due to the fact that one person isn't driving to and from work each day. In our case, we are saving more than $100 a month from my husband not driving to/from work. His commute was about 30 minutes each way and then he would also drive to eat lunch each day. This resulted in him needing to fill the tank of his pretty gas-efficient Honda Pilot two to three times a month at $70 a pop.

Not spending lunch money. My husband didn't have a refrigerator or microwave at work, so his lunch options were pretty limited so he would grab his lunch at fast-food places. That added up to more than $200 a month, way over what we spend for him to eat lunch at home now. He would even try to save money by getting water instead of soda or using coupons that I gave him, too. Now we are saving money and helping his waistline.

Not eating at restaurants for dinner. We would go out for dinner a lot when we would both be getting home from work at 6 p.m. and were starving and too impatient to cook dinner. Now, he is able to start cooking around 5 p.m. without being rushed, allowing for a healthier and more cost-efficient meal at home. This also has cut the cost of my lunch because I have leftovers the next day.

Not spending my free time on housework. This is savings on my part…time savings. When we both worked full-time, I spent at least one day out of the weekend cleaning. Now, he gets as much done as he can during the day and our weekends are more open for fun and family time. I can't even express how much I love coming home on Fridays knowing that I don't have to spend the next day cleaning. This is purely a time versus money point.

Not having to take time from work for errands. So many places close between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., like the post office and banks. Thank goodness for direct deposit, but if we ever have errands that need to get done during the day, I no longer have to take time off from work to accomplish them.

Not having to spend as much on work clothes. He doesn't have to buy work clothes as often now that he doesn't have to step out of the house every day for work.

Costs of Having a Stay-at-Home Parent

Loss of a guaranteed salary. Although many people would argue that no salary is guaranteed in this economy, it's certainly easier to know how much money you can budget for when you have a full-time job. My husband still has his photography business, but it's more random, depending how many people are getting married, graduating, having babies, etc. But on a positive note, in quitting his full-time job, he is able to spend more time cultivating his personal business and dedicating himself to his photography and clients, something he would not have had much time for with a full-time job.

Increase in electricity and water bill. Having someone in the house all day, especially a baby, means that lights are on, the air-conditioning and heat are at normal levels all day instead of being turned down when not there, the stove or microwave is used and toilets are flushing, among many other things. I don't know how much these differences add each month, but our bill has increased slightly because of it.

Increase in groceries. Eating more food at home means you're paying more at the grocery check-out line, but the increase is not as much as what you are saving by not eating out every day. You just have to learn to adjust your mind-set of what you are now normally spending at the grocery store.

I would also like to point out that there are also intangible benefits to having someone at home all day. Even though we have a security system and a dog at home (a 90-pound Labrador that looks scarier than he actually is), it still gives me peace of mind knowing that there is an actual person at home and a car in the driveway to deter any potential threats. He's also there to meet service people and monitor the house for any emergencies.

Overall, making the decision to have a stay-at-home parent really is a matter of personal preference and individual circumstances. I don't wish to start a day-care debate, but we just knew that wasn't what we wanted for our son. I can't deny that I often wish we had another full-time salary to provide more of a cushion, but every time I look at my son, I know I can do without it for now. It's a daily lesson in patience on my part, one that many people who are in debt also have, as I have to constantly reassure myself that the sacrifices I am making today will be worth it in the long run and that I will look back and be happy about my decision.

More about...Budgeting, Frugality

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bg

Lovely article.

We don’t have a baby but I can relate to all those advantages of having someone home, I’m away all week and my husband is more flexible and often works from the home office, which saves time and nerves for everyone. Good luck in your further journey!

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Thank you! It has definitely been convenient to have him home to meet service people and such, especially when we got a new roof. I think our dog likes him being home all day too!

CT
CT

Congratulations on making it work! A major savings that was left out is taxes. I think many people stay at work (especially with 2 in daycare) because they don’t calculate the savings in fed/state/local/payroll taxes and end up working for virtually nothing. In the expensive area we live in, my very respectable salary was reduced to less than $.93/hr after taxes, daycare for 2, and expenses directly contributable to working. A great way to compare is to use TurboTax(free until you file) to run different income scenarios and find out what the difference would be.

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Good point! We didn’t do a per hour analysis, just the difference on a monthly basis, and the amount leftover was hardly worth all the effort for us considering how much we wanted it.

sarah
sarah

Your take home pay is after tax so I’m sure everyone is aware of how much they make after tax.

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies

These are definitely some of the things that we’ve thought about in the kids/no kids debate.
One more – kids with stay-at-home parents tend to get bought fewer toys since there’s no competition with other kids for toy status and parents don’t feel the need to “buy love”. Money savings in the present, but it also sets realistic consumerist expectations for the future. At least, that’s the hope =) I guess it would take 18-20 years to figure that our for sure.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie

Huh, we actually started buying *fewer* toys when DC1 started daycare because he had all those new toys to play with at school and didn’t get bored as quickly with the ones he already had.

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

I can definitely see both of these points. I guess we’ll find out as he gets older!

Beth
Beth

I’m with NicoleandMaggie. We’ve bought more toys since I’ve been home with the kids. I don’t even want to know how much we’ve spent on Legos alone!

AnnW
AnnW

But Legos are worth it! Also, if you have to, you can resell them when you are done.

Holly@ClubThrifty

I work full time but I feel no need to “buy love.” Most of the kids at daycare have nicer and more expensive toys than my kids. I don’t try to keep up.

I think it depends on the parents and their priorities.

Sara G.
Sara G.

I think that we buy my son less toys since he is in full-time daycare, but I do not have enough time to research quality used items. Most of his clothes and toys are new, and I would buy more used items if one parent stayed home.

Queeb
Queeb

Another cost of a stay at home parent is that he is not paying into social security and (maybe in your case) he is not paying into a retirement account. This could affect your retirement.
HOWEVER, that being said, staying home is worth it. So much less day to day stress when one parent can be at home. That’s something you can’t put a dollar figure on!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Interesting… Doesn’t social security give parents credit for time off with children? I think CPP does in Canada — but I’m not sure if you can claim it if you’re self-employed rather than being a full-time parent. Either way, it’s an important question to consider.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie

What Social Security does is it allows someone whose spouse is working to claim the larger of his or her own credit or half of the working spouse’s credit.

My Financial Independence Journey
My Financial Independence Journey

Sounds like you made a good choice. One of the most ironic things about having two working parents is that while more money is brought in, often times one parent’s entire salary goes to child care. Kind of negates any reason for them to work in the first place.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie

Except it doesn’t really, because, as other posters have mentioned, money is getting paid into Social Security (so the person’s benefit will be larger than the spousal benefit), and one doesn’t lose human capital– meaning when the kids start school or leave for college, the person who stayed at home doesn’t start with a lower salary than he or she had when he or she originally left the labor market. If a person stays in the labor market, that salary is higher, not lower. I’m not trying to be down on the one spouse not working decision– my husband is… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie

Don’t forget the long-term costs to human capital in your equation. http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/the-wohsah-decision-finances/

Also I’m amazed your SAHSpouse has time to clean and cook while taking care of a baby!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

While I don’t think it’s an issue in the OP’s case because the husband has time to build his own business, I definitely think this is a good factor to consider for any stay at home parent who is on a career path with less flexibility.

I know a few stay at home parents who were able to work from home part time to keep career momentum, while others switched careers or launched a business that was more in line with their priorities. There are lots of options out there.

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Yes, luckily since he can continue his photography from home, we are not necessarily in this same boat, but it’s a valid consideration for many people.

Anne
Anne

Nicole and Maggie,

I have to gently and respectfully laugh at this. I think we think he would be too busy to clean and cook while taking care of a baby because he is a man.

EVERYONE would expect a woman to still make dinner and take care of the house while caring for an infant. Just my humble opinion.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie

No. Actually I think that because I have two children of my own, and our house has been a mess since the first one was born. I’ve spent days by myself with babies and the house is generally messier at the end of the day than it was at the beginning. Forget about making dinner. Also, I spent quite a bit of nursing time with the first one on mommy forums, and plenty of stay at home mom women complained about their husbands complaining that the house was a mess (and refusing to do any chores himself) when the husband… Read more »

Emily
Emily

Sorry kiddo, I always had the house picked up and dinner made when I had two babies.

It just ain’t that dang hard.

Jane
Jane

Emily, I think you need to account for the different personalities of the children AND the parents. I think it’s pretty harsh to discount someone else’s experience just because it was smooth sailing for you. I have two little boys who see me cleaning up as an opportunity to dismantle it once again. My two year old has been known to empty out a bin of toys seconds after I picked it up. I agree with Nicole that being in the house all day does make it dirtier. I’m not ashamed or insecure about the fact that my husband has… Read more »

sarah
sarah

I agree with you both – I’m usually able to have the house clean and dinner made, but there’s no way my husband could 😛 I have no problem putting the little guy in a high chair and letting him watch me unload the dishwasher “ooh, look at this shiny plate!” or laying him on my bed with some toys while I fold clothes there for as long as he’ll tolerate it (5-10 minutes at a stretch adds up over the day) but my husband feels the need to be in his face playing with him directly at all times.… Read more »

mrs bkwrm
mrs bkwrm

I could never manage it. I just wasn’t that good. My kids are 20, 19, 17, and 15 now. I often feel awkward around parents of other teens because the worst thing mine do is procrastinate on homework and chores. They are not only not troublesome, they are almost always pleasant to be around. So are their friends. You have to do the minimum, of course, but most of that stuff will keep. It’s more important to me to be kind and patient and respectful to one another than to be stressed out all the time and have a clean… Read more »

Meredith
Meredith

Deciding to have a stay at home parent or not is obviously a very personal decision and one that might not work for every family. I have 2 kids and did it both ways, I worked when my first child was a baby and stayed home for the first 18 months when my second child was born. What I found is that it definitely depends on a lot of factors. I live in a more expensive area and trying to survive on one salary was really stressful. Also stressful was not being able to save money for retirement or otherwise,… Read more »

Beth
Beth

OMG, YES about boredom!

I try to find free things for us to do, but except for the library I can’t find anything within a 5-mile radius of my home (where I live, it’s too cold and muddy to be outside right now, so we’re not going to the park). Even if the event is free, we’re still out gas money.

Lynn @ The Photographers Wife
Lynn @ The Photographers Wife

One thing they do to get out of the house is meet with some family members for lunch at least once a week and even go to Nana’s house for a day. There’s probably some level of boredom, especially during the winter if it’s cold out, but I’m sure he still prefers this over the alternative!

AmyP
AmyP

“It also happens when kids who didn’t go to daycare/preschool start kindergarten. Pay now or pay later but believe me, you’ll pay!” It’s much easier on the kids if they get sick later, though. My kids once had rotavirus at the same time (there’s a vaccine now, thank goodness). The three-year-old who had brought it home from preschool spent several hours in the ER getting rehydrated. A day or two later, we had to take her infant brother (10 months old or so) to the ER. He, on the other hand, had to spend a night at the hospital getting… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Especially since you can tell older kids to blow their nose or do things to help themselves, whereas babies have no clue what you’re telling them to do.

Jesse
Jesse

You forgot the tax implications for retirement. Now there are no 401k savings for half of you guys. That’s a big deal.

Marsha
Marsha

I applaud Lynn and her husband for having a goal and making it work for them. That’s the real story here–not the endless daycare/SAH debate.

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Thank you Marsha! Yes, it is an endless one, isn’t it? 🙂

Brandy
Brandy

To costs I would certainly add loss of retirement (social security as well as matching funds) as well as diminished earning potential of the stay at home parent. Some industries don’t take kindly to a break. I’d love to be at home with mine but going back to work is next to impossible.

Evangeline
Evangeline

These benefits extend beyond the baby years. We have a teenager and one in elementary school and I’m still a SAHM (although I often earn a little bit from various streams of income.) Although I get a lot of grief from those who think I should be at a job somewhere, our main reason for me staying at home is simple. My husband has a great job but the drawback is the distance from work to school and his inability to leave whenever he chooses. Translation: he is never going to be able to take off work to pick up… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

What a great way of looking at it. I especially love how you view it as an investment in family and the one career.

Beth
Beth

I’d also add that it’s great to have a parent who is home when the kids are teenagers. One of my friends worked part-time until her kids were all in college. It was a great situation – she encouraged her kids’ friends to come to her house after school, and the other parents (who were all working full-time and couldn’t be home right after school) appreciated knowing where their kids were, and that they were supervised.

Barb
Barb

I’ll second this one. I was a stay at wife and parent for years when our kids were older and grown. I cannot express how much less chaotic our familiy was because I was at home and my husband was working. My husband was a wonderful father, however, the fact for example, that he never had to take the time to pick up a sick child early. It allowed him to concentrate fully on work when he was there and fully at home. As for retirement, there is absolutely nothing to prevent a stay at home spouse from having ira… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographers Wife
Lynn @ The Photographers Wife

While we have a way to go before we have to decide on it, we certainly have discussed what our option might be when the kids are in school. These are great considerations, thanks!

Emily
Emily

I heartily agree with being at home in the afternoons when the kids are teenagers.

They *almost* need more supervision then then when they’re small. Their friends came to our house and nobody seemed to have any drug issues that I could tell.

Also my son was 25 years old before he got his girlfriend pregnant. 😉 By that point it was HIS problem.

But to each their own.

Maggie
Maggie

I also have been lucky that my husband values my “job” at home. He is able to focus on his job and put in overtime or travel for work without having to worry about stuff at home. In fact, we bought a life insurance policy for me because he would either have to hire help or take a leave of absence from his job if I weren’t around. We married young so I have not accumulated enough credits for social security death benefits so the policy eliminates any worry in that regard. I also have the time to be frugal.… Read more »

Sam
Sam

Mr. Sam often works from home and I find it to be more expensive in that eats more at home than when at work, he creates more mess b/c he’ll often cook two meals during the day, our phone bill is more expensive because he uses our land line and all his work calls are long distance, the utilities go up, but he does save gas money.

Jen from Boston
Jen from Boston

Are you able to switch to a landline plan that includes unlimited long distance? I know Verizon has one for my area – all calls in the continental US and maybe Canada are all included in the monthly fee. You might be able to save money by switching. There’s also Skype. You pay a fee for calling a landline, but it’s much lower than regular long distance. What Skype does, I believe, is it patches you through the internet to a landline that’s local to the number you’re calling. The catch, though, is having a reliable enough internet connection.

Lisa
Lisa

Thanks so much for sharing! I have a 5 month old that I’m home with right now (I live in Canada so I still have 7 months to stay home with him). My husband’s and my plan is for him to stay home with her once my leave is up, and I’m planning on finding a higher paying job. He’ll probably continue working one day a week and we’ll put our daughter in daycare for that day. We’re thinking long term, because we want to homeschool/unschool, so making it work on one income is a huge priority for us. I… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Our situations are alike (except I had much less leave than you!) Good luck and I hope you can make it work the way you want!

Antonia Mattei
Antonia Mattei

We too went through the same decision process but our babies are 21, 19 and 15! My husband raised our three and returned to the corporate world 5 years ago at which point I had seniority at my job and requested a work day that ended at three to be home with my now teens . Having a stay at home father has resulted in terrific young adults and our third special Ed child is now mainstreamed in high school and thriving. I was prepared for daycare for my kids, but my husband insisted on the financial and social arguments… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Thanks for your comment – it is definitely good to hear and I’m glad it worked out well for you. I’ll keep my fingers crossed on those scholarships haha!

Lila
Lila

Every family has to make choices that suit their situation. When our first child arrived the decision was easy, I joyfully looked forward to staying home with our baby and stayed at home when our second baby arrived. Looking back at those years they were the most happy and challenging times. Boredom never was a problem , we were busy. I did go back to work part time when school time began but to this day our now adult children still tell me how they loved coming home and having me in the house to greet them and how they… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Thank you for this. I hope ours say the same thing one day.

Phoebe@allyouneedisenough

This is something on the top of our minds, since we think a baby may be in the near future. My husband makes less than I do, and childcare will likely cost his entire salary. Many people (including the commenters above) say you should just quit then because what’s the point of working if you are making nothing? But I often find a huge flaw in that which is rarely discussed. What about future earnings? Sure, during the first 5 years you are “working for nothing” but once the kids are in school, there really is no need to have… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

I think it depends on your career field and your desire to maintain your relevancy, but yes, still a valid consideration. In our case, he is a photographer and can continue working while at home without having his skills become outdated. I think it is possible to stay updated on your skills as long as you don’t completely remove yourself from the outside world. I am a CPA and if I was the one that stayed home, I would still have to take classes to maintain my license for when I re-enter the workforce.

Holly@ClubThrifty

My kids are both in daycare and weren’t even sick once in 2012. They rarely even get a cold. Maybe we have just been lucky! =) Anyway, I mostly agree with your pros and cons list. To me, the thought of staying home with my kids is much more pleasant than the reality. Both times I took maternity leave, I was bored to tears and couldn’t wait to go back to work. However, I also know women who stay home full time and love every second of it. I think it just depends on the person. All that matters is… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Oh man, those are some good genes! Based on how easily I get sick, I’m sure our son would get sick much more often than that!

Michelle
Michelle

Good story, and I agree with a lot of the comments as well. I was the SAHM when my children were young. It was not easy, and many nights, dinner was not made by me. Heck, there were days I struggled to find time to go to the bathroom, much less clean it. My kids still got sick, and I was the one home with them after being up all night with them. It was exhausting. I also think there is truth to the concerns about retirement and the long-term impact on my employability after a break. Every family is… Read more »

Steve
Steve

This is in reply to Nicole and Maggie who claim it’s impossible to pick up a house or cook when there is a child/children in the home. Really? My wife did it with two kids. And since the beginning of time the stay at home spouse (almost always the woman) has been able to take care of a home and raise children. Many women did it with half a dozen kids. Doing the homemaking/child rearing thing is certainly no walk in the park, but it isn’t impossible either. And one more thing, stay off the computer and you’ll find you… Read more »

Mary
Mary

This kind of response (from Steve) is exactly why moms are afraid to voice their struggles. There’s always someone out there to remind them how they are doing it wrong and how “it’s just not that hard” to be the perfect mom and wife.

Lynn – nice article about the pros and cons.

Jane
Jane

Excellent point, Mary. All I could think when I read Steve’s point was “what an out of touch man he is!” Plus he doesn’t seem to understand history very well. This idealized mom of yore who had a perfect home and a freshly baked pie in the oven when the husband came home is a figment of our collective imagination. If she did exist on occasion, then she was most likely miserable on the inside, because she had little to no time to relax. Or that husband (in a bygone age when wages and buying power were higher) was able… Read more »

SAHMama
SAHMama

I have a Masters and 10 years of professional experience and walked away from my $60k/year job to be a SAHM in 2011. At the time, we had a 5yo and a 15mo. Now we have a 6yo in kindergarten, a 2.5yo and a 2mo. We didn’t plan on the third child but as it turns out, she’s here and paying for fulltime childcare plus before/after school care and babysitting during all these random days off school plus breaks and summer would cost more than what I took home from that job! Other ways we save: We pay less in… Read more »

Nina
Nina

I wish we even had the option for one of us to stay at home, but as it is, living in a high cost of living area, we need both incomes, even with all the savings of one parent staying home.

One of the biggest pitfalls I find of having both of us work is finding child care. It would definitely be easier if it was me or my husband caring for our kids.

Bc
Bc

When my son was born DH was in grad school and our city was very pricey so my mom moved to the city and we paid her rent ($1250/month) and she watched the baby for two years. This was a deal compared to centers in the area charging $2200 per month. He catches every little bug that goes by and so the sick days have alwyas been an issue. Since then we have moved twice to less expensive areas, but my pay has stayed the same so the issue completely flipped, housing and child care are extremely affordable now and… Read more »

Hill Roger
Hill Roger

Nice and quite informative posts. What about not paying for gas?

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Thank you! Not paying for gas is the 3rd item listed – which we are even more grateful for now that prices have risen so much in the past month!

Mrs EconoWiser
Mrs EconoWiser

We both work four days a week, but we also have a side business. We hope to get pregnant soon. I am thinking about working three days a week then. He certainly doesn’t want to give up his job and I don’t want to give up mine.

sarah
sarah

great article! We have a 6 month old and I really hope to be able to quit my job within the next 2 years to stay home with her. Very inspiring!

Tina
Tina

I was a stay at home mom while my children were young. My husband and I didn’t want our kids in daycare and my husband made a good living so it worked for me to stay home. After my kids reached school age, I started working part time and finally worked my way up to full time. My kids spend time after school and summers with my retired in laws. They loved having the kids which also saved us daycare. Even though I would have been content being a stay at home mom and never going to work again, I… Read more »

Anne
Anne

I am 6 months pregnant now and desperately wish that either I or my husband could stay at home. Unfortunately, I was out of the workforce for a few years voluntarily taking care of my elderly parents before their deaths (the reward of having a big savings account which I built up over a decade, now burned down to nothing), but that was followed by being involuntarily out of the workforce for another couple of years, as the recession hit bad just as I needed to get back to working. On top of that, before I quit to take care… Read more »

Sara
Sara

I like this article in that it’s a lot more balanced than most. Usually people have an outcome in mind (like it’s cheaper to stay home) and work the numbers in their favor. I’m actually considering leaving my job or scaling back, so this is something I’ve been weighing for a long time. I think that a lot of the cost/savings analysis is really very personal. It’s easy to say oh, you’ll save on lunches and commuting time, but it’s not always true for everyone. My work place has a refrigerator and a microwave, and I take lunch most days.… Read more »

Rachel
Rachel

I made 70% of our household income, was great at my job, had a 10 mile commute, but hated it. We had just created a two year plan to pay off our mortgage, and the next week I found out I was expecting. When I found out, I started the 9 month countdown to leaving. My husband was completely supportive of this, though has yet to get a raise since she was born, still drives 30 miles each way to work, but we are thrilled I can stay home with her. I love being able to update him on everything… Read more »

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

My son also likes sitting in his high chair while watching my husband cook! One of the main things I focused on while finding a new job was healthcare. The job I was at was going to be at least $600 a month for the 3 of us, but my new job is just $30 a month for all of us…a huge difference. Thank you for sharing, as well.

Ryan
Ryan

Is anyone else concerned that the author considers a Honda Pilot (the biggest vehicle Honda makes, besides the Ridgeline) “pretty fuel efficient”?

Hoping that’s a typo.

Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife
Lynn @ The Photographer's Wife

Nope it’s not a typo. I didn’t claim it was the most efficient vehicle on the market, just that it was pretty fuel efficient, especially since we wanted a larger vehicle for our growing family. Just because it’s the biggest car Honda makes, doesn’t mean it’s not efficient at all. You’d be surprised.

Ryan
Ryan

Just because it’s not the most inefficient vehicle on the market doesn’t mean it’s fuel efficient. I drove a similar SUV for years, efficient is never a word I used to describe it. The EPA says it gets 18/25…even if you’re beating those numbers by a bit, it’s hardly a fuel efficient way to carry 3 people.

Anything else is just a justification to drive an expensive SUV, which is fine, but it shouldn’t be considered a good financial move.

Krishanu
Krishanu

I have been thinking about the Honda Pilot since I read that line, and this (#68) was the first comment on it! Well put Ryan. I was actually surprised to see a dearth of male commentators on this post …. My wife and I had our daughter last year (very similar time lines to the author). We both knew that my wife would go back to work after her maternity leave. She loves our daughter like no one else does, but being a stay at home mom wasn’t for her. I can’t imagine me being in the house all day,… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca

I really enjoyed this article. I am a stay at home mom and most people only think of the loss of the full time income. People without kids don’t realize how much child care costs. (or how much work kids are!)

Sharon Marcus
Sharon Marcus

When our third child came home,my husband went from full time to part time. (I’m the primary breadwinner). I remember these same calculations. He could go in later and get home earlier which made our lives easier, but it was a drop in his income by 20%. Another set of calculations I did. $800 a month for daycare. $515.83 monthly payment for a minivan. Old car couldn’t seat all three kids. $500 a month into her 529 plan. It was a greater than 2K a month cost for the baby. And, that didn’t include diapers. We had all the toys,… Read more »

sarah
sarah

I agree that the costs/benefits are very individual. Right now I pay $1000/month for health insurance. When I return to work, I will have to pay $700/month for child care, but I’ll save more than that on the insurance, so child care won’t decrease my take-home, really.

Josh
Josh

I have been an at- home Dad now for about 7 yrs to my two daughters, ages 7 & 5. My wife works from home three days a week and we live on her salary. During my time as a SAHD, I went to school and earned my masters degree in teaching. Now, my wife has been promoted (her salary is 3x what mine would be), is likely to lose her telecommuting hrs and it now makes more sense to continue as a SAHD versus teaching. We prefer to have the kids supervised by a parent instead of being in… Read more »

Beth
Beth

This is what my fiancee and I are working towards. The idea of being the sole provider for a family is a very daunting concept but I think the benefits of having my future husband at home with our children will be rewarding.

abebe
abebe

Nice information so keepit up!!

Jennifer Roberts
Jennifer Roberts

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since 2008. I remember the one thing that stood out to me in the first few weeks was “Wow, I don’t have to waste money on pantyhose anymore!” Not a huge boon, but it was an annoying cost associated with working. One surprise cost that I (stupidly) didn’t factor in was baby formula. I figured, oh I’ll nurse! Well, that doesn’t always work out, and both of my boys have needed hypoallergenic formula to the tune of around $300 per month. Of course, that’s not unique to stay-at-home parents, but it was tougher to swallow… Read more »

Rose Murphy
Rose Murphy

Great article! I think you should take your points to a wider audience, more people need to hear what your saying. Especially, the people on the fence. When I decided to stay home, I think I had a mid-life crisis. My identity was my job, but I felt like my children needed me and I couldn’t do this time over.

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