How I Afford to be a Stay-at-Home Mom
MY SAHM STORY
I can picture my husband’s face when I informed him during premarital counseling that I would never *ever* be a stay-at-home mom. No shade to SAHMs, but I was adamant that I was not stay-at-home material. I needed my own career, my own paycheck, my own retirement fund. Okay? Thanks.
Being the laid-back man he’s always been, he didn’t object. (I mean, honestly–did he even have a chance to object?)
Fast forward three kids, and something inside of me shifted. Almost out of nowhere, I developed a deep desire to be at home to see my kids off to school, to pick them up, and to spend the days with my then-baby boy. It was then that my husband revealed his secret hope that I would change my mind and stay at home to care for our children.
A LEAP OF FAITH
Making the decision was the easiest thing about staying at home. Crunching the numbers was another thing altogether. We live in a high cost-of-living area, and it was pretty scary to consider giving up over 30% of our total income. My husband and I spent hours one evening twisting and maneuvering our budget like a Rubik’s Cube to see if we could make the one-income life work for our family. We tweaked and slashed, but even after cutting expenses like childcare, gas, and my work lunches–we found ourselves in the red. It seemed that our mutual goal would be relegated to a pipe dream.
That night, as my husband slept, I quietly petitioned God: Lord, if it is Your will that I stay at home with our kids, please help us make this work.
The very next day, my husband told me on his way home from work that he figured out how to make our budget work on one income. He had rearranged some figures in a rather creative way–a solution I never would have thought of on my own. Within a few months, I gave my two weeks’ notice and settled in at home.
HOW TO AFFORD BECOMING A STAY-AT-HOME MOM
If you are considering quitting your job, but are unsure if you could make it work, these tips will hopefully help you make the decision.
If you are considering staying at home full-time, the first thing you will need to do is your budget. If you don’t have one already, you can snag a free budget worksheet at the end of this post. If you do have a budget–which you absolutely should–go through that thing with a fine-tooth comb. If you are going to leave behind income, you’re going to need to cut your expenses down. This may require some out-of-the-box thinking, but in most cases, you’ll just need to cut your expenses.
You’ll be surprised what you can live without in order to be home with your kids. Do you need cable, Hulu, and Netflix? Can you change phone providers? Can your spouse eat homemade lunches some days? It all comes down to priorities. If you cut down to the bare necessities (which of course are subjective based on your situation) and find that it still doesn’t work in your favor, you may need to wait a while before taking the leap.
2) GO DEBT FREE.
Once you’ve taken a hard look at your budget, you will want to make sure that you are debt free (or making significant progress toward that goal). It’s not the best idea to quit your job if you have a sizeable amount of debt. We have used the debt snowball plan to tackle and conquer our debt mountain in the past. Check it out here.
3) SAVE IT UP.
Once your debts have been cleared, you will need to beef up your savings. You want to be prepared to handle those expenses without running up your credit cards and putting yourself into an even more precarious situation. Plan to have an emergency fund with at least $1,000 in it, as well as 3-6 months living expenses saved up.
My husband and I recently completed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, which is a program that teaches you how to get your finances in order. It takes a while to save up that kind of money, but you will not regret having a cushion to fall back on when life tries to knock you down.
This really ought to be the number one step, but if you are a believer, you will hopefully seek God in prayer before making any quick decisions. Ask Him for insight, and to help you make wise decisions concerning your family. In our situation, we needed an assist from the Lord to put our new budget in action.
5) WALK BY FAITH.
Know that money cannot solve all of your problems. There have been several months when our one-income situation should not have worked, when the budget was wonky and anything but black. Not that we are fiscally irresponsible, but it has been made plain to me on several occasions that God is our Provider and the One who sustains our family.
WHERE THERE IS A WILL, THERE IS A WAY
I have had people tell me how fortunate I am to be a stay-at-home mom while my husband works. I have had people tell me I’m lucky because I have a husband to fall back on. I don’t say this to be snarky or prideful, but my husband is not my sustainer–the Lord is. I put my full trust in God alone, and He is faithful to our family as we seek His will for our lives.
I have worked inside and out of my home. My goal–at this point–is to be content in all circumstances, as I’ve been called to be. If you aspire to stay home, I hope these tips will help you move closer toward a decision.
Free Budget Worksheet
Use this FREE worksheet as a guide to help you reach your financial goals!