Want to become a stay-at-home mom or dad? The cost of living is rising each year making two-income households a more common option. However, U.S. News referenced a study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics a few years ago indicating that a third of married couples with kids live on a single income.
This is great news for aspiring stay-at-home moms. Staying at home to raise your kids is a priceless job that just doesn’t pay in cash. If you’re looking to survive on one income, it’s possible but you may have to make some sacrifices and get super organized with your finances.
Here are 7 steps to follow that can help you afford to become a stay-at-home mom.
1. Lay Out Your Budget
It’s important to know your exact expenses for the month so you can see if it makes sense financially for you to stay at home with your child or kids. One expense that motivates one parent to stay home is the cost of childcare which can be extremely high.
Still, there are other areas you’ll need to address in your budget as well so you can compare it to your spouse’s income. If you find that your expenses exceed that single income, there are plenty of ways to cut back and save (which I’ll explain in future steps).
2. Refinance Your Home
If you’ve had a mortgage for a few years, you may want to refinance your home to see if you can lower your payment. Mortgage refinance rates are low right now, and even a percentage point or two lower than what you’re currently paying can make a huge difference.
Even if you can save $100 to $200 on your mortgage payment, that’s still over $1,200 per year that can go back into your budget. Over time it all adds up, especially if one person is staying at home with the kids.
3. Downgrade to Become a One-Car Family
You may not need two cars if you become a stay-at-home mom. See if you can get used to the idea of sharing one car with your partner and working around each other’s schedules. If you live near public transit, that may be an option for you as you make the adjustment as well.
We recently became a one-car household and I’m finding that it’s not that bad. My husband and I usually go places together anyway so it makes sense that we drive together. Plus, I’m grateful that my husband has a work truck so he’s able to use that during the day to get to and from his jobs.
By downgrading to just one car, we’re able to save a ton on gas, tolls, repairs and maintenance as well as auto insurance and our yearly registration fee.
4. Get on a Meal Plan
If you’re worried about how you’ll afford to become a stay-at-home mom, daily lunches and dining out regularly may not be the best idea for your finances. If your family spent $300 to $400 per month on restaurants and takeout, you may not afford to be able to do this once one of you starts staying at home.
The solution is to prepare more meals at home have an active meal plan that works for you. I like to plan out at least 90% of our meals and dinners two weeks at a time. I use a Pinterest board to gather recipe ideas and recycle a few of my family’s favorite meals from time to time.
Having a meal plan helps eliminate the stress of wondering what to make for dinner and it helps us save a ton of money by eliminating food waste as well.
5. Save on Household Items and Supplies
Another area where you might be able to save in your budget is when it comes to household items and supplies. You can use coupons to save on your household essentials and buy things in bulk from warehouse clubs like Costco.
You can also make your own cleaning supplies like household cleaners and laundry soap. It literally only takes a few minutes to whip up your own household cleaners.
Another thing you can do is use coupons to save on clothing and shop at thrift stores for gently-used items and clothes.
6. Supplement the Budget Deficit With a Flexible Side Hustle
You can definitely afford to become a stay-at-home mom without penny-pinching. Nowadays, there are plenty of ways to stay at home with your kids and bring in a little income.
Consider getting a flexible side hustle whether it’s selling your creations on Etsy, becoming a freelance writer or virtual assistant, tutoring students, or doing some paid transcription work online. You can also pet sit or babysit for people in your area. Even if you’re able to bring in around $500 per month, this is money that can loosen up the household budget and you won’t have to sacrifice too much time away from your kids.
The key is to find something flexible that lets you set your own schedule. That way, you can work while your kids are taking a nap or early in the morning before they wake up.
7. Grow Your Emergency Fund Before Deciding Anything
Your emergency fund is a crucial tool that can help support your family in the event of a financial emergency. If you’re thinking about going from a two-income household to a one-income household, consider beefing up your emergency savings amount as much as you can.
That way, you have something to fall back on in the untimely event of a financial hardship.
Summary: You Can Afford to Become a Stay-at-Home Mom
At the end of the day, you can afford to become a stay-at-home mom. You’ll just need to do lots of planning and make a few cuts to your budget. Odds are, finances will be tighter than they were before but you can still make it work.
Encourage your working partner to negotiate raises or find a higher-paying job to boost income. You can also consider getting a flexible side hustle in order to supplement income if needed.
Have you ever thought about becoming a stay-at-home parent?