Bust Your Budget: Can You Afford to Stay Home?
For many of us, it’s a lifelong dream to be able to stay at home when our babies are born. For others, it’s a prerequisite to having children at all. The decision to stay at home is usually based on lengthy discussions with your life partner’s as well as an equally lengthy discussion with your checkbook.
Likely, however, the decision to stay home or not will be focused more on your finances. Going from a two-income family to one-income family is a big leap, which can cause a huge monetary burden if you’re not prepared. There are several questions you’ll want ask yourself and your partner when considering whether one of you can, or should, stay at home when baby day arrives.
The Big Questions
- How does your partner feel about you staying home?
- How important is it to you to stay home? Is it a necessity, a dream, or a hope?
- Does your partner make enough money to cover all of your household expenses?
- Can you shave anything off your expenses to make up the difference?
- Is there anything you can do from home to make some sort of income?
- Will you be able to cope with being at home all day, every day with very little adult interaction?
- Will your ability to stay at home cause any resentment from your partner?
- How long do you plan on staying home? Is it a permanent thing or will you go back to work when the kids are a certain age?
First, you’ll need to sit down and add up all of your monthly bills. Be sure you don’t forget the little things like dinners out, prescriptions, entertainment, and cable TV, everything . You’re going to need to figure out what can be cut so you need to know what you’re starting with too!
Now that you know what your expenses are, what’s the working parent’s income? Is it enough to cover the expenses? If not, what’s the difference between income and expenses? Now you should know either how much you need to cut from your expenses or how much you need to be able to make from home.
What To Cut
As we all know, the little things add up to big money. Consider the following money-saving ideas. Then add up the savings and see how much the gap between income and outgo has shrunk.
- Have you considered cloth diapers? They’ve come a long way since Grandma used them on your mom. Check the cost of buying and laundering several sets of them over the cost of disposables. You’ll come out even better if you launder them yourself rather than sending them to a laundering service.
- Dining out. What about scaling back the frequency of dinner out in exchange for nice home-cooked meals? You’ll be busy with baby, but you can still find time during the day to prepare a nice meal.
- Practice Frugality! A little over-the-top on some things, but well worth a read is The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. Available at most bookstores and for purchase online, the book is an invaluable resource for money-saving ideas.
- Breastfeed. Breast-feeding is not only good for your baby and helps put your figure closer to where it once was, it’s also a huge money saver! Take a few minutes to add up how much you’ll spend on formula over the first several months of your little one’s life.
- Go through the rest of the budget. Is there anything else that you can do without, at least temporarily, to allow you or your spouse to stay home with the kids? You’ll need to scrutinize every little detail.
Making A Little Extra Cash
Next, explore any special skills you have. Every mama’s got ‘em! If you can make a little extra money by working part-time or doing something from home, that might just help fill in any gap left after you’ve cut all you can cut.
- Sewing. Though we live in a disposable society, some people still need to have a little sewing done once in awhile.
- Cooking. Are you a great cook? Many people these days are so busy and are tired of dinner out. There’s potential in cooking meals for hire for others.
- Work-From-Home. Do you have general administrative skills, graphic design experience, or transcription background? It may take a little bit of poking around, and be sure to watch out for scams, but do some surfin’ on the ‘net to see if there are any possibilities for work you can do from home. Just remember, you should never, ever pay anyone to work for them. If they ask you to front any money at all, it’s most likely a scam.
- Part-Time Work. Is working away from home on a part-time basis an option for you? Browse your local help-wanted ads to see if there’s something that would work for you. Temp agencies can also be an excellent source for part-time work.
- Telecommute. What are the chances that your current employer would let you telecommute? Maybe he would be willing to make arrangements for part-time telecommuting if you were willing to come to the office X amount of the time. It never hurts to ask – all he can do is say no.
It will certainly take a little bit of work on your part to find the perfect balance for you and your family. Just keep in mind the old saying: “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” After all, you want to stay home with your little ones for a reason, isn’t it worth making a few sacrifices and working a little harder to be able to do that? We knew you’d agree, so go get ‘em mama – you can do it!