How To Be A Stay At Home Mom And Not Go Broke
The decision to stay home with your baby
Whether you are thinking about having a baby, or about to have one, you can stay at home with your baby without going broke. Making the decision to stay home with baby is a highly personal decision. It is not for everyone and every situation. Some parents don't want to stay home for a variety of reasons. Some parents simply don't have the option. Other parents think they don't have the option but would love to if only they could. For those of you who would like the opportunity to spend the first few years with baby, but think you just can't manage it financially, read on.
I was a practicing attorney until a year ago. I ran my own office and made decent money. I drove a fairly new, shiny SUV, ate out on a regular basis and shopped frequently. We were clearly dependant on my income to sustain our standard of living. My daughter was born in September of 2008. I closed my office in March of 2009 and have stayed at home with her since then. Here is how I did it...
How much is it costing you to work?
Most of us don't realize how much money we spend in order to be able to work. Let me give you two examples. The first is my own and the second is someone making about $30,000 a year working a more common 9 to 5 job. After taxes, the $30,000 year job brings home about $2400 per month. I offer the second example as I realize that my expenses were higher than most due to the type of job I had. I also would have been paying someone to watch my daughter in my home, not a daycare, so in the second example I am using a figure for the cost of daycare.
My Monthly Expenses:
- Gas $400
- Eating out $500
- Clothing $200
- Makeup/Hair/Nails $150
- Socializing for work $200
- Daycare $1000
- Gas $ 200
- Eating out $100
- Clothing $ 50
- Makeup/hair/etc. $ 50
- Daycare $500
As you can see, the cost of working adds up. We don't really think of these day to day expenses in this way, until someone points it out in writing. So, I was spending almost $2500 a month just to be able to work. Now granted, I was making more than that, but when you factor in my "work overhead" I wasn't making as much as I thought! And that $30,000 a year job is really only bringing home $1500 after "work overhead" is deducted. But, you say, that's still money that I wouldn't be making if I stayed at home right? Read on...
How to Cut Your Expenses at Home
We all want ways to cut our expenses at home right? Well if you are thinking of staying home with baby, it will be even more important, and easier! First, ask yourself if you really need 1000 channels of cable? Do you really need your home phone if everyone has cell phones? Do you really need two cars? Or do you really need two car payments? In my case, I was paying $400 a month for my SUV, plus the cost of insurance and upkeep. As a stay at home mom, I don't need all that. We got rid of that expense and downsized to a much more affordable vehicle for me to use to run errands etc. That saved about $300 a month. We also cut the home phone and the 1000 channel cable was cut down to just above basic cable. That saved another $100 a month. Another previously untapped resource for saving money was coupons. Not that I was above using them, I just never had the time to find them, cut them and organize them. Now I do. I'm not talking about being one of those coupon gods that find EVERY coupon known to man. The great thing about the Internet is that there are numerous sites devoted to nothing but coupons. You can sign up, sign on, click and print. In ten minutes you can have a stack of coupons custom made for you. I save about $100 a month using online coupons only. If you have more patience than me, you can undoubtedly save more than that. Shopping for clothes can also provide avenues for cutting expenses. I used to love to shop thrift stores, but never had the time. Again, now I do. I'm not saying that I buy ALL our clothes at thrift stores - far from it. I do, however, pop in on a regular basis these days to see what gems I can find. I probably buy 50% of my daughter's clothes at second hand stores and maybe 20% of our clothes there. That saves me about another $100 a month. I have also become a big fan of eBay. I'm amazed at what I can buy on there when I take an hour to look. So let's recap on the expenses you can cut:
- Vehicle payment/insurance $300
- Cable/phone $100
- Coupons $100
- Clothes $100
How to MAKE Money at Home
Ways to Make Money at Home
This is the big one! So now you've done all the math, and saved all the money you can...how can you actually MAKE money while staying at home with baby? First, take a while to think about what skills you have and what you enjoy doing. This will be different for everyone, but we all have some skills and we all like doing something. Some moms choose to babysit at home. This can be an especially good option as baby gets older and wants a playmate. While rates vary by region, you can easily make $300 a month and up babysitting. The downside is that you may need to become licensed before you can accept children. If you have typing skills, there are numerous opportunities to do freelance secretarial jobs at home. The same thing goes for transcription work. I know moms who make $800 a month and more doing at home typing or transcription. Running errands can also be lucrative. My sister did this while her son was little and made about $500 a month for just a few hours a week. For me, I tutor about 6 hours a week and I do freelance writing. The tutoring pays well, but you have to have at least a bachelors degree. The writing pays well for the time I spend doing it - maybe 10 -15 hours a week. Again, I'm not making a fortune, but I make about $1200-$1500 a month. My husband gets a few one on one hours a week with our daughter as a bonus while I'm tutoring. It works for us.
UPDATE: I wrote this article in 2010. As of 2012, I am now making significantly more money per month through freelance writing. After taking into account expenses I no longer have, I am probably close to what I was making as a lawyer.
If you are stuck on an idea to make money from home, there are so many sites on the Internet devoted to nothing but stay at home jobs that I can't begin to mention them all here. While some of them are scams, some of them are legitimate ways to make money. Just do your research.
So How Does It All Add Up?
You will have to do the math yourself for your particular situation. For me, when I cut out all the "work overhead" and cut our expenses at home, I had saved over $3000 a month. In addition, I am able to make about $1200-$1500 a month. Therefore, I am in the same position (or better!)than I would be if I were working and making $4000 a month. That same $30,000 a year job can save over $1400 a month - depending on your car expenses. If you can figure out how to make money from home then you are in essentially in the same position as if you were working - but you get to be home with baby!
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