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How To Be A Stay At Home Mom And Not Go Broke

Updated on February 24, 2012
You can't get this time back...
You can't get this time back...

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

Total $2450

Example Two:

  • Gas $ 200
  • Eating out $100
  • Clothing $ 50
  • Makeup/hair/etc. $ 50
  • Daycare $500

Total $900

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

Total $600

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 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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    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 5 years ago

      Sunburn: Getting back to practicing law may be harder than staying sane with two under the age of three! Good luck!

    • sunbun143 profile image

      sunbun143 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Very well-written and intriguing perspective. I am also a lawyer but got pregnant right after taking the bar exam and have been a stay at home mom ever since, so I don't know what I could have made as a salary. But considering the economy and my fellow law graduates' unemployed statuses, I bet it would have been difficult to stay competitive and be a new mom at the same time. Eventually, I plan on opening my own office....til then it's all about having two under 3 and staying sane!

    • thebookmom profile image

      thebookmom 6 years ago from Nebraska

      Really good ideas! I really like your thoughts on costing to work and on how to make money.

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      Janesmooch -thanks and good luck

    • profile image

      janesmooch 7 years ago

      I have just discovered your Hub and have found it to be very enlightening and it has furthermore provided me lots of fresh choices

      for my very own particular Hub and exactly how i can boost the information that i currently have on it.

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      I know what you mean Coffee Cup...I think I would go crazy if I couldn't use my brain for something and have alittle adult interaction - even if it's online :>

    • Coffee Cup 2010 profile image

      Coffee Cup 2010 7 years ago from Co Durham

      I am a mum to 6 young children. I have worked from home for 8 years so am lucky to say I have been around to watch the children grow up. My job is now to help other mums be able to set up a financial income online.I get to meet so many mums who are broke and going mad , so I got to work with helping. Some people think I mad to work while I have 6 kids but it is a life saver to me - I would go mad if I had nothing to keep my brain active.

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      thanks shazwellyn...and for the fan mail as well. The responses have been so's nice to feel like you wrote something that people can relate to!

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      Well... as I brought up my kids, I gave up my business, studied and sold items on Amazon. It made a good living - you are right, working costs you money!

      A good hub that will help lots of young mums out x

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      Thanks so much wordscribe...I also think "career" women assume that they can't possible afford to stay home... I hope that I showed that it is possible if it is important to you and you don't lose as much money as you think you do :>

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 7 years ago

      Fantastic hub, a topic close to my heart as I abandoned my career to stay home with my kids. I just found childcare for my three plus all the incidentals weren't paying off. It's an important topic, lots of people just assume two incomes are better than one. No doubt it depends upon your circumstances. Anyway, great job, congrats on the HubNugget nomination. I voted for you, so good luck!

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      Obsexed...thanks for the comment...when I catually did the math I was amazed myself!

    • obsexed profile image

      Katie Butler 7 years ago from Sensual, USA

      You give some excellent concrete examples on how to make staying home affordable. Great hub!

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      ripplemaker...thanks again for choosing my article...i am excited and pleased to have been nominated. I hope everyone who reads my hub enjoys it and gets something out of it :>

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      The Hubnuggets Team get to choose from all the hubs that have published by newbies. To be a Hubnugget, there is a criteria that needs to be met. Your hub was one of those! :) The link that I posted will explain more. But if you have questions, do ask me. Good luck. :)

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      Thanks Ripplemaker...and I'm not sure how I was nominated for the Hubnuggets (I'm fairly new to this :>) but I'm honored :>

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      This is another way of looking at things esp for mommies. Great hub! And let me be the first to say congratulations for being nominated for the Hubnuggets! The Hubnuggets explain more read this hub by Shirley:

      Keep up the great work with your hubs and enjoy the hubnuggets in the comfort of your home!

    • leigia67 profile image

      leigia67 7 years ago

      Thanks Georgina...and yes it is a difficult balance, but well worth it! For me, you can't put a price on being there for her first step or her first words.

    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 7 years ago from Dartmoor

      It's a real balance isn't it - childcare/bills/work/life. A good article with lots of info.