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Can You Afford to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom?

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Jean Chatzky helps moms figure it out.

Calculator

Money guru Jean Chatzky has developed this worksheet to help women determine if they can afford to be stay-at-home moms (or if their husbands could afford to be stay-at-home dads).

Download the worksheet and crunch the numbers for yourself.

"At the end, if you're in the red, you know you need to do some adjusting if you want to make staying at home work," she says.


next: How to Make a Newborn Stay a Baby FOREVER
24 comments so far | Post a comment now
Black Iris March 23, 2010, 4:44 AM

It’s a great workshop, but it has three shortcomings. 1. Before you’re a parent, it’s probably hard to estimate the expenses of having a kid. 2. It doesn’t account for whether or not the child care you can afford is quality child care. 3. There’s nothing in there to pay for anything but child care. Cooking and housework are work that need to be done and if you’re going to earn money and have a small baby at home, you might want to be able to pay for those services.

Anonymous March 23, 2010, 4:58 AM

Um - if you know your finances you truly don’t need a “workshop” to figure out whether you can afford it or not. If you can pay all your bills and still put some money into savings with one salary then someone can afford to stay home. If you can’t then you can’t.

JustMe March 24, 2010, 8:56 AM

So true Anonymous

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mystic_eye June 14, 2010, 2:24 PM

Shouldn’t the question be “Can you afford to have both parents work?”

Aside from the cost of feeding your kids at home and maybe arts and crafts supplies it doesn’t cost anything to stay home.

You’d have to feed yourself at work and your rent and bills would be the same. (Well ok you’re electric might be slightly higher if you are at home but how much does it really cost to run a TV and a computer or two, its not like you use the lights during the day)

People tend to completely underestimate how much it costs to work. How much gas it takes to get to work and now to the childcare location, how much you spend on snacks and coffee at work but also how much you spend buying convenience foods because you are tired from work.

Also staying home means cheaper clothes, and it often means its easier to shop the sales for food, clothes, and other necessities.

Also people underestimate the tax savings from staying home.

Also spending the time to do chores sooner rather than later means they are easier to do with basic cleaners (baking soda, vinegar, lemon, etc) which can save money.

And of course having a child in childcare means more illness, more medication expenses(for kids and parents, lost work, laundry, etc. There are even vaccines you can skip if you are exclusively nursing and staying home (studies show nursing is more effective than the rotavirus vaccine)

Also if mom works the first year its less likely that she will breastfeed exclusively. That means formula expenses and formula related problems. Also pumping can be incredibly expensive. Sure lots of moms have no problem pumping enough milk, others go through pump after pump, herbs, medications, nipple creams, yeast/thrush medications, mastitis (which needs medication and will likely cause missed work).

And having someone else care for your child, often a majority of their waking hours can be very stressful to parents and kids. Working opposite shifts to minimize childcare expenses is often horrid for the marriage

Of course if both parents have the emotional need to work then they will find a way to pay for work. But its staying home that’s free, not working.

Patty December 9, 2010, 8:02 AM

People tend to completely underestimate how much it costs to work. How much gas it takes to get to work and now to the childcare location, how much you spend on snacks and coffee at work but also how much you spend buying convenience foods because you are tired from work.
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Pearl December 9, 2010, 9:24 AM

Spending the time to do chores sooner rather than later means they are easier to do with basic cleaners (baking soda, vinegar, lemon, etc) which can save money.

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Gray December 9, 2010, 11:23 AM

If mom works the first year its less likely that she will breastfeed exclusively. That means formula expenses and formula related problems. Also pumping can be incredibly expensive. Sure lots of moms have no problem pumping enough milk, others go through pump after pump, herbs, medications, nipple creams, yeast/thrush medications, mastitis.
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casey December 9, 2010, 11:26 AM

People tend to completely underestimate how much it costs to work. How much gas it takes to get to work and now to the childcare location, how much you spend on snacks and coffee at work but also how much you spend buying convenience foods because you are tired from work.
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Brett Lee December 12, 2010, 8:58 AM

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Anonymous December 13, 2010, 1:58 AM

People tend to completely underestimate how much it costs to work. How much gas it takes to get to work and now to the childcare location, how much you spend on snacks and coffee at work but also how much you spend buying convenience foods because you are tired from work.
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paul January 23, 2011, 3:49 PM

How much gas it takes to get to work? how about using a bike for that? or just walking and burn fat in this way.
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