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How to Financially Prepare to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom

Now that I’ve stayed home for about two and a half years, I want to share how to financially prepare to be a stay-at-home mom.

Preparing to become a stay-at-home mom could begin even before marriage and children with career and financial choices that help support that lifestyle. However, many women initially don’t plan to stay at home and don’t realize they want to until after children come into the picture. While planning early could set a family up for a better financial situation, staying at home is still very achievable if you decide later and incredibly valuable for the whole family.

My Story

When I was pregnant with my first, I was 21, newly married, and working as a bank teller. I got pregnant quicker than we expected (wedding night baby!), and becoming a stay-at-home mom was never part of our plans. We thought I would have a degree and a job and maternity leave when I had my first baby.

Instead, I didn’t have a degree, and I didn’t yet qualify for maternity leave at my job. My boss was kind enough to give me as much time off as I needed, but it was unpaid. Since I hadn’t yet graduated college, we decided that after the baby was born, I would go back to college and continue working part time as a bank teller.

As my pregnancy progressed, the desire to be a stay-at-home mom took root. Throughout my life, I never believed that being a stay-at-home mom and homemaker could be a reality for me, so I never let myself dream about it. However, now that my first baby was on his way, I couldn’t deny the natural tugging in my heart to be his primary caregiver.

Trying to Figure out How I Could Afford to Stay at Home

As his due date approached, I started crunching numbers and brainstorming ways we could afford to let me stay at home. During slow periods at work, I obsessively calculated each potential scenario.

It wasn’t hard for me to figure out that my part-time job at the bank would barely cover the cost of full-time daycare. Actually, if I worked as much as I could when I wasn’t at school, I calculated that I would bring in an extra $50 per week after deducting daycare expenses. I didn’t feel it was worth it to give up the valuable experience of raising my child.

I decided to bring it up to my husband, even though I feared he would quickly tear down my idea of being a stay-at-home mom. He wasn’t completely convinced that living on one income would work, but he said we could see how it went over my maternity leave. I was surprised, but relieved that he was willing to think about it (husbands aren’t as quick to say no as we often think!).

My husband and I were already almost living completely on one income. His paycheck paid all the bills and living expenses, while my income covered a couple extra things.

About eight weeks after having my son, and right before my first semester back at college started, we came to the agreement that I would stay home for the time being!

How to Financially Prepare to Be a Stay-at-Home Mom

Money was super tight the first couple months. The transition would have been easier if we had planned on living on one income. Here are my five tips on how to financially prepare to be a stay-at-home mom:

Decide sooner rather than later that you want to be a stay-at-home mom.

Like I said above, I never thought I could actually be a stay-at-home mom some day. If I had realized sooner that it was a desire of mine, I could have made better decisions to help make my dream a reality. For instance, I might not have gone to college or just pursued an associate’s degree instead of a bachelor’s degree. I could have saved more money or put more money towards my student loans to pay them off quicker. I could have done several different things even before marriage to help put us in a better financial position to live on one income.

Make sure you have a budget set in place.

Once you decide to be a stay-at-home mom, the first thing you need to do is look at your budget. If you don’t have a real budget, then you need to make one! Here’s how to make a detailed zero-based budget. It’s important to know how much you and your spouse currently bring in and what all of your expenses are. You need to know what your spending currently looks like. The worst thing you can do is to jump into a financial decision just guessing or hoping that things will work out.

Practice living off one one income.

The best thing you can do to financially prepare to be a stay-at-home mom is to adjust your budget to use only one spouse’s income while you both are still working. This way of living is beneficial to practice even if both spouses plan to work forever. That way if one spouse ever loses a job or takes a hit in income, you are already used to living on one income and the impact of going from two incomes to one won’t be as crippling.

Use the second income to quickly reach major financial goals.

If you are both still working, put the second person’s earnings toward any major financial goals you two have! Paying down debts and increasing your emergency fund are really important to work on as you prepare to be a stay-at-home mom. Another thing I should mention is to get life insurance policies for both you and your husband if you don’t have some already. You may not be bringing in an income soon, but you are an invaluable asset as you provide childcare. You will feel more secure going into this lifestyle change if you are prepared for the worst!

Find ways to bring in extra income from home.

When you do finally become a stay-at-home mom, whether it’s right when your first baby is born or a few years down the road, it is helpful to find ways to bring in a little extra income. Don’t require this as part of becoming a stay-at-home parent because as I can attest, earning side hustle income is not always easy or reliable. Also, being a full-time mom is really MORE DEMANDING than a full-time job, so it’s completely understandable if you don’t have the capacity to take on extra projects right now! I go through some periods where I feel more ambitious than others. If you can’t handle a side job right now, you can also look into other ways to practice frugality and lower costs.

Don’t Be Afraid

Now that you are ready to quit your job, jump into your new homemaker role with excitement and peace! If you follow my five steps above, you are as prepared as you can be to be a stay-at-home mom. I know it can be scary, especially if you haven’t relied on one person to support your family before. Don’t let that fear hold you back.

Being a full-time mother and homemaker is a blessing not only for you, but for your husband and children. There will be many hard days, but sacrificing a little extra money to create a peaceful and refreshing home environment for your family is invaluable. Raising your children full time is a precious privilege. Don’t doubt the value you will bring to your family by becoming a stay-at-home mom.

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  1. Yes, yes, yes!! I love this post so much. I am a stay-at-home mom already, but these tips are so helpful for those considering this transition. The culture seems to automatically imply going back to work like it’s a given. But, for many, just the cost of what childcare alone would be, when really researched, makes it more expensive to go back to work instead of being a stay-at-home mom. It definitely still took planning to be in a more comfortable position though and feel ready financially. I 100% agree with your list!!

    1. So glad you find it helpful!! I know many women think they have no choice but to continue working after having children, but it is usually possible to stay at home with a little preparation and adjusting!

  2. Great post. I love being home and happy we are able to afford it. I hope this inspires other women to realize they can do it and it is possible.

  3. My becoming a stay at home mom wasn’t planned either, I fully expected to go back to work after baby was born.
    I would agree that Planning ahead and setting up a budget would help make the transition to one income much easier.