Can we afford to drop to one income?
This is a question that every family has to answer in order to allow one parent to stay at home. For my husband and I, we didn’t know how it would work, we just knew that somehow it would. We didn’t crunch numbers or agonize over the decision. We just did it and found a way to make it work.
I’m not suggesting that everyone take our approach. I’m telling you our story because I truly believe if we can do it, almost anyone can do it. We’re not members of the top 10% of wage earners in this country by any stretch of the imagination. We don’t have trust funds and we didn’t win the lottery. Not yet anyway. We simply make do with what we have, and some months we get a little creative. We’re not living the same lifestyle that we did before we had kids, and that’s OK with us. It might not be OK with you, and that’s fine. It’s all in what you want.
If being a stay-at-home parent is important to you, I urge you to find ways to make it work. Swapping expensive weekend plans for free or cheap activities, cooking at home and buying clothes second hand can help ease the transition. Downgrading your cable or satellite TV, or canceling it all together can save over $100 per month. There are ways to afford to stay at home; you just have to find them. Part three will cover some specific ideas to cut costs in order to make the stay-at-home option more affordable.
I have to be honest with you; I have entertained the idea a time or two of going back to work. Getting social interaction with other adults and earning a paycheck seem appealing to me from time to time. Then reality sets in, and I remember that it’s not as easy as all that. I would have daycare costs to consider. In my area, they’re quite expensive. Going back to work would mean spending half my paycheck just to pay someone else to take care of my kids. Caring for my children is a job I want. Paying someone else hundreds of dollars per month, so I can go work at a job I don’t even like, just isn’t appealing to me. For me, finding work I can do from home has bridged the gap. It replaced some of the income I used to contribute and allows for extra spending money, as well. I get the best of worlds, raising my kids and earning a paycheck.
If you’re in a situation where you want to be a stay-at-home parent but don’t quite know how you’d make it work on just one income, I urge you to consider it heavily. Talk to your spouse. If you can, shift some things around, you may find that staying home is more of an option than you thought. You can also test it out and put 100% of your income into a savings account for a few months, living solely off your spouse’s income. If you have kids in daycare, you’ll have to factor that cost in as well, as additional funds you would save if you stayed at home. See if you can make it work before you commit to it.
There are pro’s and con’s of working and of being a stay-at-home parent. It comes down to your priorities and the pull on your heart. What do you desire for you and your family? There is no right or wrong answer that fits every family, only what is right for you. I just want you to realize that staying at home might not be as far out of reach as you think.