How Being a Stay-at-Home Mom Saves You Money

By: Rayven Perkins

Many families run on a two-income budget these days, and stress their way through each week worrying about bills, their children, missed family time and the like. What they don't realize is that both parents working outside the home could be costing them money, and running them deeper into debt.

Before deciding to take a job working outside the home, most people look at how much money they will be adding to their income each week. Let's make an example of Jill and Dan.

Dan works as a truck mechanic from 10-6 Monday thru Friday, and makes a fairly good income of $2,200 a month. He and Jill have three kids, ages 1,7 and 9, and money is tight.

Jill gets an opportunity to take a part-time receptionist job at a law firm. The position is 10-6 Monday, Wednesday and Fridays for $12 per hour, which would add an additional income of roughly $1,000 per month after taxes.

That sounds like a lot of money, especially for only part time, until you realize Jill is going to have expenses. The job is on the other side of town from Dan's, so carpooling is not an option. Also, Jill and Dan have no family nearby to take some of the childcare load, so that is another concern.

Payments on a second car are at least $200 per month. Chiseling away at that $1,000 pretty quick, isn't it? Now add in the full-coverage insurance for the second car ($100) and gasoline ($100 - conservative) and you are down $700 out of that $1,000.

Jill finds a daycare center that will give her a discount on after school care for her two older children, just $5 per day apiece, but the baby is a higher infant rate for three full days a week at $15 per day. That's another $300 a month. She had to look at a dozen daycares before she found one she felt she could leave the children at, and still feels nervous about not knowing the people watching her children.

Now we come to those pesky incidentals. If Jill doesn't brown-bag it, she can expect to spend $5 to $10 a day or more for lunch. If she buys a coffee in the morning that adds another expense. Don't forget the new clothes for the new job - even supposing Jill can find the money for the initial outlay, she may have dry-cleaning costs.

There will be days when the kids are sick. The school will insist that they be fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning to class. The daycare will not charge Jill and Dan for the older ones since they are only half day, but they have to pay the $45 per week for the baby whether he is there or not, or risk losing his spot in the class.

Unfortunately, Jill stands a good chance of being fired if she misses work too often - and of course she doesn't get paid if she doesn't show up. Money going out, none coming in. It's harder to keep the house clean, too; seems like she is always running on her days off, trying to catch up.

Traffic is also a concern. Sometimes Dan has to stay late, and Jill usually picks the kids up from daycare, which closes at 6:30. She usually makes it by 6:20, but if there is an accident on the freeway or a traffic jam down the street she might run late. The daycare center has a strict $1 per minute, per child penalty that really adds up when she is five minutes late.

The $1,000 is probably nonexistent by the end of the month. Jill and Dan might be able to break even if Jill takes the job, but it is more likely that her working outside the home will cost them money in the long run. Factor in the added stress for all members of the family when both parents are working outside the home, and it is hard to see where the benefit comes in.

A reasonable alternative is for Jill and Dan to sit down and look over their budget. Perhaps they can reduce the cable or phone bill, or cut down on eating out.

Shopping at consignment stores is a great way to dress nicely for half the cost, and learning to conserve water and energy can be a family project. Jill also might look into finding a job she can do from home; there are many opportunities available, and she would be able to care for her children as well.

Of course, all of these scenarios can also apply to stay-at-home dads. Not to say that both parents having outside jobs never works, especially when the children are older, but with little ones in the house choosing to be a stay-at- home mom (or dad) might actually make the most sense, financially and otherwise.

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