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Can You Afford to Be a Stay At Home Mom or Dad?

Let’s say you are seriously considering becoming a Stay at Home Mom (or Dad) after the birth of your first child.  Certainly, doing what’s best for your child is your top priority.  However, like nearly every other parent faced with this decision, your mind quickly shifts to finances.

Can we afford it?

It’s a question you will fearfully ponder for months.  Perhaps you’ll make spreadsheets.  Perhaps you and your partner will decide what little luxuries or conveniences you are willing to sacrifice in order for one of you to stay home.

Maybe the numbers are so, so close but you aren’t quite there yet. . .Maybe you’re not even sure where to begin?

Good news, I’m here to help!

Here are a few of the MONEY SAVING STRATEGIES I’ve learned since becoming a SAHM:

1.  TOILETRIES:  You can save a mint on these pricey items!  Once you become a parent,  you will seldom have a free minute to shower and brush your teeth, let alone use deodorant, a razor, deep conditioning treatments, or even beauty balm.  You can count on using only about 1/8 of any personal hygiene products you used as a well-groomed, fully functional member of society once baby arrives – maybe even less if you have multiples.

EXCEPT toilet paper.  You’re going to be trapped at home all day swilling coffee and booze.  Expect the toilet paper budget to increase.  Of course, it won’t increase much as most times you’ll barely have time to take care of business let alone fully address the “follow up.”

2.  CLOTHING:  You can claim this will “never happen to me” but trust me, it will.  THE NEXT TIME YOU ACTUALLY NEED WELL-MADE, WELL-TAILORED CLOTHING WILL BE THE KID’S COLLEGE GRADUATION OR YOUR OWN FUNERAL  – whichever occurs first.

Until said time, you will rotate the same four pairs of yoga/sweat pants and six tee-shirts for EVERYTHING, EVERYDAY.  You will exercise in them.  You will spend the day in them.  At night you will put on a fresh set and sleep in them.

You will no longer have any need for dry-cleaners, tailors, or even accessories. (Um can someone please remind me where I put my wedding band three weeks ago?)

Sure, one day you new mommies might slip into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans and a nice silk blouse in an attempt to pull yourself out of the emotionally draining, life-sucking vortex that is motherhood.  The kid WILL puke and you will NEVER make that mistake again.

Trust me, SAHM or SAHD, your clothing budget is going to be just a fraction of what it was.

Your Pre-Parenting Wardrobe. . .

Your Pre-Parenting Wardrobe. . .

Clothes You Actually Wear. . .

Clothes You Actually Wear. . .

3.  HOUSEHOLD MAINTENANCE AND DECOR:  Oh I know some of you blissfully pregnant couples are still operating under the false premise that your sofa will remain pristine; that you can child-proof around your favorite toss pillows, stereo components,  and knickknacks.

Listen to me: YOU ARE SCREWED!!

Your house WILL be TRASHED.  It doesn’t matter if you have one baby or triplets; if you have a boy or a girl.  Your house will look like shit by the time your little bundle of joy celebrates their first birthday:  baby gates, toys, yogurt splatters, vomit, poop on the baseboard moulding, fingerprints EVERYWHERE!

It’s amazing how quickly it comes to this.  It’s even more astounding to acknowledge you no longer give a flying flip about any of it.

You will no longer have the time or energy to trawl your favorite stores for charming household decor or fabulous surround sound system upgrades.   Resign yourself to the fact that you will likely just wait for the kid to turn 18, burn whatever is left, and start over.

*Bonus Tip:  You might want to start a separate savings account for this specific purpose.

We've trashed our 113-year old hardwood floors!

We’ve trashed our 113-year old hardwood floors. . .Sigh.

4.  SOCIAL – Pre-baby, did you have routine happy hours with friends or colleagues from work?  Did you have brunch and get a mani with a girlfriend every Sunday morning?  Did you play golf twice a week?  Did you enjoy movies or concerts with your partner?  Fancy dinners at the “hottest” restaurants?


Slash that healthy, happy, relaxing “me-time” shit from your budget.  It ain’t happenin.’

5.  ENTERTAINMENT & HOBBIES – Do you enjoy TV, using the phone, reading books or magazines?  Maybe you love watching movies in bed?  Embroidery?  Stamp Collecting?  Painting?  Baking?  Falconry?  (really, falconry?!  How are you still reading this post?)

Ummm. . .I’m sorry to break it to you but. . .

You might as well, just cut the budget for your personal entertainment and hobbies to damned near ZERO!

You’re not going to have ANY time to use the phone, watch TV, read magazines or books.  DO NOT KID YOURSELF.  Kiss your leisure time long and hard.  You won’t meet again until you are quite possibly too old to enjoy it.

Cancel your landline.  Cancel the premium cable package.  Cut your magazine subscriptions by three-quarters.

* Bonus Tip:  While you’re at it, convince yourself that your new exciting and rewarding hobbies include folding laundry, assembling bottles and sippy cups fresh from the dishwasher, and scraping dried banana off the floor with your unmanicured fingernails.

6. PERSONAL – Sex, sex, (NO MORE SEX IS LESS SEXPENSIVE!)  If prior to conceiving you were using birth control, don’t worry about spending money on it after the baby arrives.  THE BABY IS THE BIRTH CONTROL!  The crying, the feeding, the sleepless nights.  Heaven really help you if you choose to co-sleep!

Once the baby is older?  Their behavior should also serve as sufficient birth control.  No one feels amorous after the kid flushes 67 Legos down the toilet or demands 6 drinks of water during a 1 hour nap.

* Bonus Tip:  Be sure to also remove from your non-fixed expenditures anything related to intimacy. . .lingerie, flowers, chocolates, champagne, oysters. . .or um. . .whatever else floats your boat.

7.  FOOD & DINING –  Forget it.  For months you don’t want to take the newborn into a crummy restaurant where s/he could come in contact with the filthy public.  Shortly thereafter, you don’t want to subject the filthy public or crummy restaurant staff to your raging toddler.

But what about cooking fresh organic meals at home?  We want to serve our baby only the best quality food and that can be expensive, says you.

Trust me, after your kid goes on hunger strike and refuses to eat anything that IS NOT orange or heavily salted for 3 weeks straight, you won’t give a damn.  You’ll feed your kid ANYTHING.  ANYTHING s/he will swallow. . .Even if it’s canned soup and generic potato chips. . .

8.  TRAVEL –  BAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  It’s hard enough to get across town.  I DARE you to book a week-long vacation.  Good luck, sucka!  I hear Disney has great deals.  BLERGH.  Traveling with children sucks.  It’s a waste of money.  Trust me, stay home and be miserable.  It’s way more cost-effective.

9.  KID – If you’ve followed me this far, I can tell you’re committed.  So listen carefully:  KIDS DO NOT NEED A BUNCH OF STUPID TOYS!!  If you’re worried you cannot adequately provide stimulation and amusement for your child on your budget, rest assured you can.

Still not convinced?  Give a toddler a brand new toy in a box.  See what gets more action:  The Toy or The Box.

Cut out the middle man and toss the kid a new box every couple of days.  It’s environmentally friendly too.

When the box trick gets old, start making up games:  match the socks, pick up crumbs off the floor (count them), scrub the toilet while wearing something stupid on your head.

Kid’s are easily influenced by your enthusiasm and delusion.  Trust me.  I have experience.

All this fun stuff and he'd still rather beat together two muffin tins!

All this fun stuff and he’d still rather beat together two muffin tins!

10.  EXTRAS – Are you worried about “extras”?  Will you have the budget to get friends and family gifts and cards for special occasions?  Chances are you won’t always.  Equally certain?  You won’t remember the special occasions anyway due to the mental eraser that is parenting.

Who has time to worry about swapping $5.25 cards and $20 gift cards anyway?  Enact a “no gift policy” immediately.  (You’ll be happier, and so will everyone else.  Trust me.)

What about all the extras for the child?  You wonder.  What about birthday parties and extra curricular activities, etc.?    True.  These sorts of items can add up.  They not only cost money, they also cost parents a lot of time.

That is why your supreme parenting goal should be to raise a DORK.  Yes.  A dork.  A kid that far enjoys hanging out in his or her room alone reading.  Books are free to borrow from the library.  You avoid stupid soccer practices and birthday parties and the associated costs.  Plus, everyone knows dorks grow up to be the most successful folks on the planet.

Adorable Dork in Training.

Adorable Dork in Training.

There you have it. . .10 extremely useful cost cutting strategies for a Stay at Home Parent’s budget.  I hope you found it helpful!  Now, go edit your spreadsheets!  Maybe you’ll even find a few extra pennies for some cheap booze or a lottery ticket!


No Responses to “Can You Afford to Be a Stay At Home Mom or Dad?”

  1. Oh, Dani, this is so great. Especially the raising a dork part. Do an entire post on how to raise a dork sometime, ok? Tweeting. BTW–as someone a few years down the motherhood journey — there are always new challenges… but eventually, you do start to dress up again. And go out again. And have lots and lots of non-reproductive sex. 🙂 xoxo Jane

    • Deni Lyn says:

      Thanks Jane! I was thinking about you the other day. I haven’t seen any blog updates from you recently and was wondering if my subscription was messed-up somehow? I’ll check later today.

      Thanks for the suggestion about how to raise a dork post. It’s a great one! I suspect it helps to have dork parents. 🙂

      Thanks for the Tweet and thanks for letting us all know there’s a “light” at the end of the tunnel – which includes decent pants, dinners, and gasp – sex!


  2. FacetsofLucy says:

    You’re dead-on accurate and funny as hell but I have one disagreement: After putting 3 1/2 kids through college without any financial aid, we can’t afford those lovely business outfits, even for college graduation. And its going to cost $250/night with a 3 night minimum to stay in the college town. Save the clothes money for the hotel stay.

    And its all completely, totally and lovingly worth every penny, every sacrifice, every minute to have these wonderful people in our lives.

    • Deni Lyn says:

      Thanks for the comment! Your tips about graduation are excellent too! I’m one of 5 and we all went to school locally so I never really thought about all those hotel stays for “homecoming” and graduations!

      They are indeed worth EVERY (PINCHED) PENNY!!

  3. richardmax22 says:

    Oh Lord, all of the above is soooo true! My kids are all grown and gone, but our grandkids remind us of how it was. When they are over, forget about watching adult tv. Immediately they want one of their kiddy shows on. Of course they watch it for all of two minutes, then are off doing something else. But God help you if you turn their program off. They appear out of nowhere and are on you like a fly on a dead carcass. I turn it back, and immediately they’re back to doing whatever they were doing before. I could go on and on, but, thankfully, you have already did that for me. SIGH!!!!!

    • Deni Lyn says:

      Ha! They are infuriating little creatures. Is it just me or are children’s TV shows like the LOUDEST TV shows ever?! They are soooooo LOUD. Why are they so loud? Maybe it’s just because they are annoying? I have no idea, but thankfully, Mac hasn’t caught on to TV yet. I’m dreading the day.

  4. Oh so true. Also, budget extra for alcohol. That is where our entertainment/social budget rolled over to. And unless you’re using cloth diapers, budget extra for the disposable ones. You should never underestimate how full of $h!t your kids are going to be.

    • Deni Lyn says:

      Ha! Excellent advice!

      We use cloth diapers so I failed to add that into the equation; however, I’m pretty sure I still underestimated the $hit factor and now our water bill has increased due to mountains of laundry we generate!

      I figured the alcohol was a given. 😉

  5. Meghan says:

    hahaha, love it! I should have read this two weeks ago. went shopping for work clothes Saturday. mistakenly wore a new shirt sunday. Sunday night after putting the kiddo to bed, looked down at a giant stain on my shirt – what is that?! I should have thought that one thru – DUMB parenting moment – NEVER wear nice clothes with a toddler.

    • Deni Lyn says:

      I’m glad you liked it. Every day after I’ve gotten chores done and dinner ready, I stare at my closet. “Maybe I should put on something nice for when Chris gets home?” And every day, I talk myself out of it for that very reason!

      Of course at this rate, those clothes will be way out of style before I ever get to enjoy them. . .So maybe I should just enjoy them. . .

      Who am I kidding? The yoga pants are WAY more comfortable too! Ha.

  6. pmkester says:

    Funny and sad. If I can’t buy clothes, I’m buying liquor.

  7. This is so true! This is basically our lives right now. I’m about to finish up a doctoral program. My husband’s salary is lower than it was before we moved when our son was an infant. I’ve gotten to the point where I wear the same three pairs black leggings (that I realize some of which now have holes in them), and it doesn’t even bother me anymore. Most of our money now goes into baby stuff and wine. Worth every penny! I need a glass of wine after a day with a toddler more than I need a new dress.

    • Deni Lyn says:

      Ha! I’ve had several commenters point out the ever important line item for adult beverages in the parental budget. So true!

      I read a few posts on your blog late last evening – haven’t had a chance to comment yet. I’m glad you found me, I really enjoyed what I read on your blog. Thanks for commenting here!

      And all the best – defending your dissertation (if you haven’t already successfully done so!)

  8. jbetke says:

    LOL, I couldn’t agree more!! Awesome post 🙂

  9. Bahahahaha! This is all so true!!!!! I was convinced we would be that couple who still had regular date nights, and that I’d still go and get manis and pedis on weekends. I’m scared shitless of babysitters, I keep my fingernails as short as possible, and I regularly pull sock fluff out of the huge cracks on my heels. I’m hot stuff these days. 🙂

  10. I swear, this is one of the awesomest posts I’ve read in a long while about staying at home! Bravo! and your dork in training is adorable. 🙂

    • Deni Lyn says:

      Awww. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it and I certainly appreciate the comment and the compliment regarding the dork in training! Hope to hear from you again soon! 🙂

  11. That is an incredibly cute photo at the end of this post!

  12. just hilarious 🙂 and as a 10-year sahm vet, so so so true.