I recently received this question/comment on an older post about affording to stay at home:
I want to be a SAHM (and soon, homeschooling, I hope) more than anything I've ever wanted. I worked part time for two years, but we struggled financially. I am now full time again (my husband and I make about $78,000 together before taxes) but our daycare is extremely expensive, I hate my job, and I spend all my spare time googling ways to cut to one income. We rent, we do not have car payments, we rarely go out to eat and never shop. The only thing is, we try to save about $1000 a month in a savings account. Problem is, if we don't do that, we'll NEVER get ahead, never be able to buy a house, will always be stressed about money. I don't know what else to do. I feel like my babies are growing so quickly, and my chance to be a SAHM, what I want more than anything in the world, is going to pass me by and then it'll be too late.
By Lynn on Can You Afford to Be a One Income Family? on 9/23/10
This is a heartbreaking comment, and an all too common one. The problem is that we live in a society where a two-income family is expected. Lifestyles around us are based on two-income families. It doesn't have to be this way, Lynn.
No one on their death bed ever said "I wish I would have bought my house sooner" or "I wish I would have had more money". I'm sure many have said "I wish I could have spent more time with my family". Which means, if your dream is to stay at home with your children (and possibly homeschool them), the time to make something change is now (or soon!).
You mention that your husband and yourself make a combined income of about $78,000 a year. You didn't mention how much of that you contribute but it seems as though much of your income goes to childcare, meaning that you don't make nearly as much as your income appears on paper. Add to that work clothing, expenses getting to and from work, maybe not as many home cooked meals or relying on pre-packaged foods due to feeling rushed for time, etc. and you may be making very little at your job. Not to mention that by working full-time you possibly don't have time to "save money" by scouting garage sales for second-hand items (therefore paying full price for new things), unable to save money on your electric/gas bills by hanging out laundry, spending more at the grocery store instead of watching sales and using coupons, etc.
You make it seem as though if you quit your job you will NEVER be able to get ahead and will always be stressing over money. We have no idea what the future holds - your husband could get a nice raise or someday find a job that pays much more. You could find a job that you are able to do at home. Never say never. You may not be able to put $1,000 into savings each month but there should be something left over to save. Your dream house goal may be set back a bit, but you will be meeting an immediate dream of staying home with your children. That is something that you can never "re-do".
With that said, I can't tell you that you won't be stressing over money. It sounds like you are already stressing over money though, just in a different way. You'll just be trading one stress for another so shouldn't be too different!
My advice to you to see if you can do this is to take your monthly income (just yours!) and pay all your "work related expenses" out of your income for one month. Childcare costs. Any eating out that you did because you were too tired to cook. Overspending at the grocery store that happened because you were relying on packaged foods too much due to being on a tight schedule. Gas for your vehicle. New clothing or other items that could have been bought used or on sale that you didn't have time to do because you were busy at work or tired from being gone all day. Your lunch as well as your husband's lunch costs, which could have been packaged at home had you had extra time (that is, if you don't already bring your own lunches). Think of any other work related costs and subtract those as well. Add in the fact that you are paying more income taxes due to the fact that you are at a higher income bracket at the moment.
Sit down at the end of the month and figure out how much you are left with out of your pay. Is it $900? $500? Less than that? Is 40 hours a week of work and stress worth $500 a month in actual pay?! All those other expenses could be eliminated if you were a stay-at-home mom. You could find ways to save or make $500 a month if you were a stay-at-home mom.
I wish you all the best of luck and would be interested in seeing what you decide after tracking your expenses for one month.
Does anyone else have advice for Lynn or other women with the same question?