The cost of being a stay at home mom

Nora two months old

My little button is two months old today! In light of Women’s Money Week today’s topic is about work & kids, or kid in my case. I think it’s funny that this topic was chosen on a Monday…as if I’d have my article ready by then. Just another reminder of how much kids change your life! Routine? What’s that? Oh well, happy Tuesday!

Before you read any further: This post is about my circumstance. I’m not asking for advice or standing on a soap box declaring the right or wrong way to parent. Thanks in advance for understanding.

My jobs
When Dave accepted a job 3 years ago I was limited to finding my own job around the area we would live. I didn’t qualify for any positions posted since I was an entry-level dietitian. My first job (and current job) was as a contingent clinical dietitian at a hospital. Contingent means that I fill in when needed. For example, since the hospital is staffed 7 days a week the dietitians take a day off during the week when their turn for weekend coverage comes up. I used to fill in on some Mondays and Fridays but now there are two more contingent dietitians and I’ve suggested they get first dibs to cover shifts. The reason I suggested this is because the job doesn’t come with a glorious pay scale and I’d only have a fraction of my earnings after tithe, tax, babysitting costs, and gas to drive 60 miles round trip. The other job I still have is teaching a nutrition class at a community college. The pay is great, it’s a five minute drive away, and it’s only a 4 hour class held twice a month.

New job: MOM!
I’m still not used to the fact that I’m a mom. I knew I’d love having Nora but not as much as I actually do now that she’s really here! Nora is so entertaining and all of her smiles, coos, super loud farts, and excessive stretching bring me endless joy. This is the scene that comes to mind when Nora does her good morning stretch:

From two incomes to one
I wasn’t a big moneymaker when I was working before Nora but it was nice to have extra money to put toward retirement, giving, and extra principal payments on the mortgage. Thirty percent of our total gross income was from my salary and went to all the extra categories I mentioned. It really sped up our debt payment and helped us to reach our big financial goals. We based our budget solely off of Dave’s income knowing we’d lose my income once we started having kids. We figured it would be easier to live below our means rather than figure out how to cut back 30% of our expenses.

Cost of working full time
Say I worked full time (8 hours a day) and got a babysitter I paid $9/hour to watch Nora for 9 hours (half hour before/after work for commute time). I would have 29% of my income left after 15% was allocated to taxes and 56% to a sitter. I imagine I would shell out more money if I were to pay for daycare rather than a sitter too!

I’m not sure what dollar amount I would have to make to feel like it was worth working instead of being home. It’s hard to put a price on something you can’t quantify like raising a child. Dave works hard to support our family and I’m glad I can keep our home clean, keep up with laundry, and have a meal (somewhat) ready to eat when he gets home so we can unwind together. I’m thankful I get to snuggle with Nora during one of her naps and get a workout in during another nap. I don’t take the blessing of staying home with her for granted at all. I know my stress level would be a little unreal if I had to somehow squeeze in grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning, and exercising while managing to have time leftover to spend with Dave and Nora. I give props to the moms who do that.

baby nora

For now
Kids aren’t kids forever. I’ll likely go back to part time when our kids get older and eventually full time down the road. Until then we will continue to live simply, spend wisely, and enjoy this precious time with Nora.

Be sure to catch my posts from Women’s Money Week from 2013 and 2012!WMW 2013
Monday: My Recipe for Increasing Income (two key ingredients!)
Tuesday: Finding Time / Increasing Productivity (How is your 24 hours a day spent?)
Wednesday: Family and Money (Leave the light on, pay a quarter)
Thursday: Happiness, Hobbies, and Money
Friday: Future Planning & Financial Planning (Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face)
WMW 2012
Monday:  Entrepreneurship / Making Money
Tuesday:  Relationships and Money
Wednesday:  Saving and Investing
Thursday:  Setting up a Budget
Friday:  Money in Your 20s/30s/40s/50s/Retirement
Saturday:  Debt Payoff
Sunday:  Goals / Taking Action
How did you decide to stay at home or go back to work (part or full time)?
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Author: budgetforhealth

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian and shares practical, useful tips on food, fitness and finance. Be sure to subscribe to her blog, Budget for Health!

15 thoughts on “The cost of being a stay at home mom”

  1. We also live on less than my salary, however our savings rate would take a huge beating if I were to stop working, even if it was only for a year of Mat leave. My company doesn’t top up EI, like some do, so even the standard year off would be tough for me. We’d be ok on the savings front, but I really like being able to save a ton of money!
    That’s great that you three are in a position that lets you stay at home. The teaching position sounds like a really sweet gig!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted..A Birthday Gift for a Parent

    1. I enjoyed saving money too and now we get to enjoy a new way of living up the time that’s going to fly by with kids. I wish we could have a year for mat leave! Did you know it’s usually only 6 weeks in the US? Unreal.

  2. Pingback: Kids and Work: Posts Roundup
  3. I think that all parents, if possible, should follow this blueprint. For a number of reasons it is far better to budget based on one salary and then use the other as a way to quickly hit those other goals (debt repayment, savings, retirement planning, starting a business, giving, etc).

    By the way, that picture of Nora in that pink suit is one of the cutest EVER!!! You need to put a watermark on that so no one tries to use it for anything.
    Khaleef @ Fat Guy, Skinny Wallet recently posted..My Week 11 Weigh-In And Update

    1. Thanks Khaleef. That’s encouraging to hear, both about our decision for me to stay home and how cute Nora is. That’s just one of hundreds I already have in just two months!

  4. Loved hearing your perspective on working / staying home as a new mom- I too would love to be at home with children when the time comes! It’s nice that your able to take the house duties off Dave’s shoulders- leaves more time quality time to spend with the family 🙂

  5. Having a new member of the family always mixes things up considerably. It sounds like you have a reasonable approach to the matter. Its really good to spend the time to figure out what is going to actually make sense in terms of costs and earnings. Enjoy this time with your baby now; these are moments you won’t get back.

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