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Determining if You Can Afford to Stay Home with Your Kids

One of the big questions many new parents are faced with has to do with deciding whether or not one of the parents should stay home with the child. Obviously, if you’re accustomed to living on dual incomes, the thought of giving up an income may sound like a daunting task. Even so, if you sit down and crunch the numbers, you may find that it might be more doable than you thought.

The True Cost of Working

When you think about it, your job not only provides income, but it likely creates some expenses as well. If you were to decide to continue working with the child, you’ll probably create additional expenses in caring for the child. On the other hand, if you were to stay home, you would also eliminate many work-related expenses. Some of the expenses you may have if you decided to continue working with a child:

  • Child care: Depending on the level of care you require, you’re looking at anywhere between $400 and $700 per month per child. It isn’t uncommon to spend upwards of $7,000 each year on full child care during the child’s early years.

  • Food and Beverage: While you can save money by taking your own lunch and drinks to work, most people end up grabbing a coffee or a lunch on the go while working. Even just $5 a day on lunch adds up to about $1,300 each year.

  • Transportation: This varies greatly depending on how far you have to commute and whether or not you have public transportation, but even if you spend just $25 each week for transportation costs (gasoline, bus, subway, etc) you might be spending another $1,300 each year just to get to and from your job.

  • Odds and Ends: If you’re in a profession that requires certain attire, you may need to spend money on clothes or dry cleaning. This can add another few hundred dollars a year. Your job may also require certain licenses, professional fees, or continuing education courses that could tack on additional expenses annually.

As you can see, there is more to that second income than meets the eye. Most people will think of the paycheck that comes with the job and assume that’s the bottom line, but there are many other factors to consider. While giving up that job may result in a loss of income, if you consider the expenses you will also give up, the end result may not be as painful as you had suspected.

The Non-Monetary Benefits

While all of this discussion about money is good, you have to think about the other benefits tied to staying home with your child. Money can’t replace the time spent with your children, and if the bonding aspect of parenting is important to you, this can factor in greatly when determining whether or not you can give up an income. Everyone is different and your priorities may lead towards one direction over the other, but don’t overlook the non-monetary issues when making this important decision.

The Bottom Line

There’s no right or wrong answer, and as you can see, it isn’t as straightforward as deciding whether or not you can live with one less paycheck in your pocket. Depending on the type of job you have, how many hours worked, and how much money you make, you may reach the conclusion that it’s impossible to be able to provide for your family if you give up this income. On the other hand, you may find that after factoring in the expenses related to working and the other benefits of staying home, you’re giving up a lot less than initially thought.

So, take your time and go over your options carefully. The decisions you make will significantly impact your family, so it’s important to take everything into consideration. And if you do find that you can afford to stay at home, you can find plenty of assistance at’s own Stay-at-Home Parents site.

By Jeremy Vohwinkle,