Can I Afford to be a Stay at Home Parent?

Can I Afford to be a Stay at Home Parent?

#Collaborative post

When it comes to becoming a parent for the first time, working out the dynamics of how you will return to work may prove to be challenging. Do you really want to miss out on some of the most vital stages of your child’s development if you can afford to?

For two-parent families, there seems to be a simple solution- one of you can work, and the other can stay home to look after the family and the home. Some may say that sounds a little old-fashioned. However,  the stress of managing childcare pick-up times linked with unreliable commuter time, not to mention the sheer cost of it all may mean that staying at home may be a better option for your family. 

Each family has their unique financial situation. The question of whether you or your partner can stay at home to manage things there highly depends on if your family can afford to survive on a single income.

If your first instinct is that no, you couldn’t possibly survive on one income,  you should consider taking a deeper look into it.
The question of whether or not you can afford to be a stay at home parent depends on a number of factors that will be looked at in this blog. 

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Actually, Look At Your Spending 

One of the most important things to do to manage your finances is to look at your regular spending.
Start by listing all of your regular outgoings such as: 

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Savings contributions or loan repayments
  • Childcare/Nursery fees 
  • Memberships and subscriptions
  • Internet, TV and phone bills
  • Fuel and car payments
  • Groceries 
  • Utility bills
  • Insurance

Then you should list other regular expenses as a family, such as a family holiday, meals out, gifts for Christmas and birthdays, clothes, shoes, haircuts. Then you should focus on making sure you have enough saved to cover any unexpected costs such as home repairs or car costs. 

Take a note of everything you spend and what on. It can be really eye-opening when you estimate spending £100 a month on going out for dinner and discovering you actually spend three times the amount! Some banks have apps that break down your spending according to categories such as: eating out, utilities and services, online shopping, groceries, and transport. However, if your bank doesn’t offer that service, taking the time to go through your receipts and note your spending manually will still work

You can then use this information to gather how much you spend on average per month. Subtract this number from your partner’s wage and if there is money left over, then being able to afford to stay at home each month should not be a problem for your family. 

The Costs of Going to Work as a Parent 

Of course, it is worth noting that going to work itself can generate some additional costs. Note some of the costs on your regular spending like travel. If you were to stay at home, these costs would be dramatically reduced, if not completely eliminated. 

How much per year do you spend on clothing for work? Work lunches? Dry cleaning? All of these costs will be eliminated, too. The cost of childcare is a huge contributing factor to parents choosing to stay at home with their children. On average, a childminder costs £100 a week, while a nursery is over double that, while a nanny can set you back £300 a week. Of course, these costs will depend entirely on where you live. It’s worth doing some research on the going rate for childcare in your local area. Bear in mind that these costs will multiply depending on how many children you have that are pre-school age. 

If you have one child and are considering having more children, then this cost is worth thinking about before deciding if your income can cover the cost of childcare. m

Think About Where You Can Make Savings 

There may be times that your monthly outgoings are more than one income. Spending more money than you have coming in regularly is a quick path towards getting into debt. If this is the case, and you still want to consider one of you being a stay at home parent, then it’s time for you to discuss where the savings can be made. 

With your regular expenses such as utilities, are there cheaper energy, water, or gas suppliers around? Can you get a better deal on your car insurance or internet? A quick search online for a good comparison site will help you to work this out. 

Next, make sure you can see where all the little costs are adding up each month. While spending £5 on coffee and a pastry on your way to work each morning may not seem like a lot, doing that every day means the price will add up. Changing your routine and using the money you had already used to buy coffee and breakfast food for the home could save you over £100 a month! 

Write your new budget down taking the potential savings into account and put that against your partner’s income. Spare money each month means that you are now more likely to be able to afford for one of you to stay at home. 

What Else Can I Cut From My Budget? 

All of your number-crunching should help you to reveal whether or not you can afford to stay at home. However, when the numbers are close, the answer is significantly less clear and you and your partner should take the time to think about your options. 

How else could you cut back on spending? Maybe it’s sacrificing a foreign holiday for something closer to home, or shopping baby nearly new sales for second-hand baby clothes–things that you and your partner agree on together. 

Not every decision in this area has to be final. You can use trial and error to see which situation fits your family best–so if you start at work but the savings are minimal and you want to stay at home then you can always leave your job to be a stay at home parent. 

What if Your Finances are Still Low After Budgeting? 

Of course, most people will live completely up to their means regardless of their income. But what about those times you need a bit of help to be able to afford to pay for things beyond your means? 

Firstly, credit cards or buying things on credit is an option. Likewise for taking out a loan. However, if you wanted to take out credit in the form of a loan, you should make sure that the loan comes from a legitimate source and that an affordable payment plan is put in place. Read about doorstep loan company Morses Club refund claims that are available online to learn that not every credit source is created equal. 

If you feel as though working is not a real option for you, there are plenty of working from home opportunities that can boost your household income. Many work from home opportunities are on a freelance basis which means you can work as much or as little as your schedule allows. 

Alternatively, why not consider sharing some of the costs by working part-time? Alternatively, you could ask to work flexible hours where one partner can do childcare drop-off and the other does pick-up so that costs are cut down there. 

Lower-income families may also be eligible for some family-related benefits if they are eligible to claim them in the UK. 

What Else Should I Consider Before Staying at Home With My Child(ren)? 

Of course, finances are one of the primary aspects of decision making surrounding staying at home or not. However, other aspects are worth considering. The longer-term impact for your career prospects being of them. If you want to stay at home for a few years, returning to work later on you may be on a lower wage than you were before leaving a job due to the interruption of your length of service for several years. 

Additionally with the fast-moving adoption of technology used in the workplace or the pre-required skills needed to fulfil the job may have changed throughout your gap in your formal employment.
It’s a good idea to keep in line with news and developments in your employment field. Read what other professionals post on LinkedIn or listen to podcasts as you go about your day.

How you feel emotionally is another contributing factor to your decision-making. Staying at home with no contact with other adults could impact your wellbeing in the same way that missing out on vital time with your children could also affect you mentally and emotionally.

When it comes to having a clear answer as to whether you can be a stay at home parent, there really is no “right or wrong” answer. Only you can decide what works best for your family dynamic in the long run and make the best decision based on that.