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4 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom

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4 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Stay-at-Home Mom” was provided by MoneyTalksNews.com.

When considering the option of becoming a stay-at-home mom (or dad!), there is more to consider than just the loss of a paycheck. In fact, when you do the math, being a stay-at-home mom might actually save you money.

Sometimes you can’t put a price on things — and the intangible benefits of being a stay-at-home parent is certainly one of them — at least it is to me.

According to the most recent Census Bureau report, there are approximately 5.1 million stay-at-home moms in America. That equates to a little more than one out of every five married-couple family groups.

Being a stay-at-home mom isn’t for everyone, though. After all, not only is it one of the most difficult jobs in the world, but it doesn’t come with a paycheck, either.

According to a Salary.com study, if the average stay-at-home mom did get paid, her annual compensation in 2012 would be $112,962.

Interestingly enough, a similar study by Salary.com in 2011 found that stay-at-home dads put in roughly half the time their female counterparts do. As a result, their compensation – assuming they actually got a paycheck – would only be $60,128 annually.

But I digress.

My mom was a stay-at-home parent and I still marvel at all the things she used to do: cooking, cleaning, shopping, paying bills, yard work, running errands, and shuttling me and my sister all over town – even when she wasn’t feeling well.

My mother was responsible for a lot of our home maintenance, too. For example, when the walls needed a fresh coat of paint, she was on it. I even remember one year she spent the entire summer painstakingly stripping and restaining all the woodwork in our house (and there was a lot of it).

I also have very fond memories of enjoying an after-school snack while I filled my mother in on the details of my day. After all these years, those moments are still fresh in my mind and, let me tell you, they are truly special.

Needless to say, after debating the pros and cons of one income versus two, my wife and I decided to go the stay-at-home-mom route about 14 years ago. Yes, we’ve since forfeited well over a quarter-million dollars in lost salary over that time – but it’s a decision neither of us regrets.

If you’re thinking about being a stay-at-home parent, here are a few financial tips and considerations you’ll need to keep in mind:

Determine your expenses

For some families, the benefits of having an extra paycheck are often almost completely offset by additional taxes, childcare, and other work-related expenses. Even so, before making the jump from two incomes to one, you’ll first need to evaluate whether you can live within the confines of a reduced income.

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to determine all of your non-discretionary expenses – like your mortgage, utilities, insurance, groceries, and retirement contributions. Be sure to set aside money to handle unexpected expenses like car repairs or unexpected medical issues. Once you’ve done that, you’ll know how much you have left for the discretionary spending, like vacations and entertainment.

Don’t forget to subtract your work-related expenses

Remember, by staying home, you’ll end up saving money by eliminating work-related costs like childcare, commuting expenses, clothing, and lunches. And because you’ll have the time to cook more meals at home, it’s possible you’ll be eating out less, which leads to even more savings.

Consider your alternatives

If you’ve cut your expenses to the bone and still can’t seem to make the bottom line work, don’t despair. There are alternatives to making it work, even while both parents are still working. For example, perhaps one parent can take advantage of 4-day/10-hour shifts or working part-time, and some people have enough flexibility with their work schedules to allow one parent to be home with the children while the other works.

Don’t stop networking

Because job loss is always a concern in a one-income family, it’s important that stay-at-home parents continue networking after leaving the workforce. Stay in touch with your old co-workers and business partners and, if you haven’t already done so, create a profile on an online professional networking site, like LinkedIn.

Being a stay-at-home mom can be extremely rewarding, but it’s not a choice that works for every family. However, if you do want to stay home with your children and are in a position to make it work, following these guidelines will help make the endeavor a success.