Help Answer a Reader Question…

Reader Nancy left the following comment below and I wanted to see if you might be able to help answer the question she asked?

“I just had my second baby, so I have a 20 month old and a 4 month old… my husband and I are discussing me taking a year off so I can stay home with them becuase I feel like am missing a big part of them grown up when am at work….Sooooooo I’m trying to get back on my couponing game so that can help me save money… Is anyone else out there a professional with a career but is a stay at home Mom by choice? How is that going financially? Both my husband and I are teachers…”

I have been and done both personally, but in a different order. Fortunately for me, when I have worked my kids were able to come with me to work, or I was working at home. The only time I was away from one of my “babies” was my last one from 8am-2:30pm and I was lucky enough to have my Mom watch her. It was “only” for 9 months, but it really sucked!

When I first got married neither my husband or I had any intention of me working outside the home. Situations change, and things happen that you could never have planned for. We can live more frugally than most people can possibly imagine, and sometimes that is just not good enough. I had to go back to work not so that we could afford a cell phone or cable, or even 2 cars. I had to go to work so we could buy food, and pay for electricity.

Some people choose to have a career, and have kids and there is nothing wrong with that in any way. Occasionally, Dads stay home and raise kids also. Every family is different and what works for them might not work for me, buy I think we all do what we have to.

I feel like Nancy just needs some encouragement to do what she and her husband feel like the right thing is for them. I know that if she decides to stay home, she can do it!! She has little kids and it will be hard, but if she stays organized and motivated, she can save a tremendous amount of money this year!

What do you think??


  1. Elizabeth says

    I did the SAHM thing for awhile, then joined the work force. We were a two income family of four with normal bills but NO mortgage or rent. Then we went to a one income family, WITH a mortgage. I am again a SAHM, homeschooling. It gets tight as times, but we know our limits. We don’t go out to eat or waste money anywhere. I have learned to feed us on as little as $50 a week, and we are a family of five now. Staying home is an option that not a lot of people have. If you feel like you can do it, then go for it. It means some small sacrifices, but the rewards of being with the little ones are a lifetime of memories.

  2. Danielle says

    I stopped working in April of last year to spend time with my daughter. She will be 5 this April, I worked since she was a year old till she was 4 and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I was missing too much time with her, plus I was too stressed out at the end of the day to fully enjoy the time I did have with her. My lovely husband was supportive enough to say go for it. We cut back on a lot and I coupon a lot more now than I did when I worked, but it pays off at the end when I actually have the time to spend at her pre-school and watch her grow into a little lady. I am the type of person to get bored easily, so I have taken up antique buying and selling just to make a little bit of extra money but that is something I can do while she’s at school and on the weekends. I say to anyone who is thinking about doing it, if you can financially afford it, go for it. You will never get back that time you miss with your kids.

  3. Ronda S says

    I started working before turning 16, so having a job just felt “normal” to me. When life changed in my twenties and my first baby was born, working out of the home suddenly didn’t seem so “normal” at all! In the middle of a decent career, a household that definitely needed two incomes, I knew that leaving my son in daycare every day while I worked from 9-5 simply wasn’t an option. By the time he was nine months old, I couldn’t do it any longer, and quit my job.

    Because we needed two incomes, I had to supplement leaving my job outside the home by starting an in-home daycare (not something I would recommend, although I made it work for seven years). Although caring for other children in my home was hard work, at least I was able to spend time with my own as he grew.

    By the time my third child was eighteen months old (mind, this is after many, many life changes), I had reached a stage in my life where I was able to truly be a stay-at-home mom. After years of struggling to make ends meet with the in-home daycare, working several odd jobs outside the home when my husband could stay with the kids, etc., I was finally able to stay home and enjoy my son.

    Financially, it is one of the biggest changes you will make in your life. Definitely focus on a budget. Include couponing in your budget. Cut out all the things you and your family can live without. If you can get by with a Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription instead of cable television, go for it. You’ll save a lot of money with just that change.

    Also, make time for you and your husband. Talk to one another about your days. It is easy to feel as if we do it all, especially when we are home with the kids all day while he goes to his job – and our job is with us 24/7!

    Most of all, enjoy your kids! Even on days when you barely have time for a shower and the kids are driving you crazy (trust me, it will happen), remember why you became a stay-at-home mom. Those little faces, those little moments, it’s all worth it in the end!

  4. Jenny says

    Last year I quit my job and began a small in home daycare because we couldn’t afford it any other way. The financial anxiety at first was intense but I have not regretted it at all. I love being here to experience all the little things my kids say and do, I no longer feel like I’m missing out on milestones. I still worry about what this will mean for my career when I do go back, but for now I know this was absolutely the right decision for my family and I intend to appreciate it while it lasts! The days are long but the years go quickly…

  5. says

    I have been a stay at home for a longgggg time. I coupon of course,make my own detergent and i work a home decor biz. It saves us alot of money a year just making stuff i can buy at the store.

  6. Courtney says

    Hey … my husband and I both had careers until my first son was born 2 years ago. I actually made more than my hubby so when I quit to be a stay at home mom, financially things got hard. We had to sell our house because we couldn’t afford the mortgage, and really cut back on a lot of things. We cut out cable, downsized our phones, stopped buying soda/cookies/snacks … whatever we could do to save money. It still isn’t easy … and I am due with my second child next month. HOWEVER, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I knew I wanted to be there for my child at all times. It is a matter of choice if you want to stay at home or continue your career … but for me, the only option was to stay at home. I love spending every day with my son, helping him grow and teaching him the way we want him to be raised. Daycare is a personal preference, but for me, I did not want “a system” raising my child. The decision was difficult and we are scraping by financially, but the Lord provides what we need … a roof over our heads and food on the table. If you can survive financially with only the necessities (and couponing!) … then pray about it … and do what you love. :) I wouldn’t change our situation for the world!! :)

  7. amy says

    I wanted to stay at home when we had our first child (now 16!) but I felt like we just couldn’t afford it. I had this unrealistic idea that we had to get in just the right financial situation to allow me to quit. My husband said we will just do it and everything will work out. While I didn’t just quit with no plan and hope for the best, we did have a certain amount of trust that we could make it work and guess what? It was tight and we had to make some changes, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. There can be a lot of hidden expenses when you are working. My husband is very supportive (important!) and when I’ve talked about working again because things get tight, he says the best way I can make money for our household is by saving money and doing things at home rather than hire them out (dry-cleaning, ironing, house cleaning, and for me…mowing). Coupons, sales, stretching the food, becoming creative with menus (breakfast for dinner is cheap!) and looking for free entertainment helps. After a while, you find that your lifestyle fits your budget and you are much happier because you get to do what you wanted to do. However, don’t forget to budget a date night with hubby every month or so. It keeps you from getting burned out!

  8. HM says

    We were in a similar situation. I was working as a sales professional making the majority of the income and my husband is a police officer (probably similar to K-12 teaching salary). I had a 20 month old and was due with my 2nd child. I also had mommy guilt and thought I was missing so much. I quit my job and have been home now for 2.5 years. You definitely CAN do it…the question is if you have the discipline on spending and are willing to give up a lot. It was a big adjustment at first but now it seems pretty normal and can’t believe all the wasteful spending we were doing.

    I had a blackberry – so hard to give up that addiction at first but went to a basic no frills cell phone. My husband also complained for the first year that everyone at his work had one and used one to stay organized and he had to have one. We had DVR Dish network – my husband complained for at least one year that we needed to get it again. We were so busy working that we ate out all the time – it took at least 6 months to break that habit and for me to learn to cook. Small impulse purchases – a new shirt, a cute lil baby outfit, new dishes, new toys, etc – had to stop and cut it out. Groceries are still a huge expense and always trying to do better at cutting waste there. Now its been 2.5 years its funny that my husband balks at other people he works with now and says, “my buddy is complaining how broke he is, but if he would just cut out the cable and that smart phone and…” which is funny because he felt for about the first year he could not live without that stuff.

    Its still hard and we are due with our 3rd baby and at times my husband gets frustrated that we can’t buy something or the pressures of “everybody else drives a nicer car” and he says ….”when are you going back to work, I think you need to get a job,” but I think its just frustration and we do well overall.

    There are EMOTIONAL adjustments too. It has been hard at times feeling isolated and not having the kudos of “you’re doing a great job…thanks for meeting that deadline…you made your sales goal” and redefining your role in the home. This is a constant process! Good luck!

    • says

      HM, you hit the nail on the head when you said “the discipline on spending and are willing to give up a lot”. The key is definitely having self discipline and being willing to give up the “keeping up the Joneses” mentality. For example, no one really needs cable TV with a zillion channels but I think a lot of people don’t want to drop it (or even cut back on the number of channels) because they are afraid of what their friends and family will think. It’s because of this same mentality that we see people in line at the store talking on expensive cell phones while holding a $5.00 cup of coffee but searching the bottom of their $350.00 purses for the last 3 cents they need (and do not have) to make their purchase (at the dollar store, LOL).

  9. Denise says

    I was only a stay at home mom for short time. I loved every second I spent with my son. Finances forced me to go back to work (I actually make more and have a steady paycheck – my husband is self employed and his income is all over the place. Plus my job offered insurance and retirement.). So I know what it was like even if for a short time. I envy any mom who can stay home with their children. As Moms we do what is best for our children and our families. You may or may not have some financial hardships but I am sure you and your family will be able to weather the storm. Plus the memories you make with your small children are priceless. So use your time at home to make scrapbooks (and let your children help )with those precious memories :-) best wishes

  10. Nancy says

    This is exactly what I needed….ultimately the decision is ours, but boy does it feel great to hear other peoples opinions and experiences. Tiffany thanks for posting this and everyone else thank you very much for taking the time and replying.

  11. lisa anne smith says

    You have to be really honest about what part of your paycheck really is contributed to the household. When I deducted gasoline and clothing/dry cleaning , it was a shock. When I added up the extras, like coffee , lunches, donations and shower gifts, it really added up. Yes. I brought in a paycheck, but I was spending a great deal myself. When I figured up how much gravy we could cut out, I was astonished. That”s the hard part. A lot of people whine they cant get rid of the fancy phone and contract. Others argue they will die if the cable or satellite is disconnected. We use Netflix and Hulu. I have a cheap prepaid phone. We hang our laundry out to dry. Will say that saved me 100.00 a month on our light bill. Of course we wash clothes with our homemade laundry soap. We changed car insurance. I coupon like a mad woman. It is not hard to do. I will add, That I do not buy unnecessarily just because it is free or cheap. nothing is really free if you use gas, ink, paper or purchased coupons to obtain it and every penny counts. I roll my rewards at the drugtore and Staples year round. We plan meals and eat at home. We do go to the movies and eat out every now and then. Those are usually paid for with free movie ticket vouchers or Groupon deals. In fact, we received about 30 movie tickets this year from cereal and a M&M deal. I use Swagbucks to pay for most anything I want from redeeming cards. I can honestly say that we have left our home. We were upside down in our mortgage and the bank paid me to leave. The credit is not affected as it was in my deceased husbands name. It is a sad story but the children and I have moved into a small 2 bedroom. I have a good amount of money saved and will continue to save. By the end of the year we should be able to pay cash for a home in full. Saving money is not hard once you get past the psychological fact that you are not depriving yourself. Today we are off to pick up our free Lysol wipes from Staples and a great deal on Cannellini beans. life is great. message anytime. couponlovinglisa

  12. cheryl hawkins says

    Tighten your belt and stay home. You’ll never regret it and your kids will be healthier and happier. Nobody (not grandma, not the best auntie in the world, not your neighbor that you’ve known for 32 years) loves your kids like you do. Make the sacrifice.

  13. Pam says

    In May, 30 years ago, just before the birth of my 2nd daughter we took the plunge and I quit my job to stay home. Over the past 30 years we have made many, many sacrifices for me to continue to stay home with our growing family of 6 children. We rarely ate out, shopped frugally, drove used cars, and learned numerous odd jobs while fixing our home, cars, etc to save money. I also started babysitting to help bring in some extra money. We didn’t take luxurious vacations, and camped when we did get to take one. There were times that our teenage kids didn’t get the latest technology (didn’t want it anyway), to go to all the movies with their friends or go out to eat with them, unless they had earned their own money. I will tell you there were many days when we didn’t know how we were going to meet an expense that arose, but God never failed to meet the ones that were needed and teach us to learn to be content without the ones that we didn’t need. Even though there are many days that it would be MUCH easier for me to go to work still, I have NEVER regretted one day spent frugally skimping to stay home for my family. I have truely been blessed have had the opportunity to be here.

  14. Erin says

    I stayed home until my youngest was in first grade. I went back to work and a couple years later stayed home again when I felt it was necessary. I didn’t realize that I’d have to stay home when they were teenagers, but it seemed to work out better. You do have to make sacrifices. You can’t have it all on one income, but I found that even if we didn’t have as much money we had more peace in our lives when I was home. You’ll figure it out as you go, but I recommend making a budget, it helps. You may also figure a way to work a part time job which adds a bit of money and sanity for you when you feel like you haven’t had an adult conversation in a while. Good luck. I am glad I stayed at home, it was worth it for my sons. They are 21 and 17 now and I’m glad I was able to raise them myself.

  15. Kathleen says

    Dear Nancy, please pray to the LORD to help you & your husband. There is nothing more important on this earth than your family. HE will guide you & your husband. Make sure you stay organized and cut those coupons. Make time for you and your husband. Your children are all our future, so they need their parent. GOD BLESS, Kathleen.

  16. Jaime says

    It’s so encouraging to hear everyone’s stories because sometimes it can be tough…
    Like Ronda S, I worked non-stop since I was 16 (would’ve worked earlier, but that’s the law); I even worked through college. I worked for 18 years straight until I decided to quit for my 3 beautiful, amazing children– that was almost 2 years ago now. I walked away from a salaried Business Consulting career of over 10 years and I *NEVER* regretted it.
    It wasn’t easy though! It was definitely an adjustment– psychologically and financially…
    PSYCHOLOGICALLY you have to realize that quitting means you will not be working– at least not with a paycheck. You have to understand your mental state will go through an adjustment. My self-worth was challenged when I quit my job (I know, I know, it shouldn’t be based on money…) but for me, I had been making money for so many years! I’m one who has to be doing something, so it was tough to stay home 24/7. When I was little, I painted rocks and sold them at the grocery store, so working has always been part of my psyche. After I quit, like Danielle, I took up some buying/selling vintage items (shout out to ‘Etsy’!), so that helped my mentality a little. Then there’s the fact that when you’re a SAHM, you’re with your child(ren) ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT. You *will* need a break, and your husband will need to be involved and *understand* you need a break– and if you have family nearby who can help babysit, that’s MORE than fantastic :)
    Have you crunched the numbers to find out how much money you need to get by every month? My career was a good paying job, so 3 kids in private school/after school program/daycare still didn’t “break even” to my paycheck– BUT I WAS MISERABLE. And my family was suffering from it! I had to bring work home with me, I was short-tempered with my family, and the house work, OH the HOUSEWORK! If you wanted to see a mountain of dirty dishes or laundry (either dirty or just not folded “yet”), then you came to my house! I had been crunching the numbers to quit my job since my 2nd child was born and was dying inside.
    SO, the pinnacle moment is when my husband changed jobs and was no longer able to take time off work when it was “his turn” to stay home with a sick child, during snow days, etc. Although we weren’t 100% ready financially, *we* did it. And you know what? You don’t realize how much money is wasted when you work outside the home! Even though we were making WAY less than before, somehow we were getting by :) I started cooking at home more (no take out dinner or “lunch at work”, coffee from the drive-thru anymore). I got more involved with couponing, etc etc.
    I have to mention we haven’t been able to put anything in savings, and our IRA contributions are bare minimal, but we’re working on it. We still have cable and expensive cell phone plans we could adjust, and I admit I can get lazy and not want to cook, but we’re still adjusting and things are improving.

    I hope this helps you… crunch the numbers and have faith– we are now expecting our 4th child, and if I still worked, it would officially be my paycheck’s “break even” point. But I’m so glad I did what I did because there are so many things I missed out on with my girls (7 yrs, 5 yrs) that my son (2 yrs) and I share… I tell myself things happened as they did and to look forward, not back… like my Grandma used to say, “Everything happens for the best.”

    Big hugs!

  17. says

    Some families just can’t tighten enough. We’re one of those families unfortunately one of them. Adopting our daughters was the best decision we made, but it has taken huge sacrifices. We are currently working toward a plan to make it possible but it would include me earning money from home somehow!

    • Tiffany says

      Crystal you have a really cool and unique story! No sometimes it just isn’t possible. You are an amazing mom that I really look up to!

      • says

        Thank you so much Tiffany! I am very blessed in many, many ways. Sometimes it is hard not to feel bad about not spending more time with our kids after everything they have been through. I think its just hard to balance. Hopefully we can work something out that is more flexible around our schedules & the kids!

  18. says

    Any one looking for tips or just plain encouragement about cutting back, being a SAHM, and living a frugal life should read

    (NOTE: I am not affiliated with

    It’s a great website run by a mother and daughter team. The mother tells stories of how she survived raising her family as a single parent with medical problems. She was unable to work outside the home so she ended up having to re-start her ex-husband’s piano part repair business by making the repairs herself in her home. She also took odd jobs such as ironing other people’s clothes or cooking meals for people to take home to their families.

    It’s well worth a daily read.

  19. Brittany says

    I have an awesome idea for you!!!

    Sign up to be a substitute teacher! Then you can work as much or as little as you want to. The pay isn’t as good as being a regular teacher, but you can stay connected to your field, add something to your resume, and bring in a little income, while still finding the right balance for you and your family!

    When my my son was a baby, I worked as a waitress just 2 nights a week when grandma or daddy would be available to watch him. I got all the benefits of being a stay at home mom all week, but still got to get out of the house and make a little extra money, knowing that my little one was still very well taken care of.

    Now that my son is 3, he goes to preschool two days a week and I substitute teach. I want to be a teacher someday, but for right now, this is absolutely perfect and I love it.

    Point being, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can find a balance that works for you! For us, it is me working two days a week. I have plenty of time to do the at home thing, and I still get to keep a foot in the career door too.

  20. Laura says

    I would definitely recommend staying home with your babies! I was an engineer, but decided to stay home once our first was born. That was 5 years ago and we also have a 4-year-old and 1-year-old now too. We recently moved across country to pursue my husband’s dream career, despite the huge cut to his annual salary. I use coupons regularly, use a plain ‘ol phone (with data disabled because the 1-year-old kept accessing the internet!), and we don’t have cable.
    It was (is) hard not having the adult interaction and the same stimulation as when I was working, but I have so many moments in the day that I just thank God that I am home to see the kids grow up.
    I’ve heard great things about MOMS Clubs to get to know other moms and activities in your area. And getting out on your own once in a while does wonders for everyone in the house.
    This may not be an issue for you, since you already likely have things balanced from working. But we’re trying to figure out what my role at home really is. Some days I feel like I spend all my time cleaning, cooking, planning, organizing, etc and not devoting enough attention to the kids. My husband and I are working out expectations for our roles, but it probably would have been an easier transition if we had started 5 years ago.
    It’s required sacrifices, but I doubt I will ever regret these years home. I hope you are able to confidently make the right decision for your family!

    A related question I’ve had is about returning to the work force. I would like to go back to work once all the kids are in school (in another 5ish years), but I’m wondering if anyone has recommendations on what I should be doing in the meantime to have an appealing resume and something to talk about in an interview? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Get involved in kids school. Volunteer. Help organize events. Be involved in your community. Be in book clubs, mommy clubs. If you can take a class here and there do it. Most importantly remember managing your family is just skill driven as managing a business, its just how you present it!!!

  21. Jen says

    Oh my goodness!!! This is where I am at the moment. We are expecting baby 4 any day and each day it gets harder to pull myself away from the kids in the morning. Here are my Pros and Cons. Unfortunately for me I cannot decide to stay home till I find at least X amount of income to bring in from somewhere.

    Husband and I both have professional careers both making over $60k and we still financially struggle. (This is mostly due to getting together very young with no financial support from our families and having kids VERY young, we’ve had to do everything on our own and started off 18 with poor credit, high interest rates on everything).

    Pros: obviously being home with kids. (We all know those benefits) no day care expenses (for 4 kids that a lot of money). I could do more around the house (organize, crafts, have a garden, things that make it a HOME). I could pick up a hobby that makes me happy!!! I could spend more time on my school work (yes I’m still in school). I could start a little side business. I could volunteer at the school more, and well anywhere really. I would save money on gas and vehicle maintenance (I commute). My stress level would dramatically decrease. :)

    Cons: its not financially smart for me unless I can earn XX amount. We have no income to fall back on. Things happen- my husband could get sick, loose his job, etc and wed have no back up plan. (several years ago his employeer did huge layoffs, he didnt het laid off then but they cut hours to save $, his salary was almost half that year. the following year he was laid off for 5 months, one year he had to have an operation onfoot was off 6 weeks only paid 60% of salary, one year i was very sick in hospital for 1 month, ge stayed by my side i was paid 100% he was paid 0%). THINGS HAPPEN, and finding a new position with same pay benefits today is not as easy as it was a few years ago. We wouldn’t be able to take an annual vacation like Disney World. All though I’d have more time for school and extra curricular activities for kids, we wouldn’t be able to afford it. I would have a new stress in place of my current work stress… Financial stress.

    I wish you luck in finding your answer. I have been praying for guidance on mine. Right now I’m personally looking for a business I can do part time from home and hopefully be able to quit working by end of year. :( think it through!!!! Make sure it’s right for you!!! We all know staying at home is best for our kids but its not for everyone and that doesn’t make you any less of a mom. If your not happy then it’s not best for your family. Also talk to your job about going on the mommy path! You’d be surprised how common this is in the corporate world. I’m on the mommy path but its still difficult with soon to be 4 kids. :)

    Again, good luck!!!!

    • Tiffany says

      Thank you Jen!! I love your comments and hearing from you! We have been through the being laid off and it is so hard, and scary.

  22. Angie says

    I felt like I had to add to the many wonderful ideas and comments. When I first decided to stay home we were “ok” finacially. After many changes in our lives my husband and I found ourselves living paycheck to paycheck and using our credit cards to pay for our monthly bills, yikes and ouch. I decided to make it my “job” as a SAHM to save money. Of course I started to coupon, thanks Tiffany, but I also made it my priority to find ways to cut and save. I researched tax deductions to make sure we were getting the most we could every year, every 6 months I play the cable company game and switch to make sure my monthly bill stays under $50 a month, we switch every year to the “other” electric company suppliers to keep our utility bills down, we planted a garden to save on grocery cost, I christmas shop in the beginning of the year and mid year when the stores have all of the clearance sales, I utilize craigslist and other local buy/sell types of web sites to make a few extra dollars and of course the resale shops and I am a huge freecycle fan just to name a few. It can be alot of work to save money but it allows us to get away from using the credit cards every month to pay the bills and I get to stay home with the kiddos. Just thought I would share.

  23. Jessica says

    I am fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with my children (by choice). The greatest gift you can give your children is being there for them. With that being said…it can be very hard at times. I have 3 children, 2 of which are 19 months apart from each other. I found the first 2 years to be the most demanding and stressful since it is just my husband and I as our support system. Financially, couponing has helped tremendously! We use to spend around $1200.00 a month for food, cleaning supplies and toiletries. By payday we were scrambling to find stuff to eat. Now we spend $500.00 a month and both my pantries and freezer are completely stuffed at all times! We have also found many things that our community offers for free (mostly in the summer time) lunch in the park, Friday night movie night in the park, Library activities like book readings and sing alongs, etc.

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