Many women try to convince me that it’s simply impossible for women to be keepers at home due to the cost of living these days. Every family needs two incomes, they proclaim. There’s a video called The Homemaker’s Biggest Obligation that I encourage you all to watch about living frugally at home. Here is a great response by Lindsay Harold to the claim that women can’t afford to be home full time.
The biggest barrier to women staying at home is finances. A lot of people look at their current expenses as a two-income family and think they could never afford to pay the bills if they suddenly lost the wife’s income. But this is a short-sighted view. The family expenses also drop when when the wife comes home, not just the income.
When a wife stays at home, she can cook from scratch rather than eating out, getting takeout, or relying on boxed meals. This saves a ton of money. When she is at home, they don’t have the expense of her commute (gas money, train, or bus fares), her work clothes, a second car (possibly with payment) and all the expenses for its upkeep (maintenance, insurance, and smog checks), childcare costs, and so on. Keeping a job requires a certain amount of expense. It takes money to make money, as they say. So the expenses involved in keeping that job have to be taken into consideration in order to make an accurate assessment.
In addition, the couple pays taxes on that second income. Those taxes are an expense that reduces their net income. In fact, a second income often puts families in a higher tax bracket, so this can have a big effect. If they had only one income, they would pay a lot less in taxes. So this is another expense that must be considered.
If the wife stays home, they not only eliminate those expenses from her job, but she can also save extra money by finding ways to be more frugal. I would suggest trying to downsize a car, a home, cable TV, or a cell phone plan, for example. There are a lot of ways we often don’t realize that we are spending money unnecessarily because everybody does it that way. We tend to spend what we have and adjust our lifestyle to our income. We don’t look for ways to save if we have the money to cover our lifestyle as it is, but if we have to cut back, there are usually ways to do it.
Reevaluating the budget is often painful at first. Nobody likes to cut their favorite luxuries, and might even tell themselves it’s not luxury but necessity. But if it is important to have the wife stay home and care for the home and children (and it is), changing our mindset about spending is vital.
For families interested in having the wife come home, the first step is to evaluate your current spending and see what expenses and taxes are associated with the wife’s job. If you consider those expenses, then you have a better picture of your net income (income after expenses of keeping the job). A lot of people are very surprised when they run the numbers and find out that they are getting little financial benefit from a second income after figuring expenses. Some even find that they would be better off financially to have the wife stay home.
On top of this, it is important to evaluate how much you can save if the wife has time at home to do a lot of things for her own family, including cooking, shopping sales, coupon clipping, making her own items (laundry soap, yogurt, clothes, food from a garden, or whatever else she can learn to do), home decor, cleaning, and anything else you currently outsource. Doing things for yourself and your own family means you are paying yourself in savings for your own labor at home rather than paying someone else to do it for you. This can really add up. A penny saved is a penny earned.
If your budget is still short after considering all of these factors, then it’s time to start thinking about making money from home. There are lots of options out there. A wife at home can make crafts and sell them on sites like Ebay or Etsy. She could work for a company out of her home (things like medical billing, for example, can often be done from home). She could start her own business. She could buy and resell wholesale items. She could do online tutoring. She could provide childcare out of her home. We need not be bound to the typical career of a nine to five job outside the home.
If you’re willing to do the work as a couple, there is almost always a way to survive, and even thrive, on one income. Millions of families do it every year, including plenty of people who never thought they could.
Terry Starnes added this to the conversation: “Another thing I would like to add if your priority is to stay home with your children, you will have to be able to make sacrifices. You may have to move to a more affordable state or neighborhood so that you are not house poor (renting may be cheaper than owning), be willing to stay home and not take the car out unless it is necessary, eat less meat, or eat meat less often, and opt for other options of protein such as dried beans, cook from scratch, and cut out cable TV. These are just a few ways to cut back and live on one income. If you truly desire to be home with your family you will be willing to do whatever it takes. You cannot have the same lifestyle you enjoyed on two incomes. Sacrifices have to be made.”
Doug Harold wrote, “One should also add to this the cost of private education since it is so irresponsible these days to put your children in ‘free’ government schools. If a mother is at home, she can save the family a great deal of money by homeschooling.”
Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.