Afford to Be a Work-At-Home MomBy
American two-income families earn 75 percent more than their single-income counterparts of a generation ago, but actually have less discretionary income according to Elizabeth Warren and Amelai Tyagi in their book The Two Income Trap.
The idea that your family earns more money, but has less to spend may be discouraging unless you’d like to be an at-home parent. The truth is jobs, particularly second jobs, are expensive. When I worked outside the home as a social worker, I made about $28,000 per year, which combined with my husband’s income, was a decent income. But we were always broke, running out of money before the end of the month. It seemed like it would be impossible for me to quit my job when we could barely get by as it was. But then I learned about the dual-income myth and when I ran the numbers, I discovered that 2/3rds of my income paid for work-related expenses. Of my $28,000 per year income, only $7,900 actually contributed to the family budget. The rest paid for things so I could work.
If you would like to join the 5 million moms who stay home, here are some tips to help you afford it.
1) Determine how much your second income costs: When I worked, the majority of my income went to taxes, childcare, extra expenses for nicer second car, commuting, work clothes, convenience foods and dining out, “I-deserve-this-because-I-work-hard” and guilt items for the kids.
2) Determine what you need to live on: Now that you know how much your job costs you, what would happen if you quit? This exercise will show you two things; 1) how much short, if any, you would be by having one income and 2) areas that you currently over-spend that you can cut back on.
3) Cut back on food costs. You can save a significant amount of money by menu planning and shopping with a list. You can also save by not buying packaged foods and instead cooking from scratch. Not only will the food taste better, but it often only involves a couple extra steps. Avoid dining out including lunches, vending machines, and the coffeehouse.
4) Nickels and Dimes. Spending a few dollars here and a few dollars there doesn’t seem like it would make a big difference. But when added all together, it can cost several hundred dollars per month. Items in this category include things like coffee at the local cafe, magazines, paperback books, manicures, a quick snack on the way home, etc. The best way to avoid wasting money on the small stuff is to not carry cash or its equivalent (credit cards/checks), shop only with a list, use libraries and barter groups for books, videos and other items, and learn to pamper yourself at home.
5) Lower home and auto expenses. Making sure your home is weather sealed (your utility company will likely have tips on this) and keeping appliances clean and tuned will help save on your electric bill. Install low flow water faucets to help save on water costs. Get rid of extra features on your phone and run the numbers before bundling phone and/or cable packages. Forgo the movie channels and opt instead to have basic cable or satellite service. Better yet, use Hulu Plus and Netflix for only about $16 per month. Use your library to rent movies for free instead of pay-per-view, movie channels or your local movie store. For your car, opt to get a quality used car that gets good gas mileage. These not only can save you on payments and gas, but also on personal property tax, registration and insurance.
For many families, even savvy shopping doesn’t completely eliminate the need for extra cash. This is particularly true when debt is involved. However, if you eliminate work-related expenses, cut unnecessary items from your budget, and learn easy ways to save, the income you need to earn should be significantly less than you originally thought.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Truex is the author of The Work-At-Home Success Bible and Jobs Online: How To Find a Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job. She has been telecommuting and running home businesses for over 15 years and helping others to work at home since 1998. Get FREE work-at-home jobs, money-making tips and other resources for free at WorkAtHomeSuccess.com