Parenting

Being A SAHM Is Worth Every Penny I'm Not Earning

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I lost my job almost four and a half years ago. It came as a blow financially and emotionally. I loved what I did, but it was specialized, and there aren’t very many jobs like it out there. I immediately began to panic thinking about how I was going to find something new. It was a scary time. My husband and I have four children. At the time, two were in school and the other two were in daycare. I started my job search and found that things were going to be tougher than I had even imagined. I quickly became very concerned.

As soon as I realized that I wasn’t going to be in a new work environment quickly, we temporarily pulled our two youngest from daycare. It didn’t make sense to pay that enormous bill if I wasn’t working. As I continued my job search, finding absolutely nothing in my former field, I realized that jobs that I was qualified for were few and the pay was not great, or required travel, or frankly wasn’t what I wanted to do. My husband and I crunched numbers for a lot of these positions and found that after daycare costs, I would be bringing home a couple of hundred dollars a month a taking a job that I didn’t want, when my dream was to be at home. It made no sense. I would essentially be working to cover daycare bills that wouldn’t even be a thing if I wasn’t working. So we made a big decision: I would become a stay-at-home mom.

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We looked at our finances and realized that it would be possible for me to stay home, especially after we cut out daycare. Yes, we could afford it, but don’t get it twisted — we are not rich. We are comfortable. There is enough for a few extras like vacations and dinners out every once in a while, but there aren’t weekly manicures. I am not lunching at a private club with my girlfriends and playing golf in the afternoons while a nanny takes care of my kids. Nope, it is just me and my husband working together. And I am happy with that.

I think there is this misconception that if you stay at home, there is all of this extra money lying around. You have to be independently wealthy in order not to work. That’s not the case for us. We aren’t rich, though I realize we definitely have more privilege than some. Still, we are conscientious. I think about how much money I am going to spend at Target. I watch the sales. When I see things that I use on a regular basis on sale, I stock up on them. Throw me a good deal on Tide Pods and I’ll hide them in every corner of my laundry room. Same goes for Diet Coke — I will never be without it and hoard it during the 3/$12 sales.

I have three sons, so we hand stuff down in my house. There really isn’t much grumbling about it either. My kids are used to living in a big family and in that kind of environment, you share: your bedroom, your toys, and yeah, sometimes your hoodies. I guess it’s because they don’t know any better, but they are pretty good about it. I was out with a friend with her two children and I had two of mine along. We got pretzels and drinks. Her kids got their own, mine split. That’s the kind of stuff that helps me to be able to stay home.

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Getty Images/Maskot

I do freelance work, which definitely helps out with the extras. It allows me to buy the wants, while my husband takes care of the needs. This also gives me the chance to volunteer at school, be readily available for doctor’s appointments, and emergencies. There is peace of mind that comes along with that flexibility. Yes, it is absolutely a privilege and I am beyond grateful to my husband for helping to make this a reality for our family, but because of better choices and less wasteful spending, I am lucky enough to do it.

There are times when I forget that we are no longer two full-time employees bringing in larger paychecks and I will go a little crazy on Amazon. When those packages start to trickle in, I feel a bit guilty. It isn’t the end of the world, but it will affect the bottom line. I have to reel myself back in and think about what is more important. Is it having the latest and greatest clothes, or being able to pick my kids up every day? For me, it’s a no brainer; I choose carpool. I don’t go anywhere for anyone to see me in those clothes anyway.

I am happy that I am able to be at home with my kids. Sure, it would be nice to have a big paycheck coming in, but I don’t need that to be happy. That has been proven throughout these last few years. Being a stay-at-home mom has brought me more rewards in free trips to the park and story hour at the library than any full-time job that I could have right now.

If you get the opportunity to be a stay home mom for even a few months, my advice would be to take it. If there is an inkling that you might be able to make it work, even short term, you probably can. There may be fewer trips through Starbucks and less impulse buying at Target, but it will be OK. You hear it time and again, but it does go by in a blink. You don’t have to be rich to be a stay-at-home mom. You might need to be thrifty and a bargain hunter, but trust me, it is worth every penny saved.

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