You cannot afford to be a SAHM

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Itching to get out of the 9-5 workforce, and spend more time with your kids?

I share why you cannot take the risk to quit your career. 

However, there are countless ways moms can earn a high income, from home, with legitimate, flexible careers — many of which earn $100,000 or more. 

Our Top 2, highly paid work at home careers, without degrees are:

Proofreader. If you’re great with words, detail and grammar, you may also be interested in a proofreading career, which can pay $15-$30 hour from home, on your schedule. Proofread Anywhere is a great online course that teaches you how to get started, land clients and run a proofreading business.

Bookkeepers. Bookkeepers can earn a salary, or build a business earning $75+/ hour, which can be more than $100,000 per year. Entry-level bookkeeper jobs can pay $20/hour. Bookkeeper Launch is the top-rated online video course to help you start and run a successful, 6-figure bookkeeping business. Get $300 off with code WSM300.

Keep reading! 

The argument is over: You absolutely, positively cannot afford to be a full-time stay-at-home mom.

15 signs your spouse is thinking of divorce—and what to do about it

No need to delve into arguments about personal choice or what is good for children or families. That’s all been hashed out in the mommy wars. It’s not about those issues. This is about money.

You. Cannot. Afford. To. Be. A. Fulltime. Stay-at-home-mom. You just can’t.

What’s that you say? Your husband is a banker? And your family is rich? Your spouse adores you? Doesn’t matter. It makes zero financial sense for any of those 5.1 million women in the United States who are stay-at-home moms (per Census data). That is about one-in-five married-couple families who have decided to put their family’s futures in jeopardy.

Don’t just take it from me. I recently interviewed Joanne Cleaver, a career consultant and author of The Career Lattice.

“Stepping off the career track completely is career suicide,” Cleaver told me. “Don’t do it.”

22 things every mom must ask for in divorce

You cannot afford to be a stay-at-home mom

Her reason? You will no doubt lose the momentum you’ve built, the network you accumulated, the credibility you’ve earned. But these longtime truths are accelerated in today’s tech-driven world – no matter what industry you’re in.  “If you completely leave the workforce, when you return you’ll have to completely reinvent yourself with new skills, new credentials and a new portfolio,” Cleaver said. “You might as well start in a new career.”

These challenges translate into a tougher time getting a new gig when you want one. And once you do, you’ll earn less than had you kept a foot in the workforce while caring for your kids. Researchers at Harvard and the University of Chicago found that when professional women leave the workforce for three or more years, they suffer a compensation hit of 37 percent.  For female MBAs who take time off to be with children, pay drop 41 percent relative to male MBA earnings.

However, if you plan ahead and keep a hand in the game, things might turn out differently. Of course, things don’t always happen as planned.

Divorce for stay-at-home-moms: How do stay at home moms get divorced?

Many women assume they will just live off child support and alimony in the event that they divorce. They are often shocked that is not the case. There is a growing movement towards equally shared parenting, and thanks to feminism and the opportunities that women have today, judges expect both parents to be adults, work, earn and pay their own bills.

In some cases, a judge may award the lesser-earner alimony, especially if you are a stay-at-home mom who has been out of the workforce many years. But that is not always possible.

Take me, for instance. I was married to a really nice, devoted guy who made a handsome income. We had a baby, bought life insurance, set up automatic contributions to our retirement accounts and emergency savings, and even started a college fund. He had disability insurance, but that never came into play after he fell off a cliff and nearly died of a brain injury – of which the lingering and devastating symptoms played a big role in dissolving our marriage.

Who could have planned for that? That is a crazy story. Not so crazy are these scenarios:

  • Divorce
  • Unemployment
  • Death of a spouse
  • Disability
  • Life. Stuff just happens and you have to stop working.

How to find affordable life insurance for single moms

When I had my first child I’d enjoyed a lucrative freelance writing business, which I cut down to about third-time after Helena was born. After my ex moved out, I quickly ramped up my workload. So when the child support and health insurance stopped because he was fired (again, related to the injury), I was able to swing my family financially, even after I had another baby.

Had I not had a career, or an ongoing business, my son, daughter and my life would be in a very, very different place. We would likely be broke. I would be angry. I would be selling stuff I really care about and making decisions about our futures out of fear instead of love and happiness. I would have fewer choices, less power.

Do stay-at-home moms get alimony in divorce?

Here is the reality of what to expect in divorce:

Alimony is going out of favor with judges, as women gain more access to careers and education. Child support is still common, but rarely, if ever, enough to live off of.

Plus, there is increasing support for equally shared parenting time, and no child support at all, paid to either party. After all, if both parents now have responsibility for the kids equal time, and each have equal time to work and earn, it does not make sense for one parent to pay the other parent’s bills.

The best-case scenario is that you are awarded financial assistance from your husband for a limited time, and are expected to find work and become financially independent of him.

The very best-case scenario is that you both equally share in the responsibility of raising the children. This is hard to do when he is really angry about financially supporting you, and you are really angry that he doesn’t do his share, or that your lifestyle is so compromised.

Many women assume that their kids’ dads are not capable of being good fathers because they were not very involved during the marriage. However, there is a phenomena in which men thrive in fatherhood after divorce, in part because they have to now that the mother is not around to save them, and also because they find their groove and confidence as a parent because they are not being criticized or otherwise default to the mother, who is around and involved more.

Read these rules about how to be a good co-parent. Also, learn more about what science says about equally shared parenting time.

One of the first co-parenting apps, and widely used app, OurFamilyWizard, which features chat, information storage (like pediatrician and teacher contact info, prescriptions, etc.), and financial record-keeping. 30-day free trial, discounts for military families, and a program to provide OurFamilyWizard free to low-income families. Each parent can add unlimited numbers of other people for free, including children, grandparents, step and bonus parents, as well as attorneys.

Try OurFamilyWizard for free for 30 days now >>

Read OurFamilyWizard review on >>

What to do when you can’t afford to leave your husband?

Of course, money really does matter — a whole lot. In fact, I’d argue money matters more than love. After all, if you are asking What to do when you can’t afford to leave your husband? you likely no longer love your husband, and need money to get on with your life. You might even need money to get yourself and your kids out of a dangerous or abusive situation.

“Afford” is a relative term. Are you worried about maintaining your current lifestyle, and staying in your nice zip code with good schools? Or are you actually penniless and unable to rent a room and buy food?

First of all, if you don’t have a job, get a job. Here is my list of work-at-home careers and gigs. If you have a job, work towards a raise or promotion. Take on a side gig.

Put your money in your own, separate account that your husband has no access to. I advise this for all women, but if you are in splitsville mode, you need to make sure that you have cash on hand. Once divorce proceedings start you must declare this account for a fair splitting of assets, but until then you need that money.

Now, call an attorney. Tell them your plans, your family’s financial situation, and get a sense of what you are looking at financially during and after a divorce. Now, no matter if a lawyer tells you that alimony or a big settlement are likely (which they are not for most women), stay focused on earning and building your own income and wealth. Do no under any circumstances build your life around dependency on this man. That is how you got yourself into this mess in the first place.

Also: Do not use money as a reason to stay in an unhappy or abusive situation. It is OK to move in with your parents or a friend, or in an emergency, a shelter, to get out of bad situation and plant seeds for a better life. You are not helpless, and you are not pathetic. Money is just a hurdle that you have to overcome, and you can — and will.

Do stay-at-home moms get custody in divorce?

Traditionally, the assumption was that children’s lives should not be distrupted if at all possible in divorce. Four decades of widespread divorce have taught us that by keeping women financially dependent on men in an effort to keep her home with the kids is a recipe for poverty for everyone involved, high tensions and co-parenting conflict — and no one moving on after divorce.

Instead, stay-at-home moms today are not automatically entitled to keep the house, and fathers are far more involved than generations past. There is an increasing movement to award equal, 50-50 parenting time to the parents, since that is what 60 peer-reviewed studies find is what is best for children, and what is fair and equitable to men and women.

How property is divided in divorce

This all may seem to be scary and overwhelming, and I understand why: You assumed your life would be a certain way, that you had an agreement with the division of home and money labor with your husband, and it is now all over.

Many women who were stay-at-home moms fail to demand payment full-time child care because they have a hard time imagining that they will need it — or simply can’t let go of their dream of staying home. Instead, I urge you to hire a nanny or day care full-time, and get to work. You and your ex should split evenly child care expenses since they benefit you each equally — though a family court judge likely will order that this expense be split according to each party’s income.

How a SAHM can afford to leave a marriage

Here’s the good news: We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity for women and mothers. The economy and feminists before us have created a scenario in which we do not have to be dependent on men. We can work and earn and live in whatever goddamned house we want to afford.

And you will find as you move past your divorce, and date and find love and build a career, that you don’t want to have the kids around 24/7. You will look forward to recharging and relaxing while they are with their dad. That is normal and healthy, because you are a normal, healthy woman.

Even better: Today part-time, consulting and freelance work is not only increasingly available to employees, but also growing in popularity among employers. There is such incredible opportunity all around you!

17 steps to a rich life as a successful single mom

Dr. Susan O’Malley was a secretary with no more than a high school diploma, and set out at age 30 to become a physician. Dr. Susan O’Malley shares about:

  • How she got over her low-self image to preserver through rejection from every medical school in the country, and eventual acceptance
  • Romantic disappointments
  • Powering through one of the most rigorous academic paths as a single mom of a newborn to become an emergency room physician.
  • Her eventual move to cosmetic medicine and entrepreneurship with the opening of Sonas Med Spa in Connecticut
  • The power of physical beauty
  • Dating as a single mother
  • What she does with her money
  • Her daily schedule while in medical school while raising her tiny son

Stay at home mom? How to make money

No matter how much income you bring in every month, most moms feel they could can use a little more cash. Or, a LOT more cash. Most of us could use more spending money, and there’s always debt to pay off or college tuition to save for. If you don’t have any other uses for more money, then hell, might as well splurge for something you want, amiright?

One of the best things about being alive today, is there are more ways to make money than ever these days. The internet is a treasure trove when it comes to finding side hustles or new ways to sell your product or service, and there are money-making apps you can use as well.

Best way to make more money

The fastest, surest way to make more money is to ask for a raise and/or promotion. Here is my advice (with videos!) about asking for that raise:

Wondering how to make money using your creativity, time, or skill in your spare time? We’ve outlined all the best ways to score some cash below.

Before you launch your at-home proofreading business, make sure no one steals your biz name! BlueHost costs just $3.95/month to host a website, which includes a FREE domain name for 1 year, 24/7 support, quick install and 30-day money-back guarantee!

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  1. How to make money selling products
  2. How to make money selling services
  3. How to make money fast
  4. Easy ways to make money
  5. How to get free money
  6. Start a side hustle today to make more money
  7. The bottom line: There are more ways to make money now than ever, and many of them don’t require any education or training.

How to make money selling products

You can absolutely make money selling products, although you’ll want to be careful you don’t get sucked into a multi-level marketing company, or MLM. Research shows that most who join MLMs never earn real money anyway, and they even wind up spending their money on products and marketing by the time they quit.

But you can sell products and make more money. If you’re crafty, for example, you could earn money selling homemade goods on You can also sell items you already have (think old clothes from your closet, electronics, and more) online through,, or local Facebook groups.

How to make money selling services

You can also earn money selling your talents and abilities in the form of a service. You could mow lawns, clean houses, help people with bookkeeping, or teach piano lessons, for example. Other ways to earn money selling your services include:

How to make money fast

If your goal is making money in a hurry, you need to find ways that don’t require long waiting periods or a bunch of hoops to jump through. Here are some of the best ways to earn money in a hurry:

If you need to earn more money than you’re making now, you may face an even bigger challenge than many working moms: How can you possibly increase your earnings when you have so little free time already?

Fortunately, the Internet makes it easy to learn how to make more money and also make money online in your spare time, affording you the flexibility to control your time, and build your work around the rest of your life. Keep reading to learn some of the best ways to earn cash online without putting yourself out.

RelatedFind a high-paying, work-at-home job

Before you sell products online, check these topics out:

How to make money selling products online

Have you ever bought something at a discount only to find out it’s worth way more than you thought? If you are able to sell it for more than you paid, you could make a quick buck.

Online resale sites make it easy to turn this concept into a business. You’ve heard of eBay, right? If you have a knack for sniffing out great deals, posting an item for sale online is easy with your smartphone.

If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of keeping track of physical products, dropshipping might be a good fit. By partnering with a dropship wholesaler, you can sell products online without keeping up with inventory yourself.

With dropshipping, a customer orders from your site and the wholesaler packages and ships it directly to them. The best part? You get to keep the profit.

How to make money selling services online

Selling your skills is one of the most sustainable ways to make money online, and can grow into a full-time career, or even a scalable business. This is how Wealthysinglemommy founder Emma Johnson started — by freelance writing, and then by starting a blog.

One of the best ways to start growing an online service-based business is with freelancing gigs.

The benefits of freelancing, opposed to having a j-o-b, is that rather than following someone else’s rules as an employee, you have control over your schedule and the work you do.

Popular freelance gigs and careers include freelance copywriting, grant writing, and virtual bookkeeping.

Most types of freelancing don’t require any formal education. You don’t need an English degree to be a successful freelance writer. And if you can answer emails, manage social media, or do other administrative tasks, the role of virtual assistant could be perfect for you.

There are also excellent online courses that can help you learn the basic skills to launch your new career, plus support for finding clients. Bookkeeper Business Launch is a popular first step for many successful freelance, work-at-home bookkeepers who can earn multiple six-figures.

Coding, or programming, is a high-demand, highly paid industry that is especially short of female workers. This work can be done remotely, online.

Don’t panic if you can’t write code. There are many online resources for how to get started, as well as online communities of other coders from whom you can learn.

How to make money as an online influencer

Imagine making money online just for being yourself. That’s exactly what it means to be an online influencer or blogger.

YouTube makes posting videos and earning money from your channel a real possibility — even if you only use your smartphone. Setting up ads and offering channel memberships can generate cash flow. Super Chat is another way to make money. It lets viewers pay a fee in exchange for their message to be highlighted during a live chat.

Just how much can you make? On average, most YouTubers earn anywhere from 7 cents to $5 per 1,000 views. That might not sound like a lot, but some YouTubers have turned those meager earnings into millions.

Don’t believe me? Keep these stats in mind:

Ninja, known for his online gaming, earned $10 million in 2018 with YouTube. And PewDiePie averages $21,000 per video — that’s $11+ million a year.

If being on camera gives you stage fright, making money blogging or with your Instagram account is another option.

When it comes to blogging, it’s as easy as sharing your thoughts or expertise. And you can monetize your blog right from the start through ads, affiliate marketing, or selling your own products.

Instagram opens up opportunities to make money as an influencer, too. Sharing your favorite products, sponsored posts, and ads can all help you earn some cash. Growing your Instagram account into your own business and charging for one-on-one consultations or selling your own products can also help you earn real income online.

One of the best apps to make money is Swagbucks. It gives you the most ways to earn money: watching videos, answering surveys, playing games, searching the web, and online shopping. Plus, you get $10 free just for signing up. (See also: 101 legit ways to make money right now (mostly from home))

If surveys aren’t your cup of tea, it’s pretty easy to earn cashback with a money-making app like Ebates (now Rakuten). This website dishes out a $10 bonus right away, but you can also earn cash back for shopping or completing simple tasks.

Easy ways to make money

Sometimes you want your income-producing activities to be as easy as possible, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Fortunately, the internet makes it simple to earn some quick cash without too much work, hassle, or stress. Here are some of the best ways to earn money with ease:

  • Take online surveys with websites like,, Opinion Outpost, Harris Poll, and Survey Junkie
  • Join focus groups using websites like 20/20Panel,, and FindFocusGroups
  • Play games with CashDazzel
  • Review music on Music Xray
  • Test new apps using Erli Bird

How to get free money

Earning more money can solve myriad financial problems, but it can make sense to look for ways to spend less, too. A penny saved is a penny earned, after all, and any money you can keep will leave you better off.

Some ways to get free money without any real “work” include:

1. Creating a budget to track spending (and cut expenses)

Take a close look at your monthly income and expenses so you can plan a budget that limits how much you spend in fluctuating categories like food and entertainment. Look for ways to save each month, such as cooking at home instead of dining out and limiting your girls nights out to just once a month. (Read: How to create a single mom budget you will stick to).

MoneyPatrol is a favorite tool for moms looking to get a grip on their spending, and saving. This budgeting app pulls in your financial information, and sends you alerts to help you stay on track with your budgets and goals. Get started with MoneyPatrol now for free >>

2. Cut the cord on subscriptions to save money

Speaking of cutting your expenses, you may also want to cut the proverbial cord — as in, cancel your cable television subscription! Doing so could easily free up $100 or more in cash for you to save, and you’ll have more free time to earn money, too. Learn more about the awesome services that will negotiate your utilities and cancel unused subscriptions on your behalf.

True bill will find and cancel unused subscriptions for you, as well as negotiate your phone, cable, Internet and other utilities for free. Check out TrueBill now >>

3. Open a savings account

Consider opening a high-yield savings account so you can earn interest on the money you manage to save. The CIT Savings Builder account lets you earn high interest of 0.45% (as of February 5, 2021) with a $100 deposit. Or consider opening a high-interest savings account with CIT Bank >>

4. Shop around for insurance rates

Compare rates among different lenders for auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and other insurance products you buy. Policygenius is a great site to help you find the best rates on health insurance, and here is a list of the best life insurance for single moms.

Save money on life insurance

Check out Bestow, an A+ rated life insurance agency that offers policies for as little as $10 per month, and 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 year terms — perfect if you are going through a divorce, breakup, job change, unemployment, or other life changes. Bestow guarantees and no medical or lab exam. Get a quote online now from Bestow >>

Save money on car insurance

You are likely overpaying for auto insurance. Call your current insurer and ask if they can offer a discount for safe driving, or if you are like me and live in a city or otherwise drive less than the average 12,000 miles per year, are a low-mile driver.

5. Transfer your debt to 0% credit card

If you carry a credit card balance, see if you qualify for a 0% balance transfer credit card, and save thousands of dollars in interest each year.

Start a side hustle today to make more money

Finally, don’t forget the prospect of starting a side hustle — or a temporary job you can take on in addition to your full-time work. Side hustles look different for everyone, but they can include concepts like driving for Uber or Lyft, babysitting kids, painting houses, mowing lawns, and more.

Online side hustles include some of the ideas we’ve mentioned already — jobs like tutoring kids with VIPKID, taking online surveys, working as a virtual assistant, or finding online freelance bookkeeping work.

Some side hustles you can do from home also overlap; for example, you can work as a virtual assistant or freelance writer online and from your couch, just like you can write freelance articles anywhere with an internet connection.

In this episode, I discuss…

  • Why you need a side hustle
  • How to get one
  • What makes a good side hustle

Maybe you need a little extra cash (or a lot – hellosavings account!), maybe you’re bored with your current career, or you want to safeguard yourself against a recession or an industry crash by having a fall-back plan. Or maybe you’re interested in pursuing your passion project, but you’re not quite ready to make the leap into full-time business ownership. Whatever your reason is, you NEED a side hustle.

There are many ways to make money that don’t require education or training

These include starting any one of the quality side gigs, getting a raise or promotion, or finding a new, higher-paying job.

Start with updating your resume. This not only keeps you ready for any new opportunity that you hear of, or find on a job board, but updating your CV or resume helps you assess your skills, goals and helps you talk about your new, high-earning ambitions with anyone who will listen!

Work at home jobs for moms

Ask yourself: How can you keep a foot – toe, knuckle, nail – in your industry while still giving your children the time you feel they deserve? Brainstorm, ask colleagues and mentors for advice, and get creative to make sure you remain relevant. You can’t afford not to. 

Start here:

13 highly paid work-at-home careers that are great for moms

This post outlines popular, easily accessible careers that many people can start from home, without special degrees or training, including:

Other legitimate work from home jobs for single moms

When exploring what kinds of side hustles, careers, gigs and jobs you may qualify for, consider:

  • Work from home jobs on a computer
  • Work from home typing jobs
  • Work from home data entry jobs
  • Work from home customer service jobs (chat jobs)
  • Work from home medical jobs and medical transcription jobs

Want to find work-from-home or freelance jobs? My friends at offers the best listings of these positions. Read my FlexJobs review.  

Related: 82 legit websites to make money right now

Stay-at-home mom divorce stories

From Lily: After my son was born, I was a stay-at-home mom for about 10 months. That was a pretty trying time in general, and my credit went down the drain. His dad would say awful things like I could try to leave but I’d never see my son ever again and since I had no resources, and that he had all the power. It took a long time after that to be brave enough to leave. I even had a whole other baby with him before I finally was brave enough to get out.

It’s been 12 years since I’ve been with their dad. We live in a different state, I have a great job, I own my condo (it’s mine and I bought it al by myself!). My credit has bounced back. I feel like I can breathe, and things are good for me and the kids now though.

JS: While my post-secondary education consists of nothing more than a few career-related courses taken post-childbearing, I have worked my butt off to move from a general administrative position to a management position in marketing, and more than doubled my starting salary in 4 1/2 years. I married young with the intention of also having my children young. At 19 I married, had my first child at 22 and my second at 24. Just shy of 25 I was ready to go back into the workforce full time and build a career after working odd jobs and doing book work for my then-husband’s small business.

My ex husband and I separated within a year of me being back in the workforce, and I was able to comfortably support my children with minimal help from my ex. I started taking night classes during my ex’s time with our children. My time with my girls is more precious than ever now, and they are thriving in school and socially.

I recall a conversation with my old-school dad prior to my return to work wherein he told me I was doing my children a disservice by working outside the home. I’m still waiting to see the downside! My girls have a happy, healthy mother who loves her work and thus is happier and more fun outside of work. We have the resources to do more as a family and we enjoy regular trips to the zoo, local amusement park, pool, science center, etc. They also have the influence of a strong female role model who is smart, capable and hard working. If I had remained home from the time my eldest was born until my youngest started school, I’d be 8 years out of the workforce. founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.


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