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 as little as $5 per month 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 Wealthysinglemommy.com >>

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.

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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 Etsy.com. You can also sell items you already have (think old clothes from your closet, electronics, and more) online through craigslist.com, eBay.com, 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))

InboxDollars offers a signup bonus, too. The initial free offer is for $5, and you can earn even more money once you start opening emails and answering simple surveys.

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 ePoll.com, MySurvey.com, Opinion Outpost, Harris Poll, and Survey Junkie
  • Join focus groups using websites like 20/20Panel, FocusGroup.com, 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 1.8% (as of March 9, 2020) 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 provider that offers policies for as little as $8 per month, including those with terms starting at 10 years — perfect if you are going through a divorce, breakup, job change, unemployment, or other life changes. Bestow guarantees nd no medical or lab exam. Get a Bestow quote now >>

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 FlexJobs.com 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. 

Wealthysinglemommy.com 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.

108 Comments

I’m reading this article about all the things I’ll lose if I drop out of the workforce to become a full-time stay at home mom.

I’m sure the article is good advice for some women…maybe just not for women like me?

I’ll lose a foothold in my industry… meh, I don’t even like my industry. I’d rather not keep a foothold in it. I’d rather change industries if I need to go back to work later.

I’ll lose my network? I would be bored stiff working at the same high-paying, but very repetitive job I do day in and day out. If I put my head up and look around, there are no jobs that seem more interesting around (in this field); either above or below me.

I should keep my toes in the game by having a side hustle such as chat jobs and data entry jobs? I’d rather not, to be honest. These suggestions seem a little boring to me. Plus a lot of the jobs suggested will be automated out in a few years. Heck, a lot of everyone’s jobs will be automated out. There will be more SAHD’s AND SAHM’s in the future.

I do intend to go back to school after a few years of being a SAHM, but in a completely different field than I’ve been working for the last 10 years. I think being a SAHM for a few years is a good way to take a break and redirect my career path. I’m not sure if the article was intended for women like me, but I did think it was over reaching.

Funny, from what I’ve seen over and over, most women can’t afford to be single mothers. Considering what the statistics show us, their kids suffer as well.

I’m sure you’re not ready for those discussions though.

Hmm. I dropped out of college and became a stay-at-home mom for six years and loved it. I loved being home. I didn’t care much for the lack of respect or the lack of options with his wandering eye, but being home with my kids, I never regretted. We did get divorced, and I had to move back to my hometown and finish my degree. Turns out I don’t care much for my field, and it is so catty, I really wish I could spend my days at home. I don’t worry too much about divorce (my older kids are grown), or being a single mom again , although my second husband and I have three kids, one still needing fulltime care during the day. I live in a low cost-of-living area and I’ll make ends meet, even if that means living in an apartment. Whatever. I’ll get by.
However, I do wish to stay home with my kids…forever. I am introverted, the politics of work exhaust me, and frankly, my career field isn’t challenging. The only way we could do it is if I did something like home daycare, full–time. While I love that idea, it’s the fact that I’d have to cash out my retirement to pay off my credit cards that holds me back. Watching babies now, no problem. Watching babies in 20 years when I am 65? I am not so sure.
So I watch my boys get older and older, spend my days counting the minutes until I am back in my sanctuary, and wonder how life got so far off track that I have to spend my days with strangers instead of doing the homey things I love.

[…] Perhaps being out of the field for an extended period of time, would also be considered “career suicide” if you wanted to return to work in the future.  Or, maybe it is your desire to stay home […]

[…] of the more powerful personal finance articles I’ve read was titled “You cannot afford to be a SAHM“. (It’s dated November 2016, but I read an earlier iteration of the article more than 5 […]

Life can be difficult. We all have to make choices based on our given circumstances. Some choices we look back on with regret and others, relief. The modern economy and workplace has changed dramatically in the last few decades and will continue to change. Businesses don’t care if you can multitask your kids’ activities, juggle laundry with breastfeeding, or run a successful bake sale. It’s harsh but they don’t care. Many women talk about caring for their children but are you able to provide financial care for your kids if you are faced with your spouse’s death, job loss, or disability? Divorce isn’t the only negative life event you have to think about. In fact, in the grand scheme of life, I’d rather go through a divorce than experiences some of the atrocities that occur daily throughout the world. It’s just something to think about. No offense to SAHMs, but you’re not the only demographic who is busy and works hard. Gainful employment can be tough when you are in the workforce full time because it’s competitive out there. The world isn’t going to stop and accommodate someone because they’ve chosen to be a SAHM for several years. You can’t always pick up where you’ve left off. The workplace continues on with or without you. Employers are not obligated to hire you just because you’re a SAHM just like they are not obligated to hire your husband/partner because he’s supporting you and your children. It’s harsh but that’s the reality.

I agree with you 100%. I learned the hard way, I was a SAHM for 4 years, due to my son having medical issues, being out of the workforce just for those years, it took my almost one year to get hired at a part time job. I lost 4 years of paying into Social Security, which I will never be able to catch up because I will always be 4 years behind. I believe these SAHM are living in a June Cleaver fantasy, which never existed or they are believe in the myth of so-called 1950’s nuclear family was the best.

I wonder how these SAHM(s) husbands/partner feel about SAHM leaching off of them. I work with a bunch of married men whose wives are SAHM, these men are working 60+ hours or more a week, and they don’t even get to spend time with their children, they do this because the wives refuses to work. I think it’s selfish to put the full financial burden on one person’s shoulders, just because one wants to be a SAHM.

I’d rather be a stay at home mom than send my kid to daycare where he could be mistreated, abused,
or even killed. If something drastic were to come up i’d just go back to work. You’re acting like being a stay at home mom will be the end of the world. It wont. You deal with one problem at a time, not 10 potential problems that are likely not going to happen. My mom was a stay at home mom and recently is going through a divorce. She got a job and a nice house. My grandma was a working mom and said that it wasn’t worth the extra paycheck and it didnt make a difference in the end. So, I will be a stay at home mom. If something happens, thats what emergency funds are for. You’re supposed to be able to have at least 6 months of living expenses covered saved up and locked away for times of unemployment, divorce, etc.

Love this Emma – thank you. I disagree with the previous post; LIFE can be mean spirited and miserable; and failing to plan is planning to fail.

I have always felt like the women that are fiercely anti-working Mom operate from a place of fear.

Maybe you have a rock-solid marriage, but what happens if the police show up at your door to inform you your spouse was in a car accident and dead? Or brain damaged? You will be devastated, not to mention your kids.

Then, if you are lucky enough to have savings to pay the bills and allow yourself time to process that, you have to deal your kids another hard blow and tell them the SAHM they had grown accustomed to expired along with the other parent.

The reality of leaving your children to go to work every day is harsh, but it protects their future because you protected your own. The reality of losing one parent and watching helplessly while another one struggles makes their childhood the third “death”.

And the divorce-front looks just as harsh: https://www.forbes.com/sites/emmajohnson/2014/10/27/are-you-a-stay-at-home-mom-facing-divorce-dont-expect-alimony/#7a416b667a91

Emma you are really disgusting. You are mean spirited and you sound miserable. I feel sorry for your kids and any man that can stand to listen to you for more then 30 seconds before wanting to harm himself. Leave SAHM alone and get a life. You need an exorcism and prayer. You sound as though you hate your kids. You could of aborted you know? Instead of spewing jealousy and hatred towards SAHM who love their kids and family. You are sickening.

Hello,
I have a question. Don’t mean to offend anyone, but just want to check people’s opinion. Why most of them have more kids, like, 2 kids are Ok, but 3, 4 or 5 kids especially when they are running on low budget is making me wonder if they could have a balanced family, then the kids will be taken care of in a better way. Again, don’t want to offend anyone or their believes, but this just makes me think. If having only 1-2 kids means we can take care of them in a better way rather than sharing the same budget with 4-5 kids. Someone please help me understand.

Very good point, but the world doesn’t need ANY more kids …. so any kids at all is really selfish (says a mom :) )

This is bullshit. No job equals satisfaction of staying home taking care of your family. You have over 15-20 plus yrs after your kids are gone to have a satisfying career and if your smart hard and hard working and know how to manage money than you will be fine. I smell liberal trash and I’m glad with Trump in we have finally taken you to the curb for pickup!

no you don’t. After years of working menial jobs while raising my kids, my ex decided after 20 years, that he wanted another woman and told me in his actual words “you thought I was going to be around forever, you should have planned your life better”. No alimony, nothing, cleaned out the bank accounts, cut our college daughter off of insurance and when our car broke down, he refused to assist me in buying another one when I became laid off. I am working and going to school at 50. FIFTY, because I put the welfare of the kids first. The kids? Oh siding with daddy and talking about how they never had anything because I was either at home playing stay at home mom, or not making enough money, and friends with the mistress/wife and too busy for me. I barely make enough to pay the bills by myself, I roommate with one daughter, who wants to start her own life. So we see time and again the price so many women pay for playing the June Cleaver role and we still choose to be foolish

LOL, Trump!!! Why should the husband be the one to work and support YOU and the children! Why can’t YOU get a job and contribute financially to your family? I think it’s very selfish to make your husband carry all the financial burden, he loses precious time with his children working two jobs just so you can sit at home.
Sure quit your job and be a SAHM for 15 -20 years, do you really thing a potential employer would hire someone who hasn’t worked in two DECADES, I doubt it. You will competing with YOUNGER, more ATTRACTIVE, more SKILLED, and has more EDUCATION than you, believe me when I say, ” Staying at home baking cookies,” for 15-20 Years doesn’t look good on a resume.
Remember this, during a divorce, a judge decides whether or not you get alimony or even child support, or if you even get the house or not, just because he married you doesn’t mean you’re entitled to everything.

Not once do you make mention of the incredible cost of childcare and how some women would be working to literally just pay a nanny or daycare to watch their kids. That doesn’t make financial sense, at all. Even if you take into account future income potential, I don’t know a lot of women who’d be interested in working just to pay for childcare in the hopes they’d make more in the future. This quite clearly applies more to women with more lucrative positions. Take my job as an administrative assistant, for example. In my area you’re absolutely going to cap out at around 40k. They just don’t pay more than that. Doesn’t matter how good you are. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with a company. That’s what the job is worth around here. But the reality is most people are making far less, especially if they are just starting out or do not have an extra set of skills. I wasn’t willing to wait around to make more and put my infant in daycare just so I could hang on to the hope I might, at some point, make more money. My time with my son, especially in these young years is worth more to me. I think it’s really shortsighted to suggest a woman needs to work just because of an imaginary future where the family might need the money. A better solution would be to help families learn how to budget and manage money. Help them figure out how to save so they can build a hefty safety net. Then they can live the kind of life that feels right for them, knowing they’re going to be ok if both people don’t have jobs for a little while. And not related to the topic at hand, but I found this snippet of your post incredibly offensive: “Your spouse adores you – even though you gained, like, 40 pounds with each pregnancy?” Seriously? That’s not ok. Do you realize what that read likes? “You’re fat and you should feel pretty lucky your husband still likes you.” Because, you know, no one has ever loved a fat woman. Shameful.

I went back to work full time after my first two children, but realized I was essentially working for free after childcare costs the second time around. I quit my full time job and got a part time job I did around my husbands schedule, and I have done this ever since (I have 3 kids now) I currently have 4 different jobs that I do part time to try and make it work around everyone’s schedule and not have to pay so much for childcare. I’ve always felt it was important to have at least a part time job for the sake of my resume because the plan has always been to work full time again once all the kids are bigger. I would really love to have more normal job hours, but childcare is $7.50 an hour PER child where we live and I don’t make enough money to pay for it. My youngest (3) goes to preschool part time, 16 hours a week. I’ m always looking for more work, another job, another way to increase my income! Suggestions for things I could do from home would be very much appreciated! I have a bachelors degree, never ended up going to graduate school. I have a lot of student loans, I’ve though about going back to school for something else but I would have to finance it with more student loans. Thanks for any suggestions!

Hmm, maybe the title is overgeneralizing a tad, cause there are certainly some women who can afford to do that. However, I am definitely not one of those women. You would be right about me. However, I can’t help but wonder if this article is more directed towards women who have had a steady job/career but then decided to stay at home with the baby after it was born. Probably not. If that is the case, then I don’t fall under that blanket, either. Which brings me to my next point: If I cannot afford to be a stay-at-home mom, but that’s the majority of what my adult life has consisted of, then what is my next step? Because I have a couple of ideas: Education. Not necessarily college, but perhaps some class where I can learn a skill. Or, freelance work may be part of the answer. Either way, it’s pretty obvious that I need to get my crap together.

This is a touchy topic (obviously) and, while each family must make the decision that’s right for them, I DON’T feel it should be taken as offensive that the author is, at the core, simply telling women to be more circumspect in their opting out. There ARE more factors in deciding if a parent should stay home than simply being able to afford the bills during that time. And, frankly, I can think of situations when it would almost be NECESSARY for one parent to stay home–for instance, when the other parent travels a lot/is away with the military, when the other parent is working 60+ hours per week, etc.

But even so, this article suggests asking some very reasonable questions and suggests removing the assumption that a job will be waiting for the parent who decides to return to the labor force after x amount of years. It’s just not that simple. Not only does technology quickly become obsolete, but there seems to be more college graduates than ever before. And if THESE newly minted job-seekers are struggling to find meaningful, well-compensated work, imagine how difficult it can be for a mom who has a huge gap in her resume.

I’m not saying it can’t be done, or that even going back to school to “start over” once you’re ready to return to the workforce isn’t a viable option. Many SAHMs seem to re-enter successfully due to a strong network, family-run businesses, etc.

But, from what I’ve seen, it’s not easy… and it’s worth slowing down and looking at the situation from all angles.

Of COURSE our children deserve our time. I’m sure most of us here would LOVE to spend the rest of our days skipping along hand-in-hand with our children. That’s not what this is about. It’s about taking time to weigh out the pros/cons. The reality is that the job market can be unforgiving. Not only can it be incredibly challenging to re-enter, but it can just as easily cut jobs at a moment’s notice. Our economy is unpredictable that way. No amount of just wanting to “live in the moment”, “enjoy our kids while they’re small”, or trying to convince oneself that “it’s just a few short years” changes the fact that even OVER-qualified people often struggle to find work these days… so why would it be any different for a SAHM?

So, at best (and assuming it’s possible), keeping a foot in the door SHOULD be done, in my opinion.

This article is downright disgusting and offensive to me. We’ve been trying to conceive this baby for a very long time and had a 5% chance of getting pregnant on our own. By all accounts, this child is a miracle baby and no job is worth it to stick him in daycare that will take up to 80% of my take home pay. I absolutely plan to be a stay at home mom, I hate my “day” job and i do data entry from home for my 2nd job and will continue to do it for a little extra income, but don’t want to be in that field either. I plan to further my education and find my niche in the 3 years I plan to stay home with the baby. So you suggest I stay with the job I hate, and work myself to death bringing home a net income of $500 a month, and that’s a smarter choice than taking a step back and focusing on what I want to do for the 30+ years after the kid is in school? Also, not everyone chooses to have a kid when their ovaries are shriveling up, some of us still have a pretty long work-life ahead of us that a couple of years won’t hurt.

Well, be disgusted all you like … you have statistically a 50% higher chance of divorce when one spouse does not work, and interview any of the countless now-single moms who abandoned their careers and are now really, really struggling. Best wishes to you and congrats on the new baby!

i feel like you cant afford to be a stay at home mom, and you’re salty about it. just my opinion.

you seem to respond to people who disagree with you like they’re wrong, when it’s all just opinions.

Life takes us on different paths. I went to college, had a well-paying job with a lot of stress. Don’t really like the field I am in because of some of the employers, some women in the workforce, and the amount of physical stress it causes on my body but I do it anyway. Have to see a chiropractor regularly, etc. Well, I was fired from my job one year ago. My husband worked in the same place and had to quit because of what happened to me. He now drives 2 hours every day. That employer screwed our family over and treated us terrible with a new baby and all. He told me I am terrible at what I do and he fired another employee that day as well. He told her she had no friends except for one person in the office. I still can’t get over how people are treated in this field. I have since been doing temp work at offices, and have built up good references. Well, one year later we are still trying to sell our home and move closer to his work. I am taking care of my 17 month old daughter and working weekends at a menial job. I do sometimes temp in my profession, but I am having difficulty finding a sitter on a temporary basis. I do not get work every week. Started to apply to jobs an hour away but worried about the daycare situation. I am trying everything I can to stay afloat but we are stuck in loads of student loan debt and I have a sweet baby at home that needs me but I am pressured every day to find work. My daughter is not learning everything she needs to because I don’t know what I am supposed to do in this world and my depression is very bad. I am a very reliable, hard worker but this situation has really messed with my confidence. I hope to find work soon.

The divorce rate in the United States is not currently at 50%, nor has it ever reached 50%. That statistic came from a projection in an article that was published in the 1970’s based upon current trends at the time and has since been perpetuated throughout society and touted as truth. The divorce rate peaked in the early 1980’s and has been on the decline ever since. Currently, economists predict that 2/3 of marriages from the 2000’s will never end in divorce. You seem to only include the data that is relevant to your side of the argument. Do a little research rather than using scare tactics to influence women into making a decision.

I spent highschool drinking and doing drugs. My parents kicked me out before I graduated. I never had good grades. And it was hard work supporting myself that last year and was lucky to get that diploma. I had been told how stupid I was for as long as I could remember. It took until my thirties (with the time afforded as a sahm with kids in school full time) with my husband’s support and encouragement to apply for a mature student bridging program. I’m now studying history in university.

It is unlikely I would have attempted going back to school if I weren’t a sahm. While I was working with kids at home, I never would have thought I could do it.

Telling women who have jobs and not careers what they should’ve/could’ve done before having kids is callous and unhelpful. Not all of us come from homes that supported us or our education.

This just got quoted in the NYT. Some guy working finance talked about how great it was for their family for his wife to stay home. But YOU have the truth of it. Have you heard of Terry Martin Hekker? Google her and get her last book to read if you have any doubts. Here are the facts about SAHM. Roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. Opps, no job security with divorce for SAHM. Men can die, become disabled, or get fired. So can women, but why tie the entire family security to one wage earner? I have known women who gave up careers to be SAHM, and got hugely hurt by the outcome. That kept me in the work force, that and the fact that I could never be blonde, petite, and spend my life in the gym, which seemed to be a job requirement for SAHM. (Not that those qualities protected them, because there are always a new crop of YOUNGER candidates for the position.)

Woah, did not see that, THANK YOU SANDRA!

I wrote that post a few years ago, and I would add a whole bunch more to it — that fulltime childcare is not an emotionally fulfilling proposition for any professional woman, that the toll that equation takes on a marriage is too high, etc.

Do divorces happen at a higher rate in a marriage where one spouse stays at home? This comment is interesting: “fulltime childcare is not an emotionally fulfilling proposition.” I’ve heard that SAHMs do have a hard time and need another outlet for adult conversation. However, with more people in the workforce working from home and concise email becoming the norm in business communication, I also think that a stereotypical career is not an emotionally fulfilling proposition as well. Thoughts on this comment in 2019?

I could not agree more. I’m sure you’ll get all kinds of nasty responses from SAHMs, but kudos to you for saying what many of us truly believe. I LOVE being a working mom. 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. To put that into perspective, check out Business Insider’s list of 21 things that have become obsolete in the last decade. (https://www.businessinsider.com/21-things-that-became-obsolete-this-decade-2009-12?op=1) Pretty eye-opening if you ask me… 8 years is an eternity in today’s world. Note: I have absolutely no affiliation with Business Insider whatsoever. Thank you for writing this blog. I respect and appreciate your honesty and candid-ness.

Hi J.S. – thanks for sharing your thoughts and that link. I’m going to make my own list of technology, which renders the SAHM obsolete: dishwashers, washing machines and dryers, grocery delivery, zoombas, lax immigration laws (making housecleaning affordable), affordable food (so you don’t have to can/preserve/freeze food yourself), self-cleaning ovens, and feminism (so you can make way more money than you would spend doing these tasks the old-fashioned way).

It’s a matter of what you think is more important. My mom stayed at home with my me and my siblings while I was little and that was living off my dad’s Teacher’s salary. Sure we had some hard times but we turned out well and I believe it was a good choice. Some people think career is more important. Some people think raising their kids full time is more important. Everything has a risk involved. I personally would stay home with my kids if I could because I think it is more important , but at this time I cannot because of some major bills that need to be paid and we couldn’t make it. Being with my kids is still a goal I strive for. Telling all women they shouldn’t be stay at home moms or they can’t afford it is just an opinion and it’s not necessarily what’s best for the kids. I don’t think it’s best for my toddlers to be without their mom 40 hours or more a week.

So happy, I’ve found tour site! I’m a new french single mom, and I manage to go to work everyday for a lousy pay, while taking care of my three kids aged 5,3 and 1!
In France, the social security services strongly suggested me to stay at home. By doing so I would get so much help from the state that I will have more at the end of the month by sitting on my coach all day, than by fighting every day to make ends meet!!!
what to do? I’m reading honoree single mom series (so happy I took those English class!) and I’m looking forward to share what I learn with other French single moms.
working on my website right now! I’ll keep you posted. Thank you so much for your sound advice.

Hi! This is such an interesting perspective … I wonder: Why do you chose to work when others may find it so much easier to accept social security services instead?

Far too many have forgotten marriage is also a business arrangement. I know of no other business arrangement when an executive board member can just “walk away” and not receive any penalty or compensation for years put in the company or partnership.

I rarely hear about two executives “duking it out” over money owned, and both arrested, based on blind equality.

You will find out what a business arrangement it is when divoricing. That applies to both men and women. I frankly think there out to be a law that no one with three failed marriages (usually hurting someone economically and forcing someone into the culture shock of yep, get a job making what you WOULD have if you had NOT married or reproduced, overnight). NOT be given another chance to marry and repeat, without some type counseling, as clearly we have a common denominator here.

We have NO training for the displaced, no REAL enforcement of child support, NO penalties for perjury in family court, and way too many attornies profiting from all of the above. NO consistant enforcement of anything but spending thousand of dollars to get OUT, and most consider themselves lucky if it ends THERE. Usually it doesn’t.

Why not legislate more support for the working man and woman? Why promote “no fault” ? I am NOT about staying in unhappy, non sustaining marriages. But, most marriage cannot sustain the burden’s being placed on them by inadequate support for the jobs they are trying to do.

. Stress about roles, benefits, whose money it is (yep even in community property states) and finding “fault or enforcement of what you paid so much to obtain, in fairness, usually doesn’t EVER get out of court in practice, the same way equal pay, and family minded benefits are still a dream of the future. We need to LEARN from what is clearly a mistake in progress, and HOW INADEQUATE REGULATION everywhere is somewhat to blame for the breakdown of a system (family) that worked for years and years.

. We need to stop making marriage certificates and or divorce decrees, worthless. We owe it to future generations to fix the stressors that have been placed on families. We need a total overhaul for consistancy in practice to the laws we have. We need to fix the failing “American Way”. We are way behind similiar countries in supporting the working man or woman, with the goal of family success in mind.

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