Stay at home mum: Can I afford to do it?
If you’re thinking about being a stay at home mum you’ll want to weigh up whether it’s the right decision for you and your family
When thinking about being a stay at home mum or going back to work, there are a lot of things to think about and one of the biggest considerations is whether you can afford to stay at home.
We help you work through the factors you need to consider.
Can I cut some costs?
To work out where to make savings, start by making a list of all your regular outgoings, such as:
- Loan repayments (including a mortgage, rent or credit card bills)
- Utility bills
- Food shopping
- Memberships and subscriptions
- Internet, TV and phone bills
- Car payments and fuel
Then take a look at other expenses you have such as clothes, haircuts, and Christmas and birthday presents, holidays.
It’s then a really good idea to build in a comfortable cushion for unexpected costs, like home or car repairs.
To get a real idea where and what you spend, you could note everything spent by you and your partner for the coming two months to highlight those things you may not immediately think of, that add cost and re-look at how much you’re left with at the end of the month.
Once you have a monthly figure spent, take that amount away from your partner's wages and any other family income such as Child benefit and Tax Credits. If you still have money left after this, then it's a good bet that you can afford to be a stay-at-home parent without cutting any costs.
If the figures don’t add up, it’s important to sit down and explore if and where you can save.
Look at some simple cuts first, can you change to a cheaper insurer or energy supplier? Do you spend more than you need to on food, clothes etc?
It’s then worth taking a look at all those little costs you noted that may seem petty, but actually really add up. Many of us grab a quick coffee when out about, but at £3 a go, if you do this daily you could be spending nearly £60 a month on take away coffee.
Write out a new budget taking into account all your potential cost-savings. Subtract this new figure from your income. If you have money to spare, even if it's tight, then you can probably afford not to work.
What extra costs will I have if I do go back to work?
Petrol, parking, bus fares or train fares are a big consideration. But perhaps the biggest cost you need to consider is childcare. Childcare often costs £250 a week if you have a childminder, it can be as much as £300 for nurseries, and up to £500 a week for a nanny. These costs are relative to where you live and can vary considerably around the country.
Other considerations are work clothes, lunch costs, and occasional babysitter extended hours costs.
What if I can’t afford to stay home?
You may be able to adjust your working hours. Is there an option to work part-time? Are you able to work from home on some days or be flexible about when you start and finish work?
Likewise, can your partner reduce their days or work from home a days a week. Think broadly about bot of your options.
If it does seem to work out that you both need to work full time, don't be too disheartened. You will still maintain that close bond with your child, your time with them will just be that little more precious.
Anything else I need to consider about being a stay-at-home parent?
Be aware that if you leave your job for a few years when you do go back it may take you longer to earn the same money you would had you remained in your job.
It’s also possible the skills needed for your job may change over time, which could make it more challenging to get back into your previous work role.
If you do become a stay-at-home parent, start laying the groundwork now. Create a budget, plan ahead and try to reduce your costs gradually.