Written by: Cally Worden
Childcare costs can consume an unhealthy wedge of your monthly income, and when this reality bites many parents consider the option of Stay-At-Home-Parenting. Leaving aside the lifestyle aspects of the decision, one of the first questions to be asked is ‘Can we afford it?’. A simple calculation that deducts all monthly outgoings from just one salary usually offers a fairly clear view. But if these numbers don’t stack up, then don’t give up on the idea just yet. There may be ways to manipulate your budget to make Stay-at-Home-Parenting a viable option.
Create a Real Budget
If your current financial situation is reasonably comfortable on two salaries, then you may be surprised to discover the hidden expenses that contribute to your dwindling bank balance each month. By a ‘Real’ budget I mean the warts and all version. The one that includes Every, Single, Penny. that you spend, whether it be on a Latte from Costa, a beer on the way home from work, a magazine to read during lunch break, the 50p snack at your desk mid-afternoon to boost your mood.
Create a budget that shows your mortgage or rent, all your bills and regular living costs, and then take a few weeks to note down all the little extras that slip through the budget net. Keep every receipt, and account for every penny. Knowing where you cash is going is the first essential step.
Weed out the Inessentials
Some monthly expenses are no-brainers. We all have to eat and pay the gas bill. But others are Nice-to-Haves. Gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, expensive phone contracts, additional satellite TV channels … if the chips were down you could scrap these kinds of items from you budget without suffering a great deal.
Make a list of the things you really have to pay out each month, and use this as a starting point for creating your Stay-At-Home-Parent budget. By getting creative you can really shrink your outgoings.
Remove the Costs of Working
When you take a salary out of your family income mix you are also removing some costs. Obviously the removal of the cost of childcare is the biggest saving you will make by staying at home, but there are many others too.
Travel to and from your place of work, expenditure on work clothing and dry cleaning, lunch costs and more, can all be struck from your outgoings when you stay at home. Think also about the times you maybe indulge in a pricey take away or ready meal because you are too tired to cook after work. As a Stay-At-Home-Parent you will be more likely to find time to prepare a cheaper home-cooked dinner, so these treat-costs can be taken away from your list of outgoings too.
And don’t forget that dropping a salary may reduce your household income to an extent that makes you eligible for benefits or tax credits that were not open to you before.
If the Numbers Still Don’t Add Up
If you’ve slashed our budget every which way and the numbers still don’t work, then it’s time to consider the option of part time working. Your current employer may be amenable to reducing your hours, or building in an element of home-working time for you. Many childcare facilities charge a premium for care in the key pre- and post- working hours. If you are able to juggle your work around these times you can significantly cut your childcare costs and gain more time at home too.
Your final decision may be based around whether the trade-off between Staying Home and Losing Luxuries is worth it to you as a family. That’s something only you can decide. Stay-At-Home-Parenting does not work for every family, but if it’s a choice you’d like to make do everything you can to manipulate the numbers in your favour. It may be easier than you imagine to achieve.