Friday, May 30, 2014

My Stay-At-Home Salary

I want to thank everyone for your support with my recent job change and our drastic lifestyle change! It was so kind and encouraging to read everyone's supportive words.

Today I'm going to talk about a few of the decisions we made to accommodate my approximate $18,000 pay cut.

Yeah, I hate doing the math. Excuse me while I sob while looking at that number.

The biggest thing has been of course me not needing daycare other than my awesome neighbor who lets me drop Callie off for 10 minutes if Nate gets caught in traffic. According to google, not sending my newborn to daycare saves me on average over $11,000 a year. I'd say that's a pretty big leap towards making our ends meet.

The most trivial savings that has shown up in our day to day has been me eating at home for breakfasts and lunches. It was too easy to grab a coffee and bagel on my way to work, as well as have Jimmy Johns delivered to my desk (or when I was pregnant a hot Dub and Cookies) so the approximate savings based on my bank statements last year was well over $2100 (and honestly probably more since I'm home to make Nate a sandwich to take to lunch)

This means just between food and daycare I'm already over a $13,000 salary for myself.

Next would obviously be cloth diapering. Now, since we didn't pay for our diapers (because we used amazon gift cards from baby showers) we didn't add that to our monthly expenses. It always makes me kind of twitch when people say that cloth diapering saves so much money. Saving money to me indicates spending something and then not spending it anymore. Like, I am saving on cable by cutting my service- Boom- I just saved $50 a month. If I was doing disposables and switched to cloth I still wouldn't be saving money because I would have had to buy diapers.

I just didn't do anything. My diapering budget stayed constant- $0.

We have our utilities on a high average bill- meaning I told them to bill me slightly more than my monthly average. At the end of the year I should have a credit which should cover the increase in our water and electric usage.


But, if we are going with the "how-much-I-make-staying-home" scanario, according to the googles again (I figured I'd keep my sources to the happy box that comes up when you ask google a direct question- I'm fully aware these numbers may not be accurate for my area, but I'm rounding) if we had gone the disposable route, I would spend about $2,577.35 over the course of Callie's diapering existence. 

I also breastfeed. Though while I do use my AMAZING Kiinde system (which I will promote until the cows come home) and that costs me money for my breastfeeding pouches, I am saving money on not having to use formula as well as the health benefits that the breastmilk provides. I am not going to put a monetary amount on this because it is just an impossible situation to tell.

Also, can you put a monetary amount on the cuteness of a daddy feeding his baby (and giving you a break in the process?)

We have had other simple "savings" as well. This includes things as simple as I'm happy to be home 98% of the time with my baby. I'm happy to be singing show tunes to my nursing baby, doing laundry and texting my mommy friends all day. And emotional happiness is saving us a lot of money. Even though it's honestly the hardest work I've ever done, I don't feel the need to go drop $300 on bullshit because I had a hard day at work, or my boss made me angry, or I just needed to be out somewhere. And, when the time comes for me to run over to the studio for a few hours I'm happy for the break! It uses a different part of my brain and allows me to not get vomited on for 3 hours (always a perk).

Another thing that has come from this is MOMMY FRIENDS. I have lived in this area for 5 years and never really clicked with anyone. I was too young to hang out with the older married couples but too...married to hang out with the younger couples. Kids are the world's greatest age equalizer. Hey, you have a kid? ME TOO! Hey, you nurse? ME TOO! You cloth diaper? OMG NO WAY.

This alone is worth the paycut to me.

Though at the end of the day, if you add the basics up, and put in my little salary from the art studio, we are just over breaking even to my full time job with the expenses of having a newborn.

So yes, I still took a paycut, but I'm happier, healthier, and I get to watch my child grow up. Which is worth a billion dollars to me.

What changes did you make when you had your children? What are some of your biggest successes and failures while adapting to a budget change?


  1. I would check with your utility company and the water company. Both of ours have level payment plans. So even if you use the a/c in the summer and the heater more in the winter, the price doesn't go up. You have to call them and set it up. They look at the average of what you used in the past year and base it off of that. I didn't know about this until my parents told me. It would be worth checking out. It has already saved us money and we just signed up for it last year.

    1. Yes! That's what I meant by a slightly higher than average plan. They averaged out all of our bills and I budget to send $15 extra over a month so promise that we have a credit. Best thing EVER.

  2. i've done way more recycling than i ever thought i would---use our can money to buy groceries, re-use plastic bread bags as doggie waste bags, and compost a whole bunch....we re-use grocery store bags as garbage bags, i've re-purposed tons of things so that i didn't have to buy a new product, have gone dumpster diving and got working lawnmowers and a variety of vintage products that we've been able to sell at a local flea market.......

  3. we've recycled way more than i ever thought we would----i re-use bread bags, re-use grocery store bags, dumpster dive for items ( our best find was a vintage Vargas calendar which we got for 0 and re-sold for $100)

  4. I think it is wonderful that you have decided to stay home with your little one, and I promise you it will all work itself out! 23 years ago I was is a very similar situation with daycare eating up almost all my salary, so we tighten up the budget and had me stay home. The best decision we ever made. Oh and you forgot the expense of going to the pediatrician, daycare babies go often and co-pays and medications add up. Congrats!! Kris

  5. Go girl! Being a SAHM is so great!! Yes, there are those days where I want to tear out every single hair on my head, but those are so rare that I still wouldn't go back to work... It is wonderful to be able to watch my boys grow and learn things with them all over again (especially through their eyes).

    I wanted to ask though... Where you wrote about your utilities [We have our utilities on a high average bill- meaning I told them to bill me slightly more than my monthly average. At the end of the year I should have a credit which should cover the increase in our water and electric usage.]

    What's that about?? I'm very curious! We are trying to save as much as possible and this just looks interesting.

    Thanks!! Big hugs to you!!

  6. I'm glad you've found a way to make it work. Being a happy mom is the most golden thing you can be.

  7. There are many ways you can make it work if you want to be an at-home parent. My husband and I have four kids who now range in age from 16 to 24. With the exception of when my husband was in college (we started our family very early, lol) I have been able to be a stay at home mom for most of my 24 years of motherhood. It all boils down to choosing what things you want in your life and what your bottom line dollar figure is for each of them. In our case, we opted out of cable/satellite tv and still just view what we can pull in with an antenna--which is a whole lot more now than it was 20 years ago!! We also rarely bought any clothing first-hand. If you are a picky shopper--and I think you are, you can find wonderful clothing second hand. That is a huge annual savings with a growing kid right there!

    1. Ours are almost 15(next week) to 28. And I've been a SAHM most of the time also. Hubby is self-employed so when I did choose to go to work for a friend, someone was home (good thing as we homeschooled then!) There was a time when the youngest was little that we were both out of the house, but homeschooling was helpful as they learned how to care for a 3 YO and when the non homeschooled one came home, they took over until we got home an hour later. Guaranteed the BEST form of sex education ever...they learned that birth control is not infalliable ;) and that a baby was NOT something they wanted in HS. (that was an inadvertent lesson). If grandparents as what to get you, gift cards or clothes, hands down, every time. You might consider doing IT freelance in your neighborhood (I still haven't been able to get the new wireless printer to talk to the router yet) or advertise on CL or discuss doing tech support for your old company. Or consultant work. Your schedule, you can charge out the wazoo to help new homeowners set up their homes for all their IT needs (which makes me ask myself again WHY didn't I go ahead with computers in college when I decided that there was no way in HELL that I would be paid enough to put up with other people's undisciplined bratty kids all day....I had friends a year ahead doing their student teaching). You can do it and your whole family will be better off for it. As for clothing, as others have said, hit the thrift stores/yard sales in the nicest neighborhoods. i've also found that the places run by the hospital auxiliary are pretty good...doctors' wives, ya know. ;)

  8. I think that my biggest change was having to "ask" my husband for money to go grocery shopping or something like that. We make a little more to where I can go grocery shopping and later tell him, "By the way, I spent $___ at Kroger earlier." but it was really hard for a while because money was so tight. I would have to estimate and I felt like I needed to justify the grocery expenses.

  9. We do a TONNE to keep my husband home as a stay-at-home dad, from couponing to me cycling to work to save on gas (and I love it, so not a sacrifice). The biggest tool that got our mindsets adjusted right was keeping a budget tracker on the fridge (we are low tech, no smartphones..also a great way to save cash. I hear in the US Republic is super cheap and awesome, check Mr Money Mustache). Anyway, we have a sheet of paper on the fridge with our spending categories (food, baby, gas etc) and the monthly limit. Each day we add whatever we bought to the category tally. It keeps us aware of the nickel/dime purchases adding up and we put any monthly excess directly into our retirement savings. New month, new sheet of paper. Once we got used to that we upped our ante with more financial planning but that is for SURE our foundation.

    Plus, I track stuff like one off expenses and "found" money (off budget savings like selling stuff on kijiji, rebates I wasn't expecting etc, that money either evens out category overspending or again, is shipped off to retirement savings. It would go to debt if we had any left. Being in control is actually way more fun than eating out. Because you are taking the power back and making money a tool.

    Money makes a better servant than a master!

  10. I have a friend who decided to be a stay at home mom because it made financial sense. We came across this scenario back in the early '90s when childcare costs began going through the roof. Many women elected to stay home and raise their kids. The savings between childcare costs, auto fuel, wear and tear on cars, work clothing, take-out, and even gym memberships (for sit-at-a-desk workers) are incredible when you sit down to look at it. Kudos to you and enjoy your new lifestyle!


Please leave us a comment! We love to hear from you. We promise your comment will appear as soon as possible :)