5 Tips for Affording SAHM Life

The first question people ask when they hear I am a stay at home mom with twins is, “how can you afford that?” The truth is no one can entirely afford to live solely on one income. It is hard to make the dollars stretch for most families not just my family of four.

Before kids I was tracking expenditures for corporations. Now, I track expenditures for my own household.

Before kids I was tracking expenditures for corporations. Now, I track expenditures for my own household.

I have not worked a traditional 9-5 job in five years. I thought I would stay home just the first year. Then I thought one more year. Eventually, we decided I will stay home until the kids go to Kindergarten. So, how have we afforded for me to stay home this long? Well, to start, it is amazing what you will live without once you have kids. And, if you have them two at a time like me, you really learn quick how to get creative with what income you do have.

Tips for affording the SAHM life:

  1. This was the biggest money saver for us. We literally saved up to have children. We knew very early in our marriage I was going to stay home with kids. So, we set money aside in a savings account and took advantage of every opportunity to invest in a 401K, stocks and extra short term insurance to carry though my maternity leave. We didn’t count on having twins, but I am thankful we at least had some amount of money saved beforehand!
  2. Cut back. I’m not talking just giving up one latte per week. I’m talking saying goodbye to take out everyFriday, maybe drop cable, scale way back on the shopping and start using coupons. We cut back where we could and then found ways to save on our biggest expenses like food and clothing. I signed up for every baby club, savings club and online savers club I could find.
  3. Create a clothing stash. Providing a wardrobe for more than one kid is a challenge. The upside to having twins who are the same size is they can share a wardrobe for a little while. Everyone was so generous at our baby shower we didn’t need to shop for a year! I found out there is a big demand for gently used/like new baby cloths. After selling our giant lot of baby clothes to the tune of $300+ I realized I could use that money to buy a new wardrobe- but to maximize our savings I purchased from garage sales, thrift stores and local swap and sell sites. Why pay full price for a new pair of jeans my kid will wear for a month and probably sit in mud with? I buy ahead by two sizes and store them. I never say no to generous friends who gift us with hand me downs. This helps for that unexpected growth spurt too. Be choosey about what you buy and pay only a fraction of the retail price.
  4. Take a staycation. We don’t have family to rely on for help with taking care of the kids so taking two rambunctious toddlers to a theme park by ourselves was not in the cards. We took advantage of all the nearby attractions our community has to offer. From kids museums, to hiking trails to street festivals. Our local library has some great summer programs to offer. It isn’t a luxurious get away, but it is entertainment my kids can enjoy and we have zero debt afterwards. Besides a vacation with little ones is really a change of location. Kid chaos will follow you even when you stay in a $150/night hotel.
  5. Work from home. Finding legit work from home opportunities isn’t easy. You have to really research companies before getting involved. What can bring in some extra cash are direct sales jobs. I had a Mary Kay business for a few years because it allowed me to stay home with my kids and be out of the house when they were asleep. I made a legit income and I could work my business in my own time. Now, I write from home which allows me to be home all the time… with two lovely (yet demanding) 4-year-old princesses. Worth every penny!

Are you a SAHM? What are some of your tips/tricks to affording kids on one income?

About Roxanne Ferber

Roxanne is a full time wife, twin mama and part time crazy lady. She is a charitable giver and a former Marketing Executive turned write-from-home mom. Roxanne lives on coffee, wine and the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. In her spare time she enjoys meeting other moms who keep life real- crafting, organizing and hiding veggies in her kid’s food. Find her at The Whatever Mom.

About Taylor Nikaci

131 comments

  1. Janine Huldie

    Great tips and have done all of the above myself to stay at home, too.

  2. Russ R.

    I’d like to add something to point #2 ( cut back ) — I think it’s really important to be smart about the decisions that one makes. Furthermore, it matters to just live within one’s means. These are good reminders and awesome tips that you’ve put together.

  3. yumeating

    Then you get people like my husband and myself who have nothing else to cut back on!

  4. The Pinterested Parent

    These are wonderful tips. I can’t imagine how much daycare would have been for you too. These are great tips for just saving money with children in general.Those little buggers are expensive. Lol

  5. Liz Mays

    Aren’t they though? Who would have thought that things like uniforms would send a budget into a tailspin?

  6. Pam

    We did eBay selling at some points too. It really helped us make some extra cash.

  7. JessicaACassidy (@wifetoalineman)

    These are very helpful tips and really worked as well. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. Karen Dawkins

    I gave up a law practice (not really giving up…. was happy to leave) to become a SAHM. 20 years later, I wouldn’t change a thing! We did the same things you listed. One of our favorite vacations ever was a staycation when we camped at home. We moved all the living room furniture into the dining room and slept on sleeping bags! We cooked our meals over the fire pit in the back yard and had a blast! Best part, we didn’t have to buy a tent or rent a trailer or deal with bugs, rain and mud! (Okay, maybe the boys would have liked sleeping in mud, but not me!)

  9. Letty (@BellaVidaLetty)

    How smart of you to begin saving ahead of time. Our biggest tip was cutting back on things we don’t need like cable television.

  10. Britney Mills (@princesscowboys)

    These are some great tips! It was always my goal to stay home as well and it’s a lot about budgeting and what you’ve listed here!

  11. Shannon Gurnee

    I totally agree! These are some great tips for being a stay-at-home mom. It can be done, but takes a lot of effort and self-control.

  12. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    These are great tips! Being a work at home mom is great, but you do have to make sacrifices until you really get your business off the ground.

  13. Scott

    We had two close-aged girls at home, but at least the older one helped out a little. Cannot imaging dealing with twins!

  14. Mama to 5 BLessings

    Same here! We have 5 kids and it’s never a dull moment. I always say there will be time for quiet when they are grown and out of the house.

  15. Kristen from The Road to Domestication

    Great post! I keep telling my husband that I want to stay home. He tells me that I’d better have a kid or two, then LOL

  16. Jeanine

    Sounds great to me! I’ve always been a stay at home mom but recently became a stay at home, work from home mama! It’s been almost three years of that and now I look back and don’t know how we did it but am so thankful it’s always worked out and been somewhat smooth for us!

  17. Catherine S

    These are great tips. I didn’t work at all until my son was 4 and when I went back to work it was only part-time. As soon as my husband got home from work I would leave for work. We didn’t see each other much during the week, but we saved a lot by not needing to pay for day care. We also stopped eating out once we had our son. It is so much cheaper to eat at home.

  18. Rockin' Momma

    These are all great tips. Sometimes it’s cheaper to stay at home then go to work just to pay a sitter!

  19. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    That’s true! Sometimes it costs more, too. But it can be so worth it.

  20. julieiscocoandcocoa

    Having twins definitely threw me a curve ball when it came to expenses (child care for twins is insane)! I was also very lucky to have generous friends who gave me boxes of hand-me-downs when the twins were small.

  21. Jennifer Williams

    I am also a SAHM and luckily we are at a point where I do not have to worry about the working from home part. We do a lot of clearance sales, just stocked up for a couple winters out with clearance sales and buying larger clothing to pack away until needed. We also do not take vacations, we do day trips – thankfully we love the area we live in and there is lots to explore!

  22. Michelle F.

    Those are some great tips. I am a SAHM too so I do cut backs whenever I can.

  23. Mama to 5 BLessings

    We have 5 children, I quite my job the day our 1st child was born Cutting back is a big one, trying to stretch the dollar as far as you can!

  24. Elizabeth Copeland

    I’ve also been on the receiving end of so many of these. You just cut where you can and save wherever else is possible. For many, it’s about lifestyle choices.

  25. msposh2013

    It is expensive having to go to work sometimes. Every family is different.

  26. kmstayathomelife

    As a SAHM, I am always coming up with new ways to save–we have to!

  27. Lucero De La Tierra @earthformed

    I’m a SAHM and we follow a lot of the same tricks you do. We used to eat out A LOT. Once we had the girls we may only go out a couple times a month to someplace super cheap. We have to watch our finances down to the penny because with rising costs the ability to survive on one income gets much harder.

  28. thelesleyshow

    Amen! Great tips. I’m a stay at home mom, well I do work online, but still. You make sacrifices so you can stay back and be there for your family.

  29. Michele

    I do not have children but I have often wondered why more people don’t take advantage of venues close to where they live. Even as a single who is now semi retired I have to be very careful with what I spend–it has to be doubly hard for a family.

  30. Katherine

    I work from home and love every minute. Thanks for the tips!

  31. Mary Madalene

    Great tips! I have always done #2, and #5 .There is always something free to do with the girls around our home. I work from home as well and it has been a blessing in disguise.

  32. listen2mama

    These are all so true. I am a SAHM myself, and we have also learned to cutback on some things we no longer need or do.

  33. Jamie

    We finally were able to allow me to cut back to working only 3 days a week instead of full time about 2 years ago…it has been so wonderful! I do a lot of couponing…catching sales, etc.!

  34. Ricci

    Great tips, I hope that one day when I get married and am ready to have kids that I can stay home with them!!

  35. Cassie @ Southeast by Midwest

    This is a great set of tips for parents trying to make a go on one income. I’ll keep them in mind if the hubs and I ever decide to have children.

  36. tammileetip

    These are great tips!!! I love to shop second hand and find ways to stretch our budget!

  37. Erica (@Erica's Recipes)

    I would LOVE to stay at home, but my job provides half our income – absorbing that big a schwack is not in our cards. The best advice you give is that you planned ahead from the start of the marriage. We didn’t and I really wish we had. Great tips all around!

  38. Carol Cassara (@ccassara)

    I’m super-impressed with the way you planned for it and your common sense approach.

  39. mrsmomx6

    I’ve been home with our kids for 10 years now…yeah, how do we afford it? God, planning and luck!

  40. Stephanie

    These are all great tips! Staying home with your kids is so special… it’s worth making sacrifices to make it happen!

  41. upliftingfam

    These are excellent tips. When calculating all the costs involved in working after you have multiple kids, you might find staying at home is in the cards. Factor in child care, eating out at lunch, gas, wear and tear on the car, wardrobe for work, etc. Then use these tips to make it work.

  42. simplybeingmommy

    These are great tips for allowing individuals who are interested in staying home the opportunity to do that. It’s not always easy, but so worth the sacrifices.

  43. Rorybore

    It really is surprising what you can learn to live without. In most cases it is completely doable. I gave up a lot to make it happen – but after awhile I didn’t miss that stuff so much anymore. Except hair appointments. I do miss my former stylist.

  44. roxmom2

    I feel like I should high five you or shout out an AMEN!!! Routine hair appointments are the one luxury I miss!!!

  45. Vidya Sudarsan (@IDP_Vidya)

    Excellent tips! I’ve been a stay home mom for the past 7 years. There are several ways to save money, and some of them like you have mentioned here are easy to follow.

  46. Theresa

    I’ve been at home for the past 12 years and while we’ve made some sacrifices, I have managed to make a little income online to help with the bills. One of the best decisions I ever made was quitting work to be home with my family.

  47. Tiffany (@thedwellingtree)

    Agree! I love being home with my daughter. I have had to cut back on so much but it gets easier with time. Thanks!

  48. Carly Anderson (@lipglosscrayons)

    These are amazing tips, I’d love to be able to stay at home with our daughter one day!

  49. Elizabeth O.

    My sister is an amazing SAHM. She works, budgets and takes care of the family!

  50. lisa @bitesforbabies

    Great tips! It was SO hard for me to be off on mat leave because I was getting 1/2 of my regular pay. I really hated counting EVERY penny!!

  51. dedezoomsalot900300623

    I work full-time as a teacher, and struggled for years with the fact that I worked while someone else took care of my kids. Your tips are great even for those who still have two incomes!

  52. Chubskulit Rose

    These are sound advises/tips. Hubby and I do the same techniques as yours. We decided for me to stay at home while the kids are younger and need most of our care. It is safer and cheaper that way than hiring someone to take care of them. Using coupons, deals, cutting on stuff we don’t really need, and yes SAVING money every pay is what we did too. We still do it for their college savings and we are so happy that we are on the right track. We might not enjoy all the luxurious trips and things but we are happy with what we have.

  53. annecrane

    These are all great tips! We cut back and started only buying what’s on sale. And I love to buy at garage sales and thrift stores.

  54. Pam Stultz

    Great tips on being a SAHM. I’ve been a SAHM for 10 years now and have never regretted one day of it. I took a job when my son was 5 years old and quickly realized being a SAHM is so much more rewarding to me and to my family. Saving up beforehand, cutting back on unnecessary costs, and working from home are three things that we have done to successfully allow me to stay home with my son. Great article!

  55. Debbie Denny

    This is awesome advice. Take every advantage and planning will accomplish much.

  56. Alissa Apel

    These are great tips. I wish Travis could stay home. This is his first real week at working his new job, and he hates it. He’s like, “Now I think my old job was something special. Things were easy then.” Ugg!

  57. daydreamingbeauty

    These are all really good tips! Being able to save while while pregnant must’ve helped so much. I have to admit, I spend too much on the kids clothes. Teenagers are so picky!! I’m always so thankful to receive hand me downs for my younger kids as well.

  58. Mhie Lee

    You’re so smart to saved ahead of time. I wasn’t expected to be stay at home mom, but I am so happy with my decision even my husband likes the idea I’m with our child.

  59. Rebecca Swenor

    These are awesome tips that can help a lot of SAHM’s. I shop at discount stores to save money too. I grow up in a frugal home so it is in my blood. Thanks for shairng.

  60. mabi

    These are great tips! I’ve always thought about being a SAHM (I’m not), but I really haven’t taken into consideration all the things it could entail. Thanks so much for sharing!

  61. Coolchillmom

    Everything in life has a trade off. Lucky you get to stay home!

  62. Ellen C

    These are great tips. And actually my husband is a stay at home dad. It works for us. And he is a deal hunter professional. I don’t think we have paid full price for anything in the 20 years we’ve been married.

  63. roselynn787

    I’m not a mom yet but when I become one I do plan on staying at home with the kids and becoming a one income family. This won’t be happening for a few years so we have been trying to cut back and get used to living on a budget.

  64. justamom8225

    Those are great tips. We’re a one income family but I’m also looking to make the transition from being a SAHM to being a WAHM.

  65. becca112971

    Great tips for being a stay home mom. I am learning to be the queen of coupons.

  66. Travel Blogger

    Even now that my daughter is 5 I find I still save a TON by creating clothing stash. Everytime the season changes I stock up for next year.

  67. Audrey (trihardmom)

    Excellent advice for creating a lifestyle that allows you to stay at home! It can be done and you can spend some wonderful years at home with your babies! I have enjoyed every moment.

  68. Debra

    I have always stayed home with our children. Maybe since we have always been used to one income that it didn’t seem really hard.

  69. yumeating

    These are all great tips. I work from home and have been doing so for quite a few years. We struggle sometimes so I can’t imagine being a one income family.

  70. Allie D.

    Love all the tips. I never considered being a SAHM until we had our baby girl. Since then, we have kept to a budget with our one income, and we have awesome friends who gave hand me downs. I have clothes saved up until she’s 8.

  71. Amber Nelson

    Those are great tips. I also stayed at home for five year and it was definitely a paycheck to paycheck situation. But so worth it!

  72. Ourfamilyworld (@OurFamilyWorld)

    Those are great tips. Work can be expensive: between commute, clothes, etc.

  73. Danielle I

    I’m a SAHM, too and have done a lot of these things. I’ve have personally cut back A LOT on eating out and I no longer go to a salon to get my nails done. I just do them myself. We also purchase our son bigger sizes in clothing when we see an amazing deal, whether it’s clearance or just a great sale. He will eventually grow into them and we save a ton of money.

  74. Michelle Varga (@dustbunniesblog)

    Great post! I’m a stay at home mom and it definitely takes some time to figure out all the ins and outs so that it’s financially possible. Over here day care costs so much that basically my entire income each month from my last job would go to that without anything left – so we thought it made more sense to stay home.

  75. toxict15

    The tips are great. Never thought to save up for kids

  76. Kecia

    I work from home, but since my income is sporadic some months, we still have to budget and cut back when we can. I shop ahead for clothes, buying the next size or two up for my boys when things go on clearance. We also try hard to meal plan so grocery shopping isn’t too expensive.

  77. rane25

    #2 is the hardest for me so far since i’ve been home. I purchase enough groceries to cook a healthy meal each day .. but sometimes I just want a Burger …lol. Working from home has its Pros and Cons

  78. Rosey

    I love that you planned ahead for it. I have stayed home with my youngest and it’s been such a huge wonderful experience for us both.

  79. Pam

    Creating a clothing stash is a great idea. I wish I had done that with my kids.

  80. loisaltermark

    These are great tips. Anything is possible if you plan well.

  81. Kelly Hutchinson

    We have lived off one income off and on for about 15 years now. It is not always easy but is it always worth it.

  82. NutriFitMama

    Great tips! These are great to remember when transitioning to being a SAHM!

  83. martinkadelux

    This is great! I always call myself a SAHM, but really I am a WAHM! I love being here with the girls, but writing is what keeps my sanity!

  84. Bonnie @ wemake7

    I’ve been a SAHM for about 4 years now, it’s easier in some aspects but harder in other ways. We have always made it work no matter what situation we have been in. Great tips!

  85. tonyacoleman

    Staycations are so much fun! We did this last year and had a fun time exploring our state.

  86. Laura (Another Cent Saved)

    These are such great ideas. It simply makes sense to prepare and I love how you go into detail on how to do it. Great information.

  87. Digna

    It’s funny how there is so much we can do without when we don’t have the money for it. I left a full time job and knew beforehand I would be cutting back on a lot. However, I got used to having less money (sometimes no money) and never looked back. Spending time with my son is more important to me than a Starbucks or having my hair done.

  88. Robin Hutchinson-Looney

    These ar great tips for people who are considering cutting down to one income to have a stay at home parent. I’m not a SAHM, or even a mom, unless you count my furbabies, but I found your tips to be helpful for surviving anyway. Saving money in preparation of having children was probably my favorite piece of advice that you gave. I have 6 nephews, 2 nieces and a great niece, and secondhand clothes have been my saving grace when trying to buy for all of them. Also, I too buy clothes in differeent sizes in anticipation of sudden growth spurts, so that the parents aren’t stuck with an abundance of one size of clothing.

  89. Stacey Werner

    Buying clothes that are gently used is a great idea!

  90. Mama to 5 BLessings

    I stay home with our kids, homeschooling our older 3. Definitely is a sacrifice.

  91. Caitlin

    These are such great tips! I will definitely be saving them until we have kids!

  92. Sarah Marturano

    I’d say all of these tips are spot on. I’m a stay at home mom, who still finds ways to bring an income into our homes so I can totally relate to this.

  93. toughcookiemommy

    I think stay cations are a great way to decompress. We often take them to just get away for a few days.

  94. shaunatorres

    Great tips. I also recommend setting up a budget with a good ‘allowance’ so the stay at home mom doesn’t have to ‘ask’ for money. That really helped us.

  95. Courtney

    These are great tips! Sacrifices usually have to be made, but in many cases its totally worth it!

  96. celebbabylaundry

    Cutting down can be a bit hard, but there are always things we don’t need!

  97. mburbage

    It’s not easy to afford child care either when both parents are of working. Being a stay at home mom was the cheaper route in our case.

  98. Lisa Rios

    I love all these great tips and I am already following few of them. Being a mom of twins is a little bit harder. Your ideas would really be helpful to working moms. Thanks a lot for sharing it.

  99. Nile

    Saving up and taking out of the 401K… eek… that must’ve been quite the penalty for taking money out early. Definitely cutting back is important. The majority of SAHM that I know are at least covered in my state for their children’s healthcare, especially if they’re single.Great tips!

  100. Carissa Bonham

    Working from home lets me stay home with my two kids. I don’t make as much as I did in the corporate world. But I make more than than I would if I had to pay for full time childcare so that I could go to work.

  101. aleshafulltimemama

    Those are really great tips! I stay home with our 4 kids and it’s definitely been a learning process, but it’s so wonderful. We do a lot of passing around clothes (hand-me-downs) and it has been a financial lifesaver!

  102. rochkirstin

    I also ask the same question when talking with homestay moms. I know most of them invest in stocks or do household chores for other families like ironing clothes, washing clothes, and other errands.

  103. Shannon Gurnee

    I love these tips that you shared for being a SAHM. I loved being a SAHM. While it was definitely trying, it was totally worth it!

  104. Heather

    We are careful with our spending. We also have an emergency fund.

  105. Yona Williams

    I think it is so much easier to be a SAHM than it was years ago because there are more opportunities to earn a legitimate, side income online. I remember looking for opportunities like 8-10 years ago, I there were soooo many duds out there.

  106. sgarrison05

    These are all great tips! We took our first real vacation last year with our boys and it was more work than vacation so we are definitely opting for the staycation route this year.

  107. irishred13

    Great tips, we budget like crazy to make sure I can stay home. I do work from home now but before this I was just here living on the babies!

  108. Amanda Love

    While I’m a SAHM now I get a retirement check so it’s not that bad. Great tips for those contemplating it.

  109. [email protected]

    Couponing and price matching my groceries has helped us save money.

  110. Nancy @ Whispered Inspirations

    We definitely need to cut back on take-out every week. But, we figure it’s a nice way to spend time together. But, it would save tons of cash.

  111. Cherri Megasko

    My daughter is a SAHM. They saved up as well. They just lived on my sil’s income for a couple of year’s up to having children and saved back all of my daughter’s income.

  112. Lynndee

    I am a SAHM with one kid. We save as much as we can – grab deals and use coupons. And we only eat out on special occasions.

  113. Angela S

    These are great tips. I was a SAHM for many years. We tried to pinch pennies as much as we could. Eating out was a treat for us.

  114. Amy Desrosiers

    These are some great tips to pinch a penny. I have not worked a standard job in 4 years myself but I do bring home a full time income working from home.

  115. Sarah Marturano

    You are soo right! Budget is everything when it comes to being a SAHM!

  116. Erin @ Sugar Crumbs

    Fabulous tips! We do a lot of home date nights and rarely eat out. We don’t have cable and we don’t have all the latest gadgets. But we’re happy!

  117. casavilorainteriors

    Try being a SAHM when you have no spouse! Lol. I did that for a couple of years when my son was little. I did a customer service job from home to make ends meet. Now I am still single and run an Interior Design company outside of the home since my kids are 13 and 17 now. It hasn’t been easy. Believe me. But I did what my family needed. Thanks for the great tips on how it can be done without losing your pants

  118. April G

    Planning is definitely my number one tip. I wish I would’ve saved or at least paid off some things before I stayed home. I never thought I’d be a SAHM. So, I didn’t prepare for years, pluse I was in law school racking up tons of debt. :/

  119. Ann Bacciaglia

    Twins must keep you very busy. These are great tips for living on one income. I find there is a huge market for gentle used children’s things.

  120. censie

    I do not think I will ever be able to be a full time SAHM but maybe part time soon!

  121. Christina Aliperti

    I use a lot of these tips myself. We gave up fast food and started finding copycat recipes online. Now we can make our favorites at home and it saves a lot!

  122. Raya

    When I was a SAHM the local library saved me. My children would participatein the activities while I devoured any book that caught my eye. I highly recommend libraries.

  123. indah nuria Savitri

    great tips…surely beneficial for most of us..

  124. Aisha Kristine Chong

    So true. Idk who said working from home is easy – it isn’t you need to build reputations and find trusted and legit partners.

  125. Melissa Smith

    Lot’s of great tips! I know it can be tough for our family of 5 at times since I’m a SAHM. But we did the math of added expenses & if I would get a job, it would put us in the hole.

  126. Christie

    Yes, SAHM is hard work too, but can be done! Thanks for the motivation and great tips

  127. traceyzimmer

    These are awesome tips. I am hoping to stay at home when I have kids.

  128. rocky

    great tips you have here and thanks for sharing..

  129. Alison

    I really enjoy being able to afford staying at home for longer than we hoped because I started my own blog. There is so many more opportunities available it seems nowadays for people to work at home. It’s wonderful!

  130. alexisakamom0616

    Man I need to put something’s into place to help out around here!

  131. Jacqueline

    We save a lot of money by using coupons and stocking up on essential items when there’s a major sale. If you plan correctly you can still afford things like really good toilet paper and paper towels (lol) on a tight budget.

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