You’ve Made The Decision To Stay At Home – Now What??

by Scott W. Danger, CPA

One of my favorite television shows is the NBC sitcom Friends. In one episode a few years back, Rachel was stuck in a dead-end job working as a waitress at Central Perk. She dreamed of a career in fashion but couldn’t see how she was going to get it. Joey told her what she was lacking was “the fear.” If she quit her job, “the fear” of not having a job would force her to find something she truly liked. She quit that day, and before the show ended, she had her dream job. Big shock right? Probably not. Everything always works out in the world of half-hour comedy.

Now, what you are probably wondering is, “How does that relate to me?”. With Rachel, the security of her dead-end job kept her from finding her dream job. The same may be true for you. The security of a second income may keep you from staying home with your child. If this is true for you, and if staying home with your child is what you really want, remember that there are always options.

Now I am certainly not suggesting that everyone quit their jobs and everything will be fine. We live in the real world and things are not that easy. The real world requires carefully thought-out decisions and planning. However, if you are contemplating the decision to stay home, there are ways you can make it work.

To start, you need to determine where your money is currently being spent. Try tracking your expenses for a month. Write down in a notebook every dollar that your household spends. At the end of the month, spend some time analyzing where your money goes. Then, determine which expenses would change if you were to stay home. Some things won’t change at all. Your mortgage, insurance and utilities are pretty much out of your control and will stay the same whether you are home or not. Others, such as day care, commuting costs, and work clothes can be eliminated. Then, look at the remaining expenses and see if by staying home you could reduce them. A prime example is groceries. By taking the time to buy the sale items and cutting coupons, your food bill can be reduced. You will also probably purchase fewer convenience items since you will have more time at home to plan and cook meals.

Once you have determined what your monthly expenses will be if you stay home, subtract these from the monthly take home pay of the working spouse. Do you still have money left over? Great. If not, you will need to find ways to make up the difference. This can be done in a variety of ways. Your current employer may allow you to work from home. You may also want to consider providing daycare to one family, or a part-time job a couple nights a week. Do you have any special talents that you can use to generate additional income? Look at Mommysavers’ Work From Home page for more ideas on additional income:

A lot of planning needs to go into your decision to stay home, and making it work isn’t always easy. Just don’t let “the fear” of going without a second income keep you from trying. Fear is a great motivator. Use it to make staying at home work for you.

Scott Danger is a C.P.A. with ten years’ accounting experience. He is a husband and father to 11-month-old Sydney. His column, Moneywise, is a regular feature on