Last Updated September 10th, 2014

Will You Be Able to Get Back Into the Job Market After Being a Stay at Home Mom?

Will You Be Able to Get Back Into the Job Market After Being a Stay at Home Mom?

The time comes for most stay at home moms that they consider getting back into the job market. Maybe it’s because the kids have gotten older and can go to daycare or to school, or maybe the family’s situation has changed and you need the income. Or maybe you’ve decided the change is the right thing for you. Whatever your reason, you should have a plan for how you’ll get back into the job market after being a stay at home mom.

What Do You Want To Do?

Knowing what you’d like to do after being a stay at home mom will help you get there. You might want to go back to your old job or career, or you might want to build your skills to get into something new.

Having a goal allows you to focus on the important parts of getting back into the job market. A goal helps you know what you need to work on to improve your chances of finding a job after the gap caused by staying at home.

How Will You Get There?

What will it take to make you a good candidate for whatever job or career you’d like to have after staying at home? Do you need to update your skills? Are there entirely new skills you need to acquire?

The time you’ve spent at home can be used to build the skills you’ll need later. You can attend classes at a local community college or online – just make sure you make good choices with your education. Too many online colleges are a complete ripoff. It’s possible to find a good one, but you need to really do your research before you spend any money or time on it.

In some industries, freelancing is a viable way to keep working while staying at home. It also keeps you using your skills and makes it easier to keep your skills current. I’m not saying finding freelance work is easy – it may not be – but it can be worth the effort to keep up your skills.

Have You Really Looked at the Difficulties You’ll Face?

Sadly, it can be incredibly difficult for a stay at home mom to get back into the workforce. The gap in employment can be a huge deal, especially if the industry you’d like to be in has changed a lot in the intervening years.

Working from home or part time may help matters, but they may not be a complete solution. You probably won’t have the skills or history that people who continued to work full time will have, yet you’ll have too many skills for many entry level positions.

I’m decidedly not against working at home or finding part time work to keep your skills up. I believe it puts you in a better position overall for a variety of reasons. If nothing else, they’re a way to keep money coming in until you find the work you really want. Sometimes they even turn out to provide enough money for your needs. In my own situation, for example, I earn more working at home than my husband does outside of it. At this point in my life, there’s no thought of returning to work outside the home.

But that’s not true for many stay at home moms or dads. If you aren’t ready for the difficulties you’ll face, they can be overwhelming at a time you really need to focus on bringing in an income.

Build Your Network

No matter the job experience you have, networking is often the key to a successful job hunt. Keep in at least occasional contact with former employers and coworkers. Use LinkedIn. Talk to people about your job hunt when you’re looking. You never know where that perfect job lead will come from.

Be Ready to Earn Less

It’s a sad fact that many stay at home moms earn less after returning to work than they did before they left. It’s a result of not having recent experience, and of course you’ve missed out on all the raises you would have gotten throughout the years if you had continued to work. It’s one of the tough realities of being a stay at home mom that many people don’t prepare for.

Don’t be too ready to earn less, of course. You shouldn’t feel as though you will absolutely earn less. If you see an opportunity for better earnings, go for it!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 21st, 2014

7 Ways to Exercise Without Paying For a Gym Membership

7 Ways to Exercise Without Paying For a Gym Membership

Spring is here and most places are warming up quite nicely. Too nicely here – we’ve had temperatures in the 90s some days. It’s too early for that! Of course, I’m in southern California, and we didn’t even have what we’d call a winter here, and even a wet winter here is mild by what other places get.

Spring is a great time to start working on your exercise routine. The weather is nice enough that you can work on it without a lot of excuses in the way. But a gym membership doesn’t fit into all budgets. Fortunately, you can get some great exercise without buying a membership.

1. Walking/running in your neighborhood.

My neighborhood is pretty nice for walking. We have sidewalks, and we’re surrounded by hills, so walking just about anywhere includes a lot of uphill and downhill, including some pretty tough hills, depending on which way you go.

All you need to walk for exercise is a good pair of shoes and a place to walk. Nice weather helps, but the determined can keep it up in less than ideal weather, so long as it’s not actually dangerous weather.

It can be kind of hard to keep motivated, which is why many people find a friend to walk with. You both get exercise, and it’s harder to come up with excuses to not do it. Push each other to keep going.

2. Bicycling.

Riding your bike is another good way to go for exercise. It’s also a nice way to run the occasional quick errand.

3. YouTube videos.

There are a lot of people who have put up exercise videos on YouTube for free. The challenge here is figuring out who’s putting up good quality instructions, and who has no idea what they’re doing. Take a look at the comments and number of subscribers for a first estimate of quality, but also look at how things progress on that channel. Is it easy to tell which are the more challenging workouts as you progress?

Remember, pretty much anyone can put up a video on YouTube. Not every exercise video will be a good choice to follow.

4. Workout DVDs and Blu-Ray.

Workout DVDs have quite a range in price, depending on how comprehensive a resource you’re looking for. You can pay a couple hundred dollars for some sets, or less than $10. It depends on the kind of workout you’re looking for. Once again, be careful and take your own physical limitations into consideration, and do your best to keep proper form so you don’t injure yourself.

5. Community/recreation center fitness classes.

Many community centers offer fitness classes at a reasonable price. Check in your area to see what’s available. Some even have pools and offer swimming classes or water exercise classes.

6. Join a community team.

Many communities have sports teams for adults. I know of soccer and baseball teams in my area for adults, although I’ve never joined them.

7. Home exercise equipment.

You can get all kinds of exercise equipment for your home if you like, from simple hand weights all the way to treadmills and elliptical machines for those who want something a little more like working out at the gym. Buying your own equipment can run from a few dollars into the thousands of dollars, and so may not save money over going to the gym for a very long time. But the nice part is that you don’t have to go anywhere to work out, and it’s all on your own schedule.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated April 7th, 2014

The Sad Truth About Stay at Home Mom Regret

The Sad Truth About Stay at Home Mom Regret

Most stay at home moms start out staying at home for very good reasons. Sometimes it’s voluntary – you can afford to do so, and don’t mind the break from your career. You want to raise your kids yourself and not pay for childcare. Other times it’s the best financial move at the time – childcare runs more than you’d earn working outside the home at the time.

Good reasons don’t mean you can avoid regretting it over the long run, however. It’s not at all uncommon for stay at home moms to later find that they regret the decision. What was once a sensible, loving decision has a price in the long run, and paying that price can be painful. Finding a good job in your 40s and 50s, for example, can be very difficult. Dealing with the sudden need to work in the event of your spouse’s death or disability, or if you two should divorce, can be a very unpleasant reality.

What’s The Price?

The price you pay is in your earnings and savings. Staying at home for however many years puts a dent in your career, often a big one. Most stay at home moms eventually return to the workforce, but at a much lower level than where they started out.

If you had a solid professional level career before staying at home, you may have to start out almost fresh. You may have to get more education to catch up with your industry. All this means you won’t be earning as much, and you have less time for promotions and raises to increase your salary. It’s a financial hit well beyond the lost income of the years you weren’t working.

But even if you had a lower paying job you left because it wouldn’t even pay for childcare, your future earnings take a hit when you stay at home. It’s that loss of promotions and experience that can get you.

How Do You Avoid It?

You can avoid these problems with good planning and some good fortune.

My own favorite (I’ve said it before) is working at home. I do well enough at it that the past two years, my income has been higher than my husband’s income. It took some time to get there; I’m no overnight success. Still, running my own business from home and making a good income at it is wonderful, making all the time I’ve spent working up to it worthwhile. Stressful as can be at times – business doesn’t always go the way I’d like it to. But now I know I can do it.

Your solution doesn’t have to be your own business. It can be a work at home job, part time work, freelance work… whatever works for you. I really think the key is making sure you keep some sort of relevant work experience going for the kind of career you’d like when the kids are old enough that you want to go back to work. It may not put you as high on your career ladder as if you’d never stayed home at all, but it probably won’t be as low as if you’d left entirely.

Improving your education as the kids get older is another alternative. Going back to school as an older student has its advantages. Most older students are more serious about their studies, because you really know their value. You can study for the career you’d like to have, not necessarily the one you had before you had kids.

Improving your education also sets a great example for your kids when they’re in school. They’ll see you doing homework and studying, and getting good results for it. That can make an impression, plus you can set yourself on a better career path after.

None of this is easy for most families. I firmly believe, however, that you are a thousand times better off if you consider the problems you might face later in life, so you can prepare for them in advance. There’s no knowing where your life will take you, but you can take steps that may help smooth many troubles out at least some of the way.

Regretting the price you paid to be a stay at home mom doesn’t mean you regret the good parts, of course. Even if being a stay at home parent lands you in difficulty later, remember those good parts. Those memories won’t make future troubles go away, but they have their own value.

I’m not saying all stay at home moms eventually regret their decision. Plenty will be happy they did so for the rest of their lives, despite the price. You’re better off, however, if you know what the price is early on, so you can take control of how you pay it.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated February 24th, 2014

21 Steps to Make Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad Work Financially

21 Steps to Make Being a Stay at Home Mom or Dad Work Financially

For some families, the decision to have a stay at home mom or dad just happens. It’s not always planned. There’s just the sudden realization that having mom or dad stay home is going to make the most sense. Maybe there’s a layoff while she’s pregnant or the kids are young, or the sudden realization that childcare costs more than one parent’s job brings in. If you aren’t prepared, going from two incomes to one can be quite a shock.

Others know from early on that they’re going to be a stay at home mom or dad. The income may not even be a part of the decision as such; it can be based more on the desire to have one parent at home. Still if the family doesn’t prepare financially for the changes, things can get difficult.

This is why it’s so important to plan before your family goes to a single income due to one parent staying at home if at all possible. You can avoid some nasty financial surprises if you know how these things may go.

1. Practice living on one income first.

If the decision to have one parent stay home with the kids is a deliberate one, not one caused by circumstance, try living as though your family only has a single income for a time while both parents continue to work. Not only will this show you how things are going to be, it allows you to save up the money from the second income. A little financial padding is always a good thing to have.

2. Review your finances.

You can do this even if staying at home wasn’t planned in advance. Calculate all your living expenses – rent, food, utilities, vehicles, taxes, insurance and so forth. Make sure the income of the parent who continues to work will be enough to pay all your regular expenses… ideally with some left over for savings.

3. Cut down on monthly bills.

Rethink your monthly bills where possible. Are you on the right plan for your cable TV/internet? Do you really need it? Can you cut down on your cell phone plans (consider what early cancellation fees will do)? What other monthly expenses can you cut down?

The great thing about cutting back on monthly bills is that once you’ve decreased a bill, it stays down unless your service provider increases the basic cost. You don’t have to change it every month – just review your needs occasionally and make sure it’s still right for you.

4. Plan for emergencies.

Life never keeps things simple for long. Cars break down. Kids get sick. Parents get sick. Something in the house needs to be repaired or replaced.

If you don’t plan ahead for emergencies, they can ruin all your financial planning. Have some money set aside for those times when things need to be repaired. Have insurance to help out with the things insurance can help with.

5. Avoid credit card debt.

Credit can be a very tempting way to pay for things you can’t afford at the moment. I still have credit card debt to pay off, although things are steadily improving these days. If it weren’t for the debt (taken on for reasons that were generally good at the time, not so much frivolously), we’d easily be living within our income and have money left over to save.

6. Pay off debt.

Beyond credit card debts, there are other debts that can make having a stay at home parent more difficult. Pay off or pay down those student loans, car loans and pay down the mortgage if you have them. The lower you can make those bills, the more flexibility you will have financially.

7. Pick your sacrifices.

Most single income families have to make sacrifices to keep mom or dad at home. Talk as a family about the things you’re willing to sacrifice, and which things you’d prefer to keep.

8. Look at taxes withheld.

Take a look at the taxes being withheld from your spouse’s paycheck once your family is down to a single income. The fact that your family is now living on one income means you can probably adjust the withholding so that you get more money now rather than a big tax refund. Big refunds feel like a windfall, but what they really mean is that you didn’t have that money earlier.

9. Talk about money.

Have a talk about your attitudes toward money, especially that only one person will be bringing it in for the family. A lot of tension can come from the bread winning parent feeling as though that money is his or hers, not both of yours. It’s just as important for the stay at home mom or dad to have spending money as it is for the working parent. Don’t let the “I earned it, it’s all mine” attitude ruin things.

10. Consider or increase life insurance.

The expense of life insurance may seem like an unnecessary extra, but if your family is unfortunate enough to need it, you won’t regret the expense. Should one parent die, whether that’s the working parent or the stay at home one, the money from life insurance can help keep the family going.

11. Discuss how long you’ll stay at home.

What is your plan for being a stay at home parent? Is it just while the kids are babies? Until they go to kindergarten? Until they’re adults? Forever?

What you decide at the start may not be what you want forever. Some find that staying at home isn’t right for them. Some think they’ll only stay home for a while, but find it so good that they want to stick with it always. Some realize that while they love it, the financial aspects aren’t working out, and that it’s necessary to go back to work. However things seem to be going, talk about the stay at home decision occasionally to be sure everyone still considers it to be a good thing and to deal with problems as they come up.

12. Consider your financial future.

One major problem many long term stay at home parents don’t always take sufficiently into consideration is retirement. Not working for years will impact what you could get from Social Security. If you aren’t saving for your retirement even when you don’t have an income, it could become a problem in later years.

13. Consider part time work or work at home.

Not every family will be able to get by on a single income. My husband and I don’t. I earn pretty good money working at home – enough that it isn’t worthwhile for me to look for an outside the home job even when all the kids go to school.

For others, a part time job when your spouse can be home is the best way to handle things. A part time job can also be nice for getting time with other adults. If a single income isn’t enough, make sure you find a way to bring in enough extra money so that your family doesn’t have trouble with debt.

14. Consider furthering your education.

Furthering your education can be very important when you’re a stay at home parent looking to return to work someday – or just because you want to learn more about something. If you take online classes, look carefully into the school to make sure it’s a good quality program – there are a lot of low quality schools out there.

An improved education may help you land a better job when you go back to work outside the home. It’s not a guarantee, even from a good school, as there’s still a gap in your paid work history, but it should help.

15. Keep up professional credentials.

Even if you don’t plan to go back to work soon, keep up any professional credentials you may have. If you need to go back to work, even part time, this can be a huge help in getting a better paying position.

16. Keep up professional contacts.

If you left a professional position to stay at home, keeping in contact with old coworkers and other professional contacts can be a huge help if you decide to go back to work. It’s not just about working outside the home – you may be able to use these contacts for freelance or work at home positions if you don’t want a regular position. Keeping your foot in the door can be a huge help if you need to increase your family’s income for any reason.

17. Learn to find bargains.

Knowing how to find bargains on the things you need can be a good help when you’re a single income family. Seek out ways to save money on the things your family needs, but make sure you don’t buy things you don’t need just because the price was good.

Clip coupons, go to thrift stores, pay attention to sales in local stores, buy in bulk when appropriate, find out what’s cheaper from programs such as Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. There are many ways to save money that won’t take up more time than you’re willing to give it.

18. Cook more.

Eating home cooked meals is generally far more budget friendly than eating out. If this isn’t already a habit, make it one.

19. Learn to do basic home maintenance.

The more repairs you can handle around your home, the less you’ll have to spend on professionals. Painting is relatively easy, a project many people are comfortable with taking on, but you may find that you are capable of handling more than you think.

That said, when professional help is called for, get it. A poorly done repair may cost more than the original problem would have if it had been fixed correctly the first time.

20. Don’t be too hard on yourself up over mistakes.

It’s easy to be hard on yourself when you make financial mistakes when you stay at home. Maybe you overspend and have to take on some credit card debt. Maybe you didn’t prepare enough for unexpected bills, and ended up having a car repair ruin all your plans.

Whatever happens, take it as a lesson, and don’t be too hard on yourself. We all make mistakes, especially when we’re learning.

21. Adjust your plans.

Review your finances regularly. Make changes where things aren’t working or where they could work better. Not every money saving tip will work for every stay at home parent. There may still be times where convenience trumps money saved. On the other hand, you should also be able to find more ways to save money over time that will suit your lifestyle. Just because one thing isn’t working out doesn’t mean something different won’t work either.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated December 9th, 2013

“Your Kids Won’t Be Home? What ARE You Going To Do With Yourself?”

"Your Kids Won't Be Home? What ARE You Going To Do With Yourself?"

I’m starting to hear the occasional comment from people I know asking how I’m going to cope next year when my youngest hits kindergarten. Somehow, even some of the people who know I work from home can’t imagine that I’ll know what to do when I no longer have a small child in the house all day.

I know exactly what I’ll do. I’ll keep working from home, just with more time to work during the day. Sounds awesome to me.

I think this comes from people assuming that my day must center around the kids and only the kids. It’s how a lot of people view stay at home moms. And maybe that’s true for some, but it isn’t true for all stay at home moms. Lots of moms keep that balance where they maintain their own interests, even their careers, while being home with the kids.

That’s what I’ll be doing when my youngest goes to kindergarten next fall. I’ll be taking advantage of the time she’s in school to work on improving my income.

This is why I think it’s important for at home moms to keep up with their own interests. You’re still a person, and you’re a more interesting mom if you’re an interesting person aside from being a mom. Being mom is just one part of your life – a huge, vitally important part of your life few moms would care to part with, but nonetheless, only one part of your life.

My preference is to earn money because it can become so important to your life if things go wrong. My income was vital when my husband was laid off. Even now it’s pretty important – my husband works for the state, and despite what some people think, most state employees don’t earn all that spectacular an income. Things get pretty tight at times, mostly due to old credit card debts we’re steadily paying down – remnants of tighter times. It would take even longer if I didn’t work from home.

But if working from home isn’t your thing, if you feel that secure from the death, divorce, disability or unemployment of whoever earns the income in your family, keep up with some other interest of your own. You’ll feel better and more relaxed when you take a bit of time here and there to be you, not just Mom.

How much time you need is up to you. It depends on your needs and your family’s needs. Some need more, some need less. But even if you have a special needs child who takes up large amounts of time out of sheer necessity, find a way to have some time for yourself, even if it’s only when your kids are asleep.

My point is that you shouldn’t ever have to wonder what you’ll do with yourself as your children move on through different parts of their lives. Be their mom, be there for them, but be there for yourself too.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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