Most stay at home moms quickly find that they wouldn’t trade what they’re doing for the world. It can be very satisfying raising your family on your own rather than paying for daycare.
But it’s not all fun, even when you really enjoy being with your kids all day. And worst of all can be the financial traps that too many stay at home moms fall into.
1. Not saving for retirement.
This is one of the most common failures for stay at home moms, and it can have a tremendous impact on your later years, even if you only stay at home until your kids are all in elementary schools. And it only gets worse if you choose to stay at home the entire time you have kids at home.
There are options for stay at home moms to save for retirement. The first thing to do is to roll over any 401k money into Roth IRAs. This will give you more flexibility with the money. If you can’t afford to take a tax hit, take your time with this one.
You can also contribute to a Spousal IRA. These can be either a traditional or Roth IRA, and you need to have one. Try to contribute the maximum each year if your budget can afford it. You will be grateful in your retirement years.
2. Assuming daycare costs are completely gone.
Sure, once you’re staying at home you probably don’t HAVE to pay for any sort of childcare. But other expenses may take that money right back out of your budget.
How else to pay for swimming lessons, art classes, organized sports and other activities your children may be interested in? It may be difficult to find enough children for your own kids to play with regularly, and these classes can help you to get a bit of a break (even if you’re just sitting and watching them), and your kids get social time.
You may also choose to put your 3 or 4 year old child in a preschool program. I did this with my daughter, and while it was expensive it was very much so worth it. Makes kindergarten quite the relief, financially speaking.
3. What if…?
Many single income families aren’t ready for the big what-ifs in life. Like what if your husband loses his job? I’ve just gone through that one personally, and it’s a pain, even though I earn an income at home.
Do your best to have savings to cover at least 3-6 months of living expenses. This may not get you through the crisis, but it gives you time to figure out how to handle it.
And don’t forget that expenses can increase at such times. When my husband was laid off, rent wasn’t the most painful part financially speaking. Adding in the cost of COBRA coverage to keep our health insurance was.
And don’t forget that even when things are going well financially the car can break down, or the refrigerator, or the plumbing in your house turns out to be a complete mess. Have some money set aside for such emergencies.
4. Too much free time.
Once you’re at home there are a lot of temptations that you could either afford or just didn’t have the time for when you were working. You might decide to start painting in the house. Get seriously into your favorite crafts. Shop just because you have the time.
It’s nice to have time for these things, but if you haven’t planned for them they can seriously mess with your budget. Make sure you reassess your budget if this starts to happen to you. And don’t let it get out of control.