Whether you are deep in the trenches of parenting with years of experience under your belt, you just welcomed a new family member into your home or maybe you’re starting to discuss having kids with your partner, figuring out how to adjust your family’s finances is a big, sometimes overwhelming, and important step for growing a healthy family.
From evaluating childcare costs to setting a budget, thoroughly looking at your financial picture before your parenting journey, as well as frequently throughout the process, is important. And if you are a single-income family, you are not alone! One in five families in the U.S. has a stay-at-home parent.
If you are currently a single-income family or exploring the option of having one parent stay home with the kids, check out these tips for managing money as a stay-at-home mom or dad.
Start with identifying your current expenses
The best way to manage expenses as a stay-at-home parent is to first know how much your expenses are. Start by reviewing and listing out your monthly expenses. Next, bucket your spending into categories for a budget. You can enter these into a simple budgeting spreadsheet, or even use the budgeting tool within Verve’s online banking.
Add up your current monthly income and find out how much you need to make to cover your current expenses by adding up everything you entered into your budgeting tool. Are you keeping your spending within your limits, or are you adding new credit card debt each month?
Now that you see where your money is going, identify areas you can reduce expenses or commit to improving. This could be going from three streaming subscriptions to one, reducing your clothing budget or something else entirely.
Develop a goal budget
Now that you’ve taken the time to review your current budget and identified any areas that need a little work it’s time to work on developing your goal budget… the one that works with a single income.
Start by removing the stay-at-home parent’s income from your total monthly income to see what you’re working with. Subtract your total expenses from your monthly income to see how much you need to adjust your budget.
Next, start trimming expenses. Start by removing the obvious things you won’t be spending money on when one parent is home with the kids, such as childcare and lower transportation costs (fuel, parking, vehicle maintenance, etc.). If you have more expenses to trim, explore TV, internet and cell phone service options. There may be a cheaper option available, or your current provider may offer discounts (or you can even negotiate better rates).
Consider working part-time
The reasons for one parent staying home with the kids varies from family to family. One option to consider is potentially working part-time—either from home or outside the home—to give your family more wiggle room with its budget.
If you are considering working part-time from home, be sure to do your homework to make sure you don’t fall into a remote work scam. If the part-time job you are applying for is fully remote, be sure to check with your new employer on their work-from-home policies to ensure it meets your needs.
There are many tips like “don’t eat out” or “get rid of one of your vehicles,” but these tips don’t work for all families. For example, rather than saying you’ll never eat out, plan on having one (or more!) easy meals on hand, such as a frozen stir fry mix or pizza so that when the temptation (or lack of time) makes you want to order delivery, you have a much cheaper alternative available compared to an expensive, last-minute decision to eat out.
Think outside the box, but also be real with yourself. If you say you are going to stop eating out but you know it’s not something you are committed to, you are setting yourself up for financial stress by not sticking to your budget. Know that making changes is hard work, but it is worth it to help you live a healthier and happier lifestyle that fits YOUR needs.
Make your current money work harder
If you currently have money in savings, or you want to start setting aside one of your incomes to build a larger emergency fund for when one parent leaves their current job, check out all your options to find ways to make your money work harder for you.
At Verve, you can:
- Earn chances to win prizes by saving money. Open aSave to Win certificate with as little as $25 to build your savings with a chance to win prizes. Members can earn up to 10 entries per month for every increment of $25 they deposit for a chance to win monthly and quarterly prizes ranging from $25 to $5,000. See official rules at org.
- Earn higher dividend rates with a share certificate or money market. If you have larger savings balances and can dedicate a portion of your savings to remain untouched for a longer period of time, you can earn more in dividends with a share certificate or money market account.
- Add Round Up to automatically grow your savings. With every debit card purchase you make, Verve will automatically round up to the nearest dollar and deposit the change into savings.
Avoid or Pay off Debt
As you are transitioning to one income (or maybe you’ve been doing it for a while now), the thought of taking on more debt can be enough to make your head spin.
Whenever the need to purchase a big-ticket item comes up, take a moment to evaluate all of your options. If it’s the fridge, will a used one or one from the scratch-and-dent aisle fit your budget better while still doing its job (keeping your food at a safe temperature)? If it’s a vehicle, determine how many people need to ride in it based on how your vehicle will be used. If you have one that’s big enough for the whole family, maybe the other vehicle can be used strictly for commuting (meaning it can be smaller and lower cost).
In addition to avoiding taking on new debt, paying down outstanding debt, such as student loans or credit cards, is an important step in supporting a family on a single income.