Prioritize the Stay-at-Home Mom

Let’s say that you decide that it would be a good idea for mothers to stay at home with their children.

This is a good summary from Lori Alexander:

If that is not enough for you, consider this book by our recent presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren:

It might seem like there are fewer problems when a family has two full-time parents. There is more money. And also, if one person loses their job, there is still another income. But, it doesn’t quite work out that way in practice. What often happens is, a family spends all its money. Now it has a financial disaster when either parent loses their job. In other words, it is now two times more risky.

Plus, there are additional problems. Having two people with a career creates issues when career opportunities appear in different cities, or when you are trying to find a home that is a tolerable distance for two commuting parents. If a wife has a career, and a man loses his job (which often happens to any working people), unfortunately many women would quickly divorce this man, thus breaking up the family. A stay-at-home wife is more likely to keep the family together.

Today, many American families have been having a hard time. It might seem difficult to get by these days, on one income. But, somehow people did it, back when incomes were lower than they are today, even in real terms.

It is easy for a wife to say: “Well, it would be nice if I could stay at home with the kids, but we don’t have enough money because of yadda yadda yadda.” Basically, a stay-at-home Mom is a luxury that only the upper-middle class can afford, and even then, these women often choose to work even when they can afford not to. The basic problem is that a stay-at-home Mom is not prioritized. It is a nice thing that is somewhere way down the list of priorities, a few steps past a two-week vacation in Italy.

But, if you prioritized it — if you were willing to give other things up so that you could have it — I think a lot of families today could afford to live on one income.

For example, we often prioritize a “big house in the suburbs with a yard.” Yes, we would like to live on one income, but our three-bedroom 2,200sf house costs a lot, and even then, we have to live 60 minutes from work, so there are a lot of costs of commuting as well. But, it is worth it because our kids get their own bedrooms.

But, if we were willing to give that up, perhaps we could live in a much smaller and cheaper situation, closer to work. Maybe it is a one-bedroom condo. That is a big step down, but maybe it is worth it, so that we could have a stay-at-home Mom.

There would be a lot of other savings from having Mom stay at home. Daycare and other childcare expenses plummet. Costs of working — transportation, clothing, lunches in restaurants, coffee from Starbucks, etc. — disappear. Then there are the “soft” costs of working, such as dinner from Chinese takeout or a frozen pizza instead of a homecooked meal; and, later, the health consequences of so much processed/restaurant food.

Then there are the big-picture costs of working mothers. Four years of college education. Maybe more vocational training on top of that. Many years of peak fertility and peak attractiveness squandered on climbing the career ladder.

When a woman stays at home, she (and her children) don’t really cost much. A man can pay for a wife and two small children for about $1000/month more than living alone.

You might be able to get by with one car. A smaller home also has a lot fewer costs in terms of maintenance, utilities, yardwork, etc. A woman’s income is also, typically, taxed at higher income tax rates, since it comes on top of the man’s income.

But, the biggest savings might come from homeschooling. Elizabeth Warren found that one reason that families were overstretched financially is that they were spending big $$$ to get a house in the most desirable school districts. But, if you are homeschooling, then even if you still want to live in a nice neighborhood, the school district is not so important.

You might have to give up a lot to get by on one income. You might have camping vacations rather than something involving an airplane. You might spend time in the park rather than spending money on dance lessons. You might have to learn to cook. But, you might get a lot too. You might get the most important things.

Published by proprietor

Happily married, with children.

One thought on “Prioritize the Stay-at-Home Mom

  1. [This ended up a long post. I promise it reads quickly.]

    There was a time the West taught men and women differently. This was before women’s suffrage, sexual revolution, materialism, of course. The decline has been long coming, accelerated with each generation. Men would learn welding, hunting, shop, wiring, plumbing. Women would learn sewing, mothering, cooking. This system worked best, because it is biblical (read on).

    The Millionaire Next Door. This book should be required reading for all boys and girls of Middle School age. From a purely financial perspective, it demonstrates the value- tangible- that men and women both bring to the equation.

    A man serves as a home’s income. The woman is the ‘contra-account’ (to use Financial terms) within the income column. The man earns, the woman spends. But there is an art to both.

    The more the man earns, the more he is taxed by government. However, there is no limit to the savings on what the family spends. As the book summarizes, millionaire-status families have a father/husband/man who plays good offense (earning) with a mother/wife/woman who plays excellent defense (spending) with the money.

    With two incomes, there are added costs. Childcare chief among them. For the vast majority of dual-income homes, the need for 2 separate transportation costs. The list grows. The earning never keeps pace with the costs associated because remember: the more you earn, the more still government taxes. Everything the family must spend (caretaking of children, meals, haircuts) comes with a full pricetag- and those prices keep beating inflation every year. The game cannot be sustained as more and more dollars earned result in less money to the home, and more and more costs keep rising: the family is trapped / pinched / stuck.

    A woman who remains home not only cuts costs, but can serve to cut spending too:
    Husband brings home paycheck. Wife minimizes how much of that paycheck goes back out:
    * sews torn work clothes for husband – getting 2x the life out of the ‘investment’ of clothing
    * shops for family clothes at bargain stores – never pay retail!
    * cuts coupons for grocery shopping – I have personally seen grocery bills be 10% of the cost thanks to my sister’s practice
    * does her own beauty regimen – quality girl time with her daughters!
    * cooks a square 3 meals daily – real nutrients for her family, vastly cheaper than eating out
    * homeschools the children – no need for child care / nanny / aupair
    * keeps the home clean – no need for the twice-weekly cleaning service
    Is it not eerie how similar this list looks to ‘the Proverbs 31 woman’?

    Her value CAN be measured financially, but the error is to assume the finances are measured the same way a man provides: starting the measurement at 0 up to X (whatever number he brings in each paycheck). Her financial worth is instead: starting the measurement at X to what the family ended the pay period of Y, versus what it would have ended with Z had she not been involved. Her measurement is the delta of Y and Z: she is the contra-account, the savings from spending, to her husband’s income.

    A woman who is good at her craft can almost completely negate both her and her childrens’ presence from the family bill. Said otherwise: a (male) bachelor has a baseline of costs: he must shelter himself (rent/mortgage), he must feed himself (groceries/eating out), he must work (commute costs, insurances) but what he does not have is time to *optimize* any of these endevours. We are all limited to 24 hours, and sleep + work occupy most, and businesses are open limited hours of those remaining. A woman does not incur any more cost to rent. And while she must eat too, her time spent preparing meals largely negates the cost of meals eaten-out by a man otherwise. Trips to nearby grocers can be done during daylight hours or by the husband during his commute. As a family grows, so too does her influence in how she negates the impact of children. It is not because large families have so many needs that the woman must stay home, it is because the woman keeps her home so (financially) well that makes the large family possible.

    Anyone who believes having more than 2 children ‘costs too much’ or is ‘irresponsible’ is simply ignorant of how basic finances work. Furthermore, they expose their ignorance with assumption that dual-income is a necessity.
    (Not counting the obvious example of welfare ingrates- regardless of race/class/creed- having serial illegitimate children). Have 4 children! Have 13!

    Lastly, the woman who stays home and off of the government payroll provides another blessing to finances: a larger upper limit to what the man can earn before entering the next tax bracket. In this consideration, he actually puts more money into the family coffer by her mere presence than if she were working as well. Crazy, I know!

    As to the false argument of ‘well, if it is so awesome, why cannot the husband stay home and the wife work!’. Well, because women were both built for it, and because God *ordained* the man to work (1 Tm 5:8) and the woman to keep the home (1 Tm 5:14). And those who keep God’s commandments will be blessed- both in this life and Life Eternal. One just might find the blessing of their family (financial) worth among the ‘rich’ when it is all said and done.


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