1. Parenting

Adjusting To Life On One Income


Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images

The list of things that may churn a new stay-at-home dad’s stomach is a long one. Topping that list, especially in a tough economic climate, could be a fear of dealing with a single income for the first time.

It certainly will be an adjustment, especially if half the money you used to bring home is nowhere to be found.

But it’s not impossible to make that thinner pocketbook work. Besides, ever heard that the more you make, the more you spend?


Once that fear subsides, think about the financial advantages.

The biggest for a parent, and possibly a determining factor in making the decision to become a SAHD, is childcare. Childcare costs can eat up the paychecks of even the most well off parents.

The cost of childcare in the United States is as high as $14,591 a year for infants and $10,787 for a 4-year-old, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. Just think of the families with more than one child being looked after. That is a significant savings right there.

Another obvious way to save is not putting as much gas in the car. Gas prices near $4 a gallon is a strain on everyone. Not having to commute every day, daily trips to the park or library not withstanding, will keep a ton of money in the bank over the course of a year. You’ll also save on wear and tear on your vehicle.

On a much smaller scale, you’re probably not out of the house as much, so those lost lunches with co-workers or Starbucks breaks are saving you big. Even if you bought one 75-cent soda every day at work, you are now saving about $180 a year.

If you still crave that Starbucks break, think about investing in a good coffee maker.


Make and stick with a budget. Find out what you pay on average for your goods and services a month and set that aside.

Have a plan when you go shopping. Don’t walk into that membership warehouse for a bulk load of toilet paper and walk out with $300 dollars worth of stuff you’ll never use but looked really cool when you walked into the store.

Set aside a few bucks for family entertainment, but don’t over do it. Don’t go to the movies every week and spend $100 on tickets and popcorn when you could have rented (or bought) a $5 DVD and had a snack from the fridge.

In fact, focus on paying for essentials and chop out what you don’t need.

Make Cuts

That weekly dinner out or sports tier on the cable box may have become automatic and seem necessary, but how much would you really miss it?

Remember the only items you really need to pay for: Housing, food and clothes. Everything else is an extra.

Everyone pays for something – or many things – they don’t need. Think about where you can cut. Do you really need the 5,000-minute cell phone plan, the 400 TV channels or the subscription to that golf magazine?

Keeping the same services you have but dropping to a lower price tier will save money and most families probably wouldn’t notice they are missing anything. Going to a plan that costs $10 less a month would save $120 a year. Do that for three services and you save nearly $400 without really dropping anything.

Find a service that you can afford to drop and you could save some big bucks right away. It may not seem expensive to spend $50 a month on a website subscription to a message board that entertains you, but that’s $600 a year.

You may find you don’t even miss it.

Pay in Cash

Don’t use credit whenever possible. You don’t see the charges until a month later and by then it’s too late.

If you pay in cash, the money is gone instantly and you notice that it’s gone. That likely will help you keep to your budget and not buy items you don’t really need.

Add Some Spending Cash

Once a new SAHD gets settled in his new gig, there may be chances to bring home a few bucks here or there without affecting his time with the kids.

Watch the neighbors’ kids on occasion, deliver the newspaper, or freelance from home in the field you used to work. Part-time work out of the house while your spouse is home may even be feasible.

So don’t fret too much. Remember plenty of people have gotten by on less and it’s not impossible to learn to live comfortably on that slimmer income.

Related Video
How to be a Summer Dad
  1. About.com
  2. Parenting
  3. Stay-at-Home Dads
  4. Economics
  5. Adjusting To Life On One Income

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.