What Is Raising A Child Worth – We’re Going To One Income

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What is it worth to raise your child? Is it worth giving up an income?  For us the answer will be yes.  First the first time in a long while my wife will not be heading back to work this September (she works in education).  Instead she will be staying home to raise our little guy and our princess (19 months and 8 yrs old respectively).  This wasn’t an easy decision for us.  Giving up her income will require us to be a lot more frugal and we’ll really have to watch our spending now.  Our future savings will also decrease as we won’t have as much to put away.  We have  a nice cushion already and I think we can do this; it just requires us to change our lifestyle.

Here is why we’re moving to one income:

  • Child Care Cost – We were paying a LOT in child care.  And yet for all we were paying our son was getting sick way too often, catching bugs from the other kids at day care.  Not that the day care was bad; it’s just inevitable that a child gets sick and spreads it around.
  • Sick Days – My wife took a lot of sick days during the last school year.  As I mentioned the little guy was getting sick a lot.  Day care is supposed to help us go to work but it was causing a lot of stress instead.  Let’s face it, it’s painful seeing your child sick and not be able to do much about it.  And my wife was getting to a point where her sick days were going to start costing her.
  • Stress of getting around and making arrangements – Mornings were hectic to say the least in our home.  Getting two kids ready and getting to work on time s a big deal.  The evening before we had to make sure everything was prepared and laid out for the next day.  Then there’s actually dropping the little guy off and picking him up (sitting in traffic, finding a spot, etc…).  Ever leave you child with someone else and have him cry for you?  It will break your heart!  We also had to find arrangements for our daughter after school for a good part of the year.  And because I was dropping her off in the morning I was getting to work and leaving later.
  • Enjoying raising our children – Last on this list but first in our hearts, the main reason for my wife staying home to raise the kids is because we feel it’s the right thing to do.  We feel strongly about being there for our children in their formative years.  My wife originally intended to take more time out when the little guy was born but she ended up going back anyway.  Now she will take the time off to be there for them.

It’s a shame that in today’s economy having a parent stay at home to raise the kids has to be a difficult decision.  When did it switch from a second income being gravy to it being just about necessary?

Stay tuned to see what we have done so far to adjust to one income!

Have you moved from two incomes to one?  How is it working for you?

Creative Commons License photo credit: quarxdmz

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Published or updated May 6, 2013.


  1. This post is very timely for me. I am in a good situation, where I am able to work at home a couple of days a week.

    It did, however, become a lot to watch my 2 year old and work, so I started daycare today. I believe he is still crying (I dropped him off about 3 hours ago). I feel so bad, poor guy…

    There is no way that I could stay home. We need 2 incomes. It is sad in this day and age that if someone wants to stay home, it is nearly impossible (at least for most people).

    I am trying to find the positive in that he will be with other kids, have a better schedule and it is only for a few hours each week. I think I have found a good balance, at least I hope so!

    Thanks for the post!


  2. My wife and I were forced into this situation, not because of kids, but because of illness. It’s amazing how you can easily determine what is a necessity vs. a luxury. It was a very tough adjustment, and one of the motivating factors for me to start my blog where I teach others how to be financially prepared (and ultimately financially free), so that these life events don’t hit as hard.

    Living in NYC makes is a bit worse, and one of our resolutions was relocating to a less costly market (something we had already planned, so it was easier).

    Wishing you the best!

    Anthony @ TimeAndLifeFreedom.com

  3. I think that staying home with your children is such a great opportunity, if you can swing it. I hope that when we have kids, I will be able to stay home. I’m glad it worked out for you!

  4. @ Jennifer – Daycare can have a lot of positives like learning to socialize with other children. But it is tough. It’s great you can work at home at least.

    @ Anthony – We’ve considered moving as well. I’m sure we’ll discover that there are a lot of luxuries we can do without. One benefit of one income will be if my wife decides to go back at some point we’ll know we could bank her salary.

    @ Tiffanie – When the time comes for you start to plan and save. One of the reasons we’re able to do this is because we socked away a good amount in case my salary doesn’t swing it. We don’t want to tap our savings but it’s there if we need it.

  5. Great move. I’m hope it will work out for the best for you guys. Can’t wait to hear how you’ve adjusted things to make it fit.

  6. Becoming a stay-at-home mom has been one of the best decisions I have every made. My kids are happier, my husband is happier, and I’m happier. Everyone is much less stressed. Sure, we don’t have a lot of disposable income, but we’re making up for it in life-enriching experiences!

    Can’t wait to read more about your journey!

  7. Money ain’t everything. There are more important things in life – like your kids. Good luck, I’m sure you won’t regret it!

  8. I feel so blessed to be a WAHM (work at home mom). I schedule my work around my son, and when I need a “break” we play a game, or go outside, or have storytime. He plays in the office near me sometimes, content to ask me question every now and again.

    Of course, I do like him to get out every so often, and he’s been going to preschool three hours a day for the last couple of years (kindergarten started two days ago). It’s been great to have those solid three hours a day to count on for serious work, and then to work everything else around what’s best for our family.

    Good luck with your journey!

  9. We were a two-income household for just a few months before I went to freelancing. My income isn’t super high, but our expenses have dropped way down so it’s actually working really well.

    I’ll be a SAHM when our son is born at the end of this year, and I do not think it will be a financial issue for us because we’re already used to living on one income.

    I think it’s probably harder to go from two to one, instead of just being on primarily one income to begin with. I know that’s not a realistic option for most people though.

  10. I saw this earlier but now I can comment now that the kids are in bed. I just wanted to drop by and offer support to both.
    I was miserable in my job thinking of everything I was missing with my child. And I did miss a lot, now that I have a second child going through what I missed I realize it. We moved to a cheaper area and stopped doing a lot of fun things to be able to live on one income. Like Christina said, it has improved our quality of life immensely. Everyone is happier and relaxed, no more stress or guilty feelings. I am also busy ALL the TIME. I was getting paid a lot of money to sit on my butt all day and now I get paid zero to be busy all day long. But unlike when I was working the days fly by.

  11. NH Mom of 3 says:

    Best of luck to your family in this time of transition, how exciting! We have been living on one income since I was laid off earlier this year. I have enjoyed the additional time with the kids, especially as we moved to a new home, but I have to be honest and say that it has been a bit of a struggle. Part of this, I am sure, is because my transition was not of my choosing (I didn’t decide I wanted to be a SAHM, but did find myself without a job) and I have had to continue child care PT (for example) so as to not lose my spot when I returned to work. I have completed some temp work that has taken my mind off other job search struggles, and that has been a blessing. Now I am exploring how best to start more freelance consulting work as a side business and be in better control of my own destiny. I continue to look for a good (and flexible) PT position to call my “day job” while I try to explore freelance options.

    All of the reasons you’ve mentioned are the same ones that came up in our household when I was working FT outside of the home. We didn’t think there was really any other way to survive…now we know there is, and that is comforting. I’ll look forward to hearing about your family’s progress, and hope that I can discover things that we too can try in order to have a positive impact on our family.

  12. You’ll both be glad you made this decision. And your children will be better off for it.

    Consider getting enough life insurance on each adult to cover the cost of child care should anything happen to one of you. And the breadwinner should carry enough insurance to pay off the mortgage and also to provide for the stay-at-home parent in old age, since our culture does not regard raising children as “work.” When she reaches retirement age she will not be eligible for the full amount of Social Security because her earnings record will show a large period of no income.

    If you two are married for more than 10 years before a divorce or your demise, she’ll be eligible for the amount you would get…but ONLY if the amount she would be eligible for based on her reduced earnings equals less than half of yours. In my case, for example, after spending 11 years working at home or in part-time jobs so as to raise our son, I missed being eligible for the equivalent of ex’s Social Security payments by $10.

  13. soultravelers3 says:

    Good luck to you and I think you are making the right choice. I wish everyone could do that or better yet have a system like Sweden that allows both parents to spend lots of time with young children.

    The years go by so fast with children and once they are gone, they are gone forever. We waited too long and just did not want to miss any of it, so we went from two incomes, to one income to early retirement taking our child around the world.

    We are starting our 3rd year of world travel as a family and it was the best decision we ever made. We live on so much less than we did at home ( 25k a year total) have time to enjoy each other and it is the best education in the world.

    The luxury of time together is worth the any sacrifices you might have to make.

  14. @ PT – Thanks!

    @ Christina – Sounds like it’s working for you! That things are happier and less stressful is an important aspect for us. It was getting to be too much stress with us both working!

    @ Pete – Thanks!

    @ Miranda – Sounds like a nice schedule you have. Ahh, if I could only bring the little guy to work and let him play in my office while I work!

    @ Kacie – We had some experience with one income when our son was born but now will be the real challenge.

    @ Mercedes – My wife has some of the same feelings. Really, what’s the point working to help others when we can’t take care of our family the way we need to? I’m sure my wife will feel much more fulfilled now.

    @ NH Mom of 3 – It’s great to hear another person making it. What’s interesting in hearing your comment is your being more in control now. Sounds like staying at home opened some options that you wouldn’t have explored otherwise?

    @ Funny About Money – Thanks for the insurance advice. I’ll have to look at our coverages.

    @ SoulTraveler3 – World travel? Now I really have to re-think what we’re doing! Honestly, being home with the family for a few days makes me wish neither of us had to work!

  15. That’s great! I wish you guys the best. My wife and I don’t have kids yet, but we are trying. Our plan is for her to stay home when we do. Right now, it won’t be easy, but we are working hard now to change our lives enough to make it a realistic possibility.

  16. @ Eden – If you can, save whatever is possible. Also try to slowly get yourself to living within one budget. If you can make it work now then you should be good when the time come. And you’ll be able to save the 2nd income in the meantime!

  17. I left the workforce 2 weeks before my first child was born 7 years ago. It’s hard, but so worth it! We actually put off having children for 7 years after we were married because we wanted my husband’s job to be to the point where we could “manage”.
    Yes – clothes from Macy’s and Nordstrom’s were pretty much replaced with clothes from Kohl’s and Target. We hardly ever go out to dinner. Our vacations tend to be VERY inexpensive (my father’s shore house, driving to GA to see my in-laws, etc) and my computer is 3 years old.
    But would I change anything? Not on your life!

  18. @ Mindi – Great to hear your story! We hoarded as much money as we could also before we made our decision. Hopefully we can manage without tapping the reserves. And 3 yr old computer? I think mine is going on 6!

  19. When my daughter was born (now 10 months) I opted not to return to work and stay home to raise her. It is the best decision I have ever made. I wouldn’t trade the time I have spent with her for the world. I hope your wife loves her choice as much as I did.

  20. @ Lisa – So far she’s enjoying it very much. It’s made the household less stressful and more enjoyable too!

  21. We’re doing that now, but the other way around. My husband stays home with the kids and the house so you can imagine the added issues that goes with that. Financially, it’s perfectly doable. It gets tight, but you learn to prioritize and realize the really important things. Is it more important for your kids to get the fanciest gadget than spending more time with them? Which one do you think they would remember longer? The fancy iPhone or the time you all danced around the house like banshees? 🙂

  22. @ JMom – We actually considered my staying home and my wife working. And the silliness and fun is definitely better than an iPhone!

  23. Congratulations on making this difficult but very worthwhile decision. I only have one child who is 4, but I have never regretted changing my career path to stay home with him. Does that mean it’s easy. NO!

    I miss lots of aspects of my old life, and while I do part time freelance writing now from home, I miss being a significant earner in my home. It is challenging to the sense of self to become a hard working, non earner.

    Your wife will need lots of emotional support now because it can be a very frustrating and invisible life staying home and raising kids. But there are many benefits as your family life should become less stressful. Not so much rushing around and juggling priorities. And in the long run your children will thank you for having some much needed stability in an often chaotic world.

    I realise not every woman wants or is able to do this, and that’s fine. Different courses for different horses. But I think if you can give your kids even a few years of your life while they’re young, the benefits to your familial relationships will be enormous.

    Good luck with it.


  24. @ Kelly – Thanks for sharing your situation. It’s been really great hearing everyone’s support and hearing that it is possible to make one income happen!

  25. We went from 2 incomes to 1 in 1996 when our first baby was born. Thankfully, before I got married I had read Larry Burkett’s “Women Leaving the Workplace” and it taught me to think of my income as bonus, so we never lived on it to prepare for when we had children.

    You will be awed by how MUCH it’s worth to have one parent home…it is the greatest gift I ever gave myself and my family.

    My best to you!

  26. @ Christy – So far it’s been great for us, though the challenge is just starting as we’re really on one income now! I agree about the extra income as a bonus. If my wife decides to go back then we’ll have a great cushion to build up again. Even before she stopped working we were saving most of the 2ns salary.

  27. We lived on one income when our children were young. It did require financial sacrifices and we are glad we did it. If you are able to do it, there are many benefits for both parents and children. You learn to enjoy the simple (and often free things) like a walk to the park, time to enjoy the outdoors, making simple crafts projects with things you recycle, etc. You don’t need as many clothes if you are not working outside of the home, there a reduction in gasoline needed with less driving, there are fewer meals eaten out since you’re not so pressed for time after work, and more meals can be cooked inexpensively at home.

  28. Well i think every new couple will face the same problems as yours. When the kids are growing up, one of the parents should sacrifice their job. Somebody should be focused on their children development. But don’t worry there are a lot of parents may succeed in financial and raising their children. The alternative one is by working at home, by internet marketing or home industry.

    Yeanny’s last blog post..Fetal development: What happens during the first trimester?

  29. Aliyya Baby Blog says:

    That’s a good choice,
    kids are everything.
    and we can also have a lot of money when we at home, such as internet business

    Aliyya Baby Blog’s last blog post..Free Download Ebook Baby Girls – An Owner Manual

  30. Great post! I have been a stay-at-home Mom since my first son was born 6 years ago and I recognize the challenges of one income very well. But I like to think of it as a challenge.

    Having said that…I still work my tail off trying to earn money from home!

    Stay At Home Jobs’s last blog post..How Does Affiliate Marketing Work? Let Rosalind Explain

  31. I don’t know why it is impossible to have a parent stay at home these days. Maybe it is priorities – as in, got to have the latest and greatest. I stay at home with my two kids, which are home schooled. We own a home (we managed to find a home that was about to be foreclosed on and needed some work in a nice neighborhood, so we have a good deal on it). My husband makes less than $40,000 a year. Both of our cars are economy cars and neither cost more than $1200. We average about $400 or less in repairs and licensing a year on both because my husband has learned to do all the work. I have four gardening beds in our backyard and have learned organic farming (which is cheaper than constantly buying chemicals, but a little more work). I make everything from scratch. When you’re stay at home, you have much more time on your hands to make these things work. Not to mention, I am teaching my kids these skills. We shop for bargains on EVERYTHING and we sleep on every purchase. Every single purchase. You will be amazed what you really don’t need to buy if you walk away from it at the store and sleep on it. This includes groceries. If it is not on my list, it is not in the cart.
    Most the stuff in our house is either hand downs, free or cheap off craigslist, ebay, goodwill or garage sales. We have no debt, other than our house. We decided our kids are just worth more than material possessions, and I think that is truly the bottom line. I grew up in a big, poor family that was more focused on love than money, and I completely value our closeness and the ingenuity I learned from the experience. This is something that is lost in our modern world.

    • I agree that priorities are a big part of it. Many of us don’t want to give up the lifestyle we are used to pre-kids. Heck, many people go and spend even more, making sure their kids have all the latest and greatest. Sometimes it’s tough though. You didn’t mention where you are from but I’m not sure a family could get by like you are in NYC. It’s not easy. But if you make the conscious decision to live off of one income then you can find ways to make it work.

  32. My wife quit her job to stay at home with our daughter a few months after she was born. It was a great decision for all the reasons you stated above. What was really holding us back was debt – credit card debt and student loan debt in particular. Once we paid off all of our debt, it freed up the cash flow to live. We also find we don’t eat out as much as we used. Our lives are less hectic, so we don’t need to spend as much money to de-stress!

    • It has been said all over – getting rid of your debt gives you freedom! Those bills you pay monthly to cover credit card bills can finally go towards something else once your CC debt is paid.

      Great to hear you cleared up your debt and you are able to make it on one income.

  33. I’m a bit confused. Maybe I missed something. But your post states that your wife quit her job to stay at home. But this page shows that you are a stay-at-home dad.

    I myself have been a stay at home dad for 13 years. It was never my intention to be. I think the fact that I was sheltered by my own mother growing up has given me that “motherly” instinct. I have been both a mother and father. Although my wife is a good mother in her own right. When our first born turned 7, I began focusing on a career and went back to school. But then we soon had two more kids. It made it difficult for me to think about working all day. I know there must be at least one other dad out there that feels like (I dare say) a “Mr Mom”. I would never say this out loud. But overall, I do think I play the most important, dominant role in our family. My first love is our kids above all other things. I have sacrificed so much to raise them. On the down side our income has been sacrificed as well. A major struggle for us. It’s made things rough on the wife because she focuses so hard on wanting nice things she’s never had (including a much needed LONG vacation). Her and I have never gotten away from the kids for more than a day. Sad to say. But our families are so pre-occupied, that we are being parents, grand-parents, uncles, aunts, cousins. You name it. I am very proud of how our kids are turning out. They still have much of the innocence they were born with, unlike institutionalized children. I was a very high academic achiever in school. But the wisdom of experience has taught me that it’s wrong to shove so much into children’s brains. VERY WRONG. And a good reason why I home-school them. At this point in our life, we are trying to find a way to maintain the status quo with raising our family, while at the same time wanting to increase our income just to have a little better than we do now. There is never a time when at least one bill isn’t due. We’re always behind. Besides all that, I wouldn’t change my belief about parenting. Our oldest is 13 and she’s one of those kids that has been attracted to the popular crowd. But my persistence has changed her outlook a lot. She separates herself from the modernized, materialized, selfish kids. And that’s some trick. If she were in public school, my parenting would be doomed to fail. That’s how bad the system has gotten.

    • Glen Craig says:

      I guess it does look confusing. Truth is we have changed our situation over the years. I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for almost 3 years now.

      Sounds like you care about your family very much. It’s great to hear about other dads who stay home. It can be tough but having the time with the family is priceless. Don’t worry too much about the status quo, it’s changing and you’re just at the vanguard of it.

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