This was originally written as a guest post at Almost Frugal last spring. But I’ve been thinking about it more, so I’ve dusted it off.
Whether it’s because women are more likely to suffer from Imposter Syndrome and not speak up for themselves or because people in general just assume that staying at home must be easy because so many do it, the contributions of women to household finance are widely unappreciated. But when you’ve observed the mommy bloggers (or SAHM PF bloggers) swapping money-saving techniques, couponing tips, as well as plain old coupons and CVS challenges, you have to acknowledge that a stay-at-home mom makes huge contributions to the family finances.
First, SAHMs often bring in money. It may not be regular or a large sum, but many SAHMs I’ve met online make a little something every month from blogging, crafting, or even a little freelance work. Or they work online surveys for gift cards.
Even if they’re not doing that, many read or write personal finance blogs. Just learning from those about how to better-manage your finances is earning money. Maybe it’s finding out about a new bank which offers better interest on savings accounts. Or perhaps it’s learning more about CDs and using them to story money.
Vered of MomGrind, for example, commented on the guest post:
I was a SAHM for six years. During those years, I was (still am) in charge of managing our investment portfolio. Our portfolio did very well over that time.
Second, most SAHMs I’ve met online are huge family money-savers. Just as there are many ways a SAHM may earn money, there are numerous ways that she saves.
Just start with the cost of child-care. Bringing it up is almost trite but it’s still a huge money-saver. Child-care alone makes it economically worthwhile for many families to have one parent stay home.
Next, many SAHPs do more cooking than working parents, so the family doesn’t spend as much money on going out, getting take-out, or even buying prepackaged foods. And because they’re not trying to juggle what are essentially two full-time jobs, SAHMs can spend a little extra time making frugal choices like comparison shopping and couponing. Budgeting the family’s money so that the savings actually goes to savings? Very important!
Everyone’s “salary” is different, depending on their situation, personality, and choices. Some things are virtually guaranteed—like savings on child-care (unless the child spends as much time in daycare or with a nanny as they would were both parents working). Some SAHMs don’t have the time and inclination to focus on frugality, but they may make money tutoring. Others don’t bring in any money but manage the family’s finances so the money goes twice as far.
Want to raise your salary? Well, like all jobs you have to be realistic-you may not have time to save every penny possible and to take 5 hours of online surveys or run 4 blogs. But most likely you can find small changes, mid-sized changes, and big changes which will increase your salary.
In the end, you’re a productive and awesome member of your family just by being ther for your kids. But don’t forget that you’re also important to the family finances even if you don’t get a handy earnings summary!
Everything I’ve written here can be applied to all stay-at-home parents. It’s just that I’ve met more SAHMs and seen more people write off the SAHM role as a non-economic, if nurturing, one.