Things You Should Know Before Deciding to be a Stay-at-Home Parent

Taking on a new job as a full-time parent allows you to have your child under your watch. But is your household financial health able to bear the cost of a halved income?

In the current state of Malaysia's economy, having a sole bread winner to support a household financially could be a tough situation. Couples who aren't financially prepared could derail even the strongest of wealth situations (and marriages!). So for those of you considering quitting your job to be more hands on with the raising of your child; considering the money aspect is a big priority.

So before you take the plunge, here are a few things you should prepare for.

Budgeting trial-and-error

Writing up a budget and executing one are two different things. It requires trial and error. You will most likely find yourself altering your budget more often than not at the beginning. Having more than one child requires a bigger budget to accommodate a larger crowd.

On the other hand, first-time parents will also experience change in spending priority on top of your groceries and household bills. You will be looking at more child care spends such as medical fees, nursing, and baby products. Again, newbie parents will find that there's usually an additional item they didn't realise they needed until they needed it and it will surely wreck your budget so be ready to work and rework until you find the grouping of digits that work best for you.

Living Frugally

It goes very much without saying that having only one income versus two AND having another mouth to feed (or a few!) means a lot of cutting back (unless the one working spouse is truly raking in big bucks - in which case you don't even need to read this article!). Vacations may dwindle and luxury dinners replaced with home-cooked meals but if you enjoy this and look at it in the spirit it was meant (as a way to spend more time with your family and less about materialism); you'll more than survive; you'll thrive.

You will definitely find yourself getting savvier about deal-hunting too. Opt for cheaper alternatives or make bulk purchases to maintain as much of your lifestyle as possible yet not going broke.

Allowances for the Non-Working Spouse

Since there will be one spouse without employment; he/she will be dependent on the working spouse to provide for all the household necessities including his/her own upkeep. The non-working spouse will still have personal expenses but no income and as such; couples usually decide on an 'allowance' amount for the non-working spouse. It's a difficult subject to broach but definitely needs to be discussed and a reasonable sum allowance agreed upon.

Saving Plans

Before you decide to stay at home, be sure to have adequate savings set aside to back you up in case you run into emergencies. Saving will also be more trying with only one income but a small amount at least should always be made a priority. Both the working and non-working spouse should commit to putting aside money into savings every month. The working spouse can deduct this amount from the household income and the non-working spouse can portion off a part of his/her allowance for the purpose.

Plan B: A part time job

Being a stay-at-home-parent isn't equivalent to merely dealing with crying children and cleaning every nook and cranny at home. With handy tools like a laptop or a smart phone, working at home is more possible than ever before. Essentially, a home maker could still put food on the table, get the house done and dusted while working from home through freelancing or running an online business. That way home maker can still keep in touch with the outside world without missing out on their child's development. The additional income will surely be welcome in the household too.

The role of a homemaker is vastly underrated. In reality, it isn't any less challenging than the role and responsibilities of a breadwinner. Quite often, homemakers are required to multitask: juggling between managing the household and taking care of the children. A homemaker is essentially playing the role of cleaner, child-minder and cook plus many other things at once. It's a difficult job but also one of the most rewarding.

If you've decided to undertake this very important function - we hope you've thoroughly considered and planned out the financial aspects of the move prior to starting out. If you have; then get ready for the role of a lifetime.

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