Ask the Mamas: Handling One Income

Each week we will ask our mamas a question from our readers that pertains to babies, toddlers, or parenting. Make sure to check back each Tuesday to see their responses!

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A Mama Say What?! reader asks:

My son is 2 and I recently became a SAHM, something I have always wanted to be. How do other mamas handle no longer having their own income? I know it sounds silly, but I dislike asking my partner for money, even if it’s for groceries. And I feel guilty if I want to buy something for myself, even if it’s something I actually need. How do I get over this feeling? My partner doesn’t have any issue with me asking for money, but for some strange reason, I do. What gives?!

Image by Images of Money under Creative Commons License

My husband and I recently instituted an envelope-based budgeting system. I have separate envelopes for the basic categories in my budget and at the beginning of the month we withdraw cash to fill them. I highly recommend it if you can find time to sit down and create a budget like this. We discussed our priorities, our financial goals, how we can best meet them, etc. My husband insisted we each have a portion set aside to be “discretionary money” for whatever we want or need for ourselves, which for me includes coffee dates with other mamas, the occasional pastry from my favorite bakery, and cute maternity clothes. So far it is working really well for us and has taken a lot of self-inflicted pressure off of me! ~Christina D.

My husband and I do the envelope system, too. We both LOVE it! I also sell Scentsy to make extra money, but I tend to spend it on our daughter or we use it for date nights.~Michelle W.

I find I really struggle with this. I still don’t feel like I am spending OUR money, it still feels like I am spending his money. It doesn’t help that he has said something along the lines of “you’re spending my money” on more than one occasion to me. I can’t really offer much advice, other than you aren’t on your own. I think it is something that I will always struggle with in my time that I stay home with my children. ~Jessica S.

I made my career in the home. I managed the household and the finances and he brought home the money. I think you need to get over the notion that his money is not your money. You are both pulling the same cart and you are a team. Your home and family could not succeed without either of you, so NO GUILT MAMA!! ~Sue F.

Our money is our money. Period. All accounts are joint. It was this way back when I worked and made 3x the money my husband did, so I don’t feel bad about it now that he is (mostly) the sole income earner. Remember, you contributed to savings, too, and are performing a valuable function as a stay-at-home-mom— for which you do not get paid. I’d advise arranging your finances in a way that you do not have to ask for money. I also highly recommend collaborating on a monthly budget so that everyone agrees on how much money is being spent and where it is going. ~Lauren W.

I’m a working mom, but I feel your pain - I felt similarly when I dropped down to part-time for awhile. The thing that you really need to remember is that there IS a monetary value to staying home! Childcare is incredibly expensive and when you take into account that expense plus income tax, gas money, etc. to get to work you would need to be making $30,000+ per year depending on how many kiddos you have and where you live just to cover work/childcare related expenses. Just because you choose to stay home and not pay someone else to watch your little one(s) does not mean you don’t deserve or are not contributing to the family finances! ~Corey P.

Image by Images of Money under Creative Commons License

I still struggle with this after two years of being a stay-at-home-mom. We set up some basic guidelines for spending money:
1) We discuss large purchases.
2) We try to be reasonable with the personal ‘extras’ and kid stuff. I try to find baby gear used before buying new.
3) I never ask permission to buy necessities like groceries, just like he doesn’t have to inform me every time he fills his truck with fuel.
4) Basically I try to ‘contribute’ by keeping track of what I can save money on, whether that’s meal planning to save money on food, finding deals on kid stuff or my own personal things. ~Angie W.

Even though I work from home, I don’t make nearly as much as my husband. At first, I felt bad for spending so much money when I wasn’t making that much, but I quickly realized it is all necessities (mostly). Someone has to buy the clothes, the groceries and all the everyday living items and that person just happens to be me. Everything we make goes into the same account and so I don’t have to ask for money, which helps. I highly recommend having joint accounts and living by the “what’s mine is yours” mentality. YOU are staying home and watching your kids, YOU are saving money on daycare, YOU are doing all the chores around the house during the day. That’s still a job and you shouldn’t feel bad about spending a little money from time to time. ~Heidi C.

Image by elycefeliz under Creative Commons License

Being a SAHM for many years my hubby and I had a very frank conversation from the very beginning about how to handle the money. We had a joint account. The money was OURS no matter who earned it. We kept very close track of the money going out and we budgeted strictly. There were many times we came to the end of the money a couple days before pay day so it was vital we kept track of everything. I also did a lot of cutting corners, tried to make the dollars stretch as far as possible. I didn’t purchase things for myself very often and only bought things for the house or the kids we truly NEEDED. ~Sandy T.

My husband transfers a set amount of money every pay period. The money is in my separate account and it’s mine. I don’t have to ask for it, it’s just there. If I want over that amount for some reason I ask. I took a hit to my ego, but it’s been worth it to stay at home with our children. ~Bonnie N.


The advice given here is solely based on our individual experiences and in no way is it going to be perfect for every mama, every baby, and every situation. None of us are medical doctors. If you have a question regarding a medical topic we can give our opinions, but please consult with your doctor. We are not liable or responsible for the results of following any specific advice in any given situation.

3 Responses to Ask the Mamas: Handling One Income

  1. The envelope system seems pretty fool proof, I think we may have to try it!

  2. I’m also a new SAHM and trying to figure out a budget that works for us. We’ll see how things go, but the envelope system seems like a good option!

  3. I’m a new SAHM too, and I’m married to a teacher…talk about tight! Not sure how we’ll make it work, I’m considering opening an etsy shop and making bib necklaces. We’ll see!

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