Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
Many of the stay at home moms I know left behind careers to take care of their children. While most are content with this decision, it doesn’t preclude financial issues from developing. Often times, moms struggle to find balance between acceptance of the caretaker role and guilt from not contributing to the family’s finances.
For many moms, the desire to stay home with her children overrides the family’s need for money. If it is something the couple values, they will find a way to make it work. This may mean adhering to a strict budget, sacrificing things like family vacations and date nights, or living more modestly than they are accustomed to. This may be easy in the beginning but wearing as time goes on. It is important for couples to continuously re-evaluate their values and needs as a family. By staying on top of finances and preparing for unexpected changes, moms will stay in control and stay settled in the decision to stay at home.
One of the conflicts moms may continuously battle is the guilt from spending money. Managing money for groceries, household items and the various needs of her children often falls into mom’s list of responsibilities. But, how often does mom spend money on herself? The guilt associated with simple self-pleasures often overcomes mom’s desire to spend any money at all. When couples openly communicate about money, moms feel justified with normal spending habits. (Notice I said “normal” – I am not referring to excessive shopping habits here. That is an issue all of its own.)
Creating and managing a budget will help mom feel more in control of the family spending – including the money she’d like to use for new clothes, a haircut, or that new kitchen appliance she’s been drooling over. There is a plethora of websites focusing on frugality in motherhood, and there is an endless supply of coupons, ideas for saving, and effective ways to manage money. When mom is a good money manager, she will feel better about spending money on herself. What our children observe when they see us thinking about our spending will help them create healthy spending habits as they grow older.
When you’re not the breadwinner in the home, it is easy to feel left out of family finances. Many moms maintain the role of bill payer, but some do not. Some moms feel in the dark when it comes to the financial details of their lives. It is important for moms to be a part of the financial decisions, planning, and management of money in their households. The first step is to communicate this desire with your spouse. Many partners continue to control the money simply because that is how the roles were divided in the beginning of the relationship. Decide how money tasks can be divided and shared. Create a plan that involves both of you. Examine your bills and how they are paid, your loans and credit cards and how they are managed, your expenses including planning for family vacations, private school, or summer camp. Talking about finances can be tense and nerve-wracking, but if approached as a partnership – you will both feel better about the conclusions you arrive at and of sharing the burdens.
Quite often, moms feel guilty about not contributing to the family finances. Despite the important role of stay-at-home motherhood, the job does not pay very well, and it’s easy to feel unworthy and insignificant. The most important thing mom needs to do is to value the job she does. Society doesn’t value a mother’s role with high honors or financial payments. Value needs to come from within and from the rewards of watching our children grow to be responsible adults who make meaningful contributions to society. There really is no payment for such a role. A woman who feels confident in her choice to stay at home can also release the guilt from not depositing money into the family savings. If you really think about – the cost of a chauffer, a personal chef, a housekeeper and all the other roles a mom fulfills – mom’s job has a significant impact on the family budget.
If a mom truly feels a need to contribute something beyond her mothering responsibilities, she does have choices. There are many jobs that can be done at home with flexible hours. Free-lance writers, personal assistants, or selling items online are all positions which have accommodating work hours. Many moms hone in on their passions and turn a hobby into an avenue of revenue. Baking, crafting, and knitting can all be turned into home businesses. Moms who taught can tutor; moms with counseling degrees can set up an online counseling business; moms who write can lead workshops at their local community centers. Stay at home moms who want to make some money on the side – on their own terms – can do so if they are willing to be creative in utilizing their skills.
Family finances can be a stressful topic for moms and their partners. With open communication, a commitment to work together, and continuous monitoring – moms and their finance dilemmas can be minimized.