Parenting with a single parent’s income

Because of the rising costs of child care, many parents decide to have one of them stay at home with the children to save money. Here’s how single-income families raise their children.

It can be a difficult decision to have one parent stay at home with the children. For many people, this decision has a wide range of implications for their personal and professional lives and their relationships with family and friends. But at times, this can be a no-brainer with the rates of burnout in corporate jobs, the emotional pull of a newborn baby, and the astronomical costs of child care. 

For all these reasons, some parents decide it would be best for the household as a whole for one parent to stay at home and ditch their full-time jobs. The practical decision can feel easy, but there is still the fear of how to survive and parent on a single income.

Here’s how parents raising a family on a single income make it work.

Communicate. Financial dependence is a significant fear for stay-at-home parents. However, those families surviving with a single income for a long time now say that the antidote to that is to talk about money – and how it will be utilized – early and often. Understand the intentions and expectations and not just look at the amount. 

Sacrifices vs. Priorities. Priorities are mutually agreed upon and decided before the choice ever comes up. The feeling of sacrifice may be the strongest response to purchase that one of you values much more than the other. The difference between these two can lay in the timing of the decision. Demonstrate budgeting, saving, and only purchasing genuinely needed items that will bring lasting joy.

You are teammates and not competitors. Approach finances, parenting, and any other big topic, as a team endeavor. And remember that there is no I in a team. Know that you are both invested in your success and happiness.

Move if needed. You need to spend less and save more. Consider if a move to a lower-cost-of-living city can be beneficial to you. You can also consider family, weather, lifestyle, and even weather. 

It doesn’t have to be permanent. It can be the right choice for now, but this shift can only be temporary. You can always return to your career and be successful for yourself and your retirement security. So, if you’re planning to temporarily exit the workforce, make sure you also talk to your partner about your plans, whether or when you want to reenter, and how you plan to finance your future if not.

Other Employment – Part-time, Gig Work

One other consideration that’s new to this question is how the idea of work has changed incredibly since the pandemic happened. For most parents, it was a decision between working 40 or so hours a week to no hours. However, we now live in an age with many opportunities that don’t revolve around the traditional workweek and offer remote or at-home ways to make money. Keep these kinds of jobs in mind as part of your conversation. Transitioning to a one-income family may require some creativity in your situation, so always keep an open mind.

Many adjustments – financial or otherwise are necessary if your family transitions to one spouse staying at home. The non-financial benefit can be incredible and life-changing. It is essential to be thoughtful about going from two incomes to one. Remember, different seasons of life require other decisions for your family – that could mean something different for this year versus next year.