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Stay at Home Moms: Stop Feeling Like You Have no Say in Your Family Finances

stay at home mom family financesBeing a stay at home mom is hard.  It becomes even harder when you feel that you have no right to take part in the family finances, because you don’t earn an income.  Instead of feeling proud of all that you contribute to your family you begin to feel worthless.

You need to stop right there!

No one is created to be inferior to anyone, each and every one of us was created as equals and we each have our own unique contribution to our lives and the world.

A stay at home mom provides a ridiculous amount of financial well being to the household and manages to add balance and peace to the family and world.

You doubt me? Take a look at how your services stack up financially:

Value of Services Provided by a Stay at Home Mom

A stay at home mom is a nanny, a cleaning person, a chauffeur, a cook, and many more things.   When the stay at home mom is not doing these things they still need to be done.  Here are some costs to hire someone else to do what you are doing:

  • The average paid house manager makes $69,000 a year
  • The average nanny makes between $10 and $18 an hour depending on location
  • The average maid makes approximately $10 an hour

And this is just the financial contribution, it does not include any of the emotional benefits, we would need to look at what therapists get paid for that!

Before you can begin to work with your husband on the family finances you must first find the value in what you do, you need to feel like your contribution counts.  While looking at the salaries above can help convince your brain it is not always easy to convince your heart of the same thing.  In order to get your heart to come along you need to take a deeper look at what you do.

Learn to Value Yourself

Here are some ways that you can prove to yourself how valuable you are.

  • Create a list of everything that you do.  Do not leave anything off this list, work on it for at least a full week to make sure you get the once a week items on there too.  You will be amazed at how much that you are doing each and every day.  Some ideas to get you started: let the dog out, feed the dog, wake the children, feed the children breakfast, pack the kids lunches, get the kids to school, do a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher and reload, and schedule doctor’s appointments.  And this is usually all within the first two hours of the day!
  • Create a list of what your husband is able to do because you stay at home.  His career success is not independent of what you are doing to help with the family.  If he wants a family, home and career then he needs you to help make the balance work.  In fact in Thomas Stanley’s research of millionaires the fourth most common factors cited by millionaires as being a success factor is that of having a supportive spouse.  Without a solid, loving home base it is harder for them to succeed.
  • Envision your life if you were working outside the home.  Write down exactly how your day would look and what changes would have to be made in your life.  Get very detailed down to: how would you manage the kids, who would do the house work, what budget changes would be made, and what lifestyle changes would occur with you working.  The extra income benefits of working are frequently over valued as a complete assessment is not taken.  Taxes, day care, dry cleaning and transportation are ignored.  Lifestyle is also ignored as you now have to manage all the house and kids tasks outside of office hours.  And if you are lucky also spend quality time with the family and keep yourself healthy.

Understand Your Husbands’ Feelings/Comments

Many times a stay at home mom feels as if her husband does not value what she does.

This can come from two places:

  1. Your spouse tells you this, or makes comments such as “you do nothing all day”, or “you are lucky to not have to work”.
  2. You create this belief that your husband finds no value in what you do and that you should have no say in the finances.  You are transferring your beliefs onto him, even though he has never even brought up the subject.

If you are living scenario number one then sit down with him and tell him how this makes you feel.  He may not realize how much it hurts you.  Also clarify what is behind his statement.  It may have nothing to do with you staying at home but instead it could be jealousy that you get more time with the kids, maybe it is coming from exhaustion from a bad job, perhaps he is lonely because you focus more on the kids.

Your spouse may also not realize all that you do in a day.  Bring out your lists and show him everything that you are doing.  Talk about the costs of you going back to work.

Ultimately you need to communicate with him and understand why he feels the way he does and at the same time make sure he understands how you feel.  Remember you are a team, so act like one and support each other.  A calm, quiet open conversation can do amazing things for your marriage.

Don’t Listen to Others

It is easy to become caught up in what others are saying.  If your mom, sister or best friend is telling you that you have no say over the money because you don’t work then you need to ignore them.  It is between you and your husband and no one else.  This does not mean you can’t ask for advice, but don’t take negative thoughts and comments and internalize them.  (Easier said than done, I know!)

Once you have come to understand that you are not worthless and that you do make contributions to the family finances it is time to begin working with your husband on your money.

If you have never worked together before start slowly and remember to communicate.  If the finances have been poorly managed don’t point fingers as you are also to blame for not helping with the money management.  If you don’t understand the money, start to learn.  It is important for you to understand everything going on.  Not necessarily because you are going to take over but because you need to be able to understand it in case something happen to your spouse.

Remember, you are valuable.  You make a BIG contribution to your family.  You have an equal say in what happens with your family financially.  Don’t ever feel like you don’t have the right to make financial decisions.

More resources on marriage and money:

Top 6 Ways to Avoid Money Issues in Your Marriage

How to Avoid Money Fights

 

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Comments

  1. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom says:

    The world would fall apart if it wasn’t for stay at home moms! Well at least my hubby’s world :)

    • @Mandy LOL, there are many things that would change in the entire world, not just your hubby’s! One example: Think about all the extra help that schools would need with out the mom’s (and Dad’s) volunteering!

  2. This is an excellent post that delivers a very important message. I think a lot of couples go through this and often do you hear a woman say “I’m just a stay at home mom” when they are asked what they do. The word just makes them sound kinda worthless instead of the valuable people that they are.

    • @Sicorra Thank you! I hate the “I’m just a stay at home mom”, I really could never do it. My sister does and am always amazed at how she keeps it together and how much she has to do!

  3. Corina Ramos says:

    This is an awesome post! Ahh…I feel so empowered : ). I had to deal with number one scenario until I told my hubby how it made me feel. Of course he laughed it off as a joke but now he knows when he tells me that and he gets “the look” he better bring it back some!!

    Have a great day!
    Corina Ramos

    • @Corina Thank you, glad you feel empowered! So many times people underestimate the way things will make us feel. So important to make sure they know!

  4. I think the only way most men will understand it would be for you to leave a list of daily/weekly errands and go away for a couple of days. (Well, ideally a week, but I doubt that’s feasible for most people.) I’m betting he’ll have WAY more respect for you after two or three days in your place.

    • @Abigail I say that all the time! Yet I don’t think a week would even give them the full picture as it does not include things like scheduling doctors appointments, school shopping and so much more!

    • That’s a nice little fantasy Abigail :-) When you leave a man at home for a week with the children you are just taking a tremendous risk ;-) and whether or not you take the kids with you (I leave mine alone often) your husband will never do what you do or care about the things you care about.

      I feel like this article was written for me, though. I have been an at-home mom for 19 years and have six kids. I make super economical meals from scratch. I have done painting, tiling, built and refinished furniture, done landscaping. I have sewn clothing, costumes, blankets and curtains, and tried to train a ‘housework staff’ on basic maintenance and even invented a toy for my children that they use regularly–in addition to the daily nurturing and teaching I do. I do those things for my own reasons and I have my rewards for doing them. In my mind, it minimizes them to put a price on the freedom I enjoy.

      However, my husband acknowledges his own financial weakness and has asked me to take ownership of the finances–he WANTS me to hide money from him so that he does not spend it. I just don’t know how to be firm and consistent with him. I can tell my kids no anytime they ask me for anything. I am even better at denying myself of things that would be really nice to have–even valuable or necessary. But even if his requests are irrational and short-sighted it takes a lot for me to put my foot down. After all he did earn that money. I don’t know. I think for me it might be less about personal worth than it is about a mild martyr complex combined with some sort of laziness–an attempt to avoid the responsibility for our finances. I am a full on mess.

  5. Excellent post. I learned this early on (my youngest is now 19) as a way to avoid sleeping in the garage LOL. Seriously the fact that my wife was able to stay home has had a huge influence at what super young adults our three kids have become. From a financial planning point of view I have often pointed to the cost of replacing the “services” of a stay at home as part of recommendations that I’ve made to clients such as the need to purchase life insurance on the life of the stay at home mom as well as the working husband.

    • @Roger – Keeping the wife happy is a good way to stay out of the garage! Stay at home mom life insurance is so critical, many think this is something they can skip since there is not an actual paycheck, but the cost of replacing mom is expensive!

  6. Nick Roberts says:

    My wife had me read this article after we had a fight about finances. I work 2 jobs. One is 9-5, the other is a small business I run (weddings/media stuff) my wife gets upset that I want to spend the extra $$ on things I enjoy: Mtn Biking stuff, or concerts (most of which she comes with) – But my problems is I pay for EVERYTHING. I work so hard at my 9-5, I don’t feel like I should have to “ask” if it’s ok that I buy a new mtn bike part, if it’s not coming out of our 9-5 job income.
    The “extra” money I speak of is from my side gigs, this money we don’t depend on at all. It is really for us to spend or save for that something special. and @Roger – I just got more disability for me and life insurance on her as well.
    I greatly appreciate what she does, I just don’t feel like she should have all the say when I work 70 hours a week, so that she can stay home with the kids. Honestly I feel that it is a privilege, how many women wish they could do that? be stay at home moms? I know I would switch roles in a heartbeat if she could find a job making as much as me. I would LOVE to stay home and cook and clean – seriously, not all men are the same. Even with cost of day care, if she worked, we’d have more money at the end of the month – even after offsetting day care expenses.
    It was her choice to stay home. And now I’m paying the piper because she’s pissed I went off and bought an ipad or whatever without discussing it more. I’m really at my wits end and am considering separation because this is an on-going issue. She says “oh I just want to feel included” – I get it. But my balls are still gonna get busted for bringing it up in discussion, “why do you need that” or its too much money” and so on. I don’t want to put on the salesmen pitch every time I want to buy something for myself or the family. Its emotionally draining. Oh and by the way we have zero debt other than student loans. ZERO, so I am more than capable of being financially responsible.
    Someone convince me my wife is right and that I should just hand over all moneys made to her? please help me understand that logic?

    • @Nick My first gut reaction when reading this is that there is something else going on behind the money and has more to do with some other emotional need. Our money and how we spend it is a reflection of so many things including what we value, how we might be feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated and so much more. Perhaps you should approach the conversation from what she is feeling and where the control issue might be coming from. It may not have anything to do with you spending money, but instead with her feeling out of control, or not included in all aspects of family decisions or even being emotionally isolated from you. Try counseling or even date nights where you just talk and find out why there is a conflict.

      If it is a money issue, then perhaps you agree upon an amount of money you and she get to spend every month that each person gets to do what ever they want with. Also ask her why if you are good off financially that she cares – is it because she wants to save more, did she grow up with not much and any large purchase makes her uncomfortable? You did state that “It is really for us to spend or save for that something special”, so is she feeling like it is for you and not us? More things for you to cover on date night or with a counselor!

      Couple other thoughts from your comment: You should not just hand over all the money, it should be a team effort to manage the money. That is one of the great parts of being married, you get a built in accountability partner that is trying to achieve the same things you are. Check out for some tips: Top 6 Ways to Avoid Money Issues in Marriage.

      Try and have the next conversation not from a position of defending and selling your side, but trying to figure out together why the fight is happening, what is the real reason behind it.

      Totally random FYI: I have zero desire to stay at home! :)

  7. Crystal says:

    This is nick Roberts wife. You are right Andrea, it has to do with a lot more than finances. It had do do with respect of me, all around in the relationship. I want and need to feel like this marriage is a team. That we are in this together. Decisions that have been made in the past with nick and our finances were extremely selfish, such as a solo vacation. Nick had told me he was shooting a destination wedding. Found out later… Complete B.S. this amongst many other things that have happened in the previous six months. We have been together for over six years and have never been on a vacation together where we flew anywhere. I am a stay at home mom by our choice. Although physical ailments pushed me to quit my career in the beauty industry due to major wrist issues. I cannot go back to the industry of hair with what I know and love. I will be returning to school in the fall to further my education bettering myself and our family. We are in marriage therapy as well. Please keep us in your prayers. I need to feel that I have a partner in life… Finances and all!

    • @Crystal I am glad to hear that you are in therapy, I hope that you guys can find your way to a loving, respectful, honest and team oriented marriage. I will absolutely keep you in my prayers, any relationship that you are working on has its challenges. Yet, as long as you are both working towards common ground you can make it. Good luck in school this fall!

  8. Samantha says:

    I don’t understand my husband and his logic with finances. Please help me understand why if I stay at home with our two lovely girls should I not get a say in our finances and where the money goes? I do pay all of our bills with the income my husband earns. I just do not get a say beyond this. He says if a bill is over $100 even if it is in our budget I need to ask permission. I feel like a prisoner! Anyone else relate? Any advice appreciated.

    • @Samantha Have you tried telling your husband how you feel? No one should feel like a prisoner in a relationship. Sit down calmly and discuss it with him – find out why he wants this and what it is accomplishing plus communicate your feelings about how it all works. Communication can make the biggest difference.

  9. This is a marriage issue much more than it is a money issue. It’s about equal treatment in the marriage, respect, love, and care for the values of both sides. Finances come along way, way, way after those issues. I see this with clients, regardless of whether or not there’s a SAHP – one of the two brings in less money and somehow loses the “vote” when it comes to how money is spent. It’s a big, red waving flag that there are some serious communication issues happening in the marriage. I’m no marriage counselor (not part of the CFP training, alas), but it’s pretty obvious when there’s disharmony in a relationship.

    What I recommend for people who are in a situation where one person gets the only vote out of the two is to have a serious, sit down, no distractions, honest and open discussion about what’s happening. Men – you need to discuss this in terms of feelings; women – you need to discuss this in terms of rationality and logic. Since our Monkey Brains are wired differently, that’s how you’re going to craft a message which will be heard by the other side.

    Go back to the original discussion that you had about being a SAHP. That was an arrangement and agreement where one person would stay at home and raise the kids while the other one went out of the cave and hunted. Discuss what has changed and why it has changed and see if you still agree on the basic concepts. Is raising the kids with a SAHP still your number one priority? If so, then what needs to happen for you to have harmony in the relationship? If not, then what needs to change so that your lives reflect your highest priorities?

    Another issue that I commonly see is the “my wife/husband glares at me when I buy a 183″ flat screen TV/Jimmy Choo shoes.” The solution is rather simple – each person gets a fund where he/she can spend that money on whatever he/she wants with no repercussions (assuming that it’s, of course, legal, moral, and ethical). If my wife wants shiny trinkets, that’s perfectly fine with me. If I want to pay for a guys’ trip to Vegas, that’s perfectly fine with her, as long as it’s funded out of that kitty.

    Also, don’t overplay your hand. Here’s a counterargument about the valuation of a SAHM: http://www.darwinsmoney.com/whats-a-stay-at-home-mom-worth/. It’s hard to put a price tag on the psychological aspects of raising the kids at home vs. elsewhere, so that’s one where you’re going to have to have a brass discussion about just how important it is.

    At its core, this is not an issue about money. It’s an issue of communication and tradeoffs. Unless you’re the Beckhams or the Gates, you probably don’t have enough resources to have everything you want, so you have to make an informed, unified decision about what’s important to you. If you’re struggling with the discussion, ask your pastor or someone whom you trust to help you have those discussions.