Stay At Home Mom Math Analysis | What’s a Paycheck Worth?

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In my post on how to afford to be a stay at home mom, I outlined some of the things our family did so that my wife could afford to stay home.  In that post I also mentioned that we didn’t even look at the math implication for that choice.  For us, it was simply the right thing to do, and so we did it.  However, I know that many of you who are considering staying at home will base the choice heavily on the math involved.

And, yes, men can stay at home, too.  If you’re offended that I geared this towards mothers staying at home, I humbly ask that you substitute daddy for mommy.  The beauty is that the math works either way.

How Much Money Can Mommy Really Make Outside The Home?

Salary $ 20,000.00 $ 30,000.00 $ 40,000.00 $ 50,000.00 $ 60,000.00 $ 70,000.00
Giving (a) $ 2,000.00 $ 3,000.00 $ 4,000.00 $ 5,000.00 $ 6,000.00 $ 7,000.00
Federal Income (b) $ 3,000.00 $ 7,500.00 $ 10,000.00 $ 12,500.00 $ 15,000.00 $ 17,500.00
State Income (c) $ 1,200.00 $ 1,800.00 $ 2,400.00 $ 3,000.00 $ 3,600.00 $ 4,200.00
Social Security $ 1,530.00 $ 2,295.00 $ 3,060.00 $ 3,825.00 $ 4,590.00 $ 5,355.00
Other Expenses
Transportation (d) $ 900.00 $ 900.00 $ 900.00 $ 900.00 $ 900.00 $ 900.00
Meals (e) $ 750.00 $ 750.00 $ 750.00 $ 750.00 $ 750.00 $ 750.00
Clothing (f) $ 500.00 $ 500.00 $ 500.00 $ 500.00 $ 500.00 $ 500.00
Child Care (g) $ 12,000.00 $ 12,000.00 $ 12,000.00 $ 12,000.00 $ 12,000.00 $ 12,000.00
Child Care Credit $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00
Miscellaneous (h) $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00 $ 1,200.00
Total Expenses $ 24,280.00 $ 31,145.00 $ 36,010.00 $ 40,875.00 $ 45,740.00 $ 50,605.00
Extra Income $ (4,280.00) $ (1,145.00) $ 3,990.00 $ 9,125.00 $ 14,260.00 $ 19,395.00

Notes Regarding the Mother Salary Chart:

The inspiration and some sources for this chart came from a Sound Mind Investing Newsletter cover article called “The Myth of the Working Mother”.

(a) Giving – I really didn’t know where to put this on the chart because I would hate for someone to think that working and giving the money away would be a viable reason not to work.  Instead of giving the money away being a negative reason, it should be a positive one.  However, in this purely mathematical chart, I thought it should be included.  Since many Christians believe in giving 10%, I included the giving amount as 10%.

(b) Federal Income – the $20,000 has a 15% income tax rate and the rest have a 25% income tax rate.

(c) State Income – if you live in a state that does not have state income tax, you obviously wouldn’t need to include this category.  For this chart, I estimated a 6% state income tax rate.

(d) Transportation – Wow, this was a hard one to ‘guess’.  I just added another $75 per month for gas.  Your numbers might be higher or lower.  In our case, we would need to buy a second car if my wife worked outside the home so our numbers would be closer to $200 per month.

(e) Meals – I’m making the assumption that if mommy worked outside the home the family would be more likely to either eat out more frequently or buy more convenience foods.

(f) Clothing – Mommy clothes and business clothes require a different wardrobe. Enough said.

(g) Child care – This chart assumes that you have two kids: one is a toddler and one is pre-school age.  I looked at a few sites, but the site with the lowest average annual cost is the one I used.

(h) Miscellaneous – I’m sure I forgot something, right?

What Is The Value of Mommy’s Time?

Since my wife is a teacher, the closest income category would probably be $40,000.  If she spent 40 hours a week away from our home, she could add $3,990 to our family income.  By the way, she would bring home $1.91 per hour.  In our case, we would rather my wife be home than out earning $1.91 per hour.

Reflections on Mothers Working Outside the Home

Look, I know some women would rather work outside the home.  This post is for those who want to stay home but don’t think they can afford it.  In our case, from a purely monetary standpoint, my wife is a lot more valuable at home than in the workplace.  The money she saves our family – through an investment of her time and energy – saves more money than she could make.

However, the benefits for us run far deeper than money.

  1. We’re both happier.  My wife wants to stay home (though of course it is hard work).  I like knowing my wife is developing some great character in my kids.
  2. Our schedules are saner. Since we don’t need to fit everything into two inflexible schedules, things can be shifted easier with just one of us ‘working for someone else’.
  3. We get more time together. At the end of the day, we’re both tired, but at least we don’t have all the household chores to complete.  Since my wife is home, many of our household responsibilities are taken care of during the day so we can spend time together.
  4. I get to have lunch with my wife and kids. Since I work from home, I walk upstairs and eat lunch with my family.  That, my friends, is a priceless blessing.


  1. says

    Interesting chart. We are expecing our first in December, but since we wipe out the child care (Wife works from home) it makes sense for us to have her at least continue on a reduced basis.

    • says

      Single parenting must be so difficult on so many fronts. Perhaps we should all make a contentious effort to see how we can better serve single parents.

    • says

      I hope this post will give couples a good tool to help evaluate their choice. It is always better to see things in black and white.

  2. says

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  3. says

    I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.
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