How to Afford to be a WAHM

Working outside the home is an expense in and of itself. Use these 6 steps to calculate the impact of your traditional work expenses and discover how you can afford to make less at home.
A home budget divided by mortgage, credit cards, insurance, utilities, and food.

Many would-be work-at-home moms erroneously believe they need to replace the income from their traditional job to afford to work at home. However, many successful WAHMs survive nicely earning less on a work-at-home income. The reason? Working outside the home costs money. Often more money than moms realize. If you think you can’t afford to work at home, think again and follow the steps below.

1. Calculate your current budget. Unless you’re rich, calculating a budget is scary and depressing, but it must be done if you want to afford to work at home. Write down every expense, including cash purchases.

2. Calculate how much your job costs. Job-related expenses include the obvious such as gas and toll, uniforms or an appropriate work wardrobe, and child care. Other expenses include additional taxes for being in a higher tax bracket, dining out and pre-packaged meals because you’re too tired to cook dinner, lunches out, the fancy coffee purchase during the commute, vending machine snacks, wear and tear on your car, and higher repair bills because you have to pay for after-hours service.

3. Subtract your work expenses from your budget. The result is your outgoing expense without the cost of working outside the home.

4. Whittle down your expenses. Many family budgets are loaded with hidden spending that can be reduced or eliminated with little effect on the family. You don’t need to be an extreme couponer to save on groceries and other expenses. You can simply buy store brand products for a huge savings. Cut your $100+ cable bill and get Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime for an average of $30 per month. The public library allows you to borrow movies for free, and some even rent video games games for a few dollars. Go through your budget and identify areas you can reduce or eliminate expenses.

5. Subtract the salary from a spouse or partner and any other income (i.e. alimony) from your revised budget (#4). The result is the amount you need to earn to work from home comfortably. If you’re like many mothers, this number is significantly less than you thought it would be.

6. Add back work-at-home expenses. The bad news is that depending on what you do from home, you may have additional expenses. The good news is that working at home is so affordable that the expenses shouldn’t be too much. The amount you add will depend on what you decide to do from home and what tools or services you need to conduct your work. The final result from this exercise is the minimum income you need to earn to afford to work from home. It doesn’t hurt to add a little more money on top of this for emergencies or unforeseen expenses.

For many moms, this exercise reveals how much less they have to make to stay home, which excites and motivates them to make it happen. Even if that isn’t the case with you, at least you know the number you need to strive for to be a WAHM. Whatever the number it is, you can achieve it through research, planning, and commitment.

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