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Keep Debt Free - As A Stay-At-Home Parent

The financial picture for couples has changed a lot over the past 25 years, to the point that it is becoming rarer and rarer for families to have one parent stay at home. The double income lifestyle creates opportunities, but can also bring disadvantages to parents. Some experts say that a stay-at-home parent can provide better care, while others say that double income parents can raise their children with superb results. Whatever the case actually is, that is the topic for another article, if not book. Instead, with this article we will attempt to address some of the financial issues that come with having one parent be a "stay-at-home" caregiver while the other works. It is possible to stay debt free, but certainly the double income lifestyle definitely must be adjusted.


Children Bring Change


Obviously, becoming a parent is a huge responsibility. And the financial burden of raising a child is a great one. But it can be done with a single income, although lifestyle changes usually will have to be altered. The fact is, about 90% of couples cannot afford to continue their "pre-child" lifestyle, with all its perks and expenses, and expect to stay out of debt. But if changes are agreed upon, and the willingness is there, the stay-at-home parent can gain great rewards from the experience.


Some Tips For Change

Once you have a child and are running a family on one income, you will quickly understand that all of the small things add up quickly. From that cup of coffee you have every day before work, to the lunches with co-workers, to the take out food on the way home from work, each of these may have to become luxuries which should be saved for a "treat", as opposed to purchased frequently. In fact, in most cases you will have to redefine the word luxury, and bring it a lot closer to earth than it may have been before. Suddenly, necessities will be the majority of your spending, with luxuries only a small piece. This is critical, especially if you want to stay debt free.


What About Your Home?

It's a simple fact: for most couples, the largest expense in their life is the mortgage. That, and the utilities that come with a house are always a major cause of financial strain. So, when your family increases in size, you have to ask yourself: is this home too large of a financial strain? In many cases, couples make the mistake of taking on too large of a home expense when purchasing their home. You must re-assess yourself in this regard, and consider moving to lower cost housing, perhaps in a different neighborhood.


When you are moving your family situation to a single income, there will be sacrifices that will have to be made. This is just a fact. But, as with anything, the stay-at-home parenting financial issue is not black or white. There are certainly other ways you can add more to the family bottom line, such as a part-time job for the stay-at-home partner. Another consideration in many workplaces these days is "on the job" daycare, which are frequently offered as an additional employee benefit. In cases such as this, it may not be necessary to stay at home.


And finally, and certainly not the most attractive option, is the alternating day-night-shift pattern. This basically involves the father working nights, as an example, and the mother working days. Or the other way around. Obviously, this is an attempt to get the best of both worlds which usually creates tensions that can be quite harmful to the family. It can be done, and is done successfully by many Americans, but it takes a lot of work. But then, there aren't many family situations that don't require work.


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