5 Money Misconceptions About Stay-at-Home Moms

The life of a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) is surrounded by many myths. From the idea that she sits on the couch all day watching TV to the false idea that her husband runs the show, the gossip seems to be endless. One of the biggest misconceptions about stay-at-home moms relates to money, and it's a topic that pits mom against mom and the SAHM against society. Get ready to squash those money misconceptions about these women. 

Stay-at-Home Moms are Rich

Two moms with shopping bags and a credit card.
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How can anyone afford to be a stay-at-home mom? She must have married rich, so she doesn't have to worry about money, right?

Some people do think SAHMs are living a lavish lifestyle and that at-home parents don't have to worry about money because the one person earning income in the house must bring home a six-figure paycheck. In a 2014 study, Pew Research found that 34% of stay-at-home mothers are poor with only 10% of stay-at-home moms who hold a graduate degree living in a household income of at least $75,000. This 10% translates to about 1% of the 35-million U.S. mothers, both working moms, and SAHMs, ages 18 to 69. The rich stay-at-home exists, but the numbers show she's not as common as people think.

Aren't Saving Money

A mom and daughter sorting change into jars.
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Some may think SAHMs can't save any money because they have to be so thrifty. Living off one income does mean you have to live by a family budget, but it doesn't mean families with one spouse staying home with the kids aren't saving money.

Many stay-at-home moms are money masters. They have to be. Raising kids is expensive and raising kids on one income isn't easy. But by having a solid budget in place and making adjustments where necessary, SAHMs cannot only track all expenses but also bank money for rainy days, family vacations and even college funds.

Pinch Pennies to the Point Their Family Suffers

A mom with a hammer about to break her daughter's piggy bank
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If you're spending all of your time watching every penny go in, and every penny goes out, you can't possibly be providing for your family in a way that's positive and healthy. Surely that corner-cutting is making the family suffer.

Yes, families with one parent at home do cut corners but every family, even those with two working parents, should be looking for ways to pinch pennies. Households with one parent staying home do have to be extra cautious with their family's money. That doesn't mean you have to raid the local fast food joint for 100 ketchup packets you can squeeze into a bottle at home or split the two-ply toilet paper into one-ply TP to get a better bang for your buck. While SAHMs continually monitor the family's finances, they also find new ways to stretch the family's one paycheck without everyone feeling deprived.

Don't Contribute Financially

A woman taking pictures of her pottery to sell
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If you're not working outside the home, you must not be contributing financially. Not only does this type of thinking fuel the Mommy Wars, but it's also a money misconception that plagues stay-at-home moms to the point that they're made to feel they're inferior, setting women back to the dark ages and killing working women's chances of ever defeating pay inequality in the workforce.

However, stay-at-home moms contribute to their family's bottom line in a number of ways. When it comes to creative ways to make money, stay-at-home moms can't be beat. They sell their creations, such as jewelry or embroidered gifts. They host home parties as a vendor to sell makeup, books, clothing, and more. They look for online opportunities to work as a shop owner, writer, or photographer.

Even for those who don't look for money-making opportunities, they're still contributing to their family's income in a unique way. A recent study found a growing share of stay-at-home moms simply can't find work. And research also shows the number of women becoming stay-at-home moms is on the rise partly due to rising costs in childcare. For some, the cost of childcare as well as the costs of a car, gas, vehicle maintenance, clothing, and lunches actually makes working outside of the home cost more than staying home.

Don't Make Financial Decisions

A woman paying the bills at her coffee table.
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SAHMs aren't bringing home the bacon, so-to-speak, so they must not be making financial decisions for their family. But the truth is, many stay-at-home moms make most, if not all, financial decisions for their family.

Today's SAHMs are managing the family budget, paying the bills, and saving money. They may not be the so-called breadwinner but in many households, they're the financial superhero who makes sure the mortgage is paid, some of the money is tucked away, and the budget still has enough left over to pay for the kids' extracurricular activities.