Even in today’s robust economy, millions of families face drastic economic hardships. Many families today seek to become “two-income families” where both parents must work just to keep going.
Moreover, many women today are driven by the desire for a career before and even after starting families. In this age as well, many women head single-parent families with even tougher financial burdens.
And yet, amid all this a lot of women across the country choose to stay home and take care of their families, sacrificing the opportunity for a career. They are called Stay-at-Home Mums (SAHM).
I sat down with Mrs. Rachel Ambasu Butembu, a trained Community Health Worker, who has been married for 13 years and has been a Stay-at-Home mum for the last 8 years. Here is her account on how it has been like navigating finances so far.
Becoming a Stay at Home mum is a conscious decision
Rachael got married in October 2008. Soon after, she lost her job and decided to become a Stay-at-Home mum. She says it was something that she had never thought of until she lost her job.
Rachael says she didn't have much trouble transitioning because she had some savings from all the years she had worked and so she had some money for her and her family.
Rachael is a mother to “many” children as she puts it; one boy who is in Grade 6 and those she has gotten the privilege of nurturing.
While the job loss was the precursor, she affirms that the decision to not plunge back into the formal job market was a conscious choice after several considerations.
Benefits of being a Stay at Home Mum.
Giving up your career just to stay home and take care of your family can be a very difficult decision. But there are benefits attached to it.
“My kids don’t have to worry about coming home to an empty house, or if something happens that no one is there for them. They know that no matter what happens during the day I will be at home. Although this may not always be true, I am never far away.
“They know that if something were to happen either at school or at work, they can call me and I would be with them in a matter of minutes. There is nothing they have to worry about. Being there for them is my biggest responsibility.
That gives me comfort that I am bringing stability and fullness into my children’s lives and honestly, that cannot be replaced. I also have enough time to take care of our little property both here in Nairobi and sometimes upcountry and also to work for the Lord,” she says.
Having quality alone time is also one of the benefits that she gets to enjoy when the kids are at school and when the husband is at work.
“Having time alone is wonderful. I have learnt what my strengths are and even developed great hobbies that enable me to become more effective. I love cooking and so I get to experiment a lot while enjoying some me time.”
The Financial Cost of Being a Stay-at-Home mum
If you have ever lost a job or considered giving up on a job, you are probably well aware of the implications and costs that come with it.
Experts say that it is important for stay-at-home mums to remain closely involved in all household finances.
Candace Bahr, a financial advisor and co-founder of the Women's Institute for Financial Education says, “Every woman needs to have a solid financial plan whether she’s working or not. And a man is not a financial plan.”
The decision to become a stay at home parent, and in our case, a stay at home mum is not an easy one as it involves great financial sacrifices both for the person and the whole family at large and as Rachael puts it;
“You know, there’s the meko (fireplace) , the one that includes three stones. When you take away one, you will not have food. Because the three have to support one another so that you may be able to cook. So when one goes missing, or when one breaks, you might end up having raw food or totally no food. So, there is a huge financial price to it but we have learnt and are still learning to manage them.”
This then brings the need for stay at home mothers to have a solid financial plan of their own and also be able to be part of their family's overall financial plan.
This is what you can do to ensure that you can add up to your family’s finances:
The first and important step that you need to do is educate yourself about different financial tools and that is where the Money254 website comes in handy with articles on various aspects of personal finance, which are informative, simple and easy to understand.
While making your plan also, you have to do an expense check to see what are your essential and non-essential expenses. Rachael says while they were fortunate enough not to strain financially at the beginning, they had to cut back on a lot of luxuries and to stay sensibly within their normal lifestyle and giving priority to very important needs around the home.
“I don't just stay at home. If you decide to be a stay at home mum, at least do something. You can do some knitting, sowing, plaiting, laundry, and many other income generating activities so that your family income is not completely crippled. Desire to bring something on the table also, no matter how little it is.” Says Rachael.
Stay at home mums need to get involved in long-term financial decisions. This could be starting a business or finding a work-at-home job. Women are credited for being good at multitasking and so you can use this to your advantage to ensure that you are able to earn a few coins by doing something that can generate income for you and for your family.
“I had a small business which was sadly affected by Covid-19 and so for now I’ve taken a break from it to re-strategize on how I'll get it up and running again. The business was very helpful because I had customers and I could make extra money for myself and family out of it.” she adds.
Luckily for her, she is not the only one on this path of navigating finances as a stay at home mum because she has close friends who are stay at home mums and with whom they get to encourage and help one another out. Rachael says:
“My best friend is also a stay at home mum but she rears chicken and does some farming to keep herself busy and ensure that they have an extra stream of income. This is a great encouragement to me because I’m not alone in this and we get to bail each other out financially whenever there is a need.”
Starting a business will allow you to become self employed and it will give you the flexibility to work from anywhere and on your own schedule.
You will realize that many people have built multi-million businesses just from a passion. Today, there are more avenues to explore that more than ever. When you realise your passion, You can turn it into money-making ideas and earn good cash from it.
“ In high school I did home science and cooking is my passion. I love cooking and I love good food. So other than just being a mom at home, sometimes I hire myself outside for catering services at least to get extra money for myself and help to boost our family income so that while we are still waiting for daddy’s salary, I’m able to refill our gas if its empty, refill tokens and do a few things for my family. My passion is paying me off.” She says.
Mrin Agarwal, a financial educator; founder & director of Finsafe India Pvt. Ltd; and co-founder of Womantra says, “Stay at Home Mums are the best role models for their children and being financially independent will help them not only in being cool moms but give them time to pursue their aspirations as well.”
When evaluating the possibility of becoming a Stay at home mum, consider how that will impact your family especially on the area of finances. Stay at home mothers can put themselves on a firm financial footing with proper planning and establishing a proper solid financial plan.
So whether the path you have chosen is to be a Stay at Home mum or a mum that needs to be out in the workforce, the goal is the betterment of your families, both financially and generally and both ways work.
To amazing mums!