5 Hidden Costs of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

Lots of women choose to forgo or leave a career to be at home with their children full time. We do this realizing that we’re giving up potential income. But there are other, sneaky ways that staying at home can eat at the family budget. Take a look at these five areas and see if any are draining dollars from your household bottom line.

1. Target Temptation. There are around 3 million documented reasons one might need to run into Target (or Costco, or Wal-Mart) for “just a sec.”  For moms who see a lot of the inside of the house, it may be just for a change of scenery.  Even if you only buy a couple of items each time, these repeat trips to our favorite shopping destinations add up. With the little ones in tow, the temptation is multiplied by their begging for a new toy or a snack. Make a shopping list and limit repeat trips to these danger zones.

2. Fast Food Addiction. Moms of little ones are often drawn to kid-friendly restaurants for the food and the playground equipment. Dining out can get pricey, however, if you indulge too often. Instead of meeting other moms at a fast food establishment for a play date, try meeting at the park before or after meal time, or packing a picnic from home.

3. Hobby Insanity. It’s great that you have the time for scrapbooking now, but if you buy every single tool and gadget associated with the pastime, you might as well be dipping those snapshots in 24k gold. The same can go for sewing, your tennis lessons, etc. Take an honest look at what you spend on these diversions and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.

4. The Cute Kid Competition. Lots of time with other moms and their kids can lead to a great deal of comparing and pressure to make sure your little one is just as adorable as the rest. Pretty soon, you can be spending more on your child’s wardrobe (and, heaven help us—the matching hair bows) than the national debt. Resist the urge to enter into this “mompetition” and keep it real.

5. The Serial Decorator. If being in your home all day everyday makes you obsessed with its appearance, you may spend more than you ever thought possible on home décor and related projects. Do yourself a favor: turn off HGTV and realize that no home is perfect—especially one that is teeming with adorably messy children, dogs and hamsters. Learn to love your shabby chic world and treat it like a home rather than a backdrop for a magazine photo shoot.