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It is realistic to be a SAHM on a household income of £38K, right?

(76 Posts)
KnitFastDieWarm Tue 28-Jul-15 16:59:41

I was brought up on a tiny fraction of that amount by my student-at-the-time parents and I seem to have turned out ok - so I think the answer is a firm yes, unless DH and I start bathing in champagne or something grin but I've had a few people look askance at me. Am I being naive?

Situation- DS1 is due in November. DH makes £38,000 a year. I make less than £20K full time (professional job, but in one of those delightful media fields that can get away with paying peanuts because everyone wants to do it, apparently hmm). I like my job but I'm not especially career-focussed. Because of the nature of my work being pretty location-flexible, I'm hoping to be able to take a year or so completely off and then do some freelance work from home. It would cost an absolute bloody fortune to put DC in anything approaching full time childcare so this seems like a good option, on the face of it at least!

We own our own home in the south-west which DH can cover on his salary, no problem. He is very happy for me to SAHM when dc is small so no issues there.

Am I actually being unrealistic here? Or am I just talking to people who consider anything less than four foreign holidays a year to be the brink of desperate poverty and/or who live in London? hmm

ReallyNotAMorningPerson Tue 28-Jul-15 17:02:15

Of course you can do it, and many people do.

CaramellaDeVille Tue 28-Jul-15 17:04:05

We cope on much less than that, no benefits other than child benefit and no tax credits either. There's no holidays and not much luxury but it is doable comfortably in my experience.

We also own our own home and have all the usual bills.

We both work but we are building up a business while also looking after 2 small children, and I di the bulk of that.

AmethystMoon Tue 28-Jul-15 17:04:49

It is impossible to know without knowing your outgoings. Some could and some couldn't. I don't mean for you to tell us just that you need to list your expenditure, including necessary and luxury, then subtract from your income, et voila!

Pixi2 Tue 28-Jul-15 17:05:20

It entirely depends on your outgoings. Can DH cover the mortgage, bills, pay tax, loans?, overdrafts?, credit cards? And will there be enough for food and extracurricular activities plus treats like going to the cinema, out for a meal, birthdays, Christmas? Only you know how much you spend.
I'm speaking as a SAHM.

ArghWhatOnEarthsGoingOn Tue 28-Jul-15 17:05:40

If your DH's earnings can cover your all of your outgoings then of course you can do it.

GloGirl Tue 28-Jul-15 17:06:04

Absolutely. But what you will be doing is living with one expensive extra person and 20k less so it is a big change.

SnapesCapes Tue 28-Jul-15 17:07:18

We couldn't afford to live on that because we have outgoings like two cars, an apartment abroad and love travelling. But just because we couldn't doesn't mean you couldn't. It just means living within your means and being careful.

You sound as though you can re-enter your career at a later date without it having too much of an impact, and you're happy enough to go ahead so I'd say go for it.

ArghWhatOnEarthsGoingOn Tue 28-Jul-15 17:07:55

Oops, extra 'your' there but I hope you got the gist.

PaigeMahoney Tue 28-Jul-15 17:08:36

I was a SAHM and DH earned that amount and we found that we couldn't live on that amount. But we did not own our own house and the rents where we live have gone up by about 40%. There was no way we could save up for a deposit to buy a house and for me to continue being a SAHM and so I went back to paid employment.

Allstoppedup Tue 28-Jul-15 17:09:14

We do it on much, much less than that but as PP have said we do at the cost of things like holidays/few luxuries (I can't remember the last time I had my hair cut/bought brand new clothes) and I put a great deal of work into our food planning and budgeting. It can be difficult sometimes and is obviously massively dependant on your personal outgoings.

That said, I love being a SAHM and think I would love it even more if we had your annual income!grin

amothersplaceisinthewrong Tue 28-Jul-15 17:11:03

We couldn't have afforded that in the SouthEast - but I assume that is because we like our luxuries like a second car, city breaks,

Why don't you try living on just DHs income for a few months (put yours away as savings for now) and see how you go>

BabyGanoush Tue 28-Jul-15 17:12:50

Bear in mind interest rates (and thus mortgage costs) will probably start going up soon.

Also, owning a house brings unexpected costs (leaky roofs, rotting window frames etc.)

Make sure you have a safety net for unexpected things (also things like broken down car)

DextersMistress Tue 28-Jul-15 17:14:46

I'm a sahm and do earns 28k. We're ok but we live in a cheap area.

DextersMistress Tue 28-Jul-15 17:15:23


dingit Tue 28-Jul-15 17:17:04

We tested it out by saving all of my salary as soon as I knew I was pregnant. We then had a bit put by for dipping in to, and in time dhs salary went up, by quite a bit smile

I'm on mat leave atm but DH gave up his job while I was pg and is goingvto be a sahd. I earn about that. We've dipped into savings to cover my reduced pay recently but should be Ok when I go back so if say so.

Duckdeamon Tue 28-Jul-15 17:23:36

Depends on whether / how much you want to "keep your hand in" your current field (eg long career breaks can often make it harder to get work in future) and your appetite for risk (eg DH's redundancy or illness, divorce).

maninawomansworld Tue 28-Jul-15 17:25:50

YANBU so long as you accept that you'll have to make cuts , and are realistic about what that involves.

The best advice I ever heard (actually on a thread on MN) was to live for 6 months / a year on your DH's salary alone, while saving all of yours and see how it goes.
At the end of the experiment, you'll know whether it is doable and you'll have a healthy lot of savings with which to buy baby things or use as an emergency fund if the roof caves in or something similar while you are not working.

Duckdeamon Tue 28-Jul-15 17:28:34

Oh, and don't forget about making provision for your old age, eg what if you don't pay into a pension, state pension isn't worth much and / or are unfit for work.

pickingstrawberries Tue 28-Jul-15 17:29:22

I would struggle, assuming you have a mortgage, I think, but it's definitely possible.

TracyBarlow Tue 28-Jul-15 17:34:09

Given the crap salary I suspect I do the same job as you. Because of the state of the industry at the moment, when I went back to work after mat leave my company were actually keen to let me work flexibly, two days per week to save themselves some money. Sad to say that my post-grad qualification and 10 years in the industry now qualify me to earn under the tax threshold grin Not sure if PT would be an option for you?

Anyway, we have a combined income of £35k, have 3 v young kids and cope with no problems. We have a holiday every year and, although we're not rolling in it, we manage with no debt etc.

LadyPlumpington Tue 28-Jul-15 17:35:46

We did!

had a second child too

MollyBloomYes Tue 28-Jul-15 17:39:25

DH on 30k. We're doing OK but not paying rent atm. Plan is to move away from South east, probably to Midlands to make rent affordable .

One thing we didn't predict before baby arrived was cost of 'entertainment' once out of newborn stage eg baby classes, coffees with other mums etc. There are fab sessions at children's centres for free and yes you can do coffee at home but not always. Worth looking into what's available in your area and how much you might end up wanting or needing to pay to get you out the house! Doesn't have to be huge outlay but worth considering

PrimalLass Tue 28-Jul-15 17:39:55

We did for a while. I also started freelancing when DD was about 1.5. It got much easier when DS was at school and DD was in (cheap) village playgroup though.

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