This free online stay at home calculator will help two-income families to determine the financial effects of transitioning to a one-income family.
When both parents work outside of the home it often adds the need for a second vehicle, daycare services, and a host of other expenses that wouldn't be necessary if only one parent worked outside of the home.
The calculator on this page will add up all of the expenses and taxes that you are paying just to maintain your household's second income, and will then calculate the net effects of eliminating those expenses and taxes if one parent quits their work to become a stay at home parent.
Finally, the calculator results now include a Printer Friendly Report button so you can print out all entries and results for later reference.
Let me first start out by saying that my heart goes out to those single parents who have little if any choice as to whether or not they can afford to be a stay at home parent. Sadly, with half of all marriages ending in divorce (many caused by disagreements over those little pieces of paper we refer to as "money"), my heart is going out to a lot of people.
Sure, it is possible to start a home-based business that would allow a single parent to work from home. However, making that transition is extremely difficult. After all, since it can take several years for a business to become profitable, a single parent would likely have to hold down a full-time job while building their business from home. And what single parent has time for that?
While there are legitimate arguments from both sides as to whether or not families are be better off with a stay-at-home parent, what bothers me the most is the fact that the financial aspects of the decision are normally only considered after the fact -- when parents already have children and they are already holding down full time jobs. In other words, very few of us ever make a financial plan for having children ahead of having them. The primary reason? Because that's what our parents did, and no one ever taught us any differently.
In my opinion, Home Economics should be just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic when it comes to educating our children. Unfortunately, at least in the case of my family's experience, "Home Ec" was little more than a brief lesson in baking cup cakes. That's outrageous! Especially when you consider the financial complexities of today's households.
The truth is, most households today are more financially complex than most small businesses of the past. Yet most households have no business plan, no accountant, no budget, no purchasing manager, and so on. And the general thinking process seems to be, "If we make enough money we won't need to worry about our finances." The result? A society full of people bouncing from one higher paying job to the next -- much like a bunch of pin balls on one giant pin ball machine -- without ever stopping long enough to see if what we're doing even makes sense.
When it comes to deciding whether or not it's feasible for you to quit work to be a stay at home parent, I'm of the opinion that the most important thing to consider is which choice will result in happier parents. After all, unhappy parents can't possibly be good for children. But when I say "happy parents," I'm not referring to parents whose happiness depends on the quantity and quality of their inanimate objects (objects that can't love them back!). Instead, I'm talking about parents who are happy because they are living a balanced life and are engaged in a work they find self-fulfilling -- regardless of whether that work is being a stay at home parent, or running a fortune 500 company.
Unfortunately, since most of were taught that "more money and more things" leads to "more happiness," and we've all been given easy access to credit (allowing us have more things with less upfront money) the financial aspects of quitting work to stay at home must now be considered. Because regardless of how much happier you and the children might be if you could quit work to be a stay at home parent, that happiness can be easily offset by an onslaught of creditors pounding on your door -- all looking for repayment for all the happiness they fronted you in the past.
With that, let's use the stay at home calculator to estimate the financial net-effects of going from a two income household, down to a one income household.
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Gross annual income: Total annual income before taxes, contributions and deductions.
Annual deductible contributions: Deposits you each make to qualified retirement plans (IRA, 401K, etc.).
Other deductible contributions: Contributions to Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) that are deductible from your taxable income.
Annual 401K employer matching funds: Amounts contributed to qualified retirement plans on your behalf by your employer. If your employer offers matching contributions, the loss of these contributions needs to be considered when deciding whether or not to quit work to stay at home.
Number of withholding allowances: The number of withholding allowances is typically the same as the number in your household, but can be adjusted for tax purposes. The number of allowances will not change if you decide to quit working to stay at home. The last time the time the stay at home calculator was updated, each qualified allowance reduced your taxable income by $3,900.
Annual childcare tax credit (IRS Form 2441): The annual childcare tax credit you would lose if you no longer paid for daycare. At the time the stay at home calculator was created, this amount was listed on line #12 of Form 2441.
State and local income tax: The total percentage of your state and local income taxes. If you don't know your state tax rate, click here to open a pop-up window containing a summarized listing of the state tax rates. This will give you a general idea as to what to state percentage to enter into the stay at home calculator.
Annual out-of-pocket expenses if you quit working: The annual total of any benefit payments you have to start making if you quit working (health insurance, dental plans, out of pocket medical expenses, etc.).
Car expense savings: The annual cost to drive your own car to and from work. If you want the calculator to figure your annual mileage cost, enter the work-related miles you drive each work day (be sure to include any miles driven to and from lunch). The stay at home calculator will calculate your annual cost at 55-cents per mile, which was the IRS allowable mileage expense at the time this calculator was created. Or, if quitting work will allow you to sell your car, instead of entering the miles per workday, simply enter the periodic savings (car payment, insurance, gasoline, etc.) and select the corresponding period.
Clothing expense savings: The annual clothing cost you will save if you quit work. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered clothing savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual clothing savings.
Daycare expense savings: The annual daycare savings you would realize if you stayed at home. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered daycare savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual daycare savings.
Dining out expense savings: The annual dining out cost you will save if you quit work. Be sure to include the cost of work-related snacks and beverages, as well as family dining-out meals that are caused by the time constraints of both parents working outside the home. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered dining out savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual dining out savings.
Dry Cleaning expense savings: The annual dry cleaning cost you will save if you quit work. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered dry cleaning savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual dry cleaning savings.
Transportation expense savings: The annual cost of fares (air, bus, taxi, etc.), tolls, and parking fees you will save if you quit work. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered transportation savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual transportation savings.
Grooming and image expense savings: The annual grooming cost you will save if you quit work. This would include things like hair styling, manicures and beauty products. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered grooming savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual grooming savings.
Poor decision expense savings: The estimated annual cost of making poor buying decisions due to lack of time for adequate price, product and service research. In many cases, a financially savvy parent can offset a good portion of their lost income simply by having the time to fully research each and every spending, borrowing and investing decision. Without the proper time necessary for wise financial decision making, most families end up buying high and selling low -- costing them a small fortune. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered poor decision savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual savings.
Professional services expense savings: The annual cost of professional services that could be eliminated if you were to stay at home. This would include services such as housekeepers, painters, lawn services, an so on. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered professional savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual professional services savings.
Stress relief expense savings: The annual stress-relieving expenditures that could be eliminated. This would include costs such as massages, spa treatements, chiropractor, medications, etc., that you are spending to relieve the stress of spreading yourself too thin. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered stress relief savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual stress relief savings.
Tools of trade expense savings: The annual cost of buying and maintaining the tools of your trade that could be eliminated. This would include costs such as electronic gadgets, periodicals, subscriptions, reference books, etc.. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered tools of the trade savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual tools of the trade savings.
Other expenditures: The annual cost of any other unreimbursed, work-related expenditures you can think of. The stay at home calculator multiplies the entered other savings per period by the selected period to arrive and the annual other savings.
Total estimated annual savings: Your estimated total annual work-related expense savings from quitting work to stay at home.
Annual taxable income: The Both column is your combined taxable income. The Spouse Only column would be your taxable income if you quit work to stay at home. These figures are only used to figure your federal and state income taxes.
Federal income tax: The Both column is your combined estimated annual federal income tax, minus any child care credit you entered in the Mutual section of the calculator. The stay at home calculator uses the table below to calculate your federal income taxes. The source of the table is IRS Publication 15 (2014), Table 7, pg 44 (opens new window). To estimate your own federal income tax, find the amount in the left-hand column that is less than, but not greater than, your annual taxable income. Then subtract that number from your annual taxable income to get your excess income. Finally, multiply your excess income by the corresponding percentage rate (right-hand column) and add the result to amount in the center column. Dividing your annual income tax by the number of pay periods will give you the federal tax withholding per pay period.
FICA: Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax is a US payroll (or employment) tax imposed by the federal government on both employees and employers for funding Social Security and Medicare. The FICA rate at the time the stay at home calculator was created was 7.65% (6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare) with a maximum Social Security contribution of $7,049.40 per year.
FICA Social Security tax: The Social Security tax is a federal program that provides for old age, survivors, disability and hospital insurance. At the time stay at home calculator was created, the FICA SS rate was 6.2% of your gross pay, up to a maximum of $7,049.40 per year.
FICA Medicare withholding: This is your FICA Medicare withholding. Medicare is a federal hospital insurance insurance program. The last time the time stay at home calculator was updated, the FICA Medicare rate was 1.45% of your gross pay up to $200,000 in annual income, and 1.54% for on excess over $200,000 annual gross pay.
State income tax: The Both column is your combined State income tax (federal taxable income X entered state tax rate). The Spouse Only column would be your State income tax if you quit work to stay at home.
Total taxes: The Both column is your combined total tax liability. The Spouse Only column would be your total tax liability if you quit work to stay at home. The stay at home calculator deducts these figures from gross income for the purpose of arriving at your net income.
Net income: The Both column is your combined net income, which includes any 401K employer matching contributions from both employers. The Spouse Only column would be your net income if you quit work to stay at home, which only includes employer matching contributions from your spouse's employer. NOTE: The stay at home calculator does not attempt to calculate the lost earnings from lost contributions retirement accounts, so you need to take that into consideration as well.
Plus stay-at-home savings: The Both column is not applicable. The Spouse Only column would be your estimated annual, work-related expense savings if you quit work to stay at home, which stay at home calculator adds to your spouse's net income for comparison purposes.
Less stay-at-home expenses: The Both column is not applicable. The Spouse Only column would be your estimated increase in out of pocket expenses if you quit work to stay at home, which is deducted from your spouse's net income for comparison purposes.
Net effect: The Both column is the same as your combined net income from the line above. The Spouse Only column would be your effective net income if you quit work to stay at home.
Net loss/gain from quitting work: The Both column is not applicable. The Spouse Only column indicates how much the household would lose (-) or gain if you quit work to stay at home.
Your effective hourly pay rate: The Both column is not applicable. The Spouse Only column is how much you are actually contributing to the household per hour of work.
Every family is different, meaning there is no "one size fits all" answer when it comes to deciding whether or not the family would be better off if you were to quit work to be a stay at home parent. For example, some argue that the children will be better off being raised by a parent, rather than by a daycare. Others argue that daycares allow children to develop the social skills needed for attending school. Still others argue that both spouses working outside the home provides an important safety net should one spouse lose their job. So do you ...
Are you a stay at home mom or dad? Are you dreaming of becoming a stay at home parent? Do you believe that families are better off with both parents working? Are you a child care professional with insights on the benefits and drawbacks? We'd love to hear it all!