Is It Possible To Be A Stay At Home Parent On Low Income?

In the past it was common for one parent (usually the father) to go to work while the other parent stayed home with the child, or children.  Today couples are insisting that this is no longer possible, especially not for the lower income people, but if you are good with money you will find it is possible and makes more sense.

Daycare is for the Rich

When our daughter was born both my husband and myself were low wage earners. We could not afford daycare. A person on minimum wage cannot afford to pay part of their income to a daycare provider; it is just not worth it.  Why have the expense of going to work to earn a few dollars more than you pay for daycare?  Consider that in most situations you might work 8 hours, but your child would be in daycare for 8.5 hours; allowing for the time you have to take to get from work to the day care.  It could even be longer in the case where people get an hour (unpaid) off for lunch.

Daycare is for the rich, it is for people who make a high enough wage that they can afford to give some of their money to somebody else. However if that is the case, then why can’t they afford to have one of them stay home? Mostly the problem is that people who make a higher wage also tend to spend more and as such they feel like they cannot reduce their income, and instead they dump their kid in a daycare and let somebody else raise it. 

The most affordable childcare is YOU!

How I Managed to be a Stay At Home Parent on a Low Wage

As I said, I was a low wage earner. I worked part time for minimum wage. My husband was also a low wage earner. In fact he made less than minimum wage (driving taxi for commission) but worked a 12 hour shift to make up for the low wage. Combined we earned about the same as a welfare family would, but we chose to work rather than to collect welfare for nothing.

After taking a year of maturity leave (as allowed in Canada) I told my employer I was ready to return to work. I worked part time, on the days that my husband was off, and the occasional evening. As such we both worked but we never had to put our daughter into daycare.

We made due with less, we did not have internet, did not have satellite television, did not go out for coffee, and we shared one vehicle, and it was a cheap car with no payments.  We had saved up for years before having a child and eventually made a good down payment on a modest 3-bedroom home, our mortgage was much lower than most people would pay for rent.  I honestly think that having the low mortgage and no car payments were the most important things that allowed us to be able to arrange our lives the way we did.

We also kept expenses lower by only having one child.  Noting that more would be a financial burden. 


Not only is it possible to be a stay at home parent on a low wage, but it is possible to be a stay at home parent on a higher wage too, all people have to do is make their child their priority.

I often hear people who make more than I do say they cannot afford to stay home and raise their own child.  I really have to wonder if they have given any thought to doing it or are just trying to justify why they are both working as it really is entirely possible for people to keep their child out of day care if they really want to.

Children, photo by author

Children, photo by author


Of course the above does not apply for single parents.  My husband died when our daughter was 5 and I was forced to find care for her at that point, but I did continue to work only part time so I would have time to spend with her and although I was minimum wage I did not collect welfare.

A person can find some stay at home money making opportunities to assist their finances; other than offering child care for other people’s children (which I did not do), I did not know about these at the time when our daughter was young. 


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