Stay at Home Calculator

Dream of quitting your job to stay home with the kids? The first step is understanding your expenses. The second? Seeing if your family can cover them comfortably on just one salary. Remember, the more accurate the information you enter, the more confident you can be about the results.* Not sure what to put in each slot? Click on the ? for tips. If something doesn't apply to you, go ahead and leave the field blank.

Your Income

Step 1: Enter Your Monthly Income

Enter your after-tax income. The best way to do this? Look at your pay stub. The number you get to deposit in the bank is what you're looking for (after taxes, Social Security/FICA contributions, employer-sponsored retirement contributions, pre-taxed health savings, or flexible spending contributions are taken out). Get paid twice a month? Double the number to find your monthly after-tax income. Make sure to include any monthly income from regular freelance work or other sources of income.
Best way to find this? Look at your partner's pay stub. Again, make sure you're recording your partner's actual monthly take-home pay.
Total: This is your after-tax (net) annual earnings now

Step 2: Enter Your Potential Stay-at-Home Monthly Income

Plan to try to make some money while you stay at home with the kids? Enter in any money you plan to make from freelance or part-time work, or any other sources of income that will continue after you quit. If you don't know how much you'll take home after taxes, guesstimate by subtracting 20% from the total.

Your Expenses

Step 1: Enter Your Monthly Home and Living Expenses

Enter your monthly mortgage amount here. Be sure to include PMI (private mortgage insurance), coop or condo association fees, etc.
If you rent rather than own, enter your monthly rent here.
Enter your monthly car payment -- or payments, if you have more than one car -- here.
Enter your monthly utilities expenses -- electric, water, gas, garbage, phone, etc. -- here. For a payment history, consult your checkbook/online banking register.
Enter your food expenses here. Try paying by credit or debit card and tracking expenses for one month beforehand to get an accurate, all-inclusive number.
If you don't know the monthly cost, divide annual premiums for auto, homeowners/renters, and life insurance by 12 and enter here. Since some insurance costs are included in mortgage payments, such as PMI and homeowners insurance, make certain you aren't double-counting.
Enter other household bills -- cable TV, Internet service, cell phones, yard care, cleaning service, etc. -- here.
Add up all other monthly debt payments -- student loans, home-equity loans, personal loans, credit cards, etc. (being careful not to double-count anything else on this list) and enter here.
Enter your contribution to retirement accounts here.
If you are already making regular contributions to a 529 plan, a Coverdell Education Savings Account, or other college fund for your child, enter the amount here.
Enter an estimate of all family dinners out and other entertainment here. Try paying by credit or debit card and tracking expenses for one month beforehand to get an accurate, all-inclusive number.
Enter the amount you regularly set aside for any and all emergencies -- car or home repair, medical expenses, etc. -- here.
Total: This is your total yearly outlay for basic living expenses

STEP 2: Enter Your Monthly Childcare Expenses

This number should be the cost of daycare or babysitting incurred when both you and your partner work, and when your older children are not in school. If you have weekend childcare costs that result from working, make sure to include those, too.
Total: This is your total yearly childcare cost

STEP 3: Enter Your Monthly Work Expenses

Enter amount spent on gasoline, parking, or public transportation costs on a monthly basis here.
All of those fancy lattes add up -- and unless you're fastidious about bringing your lunch, so do purchased meals. Enter a monthly estimate for any purchased lunches, coffees, midday snacks, and after-hours drinks with colleagues, etc.
Enter amount you spend on new clothes for your job here.
Enter monthly work-related dry cleaning expenses here.
Total: This is your total yearly work cost

STEP 4: Enter Any Other Annual Expenses

Do you try to hit the beach once a year? Drive to see the family around the holidays? Try to take a long weekend away now and then? Enter what you spend on yearly vacations here.
Enter the amount you usually spend on birthdays and gift-giving holidays.
Full head of highlights or a half? The occasional spa treatment? Baby's first haircut? Mani/pedi? A regular trim for hubby? Add up these expenses here.
Add up money spent on clothes for you, your partner, and the kids. Make sure you don't double-count with the money you've allotted for work clothes for yourself.
Include big (if applicable) and smaller things (that add up) like diapers, wipes, and toys. Preschool and private school expenses remain the same if you're working or not (unless you're home-schooling). So just make sure whatever you include here isn't already accounted for elsewhere.
In general, allow for a few hundred dollars of medical expenses that will fall outside of insurance here, or plan for a bit more if someone in your family has a chronic condition that calls for pricier, consistent care that isn't covered.
Add any non-reimbursable health club, country club, or other membership fees here.
Magazine subscriptions up the wazoo? An unchecked eBay obsession? Fess up here.
Total: This is your total yearly extras cost

* Disclaimer: This is meant to be a basic tool for estimating expenses and the economic feasibility of stay-at-home parenting. You should confer with your accountant or financial planner before making decisions about living on one full-time salary or two.