The Mother of All Money Fights: The Stay-at-Home Mom Discussion

The Mother of All Money Fights: The Stay-at-Home Mom Discussion

Ask any two mothers about parenting and they'll likely find plenty of points to disagree on.

And yet there's one topic where both new and experienced moms alike seem to see eye to eye: The decision to either stay at home with the kids or head back to work creates a lot of conflict in their families.

In fact, according to new insights from NerdWallet, this conundrum is the number one source of tension between moms and their spouses.


Get started with a free financial assessment.

And this isn't just the consensus among new mothers. The survey gathered responses from over 600 pregnant women as well as 600 moms of teenage children—meaning the work-life balance discussion is pervasive long after the little ones take their first steps.

One reason for the conflict, according to NerdWallet correspondent Farnoosh Torabi, is that "stay-at-home care is a deeply personal issue—but it is [also] increasingly becoming an economic one with the rising costs of day care."

After all, with the average annual price of full-time day care for an infant ranging from $5,496 in Mississippi to a whopping $16,549 in Massachusetts, cutting these costs might be a priority for many new parents.

And that seems to show through in the stats: Today, about 29% of mothers stay at home to raise a child, up from a "modern-era low" of 23% in 1999.

Still, even with the potential savings in child care early on, a mother's decision to stay at home can have other, not-so-positive economic impacts.

According to research from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the average woman's income declines by as much as 30% after just two or three years outside the workforce. It's just one more factor mothers have to mull over as they weigh the decision with their spouse.

Of course, outside of this issue, there are plenty of other financial concerns that fuel parent fights.

The survey found that the second-most argument-inducing topic was saving for a child's education. Other money matters, like the cost of toys and the cost of child care, were also hot topics.

Sound familiar? Find out how you can help pare back the price of child care—and conduct a stress-free money talk with your loved one.


Financial planning made simple.

Get your free financial assessment.

Related Tags

Get the latest in your inbox.

Subscription failed!

You're Now Subscribed!