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I have been a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) for four years now. It was something I never expected to be. My business failed, and I got myself in a pile of debt, which forced me to stay home and start anew. But if I had to start over again, this would be my to-do list to become a SAHD.
Before I proceed, I would like to mention that this post leans more on the economic side of the process. Many fathers desire to stay home with their wives and children but can’t due to financial concerns. If we can solve the money issue, it is more apparent that parents will be inclined to stay home with their kids.
You can read my origin story here: — Assets and liabilities management: Our simple plan to financial freedom.
This post may contain affiliate links. — Please read our full disclosure.
Count The Costs
Can you afford to make the transition?
Let us do a little math. How much are your monthly expenses, and how much money do you have in the bank? We should anticipate the months when our income will drop. Give it at least six months to a year before we can legitimately make money at home.
As I look back, my financials look like this:
- $60 in the bank
- $0 income
- $??,??? in debt
I cannot afford to stay at home. But thankfully, I have supportive parents. They allowed me and my family to stay with them until we figured things out. By God’s grace, we were able to move out by September 2019.
Create A Plan
Many would suggest we should talk with our wives first before we create a plan. But I don’t think it is a good idea, especially when you have financial troubles. It is more favorable to approach her with a rationale and a plan on how to make it work.
Here are some questions we have to ask ourselves when creating a plan:
What do I have?
It would be a handicap to start something out of thin air. I felt lost when my business failed. It was a point where I did not know where to go or what to do with my life.
But eventually, I found a mentor who taught me one of the greatest lessons in my life. He said, “Always start with what you have.“
“God is there to guide us and equip us for our journey,” he added. “So if we need direction, the clue is already in our hands.“
Ask yourself, what skills, passion, resources, and connections do I have?
Skills — What are you good at?
Passion — What do you love doing?
Resources — Do you have cars, properties, or any other assets?
Connections — Who are the people you know who can help you? What are their products and services?
List everything down in a notebook, or you can also create a mindmap to make it visual.
How will I make money at home?
Now, based on your answers, list some ideas on how you will make money at home. I shared my list and how much I earn annually in this post.
Then, do some research and make a conservative estimation of how much you can make per idea. Conservative is about 50% less than what you have projected.
Example: (Estimated monthly earnings)
Online buy and sell = $300
Freelance work = $200
Blogging/Vlogging = $100
Real estate = $600
The activity will give you a general outlook of what income to look forward to at home.
Who are the people who might be affected negatively by my decision?
In my case, it was my employees. It was painful to let them go, but I did not have any choice. I issued their separation pay and delivered a heads-up in advance to give them enough time to plan.
How about you? Who will be the collateral damage when you transition to staying home full time? Identify these people and make the necessary move to make the upcoming change easy for them.
Talk To Wife
Ah, this one is a nail-biter. But do not worry, we have prepared well for this day. The worst thing we can do is give our wives the impression that we are acting on impulse. Having a plan will assure them of how we have prayed and meditated about this matter thoroughly.
But still, we do not know 100% how our wives will react. Let us have an open heart and be understanding of whatever emotion they may feel during the talk. We do not want to turn this matter into a debate. Whatever she says, let us listen and take notes.
Our wives are a source of wisdom we often overlook. They have these insights we will never realize unless they tell us. But whatever the case, we aim to have a productive discussion with her.
I interviewed my wife about her experience of living with me as a work-at-home husband. You can read the transcript here.
Build A Start-up Fund
After we have settled it out with our wife, we can now proceed to the next task: Build a start-up fund.
We do not want to jump out the window without any cushion awaiting us on the ground. Also, we do not want just any cushioning. We want something thick enough to handle the impact. It is the same concept when it comes to our finances.
We will never know when our income will recover once we finally give up our position in a company. It will take time before we’ll earn our first dollar at home. For this reason, it is vital to have some financial cushion of at least six months to a year of living expenses. It should be a sufficient lead time for us to figure out how to earn money at home.
But building our start-up fund is no easy feat. It may take too long before we can accomplish this assignment. That is why we need to make some sacrifices to tick off this task.
Here are the sub-tasks for building our start-up fund:
Sell Stuff You Will No Longer Use
I heard an average person owns about 300,000 items. There sure are tons of stuff we can turn into cash there.
Let us start with the big-ticket items from the list we’ve done earlier. Remember? In the Create A Plan, we took inventory of your available resources?
During my time, I sold my MacBook, basketball shoes, and golf clubs. I also disposed of everything I have not used for the past six months. All in all, I was able to add about $1,000 to my start-up fund. — which is a little over a month worth of our family’s living expenses.
Cut Unnecessary Monthly Expenses
Another way to push our savings is to cut our expenses. Take a look at your monthly expenditures and see if there is anything you can discard.
Mine was an NBA League Pass and a mobile postpaid plan. I unsubscribed to NBA and replaced my postpaid with prepaid.
I have saved about $30 a month.
It is essential to pay off all credit card debts before you become a stay-at-home dad. The last thing you want to do is return to your job because the interest and penalties have already piled up. You can check how we paid off our eight credit cards here.
For long-term debts, such as home and business loans, the best way to handle them is to negotiate with the bank. Request for payment restructures to ease your load until you get stable financially.
You can read how my wife and I dealt with our liabilities here: Assets and liabilities management: Our simple plan for financial freedom.
Get A Laptop
I am sorry, but I have to ask you to invest in a laptop. I presume you already have a smartphone? If not, you also need one of those. You will need a computer and a phone to make money at home. I cannot think of other ways to earn without those two devices. But if you only have to choose one, go for the laptop first.
You do not need the latest and greatest. I usually go for the mid-range category. Not too advanced to waste my money on features I do not need. And not too low-end that I will need to replace the device in a couple of years. Aim for something you think will last for five years.
What I use now is the Acer Chromebook Spin 713. You can check it out on Amazon using my affiliate link here: Acer Chromebook Spin 713. It cost about $515. I love this laptop, but in reality, the specs are already a bit more than you need. It has an Intel Core i5 processor with 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of SDD storage. Good for future-proofing.
For starters, an Intel Core i3 processor with 8 GB of RAM is the sweet spot. You may save a few bucks with the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, which costs about $424. Here is the link to Amazon: Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5.
If you are from the Philippines, you can check out Chromebook Store PH. But, of course, their prices will be a bit higher due to taxes, shipping, and handling.
If you want to learn more about Chromebooks, you can check out our Chromebook resource page.
Learn Digital Marketing Fundamentals
“The more you LEARN, the more you EARN.” I cannot agree more with this saying, especially when it comes to making money online.
The bulk of what we will do at home is online selling. We have to get familiar with the platforms and techniques for effective salesmanship. Digital marketing is such a broad topic that we can get lost if we try to learn everything. My suggestion is to start with the basics and then branch out to where you are most interested.
Check out this starter course on digital marketing: Digital Marketing Fundamentals | Learn From Fiverr
Another skill we have to learn: Writing
The remaining money I had in my savings was all spent on learning. I bought books, enrolled in online classes, and signed up for seminars. I tried to gain as much knowledge as possible to set up my next business on the right foot.
One of my best investments was in writing.
Writing will be present in every part of our business. It is the way we communicate and sell to our customers. Even if you go to vlogging or podcasting, you still need to write your scripts and stories. Being an excellent writer is a huge advantage in making money online.
Pro-tip: With writing, you can also create and sell info products. (e.g., ebooks, premium email newsletters, etc.)
Check out this copywriting course: From Structure To Style: Master Your Copywriting | Learn from Fiverr
If you want to take it a level higher, you can check out MasterClass. There, you can learn how to write from renowned authors and writers. You can get unlimited access to all its courses for $180 a year.
Start A Side-Hustle
You will discover many ways to earn money at home. But the problem with them is it usually takes a long time before you make your first dollar.
(What you need to accomplish on average to make money)
- Blogging/E-commerce: 10,000 to 30,000 page views a month.
- Vlogging (YouTube): 1,000 subscribers + 4 hours watch time.
- Podcasting: 3,000 to 5,000 listeners.
It will take you, on average, twelve to twenty-four months to build an audience and traffic. Not to mention the amount you need to spend on equipment to create content.
One of the early ways I made money at home was through being an internet middleman. It is fast and easy to start. But the best part is you do not need to shell out too much money to set it up. All you need is credibility and a heart of service.
An internet middleman serves as a bridge between the supplier and the customer.
I used to post ads for van and bus rental services even though I do not own a fleet of vehicles. Once there is an inquiry, I will ask the company for a quote and then forward it to the customer with my mark-up. I did this for two years without even meeting the suppliers and customers face to face. It is kind of awesome when you think about it.
I already shared the link to this article earlier, but I will share it again in case you missed it. How much do stay-at-home dads make? — There, I shared some ways we can make money at home. I hope it will spark ideas for your side hustle.
But if you also intend to start as an internet middleman, here are the steps on how to do it:
- Reach out to potential suppliers.
Review your connections list. — The one we did on the Create A Plan task. Choose products you are already familiar with.
- Study the products/services.
Ask for their price list and check if they have special discounts for resellers. Research the uniqueness and the competitiveness of the product. Check the demand and, more or less, how much you will earn per transaction.
Pro-tip: Choose products where you can make at least $20 to $30 per transaction. You want to engage in products that are worthy of your time.
- Create a public profile
Building trust is your utmost priority when doing business online. Open your Facebook profile to the public and make it look professional. If you prefer to keep your privacy, another option is to create a public profile with About Me.
- Set up bank accounts where people can transfer their payments.
- Post ads for the product or service in Facebook Marketplace, Carousell, or eBay.
Boost your ads for better results.
- Serve your customers well. Be transparent with your supplier.
- Rinse and repeat.
Here is your final task: jump in!
You are finally at this moment. Congratulations, you have earned it!
You may feel a bit nervous, but do not worry, it is normal. It is only due to some sort of separation anxiety from your old lifestyle.
But how would I know if I am ready to jump in?
Ah, good question!
You are ready to crossover when you have cleared your credit card debts and built your start-up fund.
Reality check: It is only the beginning.
I do not want to burst your bubble. Being a stay-at-home dad has its benefits, but it also comes with a lot of challenges. You may get anxious about the finances, experience burnout, or even be criticized for being a SAHD.
But keep your head up, brother. You made a noble move for your family. May God give you strength, wisdom, and encouragement.
Enjoy the journey.
Keep In Touch
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Thank you for reading!