Stay at home new mom causing financial strain and marital upset

new mom stay at home mom(1)LIFE CHANGES WHEN THE STICK IS POSITIVE


So many people get divorced after having kids and now I know why, parenting is not easy but 110% worth the effort.

I don’t think there is anything that could prepare you for becoming a parent, not even having lots of siblings.

When we found out we were having a baby we knew that our lives were going to change, including our finances. My wife also knew that she was going to be a stay-at-home new mom and feared not knowing other moms to hang out with.

Over the past year she has met plenty of other moms on social media, at the park and other community events. She says it’s getting easier but she does miss getting out whenever she is inside for a few days at a time with our son. These days we tend to do lots together as a family which helps our relationship to grow and our son build a bond with the two of us.

Mrs.CBB is a people person so it’s important for her to get out of the house to keep her spirits up even though our son is the light of her life. She’s just as happy going for a walk with our son to the park, chatting to neighbors or just enjoying the outdoors in the back garden on the deck.


Becoming a new mom


My wife also understands how every new mom feels, exhausted after the birth of a baby and it’s ongoing. There is also a huge desire to get out of the house and to start working on getting themselves back on track. When I say “back on track” I mean health-wise, meeting moms and finding ways to earn extra income if they plan to be a stay at home mom.

Mrs. CBB says it’s nice to be around others who understand and are maybe going through the same thing so she makes this time with other new moms in the area once a week. One new mom she hangs out with is a small home business entrepreneur and sells homemade baby items from home. She makes extra income for the family and networks with new parents all over the world.

Since we are a budgeting family becoming new parents meant we knew how to save money without going overboard. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about my wife spending too much money but she did say after reading this next fan question how easy it is to become lonely being a new mom at home all the time.


Family Financial Crisis


First of all, thanks to Mr. CBB for letting me share this with all of you today. After talking to him via email I realized that sometimes it’s easier to write it all down than to just think about it in my head.

So, here goes.

My wife has always wanted to be a stay at home mom and I never wanted to take that dream away from her. She had a good job earning about $65,000 gross a year in the Alberta technology industry but stepped down to care for our daughter who is now 1 years old.

We bought a smaller house years ago because we knew we wanted kids and that she would potentially stay home when she became a new mom. Our debt at the time when she quit her job was our mortgage, one car loan $15,000 and about $3,000 on a credit card. Since then we have managed to rack up over $30,000 in debt and I’m struggling to keep up paying them each month and all of our other budgeted categories.

Over the past year my wife has gotten involved with various ‘mommy groups‘ which at first I thought was a great idea for her and our daughter. What has happened though is that she is spending money constantly on new expensive outfits, toys and baby/toddler stuff.

Who spends $50 on a pair of jeans for a toddler? She will buy 2 pairs if there is a sale as well. Buy one get one 30% off because she thinks it’s a great deal. The only people making money is the manufacture because the pricing is outrageous in some of these higher-end shops. Most times the moms will make food and bring it to their mommy meeting spot which is one of their houses so they can all enjoy it. This seems reasonable to me but also costs money.

They also go on day trips which requires new gear and costs money of course which is fine I suppose but my wife is hardly ever home as she is out with our daughter and her mommy friends. She has so many friends that she is out and about 5 days a week.

She comes home for dinner most nights, cleans up and is gone again until close to our daughter’s bed time. She is a great mom and takes good care of our daughter but she is letting other things slide to be with her mommy friends including our relationship and finances.

I know she feels bottled up in the house as a new mom but she is the one who wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. We could have paid for daycare and she could have stayed working, that was her choice.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for her to say no to them and I always feel left out. The house is not getting cleaned like it used to and I’m doing all the cooking and laundry at night because she’s too busy with her friends planning the next mommy group getaway or working out.

I’ve talked to her before about her spending habits and asked her to slow down because it’s becoming too much of a habit and costing us lots of money. It’s not just stuff that she buys for our daughter either. When she is at the mall she buys clothes and home gadgets for me which I don’t even really need and lots for her. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy all the sexy outfits she wears but I don’t enjoy the on-going price tags.

I think she buys stuff for me because she believes I won’t get upset that way.

She did not spend money like this before she became a new mom so something has changed. She says she is still in love with me and we are generally always happy with each other. When we spend time together it’s wild fun and we enjoy each others company.

I do ask her for all the receipts so I can complete our budget at the end of the month. Going through the online bank statement and credit card statements it’s easy to see that her idea of a stay at home mom isn’t really staying home much.

I get that she wants to hang out with her new mom friends so our daughter can interact with other children while exploring the world but it’s costing us too much money. There has to be cheaper things to do that don’t require new outfits and new gadgets all the time. Her one friend buys second-hand clothes but my wife would never do such a thing. I wish she was frugal that way because we’d save lots of money.

I have to tell my wife that we are getting into some serious financial debt and am not sure where to begin. Just because I take care of the finances doesn’t mean she can just spend money when she feels like it. I earn 6 figures every year but there is so much to pay for including our daughter’s education fund and our retirement savings like most other parents do.

My questions are for other moms or dads out there who can help me with this issue.

  • What types of activities are there for mommy group time that won’t cost lots of money?
  • How often do you buy your kids new outfits including accessories and is it reasonable to say that second-hand clothes are perfectly fine?

Most of all,

  • How do I tell my wife we are in serious financial debt?

It’s time to break out of this mess and all I could think about was the blog where I got our budget from because I’ve read other fan questions and am hoping for some constructive feedback. I love my wife but I’m afraid that if we don’t get this taken care of that things may take a nose-dive between us and fast.

Thanks for any help.

Stuck in a corner

Hey mate,

I’m sorry to hear you are having a tough time with your finances but rest assured there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know how much money you pay out each month and I also don’t know your exact net income but it sounds to me that your wife needs to be involved in making financial decisions including budgeting.

You are NOT the first father/husband who has emailed me about his wife spending too much money but your story was an interesting twist because it had more to do with being a new mom and spending more time outside of the home with mommy group friends.


Talk to your wife


I’m no relationship expert but it certainly sounds to me that she misses being around people and this is what makes her happy. I don’t know if you both go out on your own at all but it certainly seems like the time has come to make that a reality. If you know someone who could watch your daughter while you both enjoy an evening or even afternoon out together that would give you back some of that “together time”.

Once you sit your wife down to have a heart t0 heart financial conversation with her I hope you bring along all the debt stats to show her. Sometimes, talking about debt is not enough so having the financial evidence present will help bring her back to spending reality. If she has no idea how to budget you should first motivate her to get involved and help her to understand.

Our budget as you already know is fairly straight-forward and easy to use. Even if she just inputs the receipts as they become available at least she is participating in the financial process. When you see the numbers it puts a whole new spin on spending because those numbers don’t lie.

If she is missing her career or interacting with people I know many stay-at-home new moms that start blogs or write to make money which is also considered a small business if income is involved.

My amazingly smart blogger friend who is a stay-at-home new mom to twins Catherine at Budget Blonde has a great online freelance coaching course for those who want to make money from home writing for other blogs or starting a blog. This may be a great option for her to explore if that interests her or using her talents to create another home based business. She may also enjoy starting up a home daycare to bring in extra income and meet other parents.


Toddler expenses


We take our son swimming once a week which costs us under $4 at the local community pool. There are also lots of city-based baby centres that are free which we attend. Going to the park is a big deal for our son because he loves to run around and kick the ball and go down the slide. That’s all free. In the winter we will do the same thing but bring the sled with us so he can enjoy the snow.

In the summer my wife would go to the park with another new mom and they would set up a little picnic while the kids played next to them. There is also a ‘Mommy and Me’ class they participate in which is free at a local school community room.

There are gyms and other facilities in our city that we’ve been to but they cost anywhere from $5-$15 each time we go. These are activity centres that are higher-end or clubs where you have to become a member first. These can get pricey so we limit the amount of times we go to them because they aren’t necessary ALL the time.


Budget and then spend


As for the clothing for your daughter, I think it’s a bit much to be honest. I get that she wants her to look good BUT she’s only 1. It’s easy for a new mom to get caught up in all the hoopla that surrounds the new mom life and suckered into buying baby stuff. Most baby related things you won’t ever use and I’m betting you can go in your daughters closet and find clothes with price tags still on them that she won’t fit in.

There is nothing wrong with buying second-hand baby clothing as we do it all the time. Just recently we bought a massive box of all name brand boys clothing for $60 from Kijiji Canada a buy and sell online website. I know if we had to buy it at retail that it would have cost us hundreds of dollars more.

We buy second-hand stuff from moms who couldn’t control their new mom baby urges to spend and all those baby gifts that parents never use because they got too much stuff. I think once your wife can see how beautiful her daughter can look with hand me down clothes or buying used clothing she will understand how much money you can both save.

Don’t be shy, go into a second-hand shop and buy an outfit or search on Kijiji as there are tonnes of clothes for toddlers available. Once you dress your daughter tell your wife where you bought it and I bet she won’t say that she doesn’t like what her daughter is wearing.

My guess is that when she is with another new mom or a group of moms at the mall shopping that it’s easy to get caught up in the spending and cooing over the baby clothes in the shops. Women love to shop, that’s the truth and it likely won’t ever change (men do too, trust me) but shopping smart doesn’t mean you can’t look good.

I know I’m only one voice for you but the first thing you need to do is sit your wife down and have a chat with her about your finances. Until then, if you keep putting it off the problem will continue to mount and only frustrate you more.

Best of luck to you and please email me down the road to let me know how things are going for you. I’m sure the fans will have some other advice for you.

Before you go, if you haven’t had a chance to read these 2 blog posts on Canadian Budget Binder I would suggest you do. They may give you a bit more insight.


Please Note: If you have a question you’d like me to read and answer please email me at or use my contact form on the blog. Send me as much detail as you can about your situation preferably as above so I can properly respond. I will contact you if I’d like to hear more about your story.  Thanks

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  1. I wish you both well, as you sort through this. I was in the same boat (in reverse as I was the major bread-winner and my husband was oblivious to the need for a budget) many years ago and our marriage eventually dissolved because of it. Had I known then what I know now I would have tried harder to find a way to make our finances a two-way street. You are so wise to reach out for help now. I would like to add one thought, and hope i am not out of line here. I suspect that post-partum depression may also be a factor for your wife. Her relationships with her friends, dressing her child well etc each validates for her that she is doing well, but may be a cover for her feeling lost without her work routine and income. Is it possible for her to return to work part-time? When my 3 kids were young and the marriage was intact, I worked 5 evening shifts per 2 weeks, which meant no babysitter costs as daddy was home, and a huge improvement in my own sense of well-being, feeling responsible in an adult arena. I am positive I was a better mother because i had had the adult break, then at home I was happily focused on my children. I commend you for looking for ways to improve the situation.Bless you both.

  2. I’m a work at home mom who minds our first child while holding a full time job so my perspective is a bit different as I don’t have time to spend with friends, if I’d made any, during the week but I could well imagine that if we had decided for a parent to stay at home with our baby, it would actually be our preference for my husband to do it for a variety of reasons. In that case, though, he is a very active person and while not a social butterfly, he does need human interaction. And a lot of times that can cost more and more money as you become used to this or that other thing when you’re out with the friends: picking up a snack, or lunching, or shopping, or attending pricey activities.
    As other commenters have suggested, it may be that your wife is caught up going with the flow or it may be that she needs to be on the go and misses the interaction she’d normally get from the job. Either way, it’s important for your family that she does what suits her needs as well as that of the family’s.
    As the family CFO and the saver in the family, I can attest that it’s easy to unintentionally present these concerns and money stresses in a way that sounds accusatory and you won’t get through to your audience. Obviously you don’t want to do that, but equally obviously, you’re stressed by this situation so you just want to be mindful of how you have the conversation and understand that it won’t change overnight with a single conversation. Expect that it will be a work in progress and that helps a lot. It takes some tactful phrasing but consider how you used to be on the same page with regards to money (I’m assuming you were) and see if you can contrast the envisioned family picture from before the baby to the reality of now to open the discussion of how to get back on the right track.
    As to second hand clothing, our baby will be coming up on a year now and we have only ever bought hir sandals, flats, a swimsuit, two hats, and a light jacket new (I don’t share hir gender online yet for privacy) for a total of $50. With the exception of some gifts from overzealous aunts who love baby clothes shopping, all hir clothes are hand me downs from relatives and ze has been very well outfitted indeed! Quite honestly we had more cute clothing than any single baby could wear and I’m wistfully giving up a lot of the clothes that look great and are in like new condition (on a hanger with tags on!) because we never got around to them. So absolutely, dressing your kid(s) in second hand (or third or even fourth in some cases) clothing is not an unreasonable thing at all, particularly when you consider how fast they will grow out of each size in these early years. Also it’s great sentimental value in my opinion when you dress your kid(s) in clothes lovingly cared for by a friend or a relative who then shared it with you.
    I’d suggest consignment store shopping and Craigslist type shopping if you have that in your area for things that your baby needs, and also reconsider what she needs and what’s really something you/your wife want. Babies don’t know or care what they’re wearing 🙂

  3. I am a stay at home mom of two boys, one is almost 3 years old and the other is 1. After about a year, I felt trapped. I am guilty of spending quite a bit of money. I was unhappy and shopping made me feel better. I had a great job, I went to college. I had to find a way to be happy without overspending. It took a while but I decided to begin my doctorate. It gives me a reason to use my brain. Previously, the extent of my thoughts was, do I need to buy diapers today? Or groceries? It also requires me to have some time alone without the kids. So one night a week, my husband takes care of the boys while I interact with other adults pursuing their doctorate’s.

  4. Some good advice here for you to mull over. We had 3 kids and our older boy got the best deal as he is the oldest between our three and my sisters-in-law’s kids, all fairly close in age. With the seven cousins it’s a seven year spread. Add in a couple of cousins and their kids and we had quite a hand-me-down train going!! With my two oldest I worked part time until it got to be a pain in the backside as I worked days and hubby looked after the kids and worked midnights. We were living in an older house then and he was doing a lot of work on it too. We both knew how the finances were looking. Trying to get your wife onside with your finances might work but there might also be a bit of herd mentality going on when she is with her mommy friends that you will have to deal with. Given how fast babies outgrow clothes could she go through your daughters closet and sell her outgrown things so she has that money to use to buy newer clothes for your daughter?? Something to look into. Your wife may not be fussy on second hand but other mom’s are not. She just might learn something from those moms… I wish you luck dealing with this….

  5. I am currently on my second maternity leave and I can relate to this story. Our financial situation is very tight as my husband and I decide to continue to put our first child in day care full time for his benefits. Being on mat leave can be boring and lonely, I do the same task every day – diapering, feeding, etc. and baby doesn’t interact as much as adults. I remember the time when I took my 2 mo daughter for a walk in a mall and I ended up spending 100 dollars in clothing just because they were on sale. I felt terrible as I didn’t need them and yes, I bought a sweater for my husband as part of that guilt. Then, I decided that something needs to be done so now when I go to a mall for a walk, I only take 10 dollars cash with me and no credit cards. Here are some of my thoughts that perhaps can help:
    1. Have an open, honest communication with your wife – possibly when your child is taking a nap or have someone to take care of her for an hour or so. Start the conversation with revisiting your financial priorities. Before the arrival of your daughter, what were the reasons for your wife to decide to become a stay-at-home mom? Is it because she can spend more time with her child? If so, let’s visit the present time – does she feel she spends more time with her child or with her mommy friends? Spending time with her child means playing with her, interacting with her, teaching her some basic skills like reading, playing shape sorters etc. Then, revisit your financial situation prior to baby’s arrival and what your current situation is, let her know how you feel, and how this impacts your day to day life such as anxiety, sleepless nights etc. Do you have emergency fund? with current job market situation of uncertainty – you may lose a job at any time, can you both survive? Open the discussion of uncertainty
    2. Get the paperwork ready for the discussion – how much you make net monthly, how much your expenses etc. How much has she spent on stuffs for the past 6 months? If those 6 months stuffs money could be used somewhere, what would they be? Since you are the one who pays bill, she may be clueless on how much she has spent in the past 12 months. YOu may want to get her involved in paying bill so that she feels the “pain”
    3. When she goes out to all these mommy outings – does she do it out of loneliness? does she feel great going out with the group? Can she look out at other options that can offer the same result? I live in Ontario and we have government-funded Early Years Centre where mothers can drop in with the young children for free programs and activities. This is a great place to meet mommies and chances are: you will be meeting mothers who have the same mind set who want to spend less money by going to this centre. My local libraries also offer free story time to children.
    4. When your wife shops for clothing, is it because she feels bored and lonely or simply because she wants to keep up with other babies and or mothers?
    5. Similar to Mr. CBB’s comment, you can purchase a gently used clothing (cute one) for your daughter and dress her up and surprise your wife. Ask her to guess how much this clothing is. She probably would have guessed a price for new outfit and let her know how much you paid for it. Compare it to the retail price and let her see the result
    6. All these conversations above can be very touchy/sensitive as she may feel that you corner her (i know i know, I am a woman as well) – try to make this conversation as a partnership that you have a role to play as well. She has a role to play to spend less and perhaps, you can do something to cut down spending as well. For example: less lunching out at work, something you can give up to show that you are committed and both are responsible. Be supportive – can you work from home one day a week? or twice a month to keep your wife company? I am fortunate to have my husband work from home once a week to keep me company. He works like usual but will take 1 hour break to eat lunch with me and help me with the little one. That one hour break means a lot to me
    7. There are other ways your wife can do to keep herself occupied without going to so many outings. For example: while on mat leave, I structure my weekdays with activities such as Monday – laundry, cooking, walking, take my daughter to library. Tuesday – vacuum, walking, take my daughter to Early Years Centre and so on. What is her hobby? Is there something she can do to challenge herself? For example: My husband and I are foodie and we love dining out. However, those times are now gone with 2 children. If we dine out, most likely, we wont enjoy our food anymore as it will be cold after tending to out children. Hence, I took my passion (cooking, in this case) to another level by making restaurant-style food at home. I will go to libraries to borrow cooking books and challenge myself to cook Indian food, Jamaican food at home. This saves us money yet at the same time, giving me a satisfaction

    I know my comment is long and i hope they help. All the best of luck to you and your wife

  6. Hi Maggie,
    Thanks. This is what I would love to hear from my wife but I know it might not happen right away, if ever but I will give it a shot. I hope I can change her mind about buying some second-hand clothing to cut down on the costs. I’m also hoping she will limit how many times she is out with her mommy group friends each month. You are right there has to be a balance and right now that is missing from our lives. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Being a new mom too I understand how hard it can be staying at home all the time. I did it for one year and I wasn’t happy, the good thing about it was that I definitely spend less money. But it’s important to get out of the house with the kids and breath some fresh air but how I see it being a stay at home mom is my job now, so I try to make it in the best way I can and it is not only about taking care and entertaining my almost 2 years old, it is also includes house chores, taking care of myself,my husband and our finances. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming but I believe we all need some balance in life, I can’t focus only on my daughter all the time. I find having a schedule or routine really help me to keep up with my other obligations and having one day at the week to stay in so I can catch up with some other things. Where I live we do have plenty of free activities for toddlers and I limit myself to no more than once a week to go to a indoor playground and maybe once a month to go to a zoo or anything like that but as a family so my daughter can have some quality time with her dad too. Personally I dont see anything wrong on buying second hand clothes and that’s how I get most of my daughter clothes. I normally buy it in the beginning of every season after going through her clothes and making a list of what she needs. Recently I started buying online when there is a sale and free shipping because it is basically the same price as at second hand stores. what really helps me to keep in track with my spends is that I am the one who every month puts the number into the budget sheet and pay the bills and credit cards so I am more involved and aware of our expenses! Before that I had no idea how much money I was spending on my daughter every month, now I know and I’m much more cautious. Sorry for the long comment but this email really touched my heart because I have been there and I know how things can get out of control!

  8. Wow, this is a tough one. I can relate, as 16 months ago I left my well-paying job to be a stay-at-home mom and blogger. However, I must be a lot more introverted or more of a homebody, as I have made no mom friends and have not joined any mommy groups! I do get a little stir crazy if I sit in the house too long, so we’ve made efforts to go for walks every day, visit grandma, etc. We often go to the park. I’m going to make sure I buy our daughter some good winter clothes so we can still spend a little time outside this winter. I guess the biggest question I’m wondering after reading this, is: does this woman really want to be a stay at home mom? It sounds like she really misses the social engagement that she would find at a job. Does she feel obligated to be a stay-at-home mom for some reason?

    I’ve taken over most of our daily financial stuff since I left my job, and I also think this has helped me stay much more in tune with spending. I know I can’t spend too much because I know exactly what the bills are, when they are due, etc. I know exactly how much we need to put aside for retirement and our daughter’s college education in order to meet our goals. Perhaps taking more ownership of the finances would help?

    1. Hi Dee,
      When I sit down to talk with her I will ask her if she really wants to stay home or go back to work. I won’t stop her either way as we can afford it provided she stops spending money and we pay down some of this debt. Thanks for letting me know how taking over the finances has impacted your relationship with your finances. I think I will take Mr.CBB’s advice and see if my wife will participate with the budget to help her see exactly what is happening with our money. Thanks for your comment.

  9. Mr.CBB
    Wow only $4 to go swimming?!!!!
    It is $20ish if the three of us go and $30ish if the four of us go to the city rec centers!! Yes we then have access to the workout equipment, playground(which is free for little miss until she is 2), ice rink(at certain locations and times) and gym(same thing only certain locations and times) but to be honest we never get a chance to do the other things as swimming is all she is able to do right now at one visit because between us working, her naps and meals there always is a time crunch.

  10. Thorough & thought-inducing post. We have a 4-month old, thankfully my wife & I are on the same page financially so we haven’t experienced any of the issues above. She meets up with other friends with children of similar age, mostly they just talk & might bring a dish to pass, etc. We also buy second hand, you can get some good finds at the periodic consignment sales in our areas.

    1. Hi Josh,
      Do you and your wife use a budget as well? Also, was your wife always interested in second-hand clothes or was it only after the baby was born. I’m just struggling to work full-time and keeping most of the house and finances going. Thanks

  11. I have heard and witnessed this happening alot. I hope that teaming back up together as a couple they can go over and agree on solving the financial problems they are in and maybe learn how to have some family time together again because that is a very important bond and relationship that needs to be established and maintained between parent and child and also between each spouse. I wish them luck!!

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