Natali Morris Blog

September 16, 2015

How Much Should You “Compensate” A Stay-At-Home Parent?


A woman I respected once told me this story: 

“When I stayed home with the kids I asked my husband for $10 for something I wanted. He asked me why and I swore that was the last time I would ever need to ask him for money again.”

This story influenced me greatly. I was 14 when I heard it.

This woman was degraded by being a grown woman asking permission to spend $10 on herself. Understandably so! When stay-at-home parents (SAHP) have to account for personal purchases, it can be discouraging. It can discourage them from buying things for themselves and taking care of themselves properly. This is why I maintain that each person in the household should have at least a little money completely to themselves.

Of course every family is different and many of you have made great arguments for one big pool but I’m  sticking with Suze Orman on this one. I still think we should all have at least a little bit to ourselves. 

Of course, you can’t really “pay” the SAHP in your household. If you paid them by the hour, you’d be broke, no matter how minimal the wage. This system is about making sure the SAHP has some cash to themselves because LORD KNOWS they’re worth it! 

I have been thinking about this since I wrote this post about separate checking accounts. Here is what I came up with and I think it’s pretty good if I do say so myself! What do you think? 

Note that you are only splitting the leftover money. You are not eating into your expenses for this. Also note that when the earner gets a raise, both adults do. This is indicative of the fact that we support one another completely. 

Like most women, I had a pretty visceral reaction to the idea of a “wife bonus” that was discussed in the New York Times last spring. To put it bluntly: It’s bullshit. The SAHP’s money should not be dictated by the working parent. Period. The working parent’s efforts and successes are dependent on the SAHP’s efforts and vice versa. If the paycheck parent gets a raise, so does the non-paycheck parent. Because the raise was earned on both backs. I think this system takes that into account. 

And do I have a spreadsheet to help you figure this out? You bet your data plan I do! This spreadsheet has an example of this budgeting technique to get you started. Clickety click below to get it emailed to you for free! 

I would love to know how other families do this and if this is something that seems doable for your SAHP. Please let me know at any and all of the social networks that you love! 

4 responses to “How Much Should You “Compensate” A Stay-At-Home Parent?”

  1. Ira Berkowitz says:

    Nice article and very true. For lots of reasons its critical that both parents have a little of their own to help maintain a bit of an individual identify and independance. Thank you for posting.

  2. Tim Droz says:

    Natali, my spouse and I each have an fixed allowance that automatically gets deposited in our respective personal bank accounts. It’s only for that person to do with what they want! It’s a fixed budget item and it’s been working well for us for 20+ years. I highly recommend it.

  3. JSR says:

    Money is not the issue. It is a reflection of the relationship. I have been married over 33 years and we each jumped in with at 100%, one joint account. Whatever either of us made went into the account. We have always had a plan (budget) that was created and agreed upon by both of us (not always easy). Included in that plan was a line item called "Fun" for each of us that we could spend however each wanted, but was never a significant amount. The same amount for both of us. The primary point was we are a team, and all in. If you want more than your spouse because you earn more, then I would question whether you are married or just roommates.

  4. RedwoodCitytoNYC says:

    That is why I have three bank accounts; one for household expenses, one for the boss of the house, and one for the big boy toys :).

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