The Cost of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom

Cost of giving up a career: $1 million

She uses herself, a writer (ahem), as an example of what happens when women decide to leave the workforce. Most not only forfeit their income, but also retirement savings, pension and other benefits. All told, Crittenden says, she gave up about $700,000. Shocking? Yes. Unlikely? Nope. Economists say that the stay-at-home parent who relinquishes a career may lose about $1 million over the years.

Crittenden doesn’t regret a minute of the time she spent with her son; nor do any of the mothers she interviewed. But the financial tradeoffs she lists are a stunning indictment of a mother’s financial vulnerability. To combat these realities, Crittenden recommends a slew of smart policy changes that would reduce the financial penalty of having kids, especially for stay-at-home moms (or SAHMs, as they’re increasingly abbreviated). But if you, like me, would like to consider staying home before the glacial pace of government acts on your behalf, here are some practical ways to shore up your financial (and emotional) security now.