Stay-At-Home Spouses: Too Valuable to Underestimate

For single-income families, financial planning usually focuses on the breadwinner, and with good reason.  This is the person who brings the income into the household.  Without this economic engine, the family would be sunk.  In the financial planning process, we assess employee benefits and personal coverage to assure that if this person dies or is too sick or hurt to work, there will be enough income for the family to maintain their standard of living.  “Standard of living” is a broad term.  In a single-income family, we want to assure that the stay-at-home spouse is able to continue staying at home.  Imagine the tragedy of losing a parent, but then losing the other because they had to go back to work to support the family.  Also, maintaining those aspects of life we take for granted—sports, school activities, vacations, weekend activities with friends—these are what a properly designed and implemented financial plan can help protect for a family.

But what happens if the stay-at-home parent dies?  Have you as the breadwinner stopped to consider how much your spouse does for your family?  In my experience, in a single-income family, the working (outside the home) spouse averages about fifty hours a week at work.  This doesn’t leave a lot of time for getting kids back and forth to school, preparing meals, doing the laundry, going grocery shopping, cleaning the house, taking kids to the doctor…the list goes on and on.

In short, if a dollar figure were put on it, your stay-at-home spouse would probably make much more than you would first imagine.  For this reason, in our planning we want to assure that the spouse is properly insured for the same reasons as the breadwinner—so the family can continue to maintain their normal lives.  The working spouse will need to hire help for many things that need to get done around the house so they can have the flexibility to spend time with their family.  In the long run, it helps the surviving spouse focus on making a living for his or her family, but in the short term (and much more importantly), it provides financial flexibility to spend extra time with the children.

In the following video, WVLT Local 8 News reporter Chynna Greene takes a look at what the salaries of two stay-at-home moms might be if they were being paid a salary.  The numbers may surprise you.  If you would like further information on financial planning for your family, or to briefly discuss your situation in general, feel free to call me at 865 776-5577 or email me at