What to do if you're a stay at home mom with credit card debt

If you’re a stay-at-home mom, your financial situation is probably on your mind all the time. Without income, your status for future financial security and current debt repayment may be unknown to you, acting as a source of stress.

In order to plan for your own financial future, stay-at-home moms with credit card debt need to know how to reduce their debt and increase their security. Doing so requires different methods than those used by someone with a monthly income. However, in general, you can improve not only your position but the financial situation of the whole house.

How did you get here?

Before, it was possible to take out a credit card as a stay-at-home spouse in order to keep your finances separate from your spouse’s. This strategy was effective to improve your credit score and debt-to-income ratio for taking out loans or renegotiating your mortgage.

However, the CARD Act of 2009 instituted a requirement that credit cards cannot be issued to spouses who have no income of their own. This means that your credit card is on a joint account with your spouse’s, and, therefore, your debt affects their score and their loan viability.

Thus, it’s more important than ever to figure out how to reduce this debt. What should you do? Here are a few simple steps to reclaiming your financial stability as a stay-at-home mom.

Track your spending

You may think that getting a degree, marrying, having kids, buying an affordable home, and living modestly would be enough for financial stability. However, with an increasing cost of living, you may find yourself in a position with tons of debt and seemingly no way out.

The first thing you need to do is track your spending. Your credit card debt may come from big purchases or home repairs, but it’s more likely accrued from the smaller monthly obligations. Such expenses are depleting your ability to get ahead of your debt right from under your nose.

These include expenses that are more difficult to control, such as your car insurance or student loan payments. However, as a stay-at-home mom, you may have extra expenses that you don’t need. For instance, if your family has a Netflix subscription, do you also need a cable service? You probably don’t have time to use both if you’re reading this article.

While eating out can be fun, it can add up, especially for a family. Figuring out how your money is slowly draining away is a good first step to figuring out how to regain control of your finances.

Zero-sum budgeting

Using zero-sum budgeting is essential  – not only in reducing the debt on your own credit cards but also the debt of the household as a whole.

Surprisingly, this concept requires a simple process. It requires making a monthly budget plan using the previous month’s income as a baseline and allocating every dollar that you earn. That’s right. A zero-sum budget is not complete until there is absolutely zero income left at the end of the month. How does this help?

The trick is that not all your money is going to be allocated towards repaying debts, with some of it covering expenses. Other amounts need to go towards a little savings account, a grocery budget, and an entertainment fund.

If you know that you like going to the movies or eating out occasionally, you can budget for that too. Zero-sum budgeting, depending on your means, isn’t simply about eliminating whole expenses.


In contrast, this process entails awareness. If you want to go to a movie a couple of times per month, set aside the money you need in order to do that beforehand in the zero-sum budget. This way, you won’t go a few extra times on a whim without thinking of the budget. Using this technique, you will know exactly how much you can spend on everything.

Keeping this kind of budget can help you reduce your credit card debt. Unless you can get a job and receive another income stream, awareness and consolidation of expenses is your best option.