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How much is a homemaker worth?

It comes to just over $96,000 a year, and that's a conservative estimate.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 18, 2012 1:07PM

This post comes from Porcshe Moran at partner site Investopedia.


Investopedia on MSN MoneyThe life of a homemaker includes an endless amount of demands and to-dos. Depending on the size of the home and family, the position can go well beyond the usual 9 to 5. We examined some of the tasks that a homemaker might do to find out how much his or her services would net as individual professional careers.


We took into consideration only tasks that have monetary values and used the lowest value for each calculation. (To read more, see "Insuring against the loss of a homemaker.")


Private chef. Meal preparation is one of the major tasks of most homemakers. From breakfast to dinner, there is plenty of meal planning and cooking to be done.The American Personal Chef Association reports that its personal chefs make $200 to $500 a day. Grocery shopping is another chore that needs to be factored in. A homemaker must drive to the supermarket, purchase the food and deliver it to the home. Grocery delivery services charge a delivery fee of $5 to $10.

  • Total cost for services: $1,005 per five-day workweek x 52 weeks = $52,260 per year.

House cleaner. A clean and tidy home is the foundation of an efficient household.Typical cleaning duties include vacuuming, dusting, sweeping and scrubbing sinks, as well as loading the dishwasher and making beds. Professional maids or house-cleaning service providers will charge by the hour, number of rooms or square footage of the home. For example, biweekly cleaning of a 900-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment with five rooms costs $59 to $124. A 1,300-square-foot, single-story home with seven rooms runs $79 to $150. A 2,200-square-foot, two-story, three-bedroom home with nine rooms averages $104 to $180. Additional tasks, such as oven or refrigerator cleaning and dusting mini-blinds, can run an extra $20 to $25.

  • Total cost for services: $118 per week X 52 weeks = $6,136 per year.

Child care. Homemakers provide full-time, live-in child care. This type of service from a professional provider would usually come with a host of perks including health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, federal holidays off, dental and vision coverage, and bonuses. The International Nanny Association's 2011 survey found that nannies make $600 to $950 per week in gross wages, on average. (For more, read "5 ways to save on child care costs.")

  • Total cost for services: $600 a week plus perks/benefits x 52 weeks = $31,200 per year.

Post continues below.

Driver. A private car service might seem like a high-end luxury, but the beneficiaries of this service may need it on a daily basis. Companies like Red Cap, which provides personal drivers that use the client's own car for transportation, offer a glimpse into the cost of this homemaker task. An elite membership that includes 365 days of unlimited, round-trip service is $1,000 a year, plus 33 cents to $2.03 per minute.

  • Total cost for services: $1,000 per year + [(estimated miles driven 8,000 miles / 50 mph) x 60 minutes/hour x 33 cents per minute] = $4,168 total per year.

Laundry service. Clean clothes come at a cost when you have to pay for a service that most homemakers do for free. Professional laundry services charge by the pound. For instance,Susie's Suds Home Laundry Service in Texas charges 90 cents to $1 a pound to wash, dry, fold, hang and steam your clothes.Items that take longer to dry, such as comforters, blankets, rugs and winter clothes, are assessed at $12 to $15 each.

  • Total cost for services: 90 cents per pound x 4 pounds of clothes per day x 5 days per week x 52 weeks = $936 total per year.

Lawn maintenance. Basic maintenance of the exterior property is a less common but possible duty of a homemaker.This could include such tasks as mowing, debris removal and edging and trimming the lawn. These services cost about $30 a week on average.

  • Total cost for services: $30 per week x 52 weeks = $1,560 total per year.

The bottom line
Total for a year of all services is: $52,260 + $6,137 + $31,200 + $4,168 + $936 + $1,560 = $96,261 per year.


The daily work of a homemaker can sometimes be taken for granted by his or her family members. However, these services could earn a homemaker a considerable wage if he or she took those skills to the marketplace.Homemakers in general contribute a lot more to the home in addition to these tasks, and no amount of money can fill those needs.


More on Investopedia and MSN Money:

Jan 18, 2012 2:27PM
As a stay at home dad, I think this list is a bit of a stretch. It assumes that if the "homemaker" doesn't do these tasks, the family hires out for them. A family with two working parents still has to do laundry, lawn care, grocery shopping, etc. The real number to look at is the cost savings of child care. I guess you could look at the savings of eating at home versus eating out during a normal work week as well, but that wouldn't amount to a huge difference either.
Jan 18, 2012 5:06PM
Yes at-home spouses do a lot of work.  However, lets hear it for the working mom who has to do all of the above except she has to do it before and after 8 hours at work. 
Jan 18, 2012 5:06PM
My wife is worth many multiples of that to me and my children.  In fact part of the reason she does not work is because no amount of money we might make by having her work would be worth the loss of her time and attention at home so this article is really just for entertainment and not an effort to truly assess the value of a stay at home mom.  Don't misunderstand me, good kids can come from single parent homes where mom works outside the home all day and then does all she can for her children after she gets home.  Having said that, stay at home mom's rule and their children are lucky to have them around(even if the children may not realize it at the time).  Thanks to all stay at home moms.  Society gains much from your sacrifice.
Jan 18, 2012 2:46PM

My staying home may not save my family any money, but considering my take home pay when I was working fulltime it just made more sense for me to be a stay at home mom.  Not only would my entire paycheck have gone to paying for daycare, but we would have gone into debt putting gas in my car and keeping up a work wardrobe. 


I don't think this is a stupid story. I also do not agree that people who stay home should get a bill.  If you believe this you must not be married.  We are a team, which means we are both working together toward one common goal, raising a healthy, happy, intelligent son. My work may be done in the home, my husbands may be done outside of the home, but together they help us achieve something greater.

Jan 18, 2012 3:30PM
I clicked on this article  JUST to read the comments!   LOL.  So awesome.  What about the wife who does it all?  Works full time and still cooks, cleans, does the laundry, attends school conferences ETC?  How much is she worth!?
Jan 18, 2012 3:04PM
Actually removing the homemaker and mother from the home in the 60's has been the down fall of the Family Unit.  It does not pay to have both mother and father absent.  It cost more.  I believe there should be one parent at home always, whether it be the father or mother.  There should also be a tax incentive for those families that are one income families.  Think of the Jobs available if one parent stayed home.  Plus, there are at home jobs for additional income.
Jan 18, 2012 3:05PM

While I agree that articles like this - which come out every year - are just silly and fun, I think many of the commenters here are reading the information wrong.


No one is saying that a working parent needs to start writing $96K paychecks to their SAH spouse. No one is saying that working parents should stay home and they will magically be $96K richer. All this article and others like it are doing is attempting to place a specific dollar figure to the workload that homemaking typically entails. Thus, what that work would sell for IF it were placed on the open market. The purpose is to show the value of the work done in the home.


My only complaint with these articles is that I think they utilize bad math. So say a full time personal chef makes $4K, and a ful time nanny makes $31K, and a full time driver makes $4K. Alright. So we have $39K in dollars, but how many hours per day are we talking then? We're up to 24 hours a day (3 X 8 hours or full time) just with those three jobs. It would make more sense to add up the price of each job and then average the cost out, or separate it out based on how much time is spent doing each job. Don't just add up all the different work that might possibly be done as a homemaker and then give a full-time salary for each.


I'm a WAHM who works part-time and keeps the home part-time. Both are fantastic choices and both hold a lot of value. Money or not!

Jan 18, 2012 2:38PM

I know its about the cost of child care.  When we blended our family, he had 3 and I had one, child care went through the roof.  Since he made more money than I did it was cost effective for me to stay home and take care of the kids etc.


We saved even more since I wasn't so tired after working 9 hours a day and I started cooking again.  It ended up being a "win" situation.  Kids grades went up, food cost went down, day care gone. 


It averaged that we actually saved money in the long run :)



Jan 18, 2012 2:54PM

Stay at home dad here:  One category they failed to mention was serving as a tutor.  I spend on average 1 to 2 hours per day helping with homework. 


For those that are taking issue with this article;  my wife has even acknowledged that she would not be able to do her job (CPA) as well if I was not home taking care of these responsibilities. 


To Raptorsstrike - nobody is saying that you have to start paying your wife.  The article simply argues that stay at home parents provide services that would otherwise cost a considerable amount of money.  I've been doing this for 13 years, and it is the most physically demanding job I've ever done (and I dug graves during the summer when I was in high school).  Moreover, you never get a day off!!

Jan 18, 2012 2:49PM
I dont think the article anyway intended to imply that the "homemaker" be paid, just that the homemaker should be valued by those who live with him/her.  If the homemaker does all the things listed in the article he/she should be valued by their home-mates.   
Jan 18, 2012 2:54PM
here's to all women who stay home or work outside , we all work hard to do the best for our families, if married we are partners, if not we get the extra credit for both, people should build one another up,. not tear them down for any reason. life is hard enough , lift someone up  and we all feel better and do better. 
Jan 18, 2012 2:46PM
As a homemaker I find these types of articles kind of funny. Personal chef? While I do my best to make meals that are tasty and healthy, I don't turn out professional chef-quality meals. That salary would not apply to me. At least this list didn't include physician and psychiatrist. What about the mother who works outside her home and still does the cooking, cleaning, driving, and laundry?  I used to work outside the home and now I'm blessed to be able to be home. I don't consider myself in a contest with other women over who is of greater value.
Jan 18, 2012 3:47PM
Wow! Since I have a full-time job and do all of these things and more, does this mean I get overtime pay! If that is the case, I should make well over $100,000 a year. It is time to quit publishing articles such as this and publish an article on what someone who works AND does all of this are worth!
Jan 18, 2012 6:19PM
What a bunch of crap...I'm a single father with no mother in the picture for my son (or any financial support from her). I do all this, work a demanding FT job, coach his hockey team and everything else involved living in suburbia. It's just part of my responsibilities.  I still find time to go dirt bike riding with him as often as possible. I'm also a excellent chef and enjoy making meals and entertaining his friends.
Jan 18, 2012 2:55PM
It is the most important job in the world.
Jan 18, 2012 5:22PM
As an educated (Master's Degree in Psychology) homemaker, I find some of these responses hilarious. It is totally hilarious that one would think that just because he/she watched television while being a homemaker that ALL homemakers do. I am one of those homemakers who don't have time to watch television, eat bon bons and "enjoy" whatever other privileges come along with what seems to be popular thought concerning those who stay home. I am not the only homemaker who is strapped for time either, I am a member of two Home schooling Associations and there are very many homemakers who don't have time for the television and "luxurious living" aka sleeping in, endless television and the such, because along with the WORK they do at home, they are educating their children, as do I. I am not on here to bash people who think the article is crap, but I am here to say each homemaker's schedule is different and everyone doesn't get to laze around. The groups that I am a part of have women in them, including myself, who are worth every penny and many of those women have advanced degrees as well. Homemaking is just like any other job, some people work harder than others! Good day.
Jan 18, 2012 2:45PM
I think this is more a commentary and argument against the MANY people who devalue moms and dads who make the decision to stay home with their children. Because we don't earn a wage, we are considered fiscally useless and too lazy to go out and get a job. It's a form of discrimination. If you are a man staying home to take care of the kids, guys will think you're unmanly and call you Mr. Mom. When you're a woman, the feminists say you are holding the entire female sector back and setting the whole "movement" back. (I really thought that was about choice?) And then there are the people who say "Oh, you don't work?" Screw you! I work as hard if not harder than most people with a full-time job! When you are filling out an application for something and you state that you are a home maker, often times you are instantly looked down on. I suspect that this is by people who are secretly jealous that you have the luxury of staying home and taking care of business instead of paying for daycare and slogging away at a job that they most likely despise. No matter what, it's a choice that deserves respect and just generally doesn't get it.
Jan 18, 2012 4:12PM
So apparently women (or men) who work don't cook, clean drive their kids to lessons/sports/etc, or do laundry?? The only thing on this list that I don't do is watch my child full time. Of course he is in school for 6 hours a day so I'd really only be watching him 3 hours a day during school months if I weren't out making a living to support him. I've seen this before and it's not even logical. Working parents accomplish all of this AND put in an 8 hour day at work. SAHM parents DO get paid - they get free room and board, clothing, vacations, etc that the working parent pays for along with the added bonus of getting to spend time with their child(ren) that the other parent doesn't get.  
Jan 18, 2012 5:07PM

Then I guess those moms you know are giving many of us a bad rep.  I look at staying home as my JOB.  I take it just as seriously as if I were earning a wage outside of the home.  While my husband does help out on the weekends with some of the bigger home improvement projects, I NEVER expect him to touch anything considered housework. I even take care of most of the home maintenance myself. My kids school from home though an online charter school because they were bored in the public school system and hated all the drama. My two oldest are now in high school and set to graduate with honors by the time they are 16. That would not have happened had they not had the opportunity to study from home. I know what you mean about bratty kids because we have a whole neighborhood full of them, some from two parent working households and some with as stay at home parent.  That has only to do with upbringing.
What I don't appreciate is when people say that stay at home moms don't work.  If done well, their job never ends.  Please don't stereotype.

Jan 18, 2012 4:43PM
I am a stay  at home mom and even i don't think my job is worth as much as they say it is in dollar signs. The article is exaggerating things quite a bit..
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