How much more $ then child care costs would be 'worth' the SAHP going back to work? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 03-21-2011, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm just curious, especially those families where one parent stays home but for whatever reason is not planning this as the long term plan, as in not going back to work ever.  How much more money then quality childcare that you like would the current SAHP have to be able to make while working to make it 'worth it' to go back to work. 

 

For instance, if you had to pay 10/hr in childcare would you go to work if you made 11/hr? Or would you have to make 15/hr or 20/hr?  Or no way till youngest child is X years old but then I would go back at 10.1/hr??

 

Anything in particular that comes into your decision? 


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#2 of 40 Old 03-21-2011, 11:30 PM
 
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Well Im a single mom so I dont have much of a choice.  If I can find employment I need to work regardless of my 'profit'.    I have very reasonable childcare, quality or not its reasonable and DS is 10 and homeschooled so I feel fairly certain that while its not top quality if there is an issue he has the skills to get help if there is a problem during the day.  (I am working toward leaving him home but I dont feel comfortable doing that for an 8 hr day just yet).

In the past I've had employers that offered some type of daycare assistance/reimbursement.  I am still able to claim daycare expenses on my taxes so the true cost of daycare isnt' dollar for dollar.

I would say my daycare has been between 10-20% of my basepay. I have very inexpensive daycare.


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#3 of 40 Old 03-21-2011, 11:44 PM
 
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I haven't worked for the last few years because the amount of money wasn't worth the stress. However, next year I am starting to work  opening up a subsidized daycare (I get paid the full rate, but since I'm working through the community center, parents who are entitled get subsidies). There is a great need for it in my neighborhood, so I hope I won't have a problem being full. Ds next year is 3 and would have started play based local preschool anyway (public school). If I am working with the commuity center and I have a baby, I can keep that child with me for the first couple of years, and I get paid the subsidy for watching my own kid :D. It wasn't worth it when I had 2,3, or 4 little kids, but now that the girls are getting older, and Avraham Tzvi is 3, it is time to start. I'll be bringing home about $1600 a month after expenses,but for here that is a decent salary and for sure worth it!


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#4 of 40 Old 03-22-2011, 04:04 AM
 
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I think it depends on the situation, if your making 1800 a month and are putting out 1000 in Childcare so only taking home 1800 but need that 800 to make all your bills then it would be worth it. For me I'd get full daycare covered or 19$ a day for inhome/private. Childcare is pretty cheap here, right now im looking at going back to work but will take a fairly decent pay cut compared to watching children and not paying out Childcare. But I think it'll be worth my sanity!!
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#5 of 40 Old 03-22-2011, 05:44 AM
 
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I don't think it's all about the money in the short term and couldn't put a dollar value on it.  There are many benefits to my career, including medical, dental and vision insurance, retirement savings, and educational savings.  In addition, there is the career growth--taking off an extended chunk of time would be extremely damaging to my career, and would make me nearly unemployable in my current field.

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#6 of 40 Old 03-22-2011, 06:32 AM
 
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exactly.  You have to weigh the whole package.  Medical. Dental. 401K. Pension. Vacation. Personal/Sick days. Tuition reimbursement. In a case like that it may be "worth" working for little to no take home pay since eventually the childcare costs should decrease and your salary should increase making the investment in childcare worth it. 

 

If it was strictly an hourly wage job w/o any bennies I would need at least a 20% ROI for it to be worth it. 
 

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I don't think it's all about the money in the short term and couldn't put a dollar value on it.  There are many benefits to my career, including medical, dental and vision insurance, retirement savings, and educational savings.  In addition, there is the career growth--taking off an extended chunk of time would be extremely damaging to my career, and would make me nearly unemployable in my current field.



 


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#7 of 40 Old 03-22-2011, 07:08 AM
 
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exactly.  You have to weigh the whole package.  Medical. Dental. 401K. Pension. Vacation. Personal/Sick days. Tuition reimbursement. In a case like that it may be "worth" working for little to no take home pay since eventually the childcare costs should decrease and your salary should increase making the investment in childcare worth it. 

 

If it was strictly an hourly wage job w/o any bennies I would need at least a 20% ROI for it to be worth it. 
 



 



I am in this camp.  When DS was born, I was at a job that had great paid-time off and retirement matching.  It also offered those pre-tax savings plans for medical and childcare costs, which were awesome. 

 

There were many women there that picked up the health insurance for their entire family and took full advantage of the other benefits but really were not taking home lots of cash each pay period but it was certainly worth it to them to continue working.

 


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#8 of 40 Old 03-22-2011, 07:20 AM
 
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Great question!

 

I live in a high COL area, and daycare is ridiculous.  Before I was laid-off 2 years ago, I had two kids in daycare three days/week.  It was 24k/year. Yikes!

 

So I would not want to take a job where childcare was more than 40% of my pay.  ($60k with those childcare costs)

 

Remember, there are other costs to going back to work.  Commuting costs (parking, gas, tolls, wear&tear on the car). Dry cleaning, and buying nicer clothes/shoes or uniforms. 

 

Also - time will be at a premium, so if you are like us, you will need to outsource some things when all adults are working.  We would want a house cleaner every 2 weeks, and would buy take-out dinner a couple times a week.  And a dog-walker.

 

You won't be at home all day, so electricity and heat should be lower, but that might not be a significant cost.

 

 

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#9 of 40 Old 03-22-2011, 08:36 AM
 
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Well when I started working when ds was 18 months, I HAD to go back. The money in just wasn't matching the money out and we had scaled back all that we could. I new I had to make at least $10 hr for it to be worth it and that was paying $25 for childcare. I was working part time. I found a full time job when ds was 2.5 yrs and made only $13 hr but that was plus medical benefits and retirement plan, paid vacation, paid sick. It was a pretty LOC area for childcare.

 

Where I am now I would probably have to bring in at least $15 hr for it to be worth it because childcare costs are higher here. Although I'll be willing to take a part time job for less if it helps my educational/career goals. I'm going back to school and so eventually I'll be paying childcare anyway with or without the job. So if I break even that will at least keep my student loans down.

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#10 of 40 Old 03-22-2011, 11:47 AM
 
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I couldn't make any less then I make now to make it worth it. I make $25.00 an hour, I pay between $10-15.00 an hour depending on how many children are at home that day and what the sitter has to do with them. I work very part time, never more then half a day, sometimes just an hour if I am doing a home visit, so by the time a sitter gets to my house, I travel to where ever I am going, work and get back, there are some days that I pay exactly what I just made. If I worked longer hours or had benefits then it would be different but for now, with having multiple small children, this flexible job is a must and more about keeping my career then the money. It isn't like I am going to make a fortune in public health! 


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#11 of 40 Old 03-23-2011, 08:10 AM
 
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the only way i would pay for childcare is if i was taking home at least 30K/year after childcare expenses.


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#12 of 40 Old 03-23-2011, 10:55 AM
 
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I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't think it's all about how much money you're making.  I've worked part-time in various capacities since my DD was a toddler.  We pay a ton of money for part- time daycare/preschool- it's often as expensive as my pay checks.  She goes to an excellent center that isn't cheap.  Even though I'm not making a lot of money, it's worth it to us because I'm keeping my resume current for when I am ready to work full-time.  I also really like working and what I do and I'm much happier if I'm working part time than when I'm only at home.  Lastly, my daughter loves her preschool so much that it's a win-win for all of us. 


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#13 of 40 Old 03-23-2011, 11:48 AM
 
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I make min wage for my state and we pay $20 a day plus snacks,lunches,breakfast,drinks so it breaks to about $30 a day. My girls don't go to daycare everyday but when they do I only make $20 a day after cost of daycare,food etc. I work a TON of hrs at night, weekends like 12 or more hr shifts sometimes 7 days a week just to make what I need. Finding a new job would be great since I am worth more then I make per hr but I love this job, If something happens with my kids, or emergency, or I am sick I can leave that instant and even drive the owners cars etc. They love me so much that even sometimes he will pay for my girls daycare if I am low on funds or if I am helping him out with a extra shift. I plan to stick this job out until we close down or go under (which is bound to happen things are bad now. A little Hispanic ma and pop grocery store).


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#14 of 40 Old 03-23-2011, 02:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by freestylemama View Post

I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't think it's all about how much money you're making.  I've worked part-time in various capacities since my DD was a toddler.  We pay a ton of money for part- time daycare/preschool- it's often as expensive as my pay checks.  She goes to an excellent center that isn't cheap.  Even though I'm not making a lot of money, it's worth it to us because I'm keeping my resume current for when I am ready to work full-time.  I also really like working and what I do and I'm much happier if I'm working part time than when I'm only at home.  Lastly, my daughter loves her preschool so much that it's a win-win for all of us. 


This is us.

 

I have a very part time job and some weeks I do not work at all. DD's daycare costs $35 per day and she goes 3 times a week, regardless of whether I am working or not. It is so wonderful for her. DS will start there in May so it will be $65 per day for both of them. I bring home about $1000 a month (working about 3-4 days a month and a couple of nights - I am a musician). So once DS starts, i will not be making any money at all, especially seeing as I don't work over the summer except for side gigs.

 

I love having a professional outlet and it's very important to me that I do not lose my chops which is a definite possibility if I were not to work.

 


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#15 of 40 Old 03-23-2011, 05:04 PM
 
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I would have to have enough over and above the cost of childcare to cover taxes, health insurance, retirement, housekeeper twice/month, a gardener once/month, commute/clothes/lunches out, gym membership, and still have enough to save for vacations.  And I'd have to be getting at least 3 wks/yr in vacation time. 


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#16 of 40 Old 03-24-2011, 08:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you cristeen for putting into words how I am feeling but couldn't quite manage to articulate.  After reading it, it seems so obvious.

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I would have to have enough over and above the cost of childcare to cover taxes, health insurance, retirement, housekeeper twice/month, a gardener once/month, commute/clothes/lunches out, gym membership, and still have enough to save for vacations.  And I'd have to be getting at least 3 wks/yr in vacation time. 



 


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#17 of 40 Old 03-24-2011, 11:27 AM
 
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There are other considerations. We have to have the money after childcare to live so it really isn't about $x an hour is it worth it. We also have to have the medical and dental benefits and the largish contribution my firm makes to my retirement (10% net) account as well as fully funding my retirement account. We also have very, very expensive childcare.

 

My familys "part" of my income is about 25% of what I earn after taxes, large premium co-pays for insurance, fully funding my 401K, and paying our nanny. Regardless of what I do in the future (would like to stay home for awhile) my retirement needs to be secure.

 

My mom's siblings all had a SAHP, well always, well after the children were grown and they are really really struggling in retirement. A lot of them are also anti-tax and worked off the books, when they did work and have pretty much nothing to live on.

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#18 of 40 Old 03-26-2011, 08:41 AM
 
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It depends exactly where those extra dollars are going.  If it was keeping us from sliding into debt each month then I would probably find it palatable to work even if it wasn't much extra money. 

 

We looked at our monthly bare bones budget, then added a couple hundred dollars for the non-obvious costs of working like gas and less time to shop around for food and clothes.  Then we decided what an acceptable amount of savings would be so that our lifestyle would be financially sustainable.  That gave me the figure for what I needed to bring in after childcare costs were paid.  Whether that money came from part-time hours worked around DH's schedule or regular work hours minus childcare was more of a lifestyle/career decision than a financial one.

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#19 of 40 Old 03-27-2011, 03:00 PM
 
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I tried working and having 2 children in daycare. For me no amount of money is worth having someone else watch my children. I had my children in a great, expensive daycare and I still felt that I was missing out on all that they did and learned each day.  I have been home for the past 11 years. My DH is only a school teacher, so we do NOT make a lot. I babysit in my home to make ends meet. If I were a single mom than I would work, no question about it. I have thought about working, all five of my children will be school age next year. The only thing that hold me up now is the fact that I homeschool 2 children and am not sure if I want to put them in school. So right now we are seriously thinking about whether more income is worth our children being in school. We know what goes on each day in school. We know that so much time is a waste. We know about all the bullying. Hard decision.

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#20 of 40 Old 03-27-2011, 07:08 PM
 
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This, plus in our family we don't weigh the costs against one person's salary. We place the costs into our joint budget, because we don't have the assumption that the lower earner has to give up his or her career just because of being the lower earner.
 

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I don't think it's all about the money in the short term and couldn't put a dollar value on it.  There are many benefits to my career, including medical, dental and vision insurance, retirement savings, and educational savings.  In addition, there is the career growth--taking off an extended chunk of time would be extremely damaging to my career, and would make me nearly unemployable in my current field.



 

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#21 of 40 Old 03-27-2011, 08:18 PM
 
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This, plus in our family we don't weigh the costs against one person's salary. We place the costs into our joint budget, because we don't have the assumption that the lower earner has to give up his or her career just because of being the lower earner.

That makes sense when you both want to keep your careers. I think that for the OP - and many other posters - putting the cost of childcare on one person's salary makes more sense because that person wants to know whether her working contributes significantly to the family's financial picture.

 

I personally feel that the intangible benefits - current resume, etc. - outweigh most of the cost considerations, but I also chose my profession based on what I want to do (even if I am transitioning away from it...). If I'd just "fallen into" a career field that didn't suit me or I had a job and not a career track, then I'm sure those things would matter less to me.
 

 


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#22 of 40 Old 03-28-2011, 12:30 PM
 
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That makes sense when you both want to keep your careers. I think that for the OP - and many other posters - putting the cost of childcare on one person's salary makes more sense because that person wants to know whether her working contributes significantly to the family's financial picture.

 

I personally feel that the intangible benefits - current resume, etc. - outweigh most of the cost considerations, but I also chose my profession based on what I want to do (even if I am transitioning away from it...). If I'd just "fallen into" a career field that didn't suit me or I had a job and not a career track, then I'm sure those things would matter less to me.
 

 


I know that's how the calculation usually goes, and I get it. We may be making that choice in the future now that we have two kids too.

 

But that said, it's so often the woman who gives up her earning power, for being the lower earner (that's a whole rant, although I am an obvious case of it, having followed my bliss and all that), and it's so often because it 'makes sense' - and then later in life it's often the woman who suffers for it, especially if the big ds -- death, divorce, disability -- hit. Even on a family level when you unplug one person from their career it can be a really long-term economic hit far beyond the monthly balance sheet.

 

I think of it kind of like high interest rates on a credit card. Every year you're not on a salary grid, gaining raises and seniority, you're losing future income as well as present income. Now granted, there are ways to add to the family budget by being home. But I don't think those savings increase at the same rate as salary increase. (And admittedly for me personally, I often waste money when I'm home and bored; when I'm working I have no time to shop recreationally, go for lunches/coffee just to get out of the house, come up with project schemes, or desperately 'need' to redecorate, so.)

 

I'm not really arguing that it can't make sense, or isn't right for a particular family, or whatever.   But I think often women are kind of pressured to run the back-of-the-envelope calculation and then take over parenting and housework and other unpaid economic work because on the surface, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to work for X dollars.

 

For me economic health is a bit deeper than just what comes home weekly. So I'd probably work for about $10 over my costs, if I were convinced it was a good career move. But I do like my work.

 


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#23 of 40 Old 03-30-2011, 03:27 PM
 
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For me, it was we had planned on me staying home with our kids for 5-10 years before we got married. Its 9 years this month and I am ready to go back to work in the next 6-12 mos. My youngest is also entering school full time in the fall so it makes sense to jack up the consulting I have been doing for more hours, clients etc. Maybe I would feel different if I had student loans to get my career or didnt plan on staying home all those years before. Several couples have student loans which changes the want and need to stay home.

 

We were lucky, we managed on DH's salary and his job has always incld benefits for the whole family. If this was an extra cost, I would have been back at work years ago. Now, the kids are getting older and our needs are changing. I personally want to go back to doing something for me plus it would bring extras such as beefing up the 529s, and paying off our mortgage.

 

We have lived a simplier and frugal lifestyle for years so this was easier for us to pull off all these years on 1 income. Personally, I dont think a lot of families would be happy doing this though. I dont see a not driving new car and missing exotic vacations as a sacrifice. My sacrifice would have been not being home for my children. But that is MY belief, not everyone elses and I do not judge them for feeling different than I do. Some families have a parent who works part time of less than 30 hours a week and it allows them a vacation, eating out, a better home environment whatever. IT makes them happy or its a priority or a need in various parts of this country.

 

FWIW, we figured out before I had dd1, in the end, it would bring home about 1K net a month after taxes, daycare etc. We didnt see the worth but again, we didnt have a large mortgage, loans etc.


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#24 of 40 Old 03-31-2011, 06:40 AM
 
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When DD1 was a bit less than 1, I went back to work at a retail job and quit a couple months later when it was apparent that I was paying to work---I didn't have time or a place to pump, so I was buying formula (didn't want to give up my WIC breastfeeding coupons because we were still nursing and at that place and time it was one or the other, here and now, I could have gotten 2 cans of formula and kept the nursing package--so I quit.   Also, they were unable or unwilling to give me a regular schedule so I couldn't get DD into a regular babysitting arrangement.  In fact, the schedule came out Sunday evening for the following week (started Monday, so not even a week ahead).  Cobbling together anything was impossible and I had to pay the hourly care rate.  A couple months later, I was hired on with the school district.  They gave us money to offset our medical insurance expenses.  Since I was on DH's insurance, I could take the money in a Cafeteria Plan and use it for daycare.  It paid the daycare.  When I had DS, I had to dip into pocket for daycare and it almost made me run the numbers and quit my job; but when DH got out of the Army and we moved home, having kept the job allowed me to draw unemployment from it for a few months.  And since DH was deployed, it gave me something to do with my time.


 

 

 

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#25 of 40 Old 04-01-2011, 09:46 AM
 
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While my previous response covered my feelings on that matter, there was one thing it didnt address, as sort of pointed out by a pp.

Yes, if i were to go back to work FT for someone else, thats an accurate picture of what i would need. But just this week, another situation has arisen - the chance to follow my dreams. It'll be PT, but it'll give me the experience i need for the next step (self-employment). It'll mean finding daycare, and i'll be lucky if it even covers the cost of that. But its a chance I cannot pass up.

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#26 of 40 Old 04-01-2011, 10:28 AM
 
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I am the primary breadwinner in our family and likely always will be so me staying home (no matter how much I would love to) is not an option. We seriously considered DH becoming a SAHD and we had the budget (it was bare bones but we were comfortable with that) but decided against because he is more recently in his career and taking years off at this point wouldn't make sense for our long-term financial picture. He also carries our health insurance (extended health - we're in Canada - it's free through his work whereas I would pay a premium through mine) and his work matches a portion of his RRSP contributions. Plus he works at a food security NGO and we often get free organic veggies on a friday when they won't last until the next week.

 

So, for us it's about more than just the dollar wage. Although I think if he wasn't making any more than what we pay in childcare we might re-think things.

 

Having said that, I have chosen to stay in a job that I don't really enjoy because it gives me a lot of flexibility in terms of hours. If we didn't have a child (and planning more), I would be in a M-F job. I am an RN and arrange my schedule so that we only need childcare 2 days a week for work and another 1/2 day some of the time for when I'm in school (I'm upgrading to my MN). The rest are nights or weekends when DH is home. Also, our childcare, while pricier than some arrangement we could find, is done by a very close friend of ours who rents a room from us. So our DD is being cared for by her "auntie" who lives with us. So, I think the extra cost of that is worth it (someone who genuinely adores her and there's no struggling to get out of the house in the morning and do the drop off/pick up). Plus I have piece of mind that, even though most days I wish I could just SAH, at least her caregiver is "family".

 

Also, just a little rant about Canada's mat leave policies, I would drop to part-time in a heartbeat but for the fact that we want to have another baby soon and in order to qualify for the max EI and top-up that my work would give me - I need to be working full-time.

 

ETA: A lot of people have commented also on the "extra" costs of working - commute, clothing, increased food costs, housekeeper, etc. Part of why our situation works for us is because we have 3 adults in our house, all contributing fairly equally to household chores. I use public transit to commute and I wear hospital-provided scrubs at work so if anything my clothing bill is cheaper.

 

So, I think a lot more goes into answering the OP's question than just the money you're bringing in.

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#27 of 40 Old 04-02-2011, 05:35 PM
 
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I have not really found there to be much in the way of increased costs other than daycare for me working.  I spend  a little more on clothes, but I'm a careful shopper.  I don't spend more on food.  I brown bag, and eat pretty much the same thing I would if I were home.  I spend a tad more on gas, but I'd probably take the kid around because I'd go nuts at home all the time, so I think that's close to a draw.

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#28 of 40 Old 04-03-2011, 04:46 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post

I would have to have enough over and above the cost of childcare to cover taxes, health insurance, retirement, housekeeper twice/month, a gardener once/month, commute/clothes/lunches out, gym membership, and still have enough to save for vacations.  And I'd have to be getting at least 3 wks/yr in vacation time. 


This, sort of. I could be flexible on saving money for vacations, and could let go of the gardener since we don't have a yard. But everything else would be essential.

 

Plus the hours of the job must allow enough flexibility that getting the children to their various medically necessary appointments is still feasible.

 

And the daycare must be good enough that it adds to the quality of their lives rather than detracts. I don't need a private nanny for my kids, but I do need someone/someplace who can accommodate my son's medical needs and provide quality play time and some academic instruction time for my DD who loves learning and has emotional/behavioral breakdowns after too much time in front of a screen. So far I haven't been able to find that kind of day care for a price that is less than my take home salary would be, let alone provide all of what is quoted above.

 


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#29 of 40 Old 04-03-2011, 09:12 PM
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But that said, it's so often the woman who gives up her earning power, for being the lower earner (that's a whole rant, although I am an obvious case of it, having followed my bliss and all that), and it's so often because it 'makes sense' - and then later in life it's often the woman who suffers for it, especially if the big ds -- death, divorce, disability -- hit. Even on a family level when you unplug one person from their career it can be a really long-term economic hit far beyond the monthly balance sheet.



That's my concern. We can tighten our belts and make it on DH's salary, but where does that leave me? I'd be out of work for 5ish years. I'd lose all my connections, I'd be rusty and out of touch. Getting back into my career would be really hard, and I'd take a salary hit. You don't just press pause and reenter the market where you left - you actually end up coming up behind. And some women never get caught up.

I'd love to SAH, and we talk about it. But I worry about the long-term consequences.

I make more money than DH but not by much. If I was working only to pay for childcare it would be different I guess.
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#30 of 40 Old 04-04-2011, 12:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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But, if the SAHP (mom or dad) has already been out of the work force for 3,4,5+ years already does the general analysis change? 

 

Because then it is not a matter if the person 'should' stay home with the kids, they already did.  Now it is a question of going back in (or maybe entering for the first time even) and it seems like putting the cost of the care for the kids into the one person salary makes more sense if that is an expense that is being added simply because they are now going to find employment out side of the home instead of continue to stay home.  As well as the additional costs of maintaining the standard of living that the SAHP was able to provide (gardening, cleaning, cooking, etc.) by virtue of the fact that they were home and able to do it.


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