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Oct 052012
 October 5, 2012  Posted by  Budgeting and Organization, Family, Kids

This post is by Erin Flynn Jay, author of “Mastering The Mommy Track.”

Many new moms have mixed feelings about whether they should return to work after a too-brief maternity leave or stay home until their kids are older. Are you undecided about whether you should quit your job and stay home with your young kids? Can your family live on one salary?

Here are some points for moms to consider when calculating whether to return to work or stay home:

  • Factor in the cost of daycare and commuting. Daycare and commuting costs into major cities can be enormous expenses. Take New York City, for example. A monthly commuting pass will cost you $250 to $400 a month. Daycare averages $1,000 a month. So if you are living in a suburb of Manhattan, earning $50,000 to $70,000 per year, and giving away half of that to these costs, ask yourself if it is worth it.
  • Two or more kids will increase expenses. Overhead for just the basics has doubled before kids. The price of gas has doubled over the last three years; basic food costs like milk, meat and cheese have also spiked. If you have two who will need daycare or a nanny, your overhead is going to double, so you might be more inclined to take a temporary leave of absence from your career to avoid these costs. Sit down with your spouse or partner and crunch the numbers.
  • Are you in a vulnerable place? Is your spouse working in a weak industry or is he concerned about losing his job? Is your spouse disabled or ill? If there is any weakness or uncertainty there, you may need to return to work.
  • Can you negotiate a part-time arrangement?  A trend is for some firms to keep a mother on several days a week if she has been a good employee with the firm for five to 10 years. If you love your career yet don’t want to return five days a week, present to your boss the case for you to work a compressed workweek, which would save on expenses. You could spend two workdays with the kids and still be a career mom.
  • If you bring in a six-figure salary, it will be tough to walk away. If your salary exceeds your expenses and you enjoy your line of work, you may choose to stay on. If you can afford the best childcare/aftercare and have a budget to travel and reward your family, stay on. If you were to leave a prestigious job, it may be tough to get back in a few years down the road if you want to return.

About the Author:

Erin Flynn Jay is a writer and publicity expert. Since 2001, Erin has been promoting authors of new books and small businesses in all industries. Her new book is Mastering the Mommy Track: Juggling Career and Kids in Uncertain Times.

LOTC Staff

  One Response to “Does it pay to return to work after baby? Do the math”

  1. My hubby and I had always planned for me to stay at home when we had kids. We didn’t start trying to have them until we’d paid off the majority of our debt. We ended up paying off our last debt, our mortgage, a month before our first child was born. We’d never planned my income into our base budget, but used it to pay down the debt – school & car loans, & the mortgage.

    The end of the calendar year in which our first born arrived, I had my hubby crunch the numbers to see if it would have been worth it for me to return to work that year. I had a great career with a college degree and after all the added expenses of: child care, transportation, clothing, higher car insurance (from commuting), etc., I would have netted a grand total of $4000 that year, working full time!

    The only tricky thing was my husband’s employer did not have family health insurance coverage at the time. I just got an individual plan for our son and myself, which wasn’t too costly. After our second child was born, however, both she and I had major medical issues and it was hard to find insurance. Thankfully at the end of that hard year, hubby’s employer came around and we had family coverage for all of us.

    I’ve been at home now for 15 years and until our recent move, we’ve been able to be debt free. It CAN be done and it just takes some creative spending (or not!) and ways to cut costs.

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