Money Advice

Stay at Home Mom vs. Working Mom – What’s Right for You?

I went again to work full-time simply three months after having my first little one. Though I knew I’d be shedding a big chunk of my wage to daycare prices, plus a bit extra to commuting bills, the numbers painted a reasonably clear image: Going again to work was the precise transfer financially.

However, the choice was a lot trickier from a logistical perspective. Since my husband and I every had a reasonably lengthy commute, we knew we’d must tweak our schedules to permit for well timed daycare pickups and drop-offs. We merely weren’t snug hiring a nanny, and the associated fee would’ve been prohibitive. Plus, from an emotional standpoint, the concept of leaving my child behind for the day wreaked havoc on my brain, a lot in order that I typically discovered myself tearing up the second I boarded that bus to the town.

Deciding whether or not to return to work after having a child is an unquestionably robust determination. Rising childcare prices coupled with the stress of managing each a family and a career make many new dad and mom go slightly loopy when determining what to do. If you’re confronted with this dilemma, take into account the financial, logistical, and emotional implications of going again to work versus staying dwelling with a toddler.

The Costs of Going Back to Work

Aside from the often-tricky logistics of getting two dad and mom working outdoors the house, going again to work after having a child doesn’t at all times make monetary sense. You might imagine you’re taking an enormous monetary hit by shedding a whole wage, however when you think about the prices you incur by working, the lack of internet revenue might not be as important as you initially anticipated.


Childcare is a significant expense of working full-time outdoors the house. Unless you’re lucky sufficient to have a member of the family shut by who’s prepared to look at your little one for free, anticipate to fork over an enormous chunk of your wage to pay another person to look at your child.

These are the commonest choices for toddler childcare:

  • Daycare Centers. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the common price of a U.S. daycare heart is $11,666 per year, or $972 monthly for toddler and toddler care. Prices vary from $3,582 to $18,773 per year, or $300 to $1,564 monthly, and differ by geographic area. Those in shut proximity to bigger cities usually pay the very best charges.
  • Home DaycareBabyCenter stories that the common dwelling daycare within the U.S. prices roughly $7,761 per year, or $646 monthly, for toddler and toddler care. Prices vary from $3,582 to $11,940 per year, or $300 to $995 monthly, and are typically larger in and round bigger cities. While dwelling daycare is cheaper than daycare facilities, some home-based suppliers don’t provide as a lot in the way in which of prolonged hours and programming. Also, since dwelling daycare suppliers aren’t at all times licensed, there could also be some concern as to whether or not they can uphold the identical well being and security requirements as their center-based counterparts.
  • Nannies. With a nanny, you don’t have to fret about shuttling your toddler to daycare early within the morning or leaving work in time to select her or him up, however the added comfort would possibly price you. ChildCenter finds that the common price of a nanny is $500 to $700 per week, or $2,167 to $3,033 monthly, for full-time care. A live-in nanny would possibly cost much less in change for room and board, however then it’s important to take into account the prices of feeding one other grownup and whether or not you need your childcare supplier residing in your house full-time. You might also incur different bills by hiring a nanny, like having to offer yours with medical health insurance and paid trip time, which additionally requires forking over money for backup care.

The variety of youngsters you have got can play an enormous function in figuring out your childcare prices. For instance, nannies are likely to cost extra for a number of youngsters than for single youngsters due to the added work concerned, and a few cost a premium for youthful infants, as they have an inclination to require extra hands-on care. Some dad and mom return to work after their first little one as a result of paying daycare charges for one nonetheless leaves them with sufficient money to make working worthwhile. However, if in case you have two or extra younger youngsters, all of whom want full-time care throughout the day, then your childcare prices might find yourself wiping out your wage or lowering your take-home pay to the purpose the place working full-time simply isn’t well worth the effort.

This is exactly what occurred to a pal of mine. It made sense for her to return to work after having her first little one, however when she had her second two years later, she did the mathematics and realized the price of daycare for two plus a prepare cross would utterly negate her take-home pay. For her, returning to work made zero monetary sense, so she now stays dwelling along with her youngsters.

While it’s true that childcare is a large expense, there are steps you’ll be able to take to save money should you do have to pay for it:

  • Arrange a Nanny Share. Find an area household whose childcare wants are much like yours and break up the price of a nanny down the center. While most nannies cost further for every extra little one, you’ll be able to nonetheless come out forward financially by divvying up the entire expense with one other household.
  • Ask Your Daycare Center for a Sibling Discount. Some facilities provide lowered charges for every subsequent little one you enroll. Others provide a reduced worth for each little one when a number of siblings attend.
  • Refer Friends to Your Daycare Center. Many facilities provide tuition credit in change for referrals. While some place a cap on how a lot you’ll be able to earn for referrals per year, others provide limitless incentives.
  • Prepay for Childcare. Some daycare facilities provide a reduction if you pay for a year of service up entrance, versus paying weekly or month-to-month. You might save 5% to 10% of your whole invoice simply by paying prematurely.
  • Set Up a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account. With a dependent care FSA, you’ll be able to allocate as much as $5,000 yearly in pre-tax {dollars} to cover daycare prices should you’re married and submitting collectively. While an FSA received’t cut back your childcare charges, it will probably cut back your total tax invoice. The solely factor that you must watch out about will not be allocating too many pre-tax {dollars} to cover childcare. FSAs function on a “use it or lose it” foundation, so if in case you have any money left over in your FSA at year’s finish, you’ll must forgo it.

Costs Going Back Work


Unless you do business from home or are capable of stroll or bike to your job, commuting bills are one other issue to contemplate when calculating the price of going again to work. If you’re taking public transportation, that you must account for the price of your month-to-month prepare or bus cross. This might be wherever from $100 to $400 or extra relying on the place you reside.

If you drive to work, it’s important to account for fuel, tolls, and put on and tear in your car. The extra mileage you place in your automobile, the extra oil adjustments and different such fundamental upkeep is important. If you don’t have entry to free parking, that you must account for these bills too.

You might also pay extra for auto insurance coverage through the use of your automobile for commuting functions. Some insurance coverage corporations provide a reduction for vehicles that don’t see loads of mileage and are thought of leisure automobiles.

You can save money in your transportation prices by allocating pre-tax {dollars} to pay for your commute. The IRS limits for 2015 are $130 monthly for transit passes, and $250 monthly for certified parking bills. Some individuals additionally save money on commuting prices by carpooling, however if in case you have a child or youngsters at dwelling, chances are high you want the pliability that comes with driving your personal automobile forwards and backwards.


Being a stay-at-home dad or mum means not having to fret about adhering to an office dress code. On the opposite hand, sustaining and updating a business wardrobe prices money. Even in case your wardrobe is already properly stocked, it’s possible you’ll have to pay recurrently for dry cleansing, which might be wherever from only a few {dollars} to a number of hundred {dollars} monthly relying on the kind of attire you personal.

Also remember the fact that should you’re returning to work after having a child, your previous wardrobe could not match fairly in addition to you’d hope. If you’re unable to squeeze again into your previous assortment, it’s possible you’ll have to spend some money on clothes simply to return to your job. The price of a business swimsuit can vary from $50 to greater than $300 relying on the place you store and what you purchase. Slacks price as little as $20, however may also exceed the $100 mark, and blouses and sweaters are likely to fall in an analogous worth vary.

You can save money on work attire by borrowing clothes relatively than shopping for new items, or by laundering your outfits as an alternative of taking them to the dry cleaner. However, should you’re juggling a full-time job and a child or a number of youngsters at dwelling, it’s possible you’ll not have the time for further laundry.

Lunches and Incidentals

Being out of the home all day means accounting for your dietary wants. Depending in your schedule, it’s possible you’ll have to eat one or a number of meals every day at the office.

While you at all times have the choice of packing your personal lunch to save lots of money, some places of work have restricted fridge space, which makes brown-bagging a problem. Also, if you work in an office, there’s typically stress to do issues like attend group lunches to rejoice a birthday, chip in for a present for a newly promoted coworker, or buy Girl Scout cookies out of your boss’s daughter. These prices can add up over the course of a month.

Saving Money at Home

It is smart for financials to play a giant function in your determination to return to work, however there are elements outdoors of your wage to contemplate as effectively. You could possibly recoup a few of the money you’ll lose forgoing your wage by way of the next:

  • Having More Time to Cook. If you return to work full-time, there’s a superb likelihood you’re going to have much less time to prepare dinner, which implies you’re extra prone to spend money on restaurant meals and takeout. You can prepare dinner a meal at dwelling for a lot lower than half of what the identical dinner would price at a household restaurant.
  • Taking Advantage of Sales. If you’re employed full-time, your capability to run errands is normally restricted to nights and weekends, by which case it’s possible you’ll find yourself lacking out on gross sales and paying extra for issues like clothes, family items, and groceries. On the opposite hand, should you keep dwelling, you might have extra time to hunt out bargains, procure coupons, and make the most of doorbuster-type offers which can be solely out there sure hours of the day.
  • Lowering Your Overall Tax Burden. If you’re married and submitting collectively, not returning to work might drop you and your partner right into a decrease tax bracket. This signifies that you may wind up paying much less in taxes in your partner’s revenue.
  • Enabling Your Partner to Earn More. Your partner could wind up doing higher financially should you decide to remain dwelling. For instance, a partner who doesn’t have to fret about leaving work early when your little one has an surprising physician go to, or who has extra flexibility to work late with out having to deal with a daycare pickup schedule, could carry out higher on the job, leading to a elevate, bonus, or the power to work (and receives a commission) time beyond regulation hours.

Saving Money Home

Other Options to Earn Money

If you’re frightened that shedding a wage could negatively influence your monetary state of affairs, keep in mind that working will not be an all or nothing deal. If returning to work full-time doesn’t make sense financially, or if it’s one thing you simply don’t wish to do, you could possibly pursue different choices:

  • Working Part-Time. If the price of childcare would whittle your take-home pay all the way down to nothing, you may strive pursuing a part-time alternative. If you’re employed a number of nights per week or on weekends (when your partner is dwelling to look at your little one), you may make some money with out having to fork over a portion of your earnings to childcare.
  • Freelancing From Home. Working a full-time, 40-hour-per-week schedule from dwelling whereas concurrently caring for a child is a pipe dream – a type of two jobs is sure to undergo. However, freelancing for a number of hours every week is one other story. Depending in your little one’s schedule, you could possibly squeeze in wherever from one to a few hours of labor per day, or extra. Some gigs are extra conducive to at-home work than others, however well-liked choices embody writing and modifying, telemarketing and gross sales, and occasion planning and consulting.
  • Providing Childcare for Other Working Parents. Who higher to look at over another person’s little one than an skilled dad or mum? If you assume you’ll be able to handle caring for one other little one along with your personal, you may earn further money as a daytime babysitter or childcare supplier.
  • Starting Your Own Business. Whether your expertise is crafting, on-line advertising and marketing, or IT, you may at all times strive launching your personal business and taking over purchasers or initiatives as time permits. Though you might have to place in some money up entrance to cover issues like business paperwork, submitting charges, and tools, you could possibly generate a gradual part-time revenue that makes up for your lacking wage.

Quality of Life

The determination to return to work or keep dwelling together with your little one is greater than only a monetary one – there are emotional and logistical implications as effectively. Taking a break from the workforce does include sure advantages, together with the next:

  • More hands-on time together with your child or youngsters
  • Zero job-related stress
  • The likelihood to pursue a brand new and doubtlessly rewarding aspect gig

On the opposite hand, shedding out in your wage might influence your life-style and total well-being. You could end up sad if forgoing your wage means giving up sure luxuries, resembling journey or eating out.

Ultimately, your determination, largely, boils all the way down to your price range and bills. For some individuals, going again to work solely to herald $100 to $200 per week after childcare and commuting prices simply isn’t well worth the trouble. For others, that further money might imply the distinction between paying the payments or going into debt.

When weighing your choices, take into account the next:

  • Savings. If you’ve received a good chunk of money within the financial institution, you might have extra flexibility to surrender your wage, even when it does imply falling quick in your month-to-month bills. Think about what your time is price. If working a 40-hour week will end in a mere $200 in take-home pay – successfully $5 an hour – and also you’ve received the financial savings, it could make sense to dip into your checking account to cover that shortfall relatively than push your self to work.
  • Spouse’s Job. If your partner has a gradual job, it’s possible you’ll be extra snug giving yours up. However, in case your partner’s position is extra precarious, or if the company isn’t very steady, it’s possible you’ll wish to take into account returning to work so that you’ve got a supply of revenue in case your partner’s job is eradicated.
  • Your Job’s Benefits. Your wage is just one element of your total compensation. Giving up your job might additionally imply saying goodbye to perks like 401k matching {dollars} and stellar medical health insurance, which might translate into higher medical suppliers and fewer month-to-month out-of-pocket prices.
  • Lifestyle. If residing in a snug dwelling and indulging in luxuries is essential to you, it could be price pushing your self again to work. On the opposite hand, should you’re prepared to surrender sure indulgences, staying dwelling could not have such a crushing influence financially. Also take into account the impact of shedding skilled colleagues and spending all or most of your time with younger youngsters. For some dad and mom the shortage of “grown-up time” can negatively influence their high quality of life.

A detailed pal of mine selected to grow to be a stay-at-home dad or mum as a result of after crunching the numbers, she realized she’d be taking dwelling lower than $500 monthly by working full-time. Though she and her household at the moment are on a tighter price range, they’re nonetheless capable of pay for necessities like meals and electrical energy with out fear. They haven’t gone on trip in a number of years, they dine out occasionally, they usually have little wiggle room for extras like films or household outings – but my pal stays pleased along with her determination and insists that the sacrifices are greater than price it.

Another pal, nevertheless, is in a really totally different boat. Though she solely brings dwelling about $80 per week after childcare charges, commuting prices, and taxes, her household wants that money to pay for fundamentals and keep away from going into debt. While she would a lot relatively keep dwelling along with her youngsters, she has no alternative however to proceed working till her husband’s wage will increase.

Workforce Certain Benefits

Finding a Compromise

Whether you’ll be able to’t cover your whole bills on a single wage otherwise you merely like your job and wish to proceed constructing a career, it’s at all times price taking steps to make your new state of affairs work.

  • Ask for a Raise to Help Offset Childcare Costs. If you’re valued as an worker, the higher-ups at your company could exit of their strategy to entice you to come back again. When I instructed my boss that I used to be contemplating leaving as my maternity depart got here to an finish, she countered with extra money and a versatile work-from-home schedule. I nonetheless needed to put my son in daycare, as I used to be anticipated to proceed working a full 40-hour week, however the further money in my paycheck helped make up for the price of childcare. Plus, not having to commute made my schedule extra manageable and allowed me to nonetheless spend a good period of time with my son.
  • Reduce Hours for a More Manageable Schedule. If you concern that working full-time outdoors the house will flip you right into a perpetually frazzled, exhausted human being, strive adjusting your schedule to work fewer hours. Your company would possibly mean you can work 20 or 30 hours per week as an alternative of your typical full-time schedule. This choice works particularly effectively should you occur to have a member of the family out there to offer part-time childcare.
  • Requesting a Contract Role at Your Old Company. If the price of childcare is just too excessive to warrant a full-time return to work, or if the logistics of full-time employment make it unappealing, strive securing a contract position at your previous company. For instance, you could possibly remotely handle particular initiatives by yourself schedule. A pal of mine who opted to remain dwelling along with her child now places in 5 to 10 hours per week consulting for her previous agency. While she nonetheless has deadlines, she has the pliability to work just about any time of day or evening she needs.
  • Taking a Year Off. If you’re motivated to retain your job for monetary or career-related causes however can’t convey your self to return instantly after having a toddler, you may ask for an prolonged depart of absence. If you’re a superb worker, your company could also be prepared to work with you – particularly in the event that they’ve already secured a brief substitute to cover you throughout your maternity depart.

Final Word

The determination as as to whether you must return to work or keep dwelling after having a child may be tough on many ranges, so begin weighing your choices effectively prematurely of your parental depart interval. During these first few sleep-deprived, hormone-driven weeks post-baby, there’s a superb likelihood you received’t be in any position to assume clearly, and your feelings might wind up getting the higher of you.

On the opposite hand, keep in mind that regardless of which choice you select, you’re not locked into it completely – should you resolve to return to your job and uncover that it simply doesn’t work for you, you’ll be able to at all times resign. Similarly, should you decide to surrender your full-time job for the time being in an effort to elevate your little one, you at all times have the choice of returning to the workforce down the road.

Did going again to work after having a child make monetary sense for you?

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