As my pregnancy progresses and I look towards the birth of my baby I can't help but wonder what life will be like once she is born. As much as I love my career, I'm beginning to wonder if I would rather quit my job and become a stay-at-home mom instead. Can I afford to stay home full time? |
This is a question that I think most, if not all, women wrestle with at some point during their pregnancy. While, ultimately, no one can answer this question for you, here are a few thoughts for you and your partner to consider when talking about this important crossroads in the life of your family.
- Costs to consider: If you continue to work full time outside the home, outline the many costs that you will encounter once your baby is born. Gather some daycare quotes from nannies, in-home daycare providers, and daycare centers. Daycare costs can vary greatly depending on your location. Some providers charge as much as $250 per week for infant care not including the diapers and formula (or breast milk) that you must provide. Think also about fuel costs when you add in a daily drop off and pick up from your little one's daycare center. Look at your salary and that of your partner's combined. Does the addition of your income propel your family to the next income tax bracket? Some families find that when the mother is working full time, by the time the family pays for child care, business attire, meals out while on the job, commuting costs, and extra income taxes, there is relatively little income that she is actually bringing home to add to the family budget.
- Surprising ways to save: As you look at your current budget and try to realistically decide whether or not you can afford to stay home, you may find some surprising ways to save money. Many stay-at-home moms are able to save on their family's monthly food budget. Being home full time will allow you more opportunities to compare prices and shop around for sale items, as well as use coupons. There are several web-based services available that will (for a nominal fee) organize a grocery list for you and tell you exactly which coupons to use at which stores. In following their plan it is not only possible, but highly probable, that you will cut your average weekly grocery bill in half while still buying all of your usual products. You may also find that you have more time to prepare meals at home. Convenience foods at the grocery store are often expensive and sometimes not very healthy. Rather than purchase a small tray of pre-cut fruit for $12.99, you can purchase an entire pineapple, 2 pounds of grapes, and a 4 pound watermelon for less, cut it up yourself, and have fruit left over for the next meal! You may also be able to save on your clothing budget as well. Not because stay-at-home moms only wear sweat pants, but because we don't need as many professional outfits as a mother who works full time. Your co-workers might notice if you wear the same suit everyday, but your little one won't mind if you are wearing the same blue jeans (especially if they fit!) as yesterday with a different shirt. Think also about your gift budget. Many women find that in being home all year, they are able to collect wonderful gifts for their friends and family members when the items are on clearance and then save them for upcoming holidays and birthday parties. Many women working full time do not have the luxury of leisurely shopping and therefore pay full price for items because they don't buy them until they are needed. And when they are "needed" they usually aren't on sale!
- Part-Time possibilities: As you consider your future work schedule, why not speak to your current employer about part time or tele-commuting opportunities that may be available. Many women find that they are able to work from home 3 days per week and then go in to the office on only 2 days each week. This type of a situation can be a win-win for both employers and employees. Your employer would not need to spend the time and money necessary to hire and train a new employee, and you would be able to keep your job while only needing child care 2 days each week. You may also want to consider looking for a job in the evenings or on the weekends when your partner is available to care for your baby. This would allow you to bring home some income, but still save you in the childcare department. If you decide to explore this option, why not apply somewhere that offers great discounts on things that you already purchase or on things that you would like to purchase. Maybe a clothing store just for kids, one that sells really great post-pregnancy clothes for you or one that specializes in home furnishings. That discount can come in handy year-round, but especially during the holidays. Your friends and family will love their gifts, and you will love using your employee discount to stretch your dollar a bit further.
As you work through the many details associated with answering this question, remember, no one answer is right for every family. Peek at your situation, decide what is best for you and your little one and then come to a conclusion that best meets your needs.