When I was pregnant with my first child, I was working as an associate editor at a publishing company. I was 27 years old and had worked since I was a teenager. My husband and I planned for me to have our son, take my allotted time off and then go back to work. That was the plan until we started looking at child care, and I began to have second thoughts.
Did I want to leave my infant in the care of strangers for eight to nine hours a day? Did I want to have to rush to get myself and my baby ready to go out the door each morning, drop him off, rush to work, then hurry to pick him up, only to have a short time together before bedtime? Did I really want to work all the time during the first years of my child’s life?
These are questions many men and women face as they become are about to become parents, and there are many things to consider when deciding whether to work or stay home. If you are considering staying home, finances are likely a concern and you may even think your family can’t make it without your income. However, if you really want to stay home, take time to do some calculations and you may find that you can afford to stay home with your child.
Examine Your Expenses
If you or your partner is considering staying home, the first thing to do is look at your financial situation. Start by writing down your fixed expenses, things like mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance and such. These amounts don’t change frequently and can’t be reduced unless you negotiate a new agreement with the insurer or service provider.
Next write down your more flexible expenses such as clothing, Internet, cell phone, groceries, magazine subscriptions, entertainment and such. These are things you need, but that you could possibly spend less on each month.
Keep track of your expenses for two months and you may be surprised to see where your money is going. You may find that your frequent lunches out while working are costing you $80 a month or that your trips to the movies each month are adding up to over $60.
Consider the Cost of Working
When we go to work each day, we do so to bring home money, but working also costs us in some ways, and when you are thinking about staying home, you need to figure out your work-related expenses to see how much you will save by not working. If you don’t work, you may save money on gas, clothes and eating out. These are things to consider when looking at whether you can afford to stay home with your baby. And, of course, you must also include the cost of child care if you are working. That alone can be a huge expense and make the difference in whether staying home is affordable.
Cut Some Costs
If you have decided one parent really wants to stay home, have looked at your expenses and cost of working and believe you are close to affording that option, begin looking at ways you can cut costs. Start with your flexible expenses. If you stay home, you will have more time for clipping coupons and planning meals, so you should be able to save on your grocery bill. You can also cook more meals at home and save on eating out.
You probably won’t want to give up all your luxuries (life at home with baby without satellite could drive you crazy), but look for ways to save. Watch movies at home instead of going out, search for less expensive cell phone plans, check out books from the library instead of buying them. There are many ways to save if you just take time to look for them and budget.
Look for Ways to Work From Home
With so much work being done on computers, employees can often find work from home jobs to earn some extra cash. If you are leaving a job, ask your boss if you can work part-time from home if you need the money. Or if you have a skill or hobby that can be used to make money, focus on that while you are home with your child. There are many ways to make money from home, so get started researching ways you could earn some extra cash.
As the time for my son’s birth approached, my husband and I realized that we simply couldn’t put him in child care full time. We looked for ways we could save money, change our work schedules and keep our baby at home with us. After a while, I quit my job and spend six years as a stay at home mum. It was the most challenging job I’ve ever had, but it was also the most rewarding. I’m so glad I got to be with my son, and then my daughter too, during the first years of their lives.
Deciding to stay home with your child isn’t an easy decision and there are many things to consider in addition to finances. But if you are considering staying home, take these steps to determine if it is even possible, then you can decide what is best for you and your child.
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