Tuesday, April 08, 2008

To Stay Home or NOT!

Only a very small percentage of SAHM have "rich husbands" and not all SAHM sit and eat bonbons and watch soaps (many surf and blog heehee). Many people make it on minimal earnings sans health insurance you just have to be willing to make it work (I would not want nor be willing to drive a clunker and live in a single wide on a tiny shared lot in a trailer park eating hamburger helper BUT many people do and are thankful for it! I could however give up Starbucks, Sushi and Sirius OMGosh did I say that?). On the other hand if a parent's paycheck barely covers the cost of childcare but she/he wants to work - they should work! (Tell that to my husband ) And if a parent has significant earnings power but as a family they decide for one to stay at home, then they should stay at home! I can think of few better reasons to take a break from the daily work life than to raise a human being. But at the same time, I can think of few more challenging, monotonous, difficult ways to spend a day than raising a human being.
Given the diversity of ways in which people like to spend their time (baking cookies, restoring cars, raising ferrets, racing turtles, winning pie eating contests) it's bizarre that we should expect that all women would enjoy the 24/7 responsibility of raising their children just because they birthed them (and not that long ago had no choice other than to stay at home). The lovely thing about being a human being, after all, is the power of free will and self-determination. (That power applies to more than hair style). This choice should be applied to how we raise families too.
People choose to work, or not, based on many circumstances. Some people just feel they are not cut out to be at home all day, some swear they can't afford to stay home (not recognizing that for most it really is a choice... see above!) others feel it is not worth the stress to work for what little income they will bring in and some stay home because they were meant to (and they thrive at it). I fall in the 3rd group. I have been a SAHM for 8y29d (who's counting?) I am very blessed and most days I would not change my station in life, but the cold facts are that I don't really feel I have a choice.
I had a conversation with my MIL about this earlier today. She thinks I need to return to work for my own peace of mind (among other reasons). Perhaps I do? But it would not be to make $. In fact it would be a financial drain on my family. When I gave birth to C&B I made 43k and daycare cost were $19,240 per year. At that time we chose for me to stay home but we never really crunched the #s... today I did. Lets say for ease of #s I returned to the work force with a 40k salary (you have to start somewhere and seeing that I no longer have a "trade" and have been home for 2,949 days that sounds like a GREAT starting point). I would pay out $17, 840 in daycare (I called several places today to get these #s and this was the cheapest scenario and requires the 3 kids be dropped off and picked up at two separate locations) $11,200 in federal taxes, $3060 in fica/ss and $2483 in state taxes for a net of $5417. From that I would have to deduct $2800-$4500 of my husbands income as together we would change tax brackets and of course there is gas, car maintenance, clothing, more meals out, less couponing... you get the picture... it would cost me $ to work outside of the home (before my youngest starts kindergarten.)
As economist Richard Posner states "From an economic standpoint, women should not be encouraged to enter the labor market unless the social value of their output in that market is greater than the social value of their household production, importantly including their contribution as mothers to their children's human capital (broadly defined)" I am not sure if I am improving my children's human capital (?) but like everything else in life all actions/choices have consequences.
The fact is like the Internet and TV, the #s don't lie :-) All this said, I can not tell you how many times people have quietly/openly questioned the above (always people who choose/chose a different road) "Other people find a way to work". I agree, I mean some one has to flip burgers at the BK right? How they (IE the middle class) do it, I do not know. So today while crunching my #s I googled that too. (I love Google!)
I found some unbelievable suggestions from home equity loans (gasp!) to asking for tax free "gifts" from your parents (can you believe that? crazy!) I found some outdated 2005 Children's Defense Fund statistics that said "child care can easily cost an average of $6,000 a year. In certain areas … families may be spending more than $10,000 a year." (clearly they did not survey parents of 2-3 in Charlotte!)
I found that the national average pay for a nanny is 27k but an Au Pair can be obtained for a mere $269 a week (plus some hefty upfront fees). Finally I found one sight with some suggestions and here they are...
1. Get financial aid. (No not government assistance. Find an employer that offers a Dependent Care Account, Voucher, On-Site facility or a type of Flexible Spending Account. (The latter would give you $600 to $1,200 off your taxes. Whee-ha!) 2. Barter, swap and share (someone tell me how this works!) 3. Keep it in the family (Over half of the children in child care are in the care of family or friends) 4. Flex your schedules. 5. Become an entrepreneur (start your own daycare! sell ToHE or Ebay) 6. Hire a student/AuPair and 7. Someone stay home. So now I am packed with knowledge, and you are too, but nothing has really changed I am still a SAHM. Are you?

Count your many blessings Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you What the Lord hath done.