Going Back to Work? More Considerations

Posted by Madison on January 31, 2008

I recently put together the financial considerations to help me decide if I should go back to work or stay home. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this… and not just in the last two days. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I started my leave last fall. There’s so much to consider both financially and personally; it’s going to be a very tough decision.

Reader Comments

The reader comments were terrific, each adding great points that helped me even further. These points were so incredible I couldn’t help but share them with you:

Lynnae noted that she quit before earning all of her social security credits. I found my statement quickly, even though I don’t file my papers, and it shows that i have 28 credits through the end of 2007. In order to qualify for retirement 40 credits are needed, with the ability to earn 4 per year on $3880 of income. Lynnae adds:

I’ve never regretted staying at home. We gave up a lot of financial security, but the non-financial benefits have been much greater, in my opinion.

Rocket commented that the decision is much easier when a lower salary is at stake. And he’s right. There’s a significant piece that may tip the table at my house, and it’s that I make more than my husband. Of course, most of that is because I work in the corporate world and my husband works for a University (although he does have amazing health insurance and benefits). Rocket shared:

My wife’s income was just not worth the hassle. It was a no-brainer to stay home and she (and the kids) are happy that she has done so. (me too)

Becca pointed out that I need to check to see if I’m vested in my 401k and pension plan. Great catch Becca! I’m fully vested in all my retirement plans, so I wouldn’t be leaving any money on the table in terms of matching contributions. She also makes a great point about mileage:

You also may want to use long weekends or vacation spent at home as a gauge of whether your driving will increase with your increase in free time. Running more errands or going to social events/outings could approach the mileage work put on your car.

Kacie wants me to consider how my family’s mental health will be affected. I know one thing for sure: our evenings wouldn’t be so chaotic getting home, getting dinner on the table and getting through all the evening activities after a long day of work. She points out how it works for her:

For me, chores get done during the week so I can spend my weekends with my husband without grocery shopping or cleaning something. I’m much less stressed this way, and so is he.

Plonkee reinforced the impact on my career. It’s a very good point and one that shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ve spent a lot of time furthering my career through graduate school, networking and hard work. I’m still young and have many more growth opportunities ahead. Plonkee also points out another financial consideration:

It’s not just the money that you don’t make while you are away, but that when you come back you’ll have lost out on all the salary compounding. I’d be interested in seeing calculations that took that into account.

Lost Cause reminded me of the uncertainty that comes with relying on one income. It is much riskier than having two incomes to spread the risk. He points out their situation:

I lost my job, and the house was lost not long afterward. But for us, it was never a question, that my wife would stay home to take care of the kids. You can’t put a price on that.

Father Sez gives me a vote of confidence in launching the new business (thanks Father!) and lets me know that my child’s vote would likely be that I stay home! He throws finances out and reminds me what it’s really about:

You appear to have left out the unrivalled joy of seeing your children giving you the “no strings attached” smiles and hugs. This is once in a lifetime opportunity.

Where We Are At

I finalized the numbers earlier this week and discussed the results along with all of the considerations with my husband. Find out what we decided!

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Comments to Going Back to Work? More Considerations

  1. Looks like your commentators have picked up pretty much everything that might fall outside the standard calculators. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.


  2. I am also biting my nails waiting for “THE DECISION”.


  3. Dear Madison,

    You and fellow readers have done a great job putting together a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis. Yet, I think you’ve missed the point… you’re talking about a human life. Your child- who deserves more than a cost/benefit analysis.

    You and your spouse are clearly excellent parents who care deeply for their children. I am sure that your decision will be excellent either way. I commend you for going to great lengths to try to analyze and understand this- it is not an easy process and it must be even harder to do through a public forum. My very best wishes to you, your husband, and family.

    A mother of a one year old who went through the same analysis at month five!


  4. It is interesting that our generation (30-45) were the first “latch-key” kids. It was important to my wife and I to have someone home as we feel we missed out on that growing up.


  5. It’s such a tough decision. I can’t wait to see what you decide and what finally swayed you one way or the other.

    Lynnae @ Being Frugal.net

  6. Please don’t neglect the ability of this lady to extract pennies out of turnips. The part-time job of a financial wizard will be rewarding, financially.

    In case you choose the other option: kids are very resilient, especially ones that have not known anything else.

    Lost Cause

  7. you sound like me!
    I work in the corporate world and my husband works at a university, and my salary is nearly double his. We will be facing the same decision soon. What makes it even harder is that my husband has his dream job and he would actually pay to be able to do it, so there’s no chance of him quitting. Good luck


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