Even before we were married, my husband and I agreed that I would be a stay-at-home mom with our children when they were small. His job in the military isn’t really family-friendly, and we thought it was important that the kids were cared for by a parent.
By great chance, my job was eliminated shortly after I became pregnant. While I would have like to continue working a little longer, this made it easy to switch into Mom mode without having to leave a job that I enjoyed. Then, we had three more children within the next few years, and the decision to continue staying at home was pretty simple.
For starters, the cost of daycare would have far exceeded my income. Then, there are work-related expenses such as commuting costs and work clothes. Lastly, I saved a lot of money just by being a stay-at-home mom: couponing, cooking meals from scratch, keeping a tight eye on our budget, and negotiating the lowest bills for everything negotiable. I even occasionally mended some clothing, though not nearly as much as I probably should have.
As the girls started school, the decision to stay home became a little more difficult. I did work a little bit, helping out in a friend in their business, but even that meant juggling the kids around my husband’s unpredictable work hours, imposing on friends for child minding, or working during our already limited couple time. I quite enjoyed the work, but I didn’t enjoy the hassle.
When my youngest was in kindergarten, the perfect home-based job fell into my lap. It was just right for our family: 20 hours a week, whenever I could fit in my schedule.
Now, I couldn’t imagine not working. I am quite thankful that I have the job that I have, and the boost to our family’s income has been quite noticeable. Even thought I’m not making a lot, our regular expenses are more than covered by my husband’s income because it is important to me that we live well below our means. My income is bonus money that we use for travel and investments.
I think that staying at home was the right financial decision for our family. More important than money, however, is the fact that I was there full-time for my kids when they were little. It isn’t the right choice for everyone, but it was definitely the right choice for us.
There’s no single answer to the work or not work question. What has your family done? How has that worked for you? If you could change things, what would you do differently?
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