February 4, 2007

Running The Numbers On At-Home Parenting

Pitt alum Larry Fitzgerald goes for a first down on the Cardinals, 8/06 via panthersinthepros

Pitt fan Caleb has been at-home dadding for going on six years now, and when they started thinking of him going back to work, he ran some numbers.

Factored in:

  • the cost of childcare for two kids
  • the marginal tax rate
  • explaining the last five years on the resume
  • the equivalent net hourly wage he'd earn
  • watching SportsCenter when it's light outside
  • missing "umpteen" episodes of Oobi on the Tivo each week

    Not factored in:

  • the cost of commuting
  • the cost of all the new Dockers he'd have to buy
  • all those Quizno's sandwiches for team lunches
  • the ineffable joy of hearing proper pronoun use and verb conjugation.

    I don't know, it's really close. I think we need to bring out the chains.

    The Two-Income Trap [hail2pitt.org]

  • 9 Comments

    Believe us we have worked the math and then some which is why Dad has stayed home since the end of 01.
    A few other points to consider. Is the stay at home parent happy? Happiness must factor into the equation. After 5-6 years or so the stay at home person may be bored, depressed or generally unchallenged.

    Would going back to work allow the other spouse to stay home and spend more time with the children? That has to figure somewhere in there also.

    Obviously, if one spouse makes significant more then the other the equations may differ.

    For example if adding one persons full time job would mean allowing the other to cut back by only one shift a month it may not be worth it.
    However, on the flip side, if partner A wants to go back to work and the expenses of returning to work can be covered by spouse B adding one shift or two. Whats the harm.

    PS If you figure out how to explain your 5 year absence let me know. I'm curious to know how that goes over in the "macho" corporate world.

    It's funny this should show up right now. My wife and I have been running the numbers as well. In our case it was to see if she could cut back at work a little in order to be with the kids more. The problem in our case is that with what we would lose in her substantial salary by dropping a day off her schedule I would have to work a full week to make it up. And we can't justify that.

    It is curious to me that more two-income families don't really run the numbers. I think that in many cases it would come close to a wash financially to have one of them stay home with the kids. And if the one that stays has any skills in the kitchen the family would eat better and cheaper as well.

    Wait. I work, and I get to watch SportsCenter at work... over and over and over and over and over and over...

    [I thought the whole point of SC was that it ran over and over and over and over... -ed.]

    I guess that guy has a point. If it was just day care for your children that eat up most of your extra income it's definitely not worth going to work. If the extra money is needed to pay for some kind of pre-school instead of plain day care then things look differently, no?

    In my case wife and I both work. I wish we would only pay the $1500/mo for two children as that guy but we end up with $1500 for school for the older one and $1800 for a nanny for the younger one. Short-term wise every single penny (and some more) my wife earns will be eaten up.

    Long-term, though, we will end up with much more money once the kids are in public school. Sure, it's going to take a few more years, but you have to start somewhere.

    [sort of a job vs career consideration. I would think any full-time parent should be keeping future employability on their radar, whether in terms of networking, industry involvement, skills maintenance, certification, &c., if only to get a leg up on these kinds of difficult tradeoff exercises when they come up again. If you're always trading off childcare against a minimum wage+ job, it's gonna stay rough -ed.]

    While I agree with most of what this guys says (we ran the numbers when I went back to work after maternity leave and I was netting about $300-400 a month after taxes, nanny, etc.) I went back for the benefits. If the working parent doesn't have family health insurance from work it can tilt the scales in a big way.

    I am lucky that we never really had to consider this at all. When Monster was born, my husband was on a full scholarship at school, so i stayed home with my awesome Canadian EI maternity leave. Now that he is making a decent wage, i am still at home (5.5 years later) because honestly, Tim Hortons may pay $10/hr but our child care would eat up somewhere in the neighborhood of $1300 for 2 kids. After tax, my income would be about $250 less than that.

    I am starting my second stay at home dad tour. My wife makes twice as much as I do and I was laid off in 2004. So kind of a forced hand. I have worked some freelance jobs for extended periods during the first year of my second child's life, and we have found it to be a financial wash. Just paying to keep me in the game. The big thing for me though is I feel like a failure as a SAHD. When I go to the playground or library book readings or even just a walk around the neighborhood, I am usually the only dad with a child. Women and babies everywhere. Moms and Nannies. Women who have husbands that are able to support them as stay at home moms or both parents have jobs and pay a nanny, ergo the dad is employed and not a failure. That's just the way I feel. I do try to appreciate the blessing of seeing my children grow up and spend time with them, but I feel like my wife is more deserving of that honor if it has to be just one of us and I cannot give her that.

    Jeff...I was thinking the same thing. If we were to have someone stay home it would make more sense for me (dad) since my wife could change jobs and easily appraoch 6 figures if she played her cards right and we could probably do it. In a lot of ways I feel like I would be taking away something from my wife. I adore my little boy more than the anything but I think it would "mean" so much more to her.

    My husband and I are having this same debate right now. We're having our first child in May, and while we too benefit from that 'awesome Canadian EI' during the one-year leave that we're entitled to, the day-care situation is so tight in our city that we pretty much have to have our back-to-work (or not) game plan, um, now. It's definitely not an easy decision to make, as there are compelling points to be made in all directions. It's quite possible that he would end up being the stay-at-home parent, possibly self-employed part-time, while I get back into the corporate game after my maternity leave. We'll see!

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