Would it Pay for You to Return to Work?

baby in a briefcase

My kids are now in school full time, as are many of my friends’ children.  I have worked from home for the past nine years. It works well for us: I like the hours, I can volunteer in the classroom, I can attend PTA meetings and go to the doctor’s office or a hair appointment without having to drag along children who really don’t care about being there.

But now, along with many of my friends whose children are also now in school  full time, I have begun to ponder returning to work full time. On the surface it seems like it would make financial sense. I’d have a full time income. We’d have additional insurance. I’d have a steady paycheck.

At the same time I’ve been talking to my friends who have returned to work, or to those who are considering the same thing, and one topic always creeps – no, stomps! – into the conversation:

Will it really pay off financially if I return to work?

I hadn’t thought much about this until I spoke to a friend who was not a teacher. She would return to work all year round, and her hours would not be the same as her kids since she wouldn’t be working in a school situation. Here are a few things she noted when we talked:

Childcare after school, and possibly for half an hour before, would be a requirement. This meant money out for someone to watch the kidlets while she was at meetings or working those two to three hours after school ended.

Childcare in the summer would be a requirement. My degree is in education. As a teacher, I would have summers off with the kids. She wouldn’t. She would have to pay for someone to watch her children while she was in work those two months each summer.

She’d need an entirely new wardrobe. Let’s face it, I don’t know about YOU but I have spent many years now in yoga pants or blue jeans – at least for the most part. It’s just more comfortable when you are chasing kids or scrubbing the floors. My friend is the same. Since her job is in a business field, she would require a different wardrobe. She’s been out of the workforce for almost ten years and has since gotten rid of her clothes.

She would incur commute expenses. We live in a small town; she’d probably commute to the larger city, one hour each way. Time would be a factor, but so would gas. At $3.50 or more per gallon for gas, the amount of money she’d sink into her car (not to mention oil changes, tire rotations, and wear and tear on the car) would be enormous.

These are all things I hadn’t thought about when it came to other working parents. Of course it depends on many factors, such as: potential pay for the job, hours to work, age of children, location of the job, and so on. In some cases, the added expenses could certainly create a dent in any potential paycheck; so much of a dent, perhaps, that the payoff for returning to work wouldn’t be worth it.

What about your family? Is there a financial balance you’ve found in returning to work full time? Or have you avoided a return because the balance isn’t there?

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What do you think?

Would it Pay for You to Return to Work?

Kathy Murdock works as a full time writer and web designer. Recently planted in the middle of the deep south from the busy streets of Los Angeles, when she's not coding Wordpress websites or writing about women in business and thrifty motherhood, Kathy spends time photographing alligators, playing with her family, and running. ... More

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2 comments

  1. Member says:

    I’m in the same place as Grace. I would sacrifice a lot of things to stay home but my husband won’t part with them because he feels entitled to them since he worked for them

  2. Grace says:

    i ask myself these questions constantly— my spouse tells me just find a job then we’ll work out the logistics but my mind does not work that way… in my mind i look at what my pay would be after the cost of childcare…..

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