To Work or Not to Work? The Financial Perspective

Last week I talked about the personal side of our decision for me to leave my full-time job and become a stay-at-home parent. Today I’m going to shed some light on the financial side of the decision.

I know I mentioned this last week but I just want to be clear that it was the combination of the personal and financial factors that created the perfect equation for me to stay home. Had my personal life felt a little bit more balanced I would have made a different decision. Likewise if the financial balance had been a little bit different I may also have made a different decision.

Our initial plan was for me to generate at least some part-time income. When I left my full-time job I was partway through taking my personal trainers course.  Unfortunately the timing of that opportunity just wasn’t good and it didn’t really work out, but it was a great learning experience.

Now I am helping out in my Hubby’s home based business while our daughter is at preschool and honestly I find that more fulfilling. (I actually wrote a series of posts for his blog last week about what it’s like to be married to an entrepreneur you can check it out here.) By taking over some of the day-to-day tasks he would otherwise have to keep up with I have been able to free up more profitable time in his day. So while I don’t necessarily earn a direct income it does have a significant affect on the bottom line in our household. Plus we know a few things about ourselves: We LOVE to work together, we make a GREAT team, and I LOVE business growth and development so for us it works really well.

Now onto the meat of the discussion.

As I’ve mentioned before when I finally gave my notice at my previous job it wasn’t something I did lightly (I actually cried while I was talking to the owners). I had been employed there for 8 years and my employers and co-workers had become like family to me. I was working in a job that I was great at and I generally enjoyed it. BUT our family was suffering and I felt stressed out all the time as I tried unsuccessfully to balance my  work and home life.

I’ve also chronicled along the way we have been on a financial journey over the last couple years to get thing shaped up around here and to plan for our futures. After paying off our debts we started to evaluate what it was really COSTING us for me to work. We started looking at what the cost vs. savings would be if I came home full time. Once we added it all up – vehicle costs, daycare costs, lost work time for my husband, family stress, etc.I was really contributing very little to the bottom line. (Please don’t read this as a complaint about my wage, I was fairly paid, but life costs money and these were things we were seriously looking at.)

The cost of me working looked something like this:

  • Gas $400-500/month depending on season/prices
  • Car ins $200/month
  • Vehicle maintenance $75-100/month (if you break down our annual spending to a monthly number)
  • Car Payment $400/month (this number went away because we PAID IT OFF!)
  • Daycare $700/month – for 4 days/week b/c I worked Saturdays and my Hubby had E then.

When you add those things up and subtract them from my monthly earnings the remaining balance really wasn’t much. It was actually little enough that my husband looked at it and said that if he could re-claim the 1-2 hours a day of office time he lost between picking our daughter up from daycare and me getting home from work he could make up my monthly disposable income in a week. Yup, one week.

I understand that not all of those numbers went away with me staying home (obviously we still own a car so need gas/insurance/maintenance) but they now look a little more like this:

  • Gas $150-175/month (and sometimes less)
  • Insurance $120/month
  • Vehicle Maintenance $25-50/month (because we literally have 1/4 of the services in a year to worry about)
  • Daycare $0

I know, it’s a pretty startling difference isn’t it! From $1375 – $1500 (not counting the car payment) going out to keep me at work, vs. $295-$345 for me to be home. We cut more than $1000 from our monthly expenses by keeping me home. CRAZY.

Realistically it wasn’t just the numbers, and I would never suggest you make this type of decision solely based on the finances of the equation.

Lost work time for my Hubby was also a big factor in the financial side of the decision. We literally could not find a daycare that was open late enough for me to do the drop off AND pick up. I dropped E off at 8 everyday (meaning I left home between 7:30 & 7:45) and he picked her up around 4:30. I got home around 6. When we started honestly evaluating his lost time everyday he was loosing 1-2 hours per day and really only spending about 6-6.5 hours in his office. As I mentioned above having him in the office for a full 8 hours a day made a big difference in what he could earn, and my wage simply didn’t compete with his.

We also had to consider that by having me leave my full-time position we were loosing our extended medical benefits (things like prescriptions, dental, chiropractic, physio, pretty much anything that isn’t a direct trip to the Dr. or Hospital). And should we choose to have more kids (which lone & behold I was knocked up 2 months later) we were walking away from the option of cashing in on Canada’s awesome Maternity Leave benefits.

After considering all of these things in our financial equation and putting it together with the personal aspect of the decision it was still clear to us that it was time for me to come home.  After consulting with a trusted outside source to make sure we weren’t making a rash or short sighted decision we pulled the trigger.

Now you ask, do I miss working? Truthfully, No. Not. At. All.

This was surprising for me because I found my job fulfilling. I thought I would really miss it. As it turns out I feel like our life is so much more balanced. There have been some growing pains in the process, but life around here is better for it. I would make the same decision again today if I had to do it over.


Photo Credit: <a href=””>rick</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

About the author cynthiamchale

If you've found this page it was probably by accident, and if you've chosen to read it anyway, well thank you. Let me tell you a bit about myself so maybe you'll understand a bit of where I'm coming from. I'm a wife and full-time Mommy. I can be blunt, and am usually opinionated, I love to knit, crochet, whitewater kayak, run, make bread, and spend time with my friends and family. I promise that my personal blog will be one of the most random collections of posts in existence because the whole point is for me to have an outlet for the things that are running around in my head, and maybe you'll be entertained in the process. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy!

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  1. Just had to briefly chime in to share your daycare frustrations! We are lucky enough to have family nearby for childcare, but don’t know how people get by otherwise in our type of job. We both have office jobs that run 9-6 and whenever I’ve looked for daycare options, the hours never seem to line up at all! So frustrating!!!


    1. It’s so true! It always seems like they open really early – some as early as 6 or 7 but close by 5 or 5:30. Because we have no family close by we were lucky to have one of us working from home I don’t know how we would have worked it out otherwise. It was hard enough to get E into care at 12 months as it was. After having my initial daycare arrangements fall through just before my maternity leave ended I finally found a daycare with space for an “infant” the day before I went back to work and even then my hubby ended up taking a month off because the space wasn’t available for a month. We ADORED the lady and her daughter and loved having E there with them, but when they moved we were back to square one. E was about 2 1/2 then so we put her in group care and the hours worked better but it’s not the same environment as having your child in someone’s home.


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