Whether you are staying home with the kids, working at home or doing the day care drop-off each day, there are financial and emotional challenges with each. Balancing your checkbook according to your lifestyle is never an easy task. Here’s what women have to say about how they make it work.
In this day and age, there are so many more choices for women in or out of the workforce (thank goodness!). With these choices come many things to think about regarding your family and your finances. Here’s the good, the bad and the budget-stretching of each financial choice.
The stay-at-home mom
Deciding to stay at home with the kids as they grow is, no doubt, the best choice for some families. But in exchange for extra time with the kids there are often financial sacrifices to be made. Some women feel comfortable in this financial situation right from the get-go, but some women admit feeling like they are not contributing and they have to ask their husband for money when they were once financially independent. Anna Luther of My Life and Kids says, “We were living on my husband’s salary anyways, so when I quit my job, I didn’t think that it would feel any different. But all of a sudden, I didn’t have my own checking account. I had to buy his presents with ‘his’ money (even though it’s ‘our’ money). I think I really didn’t expect the change in my thoughts about money. It had ALWAYS been ‘ours.’ But all of a sudden, it really felt like ‘his.’ That surprised me.”
The work-at-home mom
The decision to work at home seems like an easy one to make. You get the best of both worlds, right? Time with your kids and an opportunity to contribute to the family finances. But it’s not that simple. In order to work you have to have time without your children, and the discipline to put work first when necessary. The financial adjustment from working full time out of the house to working whenever possible at home can be difficult but worth it, according to Katie Hurley, a child, adolescent, and family psychotherapist at Practical Parenting. “Being a work at home mom requires endless patience, strong organizational skills and a really good babysitter. You just never know how the day will go, but I wouldn’t trade it. I haven’t missed a milestone yet and, for me, you just can’t put a price on that.”
The career mom
Many women juggle the role of motherhood and career day in and day out. The responsibility and logistics of each can be tough. Keisha Beckford of Mom’s New Stage shares her experience, “I teach dance part time during the day at a college, but as a mom had to give up all my evening teaching at a studio, cutting my income by a third. Since my college teaching is some mornings and some afternoons, we have to do private preschool for two kids, which is killing us. Free half-day preschool does nothing for a large segment of working parents. Obviously my mani-pedi quotient and wardrobe are way down, and our yearly trip to the Caribbean is a memory.”
No matter what your life path, balancing family, finances and time for fun is a challenge. As a mother you may put pressure on yourself to be everything for everyone while also counting your pennies. The best you can do is chose the path that makes you and your family happy and commit to a financial plan that will make it work for the year ahead.