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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Is your second income worth it?

This summer, my childcare expenses (3 kids in summer camp) are greater than my earnings. I'm working to keep my job rather than to bring home the bacon. But during the school year, when my child care costs are lower, it does pay for me to work.
Does it pay for you to work? If you are part of a couple, deciding whether a second income pays is a calculation you will make numerous times as kids arrive, children age, a spouse goes back to school or the economy changes. Most people work because they think they can't afford not to. Lately, more of us fall into that category. How did we get into this second-income trap?
From huge insurance premiums to higher gas prices, a greater portion of our earnings is being swallowed by the shocking rise in the cost of basic needs. Start doing the math and figure out how much of your household's second paycheck gets absorbed by expenses incurred if both parents work. Don't just assume you can't make it on one income. The Reese family, profiled in my Miami Herald article, have seven kids and live off Sidney Reese's earnings of $5,000 a month (after deductions). They are proof it can be done -- if you don't already have huge debt.
Remember though, give up one paycheck and you give up the family's financial safety net. There's much more to consider than straight math.

2 Comments:

Blogger Amy said...

I object the automatic assumption that we look at only the second income as compared to childcare costs. It would, in my opinion, be far more useful (and fair) to look at the combined income from both parents' jobs as compared to the cost of outside childcare. Then, all options should be put on the table for discussion - with the resultant work solutions tailored to the least costly choice AND to what will make both parents (and the kids) happy and fulfilled.

My husband and I host an online community for parents who share equally in the breadwinning and childraising, and we include a calculator on our website so that couples can do this math. See the 'Toolbox' section of www.equallysharedparenting.com. Perhaps this will be helpful to some of your readers.

2:36 PM  
Blogger JenDawg02 said...

I feel that it is quite a bold statement to assume that the second income is the financial safety net for the family. I would never make a decision to stay home that would dangle my family on a pay-check to pay-check lifestyle. In my opinion, the strain put on a marriage due to financial difficulties can be far more damaging to a family, and specifically the children - especially if it ends in divorce - and may even outweigh the benefits of a SAHM.

On the other hand, we live in a culture where "things" trump family time, the warmth of a home, and the peacefulness created when families aren't stretched between daycare and careers all day only to crash for 8 hours at night in a building called a house. Don't get me wrong. I am a full-time career woman and mother. I am also fortunate enough to have a nanny who lives with us, a housekeeper and a wonderful husband. I am addicted to designer jeans and “things.” While, I have a much better set up than many, I still feel the pull daily between these luxuries (i.e., nanny, housekeeper, jeans, etc.) and the one-on-one time I could be spending with my daughter, the warmth I could create in my home, and the fact that my husband could get the best of me every single day instead of what is left at the end of a busy workday, play time, dinner, bath time, bedtime, etc....you can’t put a price on that – not even a 6-figure income.

4:36 PM  

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