Monday, May 15, 2006

Too Poor To Work

When some people talk of stay-at-home-moms, they either think we're:
  • incredibly lucky
  • incredibly wealthy
  • both

I cannot recount how many times I've received how nice as a response when I answer inquiries about my career with I'm a sahm. Usually, I get this response from other moms who work but wish that they could stay at home, too. It is nice to have a choice about whether to work or not (big props to Madhubby for that one) but, really, when it comes down to it: We're too poor for me not to stay at home. Working outside the home would actually cost us money.

Let's consider, childcare for both my children at the Lutheran church is $1000/mo. (the church is the cheapest childcare around and is only used for discussion purposes since I'm a heathen). I could furnish my entire house for that amount! It would be thrift store furniture but, still, you get the point. I've bemoaned the preschool admissions game before so no need to rehash it here. I am also a staunch believer that the lack of quality programs contributes directly to the exorbitant cost of childcare. At least in my area.

Let's do the math so my three readers can know exactly how poor I am. In my last position, I brought home $2000/mo. Okay. Not too terrible for a fresh-faced college grad. Lop off 50% right off the top for childcare. Looking okay, still. Alright, my commute was sixty miles per day, but gas was cheaper then so I probably filled up my car once every three days. So....$50/week for gas. What does that leave? Um....$800/mo. Not too shabby. New clothes from Ann Taylor (150/mo), lunches out ($75/mo) and money spent keeping my hair looking tight ($300/mo). That leaves me with about $275. Wow. A far cry from the $2000 I started with. Oh, wait. My car payment and insurance is $500, so I'm actually $225 in the negative.

It just doesn't add up from a practical, budget conscious standpoint. Being at home means I cook a lot of our meals and I hardly ever need new clothes. And that $300 hairstyle? I gave it up because it was simply too expensive. I am definitely lucky to be at home with the children while they're small but luck is only a small part of it. I think if a lot of moms who have SAHM envy would examine their own budgets, they would realize that staying at home is completely doable. Sure, there are some compromises but I've been here for every first word, first step and first smile. Those things bring me more riches than any paycheck ever could.

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