Editor's Note: Do you have a question about your finances? Financial columnist Deborah Nayrocker will be answering selected readers' questions in her monthly column. To submit your question, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have any guidelines to help a mother decide if it is beneficial financially to go back to work once her child/children go to preschool or kindergarten?
As a parent, you probably already know what kind of lifestyle you want for you and your family as your children are growing up.
Couples need to discuss what they want for their family. It's up to the parents to come to an agreement on what's truly important and how they can best achieve this for their family.
Some mothers think they won't be able to pay the bills if they don't work outside the home. Parents often forget about the extra expenses when they both work and when they have children who need to be looked after.
There are many evenings of take out food due to time constraints or exhaustion. Hundreds of dollars are spent on upgrading the wardrobe for work. Child care costs can add up to thousands of dollars every year.
You'll want to crunch the numbers to find what you will be realistically earning per month.
Second Income Worksheet
Gross Income __________
Estimated taxes __________
Deductions (Social Security, etc.) __________
Net Spendable Income __________
Second Income Expenses:
Transportation (Gas, parking, etc.) __________
Child care __________
Lunches at work, snacks, drinks __________
Dining out (instead of home cooking) __________
Additional work expenses __________
Total Expenses _______
Net Monthly Income __________
Although we may think it is difficult to live on one income, it can be manageable. A reader, T.P., wrote me and explained how he and his wife have lived well on his income. He writes:
"[We have] lived frugally on one income, driving one car, carpooling for everything (work, extracurricular activities, etc.), biking or walking. We are smart shoppers, we garden, and my wife Shelley bakes a lot from scratch. She sews and is a good financial manager. We bought a house with sufficient space for a lot less than what the banks wanted to lend us and thus have been mortgage free for more than ten years. We have been able to put all three of our children through their first college degree, been able to give away lots of money to causes and people we believe in, and even were able to give younger couples interest-free loans."
T.P. is deeply convinced that we have bought into the wrong dream. He says, "The fact that Christians are in the same kind of [financial] trouble as the average Americans speaks volumes, and we have become â of the world.'"
This reader and his wife are examples of many families who are living contentedly on one income. Not only have they been able to live well. Having been thrifty and smart with money, they have been generous with others.
These one-income families have chosen to not live on credit. They have chosen to not buy the biggest or the most expensive things, such as cars or houses. They have a huge advantage when times get leaner and adjustments need to be made.
Deborah Nayrocker writes on personal money management topics, showing others how to take control of their financial future. An award-winning writer, she is the author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and Bible study Living a Balanced Financial Life. Her Web site is www.artofdebt-freeliving.com.