Is it better to pay for daycare or become a stay-at-home mom?

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DENVER -- Parents know childcare isn’t cheap.

It's more expensive in Colorado than other states.  The average cost is more than some college tuition.

That’s one reason many parents struggle with a big question: Is it worth it to continue working?

We asked three Colorado moms about becoming a stay-at-home mom or paying for childcare.

Sarah Beth told us she quit her job because her daycare costs were virtually cancelling out her paycheck. Now she teaches belly dancing with her baby strapped to her chest.

She’s glad she can still contribute to her family income in some way.

“It was looking like a huge negative in my pocket," Beth said. "I would basically be working to pay for maybe half a day of daycare with tips from waiting tables.”

Then, there’s Robyn Nolan, a doctor who loves her work but struggles with the balance.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand that those of us who go back to work, who have our kids in daycare…have as much heartache,” said Nolan. “In medicine, if you are out for any significant period of time, definitely if you’re out more than a year, they consider you haven’t kept up on your training and it’s hard to find a job.”

Our third mom, Krista Schulte, also worked in the medical field before she decided to be a stay-at-home mom.

“You need to just forget about what the rest of the world is going to think about your decision and think about your family’s needs,” Schulte said.

Three different moms – three very different situations. We asked our career coach, Chrissy Sivique of EatYourCareer.com, how to tackle this huge life decision.

“You start off, you have a $50,000 a year income. Let’s say you can save $20,000 a year in work expenses. Well, you still have $30,000 that you’d be contributing to the family. So, you need to think, 'What’s going to bring more satisfaction for my life?'” Sivique said.

Here are key questions to ask: Do you love your work outside the home, or is stay at home parent your dream job? Can you easily reenter your profession later? Do you have a backup plan? Can you run a business from home or work on a freelance basis?

You can also check out stay-at-home calculators, like this one from “Parents.”
You can plug in every detail of your financial situation to get a true picture of how your family could operate on one income.

There could also be unexpected savings. For instance, losing an income may push your family into a lower tax bracket, or your car insurance premium may drop without a commute.

The bottom line is, we all get paid in different currency.

For some, it’s money or career satisfaction.  For others, it’s time with family or flexibility.

Once you’re honest about your currency, you and your family have the best chance at happiness and security that works for you.

4 comments

  • Chris.

    If you can’t afford to have children, then you have no right complaining about it. Maybe your child does not need Gap attire, maybe you don’t need to go out and eat prime rib all week, maybe you don’t need to drive that BMW. Let’s tell the whole story instead and educate people what the cost of raising children is. Oops, TOO LATE!

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