Why I Became a Work-From-Home Mom (& What to Consider if You Aim to Do the Same)

working-from-home-costs

In August I celebrated my one-year anniversary of being a work-at-home mother. I was a career businesswoman before I graduated college. And I’ve spent the last 10 years working in the financial field, with all of its rigors and stresses. By the time I became pregnant with our third child, the bough was breaking. I realized there was no way I could manage two school-aged kids and a newborn, and work full-time in a crazy stressful financial career.

When I was five months pregnant, I left the corporate circus and focused on home. And frankly, I never looked back! Such a radical move promotes cries of “you’re crazy” or “she’s trying to be one of those New Age, stay-at-home, home-schooling mamas!”

Well, yes and no. Leaving the full-time workforce was certainly an ambitious endeavor, but I chose to prioritize how I spent my time devoting it to what best served my legacy. I placed myself and my family in the top position on my list of priorities. And in doing so, I transformed the trajectory of our lives from the mundane to something more special. Of course, a lot went into making that decision. Here’s what I considered before, during and after the switch.

The Costs of Working From Home

First, it all came down to finances. How does a five-person family go from living on two full-time incomes to surviving on one? We made frugal changes, and found ways to supplement our income with me working from home. If you can comfortably afford to be a stay-at-home mom, then, by all means, that is the choice I would highly recommend.

Just keep in mind that the role of a stay-at-home means being at work 24/7. There is no off time, no shift end, no vacation and no sick time. When you are that present and available to the needs of your household, the role of mothering (or fathering) takes on a level of high demand like never before. And what really goes without saying is … it is hard! It’s so hard that I would ward any parent away from adding the work-from-home facet to their life unless they feel they can make it work.

Another Major Decision

While working from home was the right decision, when it came to homeschooling my children, I had to give an emphatic “no.” Don’t get me wrong, this is a noble endeavor. But like becoming a teacher, it is a role one should never enter into lightly. Even though for many children their earliest lessons are learned from their parents, being a good caretaker does not equate to being a good teacher. A good teacher is marked by long-suffering patience, the likes of which I am lacking.

The Hidden Costs of Free Public School

Still, if you’re wrestling with the decision, there are some pros to homeschooling that you may want to consider. Deciding to keep your kids in public school also comes with its own set of costs, and not all of them are physical out-of-pocket ones. Here’s a list of some loosely estimated public school costs, garnered from my personal experience.

  • In New York state, 62% of your property taxes goes toward school purposes. New York property taxes range by location from an estimated $3,000 to $20,000 and up. (In other words, you’re paying for local public schools whether you send your child there or not.)
  • Daily school meal programs:
    • Lunch – $2.50+ per day = $450 in a 180-day school year
    • Breakfast — $2.00+ per day = $360 in a 180-day school year
  • School supplies (an estimated $100)
  • Parent Teacher Association Membership and class party funds (an estimated $35)
  • Back-to-school clothes (an estimated $200)
  • Clubs and after-school programs (an estimated $175 and up)
  • Various extras throughout the year (an estimated $200)
  • Time lost with your children. The time spent at school is almost as long as the time spent each day at a full-time job, which is the majority of our days (priceless)

Homeschooling can eliminate or significantly decrease many of those listed expenses (aside from the property taxes, of course). You’ll also get to structure your lesson plans. If your student (i.e., child) is slow at any subject, you can go at their pace to make sure they understand the lesson.

All of these points sell me on homeschooling, and I have considered it in the past and even as recently as last month. But again, I arrived at the conclusion that it’s not the best course for our family at this time (maybe I’ll do it in the future). I love being at home and available to help supplement (or even correct) the lessons my children are learning at school. This work-from-home schedule allows me to do that, along with forego childcare costs and not miss important milestones.

The point is, at the end of the day, it is up to you. There are plenty of options for your child’s education. Do your due diligence when researching and choose the option that works best for your family.

(Editor’s Note: Staying on top of your credit can help you work toward your financial goals and stay out of debt. You can view two of your credit scores, updated every two weeks, for free on Credit.com.)

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

Image: monkeybusinessimages

The post Why I Became a Work-From-Home Mom (& What to Consider if You Aim to Do the Same) appeared first on Credit.com.

Going Broke Because Your Kid Plays Travel Soccer (or Some Other Absurdly Expensive Activity)? Here’s How to Save

save_on_child_expenses

Getting your kids involved in extracurricular activities helps them both socially and physically. It teaches them the importance of teamwork and discipline. They have an opportunity to develop skills and learn self-confidence.

While these are great for kids and often activities parents encourage, they can be a bit taxing on the wallet. There are ways to save money on both fees and even equipment and items needed for participation.

Saving Money on Fees

Join School Activities  

Many times, the events sponsored by the school have little-to-no fees at all. These are a great way to get to know kids in the school, with whom children may not have other classes.

Register Early

The saying goes “The early bird gets the worm.” So is the case if you get your child registered early. Many programs offer a discount of upwards of 30% if you sign up early.

Check Out Community Centers/City Groups

Were we live, there is a parks and recreation department. This group puts together classes and sports teams. The idea is not to compete to win, but rather, to teach and educate kids on the principals of the game. It also allows kids to explore ideas and showcase talents they may not have a chance to use otherwise. The cost to join is often less than high-end or competitive leagues and is the perfect way to introduce your child to something new.

Barter

If you know dance, you might be able to volunteer to help out at your daughter’s dance class in return for reduced lesson fees. You might even find a way to help them advertise for free, help with the front desk or other ways to get a discount on lessons for your child.

Try it First

Before you commit to a contract, check to see if your child can try a class or two first. Once you and your child get a feel for the class and the instructors, you will feel better about making the financial commitment.

Saving Money on Equipment

Check Out Second-Hand Stores

If you need to purchase any type of sporting equipment, stores such as Play It Again Sports, are the perfect way to save money.  Since kids tend to lose interest fast, this allows you a way to afford the purchase, without too much investment. In addition, you can turn around and sell items your child no longer uses.

Ask a Friend or Family Member

Check around with other friends and neighbors who may have children who have played the same sport. They might find the ballet slippers are sitting at the bottom of their daughter’s closet and might just give them to you.

My daughter wanted to learn to play the fiddle, and so we were able to get my aunt’s sent to us and just paid to get it restrung (and for a new bow).

Check Online Marketplaces or Auction Sites

You can find just about any type of equipment needed for any sport or activity on online auction or classifieds sites. From baseball bats to tap shoes, you can often find what you need at a discount. When you are done, you can also use these same sites to sell your own items.

Rent Items

Don’t necessarily rush out and purchase a brand new instrument for your child’s band lessons. Look to rent one for a few months to ensure it is something your child really wants to do.

Getting your child involved in extracurricular activities is a way to help them grow and develop skills they will need later in life. However, don’t allow yourself to get so caught up that you end up spending more than your budget allows. By taking a frugal approach, you’re teaching them good money habits.

[Editor’s Note: You can see how your debt levels are affecting your credit by using Credit.com’s free credit report card, and by pulling your free annual credit reports each year at AnnualCreditReport.com.]

Image: majorosl

The post Going Broke Because Your Kid Plays Travel Soccer (or Some Other Absurdly Expensive Activity)? Here’s How to Save appeared first on Credit.com.