Friday, February 22, 2008

Weighing Future Financial Options

So, as I mentioned, I was just hired on as a full-time employee at my current job. And, as I've also discussed a few times, I'm pregnant. Therefore, recently my mind has been in overdrive trying to figure out whether I should quit working full-time and stay with the baby, or if I should continue working and put Little L in daycare.

I've crunched the numbers 6 ways to Sunday, and IF finances were the only factor, then I should absolutely continue working full-time. Even with the continued costs of commuting to work and the additional cost of daycare, I would still be contributing a substantial amount to the household income.

But of course, nothing is ever that simple. I mean, if finances were our only consideration, then we definitely shouldn't be having kids! A few weeks ago, I decided that the essential question wasn't what was best financially, but IF we could afford for me to stay home. Based on all of our past conversations, it felt like Keith and I both would prefer that I stay home instead of putting our child in daycare. So if that's what we want, the only question is whether we can afford to do that. If we can, then I should quit. Tentatively, I think we can afford that in the short term. (Assuming that I resume full-time work sometime in the next few years.)

And yet, I'm still wavering. Because the question isn't all financial or completely family-oriented. It's a bit of both. What if I continued working for one more year, and then quit? It's possible that, by that point, we could have paid off our second mortgage and our car loan, leaving us with only our first mortgage and two student loans with very low interest rates. I feel like we would be in a much more secure financial position.

Would that security be worth putting our child in daycare for a year, even if we both would prefer that he/she be raised at home? I'm not villainizing daycare; I'm just saying that, for us personally, we would rather not be forced by circumstances to have others caring for our child much of the time. Daycare provides a valuable, necessary service, but I resent the fact that much of America has no choice but to continue working AND pay for daycare because they need two incomes just to get by. Climbing off my soapbox ...

But I'm not really trying to solve the country's problems. I'm just trying to get a handle on my own. What is going to make the most sense in the long run? I'm sure that, in hindsight, it will be obviously what the right choice at this juncture was. But it's really hard to see, looking forward.


FitGeGe said...

I know you didn't ask for suggestions but I'm going to give one anyway, and whether you choose to read it is up to you. :o) I don't ever want to have kids, but if I did, I don't think that I would want to be miss my first kid's first few months. Can you stay home for the first year or two and then work/put Little L in daycare? By then he or she will need more social interaction anyway.

Of course you'll be paying more in mortgage/car loan interest, but nothing's more important than being there for your first baby's first year.

Okay, that's my unwarranted, unwanted advice. Whatever you and Keith feel in your hearts will be the right decision. You have a little time to ponder, anyway! :o)

Good luck!!

M. Lubbers said...

Actually, I was looking for advice! But I guess I didn't explicitly ask for it—I figured people are always happy to give it;)

I had never thought about the aspect that, as Little L grows, he/she will need more interaction and would benefit more from daycare. That's a good point! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. And the pondering continues ....

Amy Krug said...

Here's my $.02 -- don't think about it till after the baby comes. Having Little L in the world may totally make up your mind for you; you may decide there's no WAY, money or not, that you want to put him/her in daycare. Or you may decide there's no WAY you can stay at home 24/7 caring for him/her. It's usually a lot clearer when you're holding the little bundle than when you're thinking about things theoretically.

M. Lubbers said...

Actually Amy, that's the same advice my boss gave me! I told her that I hadn't made up my mind whether I was going to quit yet ... she said I shouldn't make up my mind. And if anyone at work asked me, I should tell them I would definitely be coming back. And then I'd have 3 months after the baby is born to make up my mind.

So I'm not going to make the final decision until after Little L has appeared. And I think you're right—it will all become clear at that point. But of course, that won't stop me from worrying about it in the meantime!

cat said...

Not that I have great insight/experience here, but I have friends who decided to stay home because the cost of daycare was close to/exceeded their salaries, they couldn't find good daycares, etc. But I also know people who continued to work for sanity's sake. It doesn't hurt to look into your daycare options and make the decision after Little L is here.

Jonathan said...

We have been faced with the same question recently, and decided to try and survive on just my money if we can to give the children more input. Our decision was pretty made for us though by the social services - because we are adopting.

I would like to think we would have done the same anyway.

M. Lubbers said...

It's sometimes astonishing to me how much an adoptive parents' decisions are dictated by the social services system, and how little control the same system exerts over natural parents.

I often think that natural parents could use more vetting or at least rating of their parental abilities and remediation early on in their children's lives.