A salary of $30K nets approximately $2.1K/month after taxes. The national average cost of daycare is about $970 (Source: What You’ll Spend on Daycare). However, if you live in a metro-area (or large city), expenses could be up to $2K/month (in case you’re wondering, that leaves you with barely $100/month and no free time). But, for argument’s sake, let’s say it’s $970. So far, your expenses look like this:
$2,100 Monthly Salary – $970 Child care = $1,130 cash
Not too bad, right? You could pay a few bills with the left over $13,560 a year, right? Oh, wait, are you already starting to feel like you wouldn’t be willing to work your job for a measly $13K? Don’t worry. It gets better. And by better I mean life gets more expensive.
So, basically, you can keep the $13K for bills or savings if you live across the street from work, do not need to purchase anything for work ever, and you pack food daily, making any food consumed at work a “grocery” expense. Are you with me? Ok, because we’re in for some more math.
Let’s assume your monthly transportation expenses fall in line with the average, auto-dependent commute. On average, 19% of an employee’s salary goes to transportation costs (Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation Federal Highway Administration). So, $30K (yeah, not your salary after daycare, but your salary) x 0.19 (or 19%) = $5,700 in transportation costs annually.
$13,560 – $5,700 = $7,860.
$7,860 and all you’ve done is gone to and from work, and put your child in daycare.
Now, let’s assume you like coffee. Or donuts. Or eating lunch. And let’s be realistic about the fact that you have an infant at home (which means you probably do not have the time or energy to commit to packing lunch and snacks every day. Or even go grocery shopping). But, I’ll be modest about it. Let’s say you buy one latte a week, and you also purchase lunch from a restaurant/bistro once a week. Let’s say the latte costs $3.50, and lunch costs around $12.
$3.50 x 4 = $14/month in weekly caffeine splurge.
$12 x 4 = $48/month in treating yourself to lunch.
($14 monthly latte budget + $48 lunch budget) x 12 months in a year = $744 a year to keep your sanity.
$7,860 – $744 = $7,116 left (Well, for now. We’re not done yet.)
Since you just had a baby, you’re probably going to need some new professional attire. If you’re one of those lucky girls who snaps right back into shape, then you can skip this section. (Don’t worry. The math will still work in the end.)
But, for those of you with wider hips, bigger boobs, and a midsection that needs disguising, you’re going to need some new clothes. Also, who doesn’t want new clothes? Let’s be real. No matter what, you’re probably going to buy a few new things for your wardrobe. And, surprise, surprise! These things cost money (which is why you went back to work, right? Hmmm…).
Two new bras at a modest $30/each = $60
Three pairs of pants, purchased on sale at $25/each = $75
Five shirts, on sale, $15/each = $75
Various accessories purchased on a strict (but realistic) budget of $40.
$60 + ($75 x 2) + $40 = $250. And, yeah, you didn’t even get that much. But, you know the drill. Let’s deduct this cost from $7,116.
$7,116 – $250 = $6,866.
By now, the depression has probably begun to set root. If a salary of $30K nets only a little over $6.8K on an extremely modest budget, how are you supposed to afford your life anymore? And, is it really worth the 9-5, Monday-Friday struggle? And all that time away from your baby? There has to be a better way, right? Right. Yes, you read that correctly: there is a better way.
But it is going to involve a little compromise and sacrifice. Because nothing in life is free (clearly).
What can you do, you ask? Don’t worry. I’m not going to suggest some pyramid scheme or virtually impossible work from home career. But, I am going to suggest that your husband babysits. On the weekends. And maybe one or two nights a week.
If $6,866/year is the difference between maintaining your lifestyle vs. going into debt, then you’re going to need that extra cash. Let’s be extremely modest about how you’re going to obtain that money. And, let’s round up and assume you’d like to make $10,000 a year (before taxes. Oh, yeah. You forgot about those, didn’t you?).
And, let’s be honest about the state of the U.S. economy (it still sucks, in case you were wondering). And, let’s assume you don’t get some sort of high paying, flexible hours job. You just get a regular old jobby-job for $7.25/hour (that’s the current Federal Minimum Wage).
Divide $10K by $7.25 and round up to 1,380. That’s how many hours per year you need to work at minimum wage to net $10K before taxes. Divide 1,380 by 52 weeks per year. Round up again, and you get 27 hours per week that you must work (minimum) to make $10K. You work two 8-hour shifts on the weekends, and two 5.5 hour shifts (likely 6 scheduled hours) during the week. Voila. 27 hours.
How does this make sense? Well, since your husband/significant other is taking care of the childcare expense, you don’t have to deduct that. Chances are, your new job is going to involve a uniform that is an expense of little-to-nothing. Since you’ll be home all week during the day, you should be able to schedule some sort of grocery trip (or you can do it with husband and baby after one of your weekend shifts), meaning you can pick up snacks and lunch to pack. And, basically, by being a modest, conservative spender, you’ll maximize your (minuscule) income and (limited) time.
Does this really help? Well, who knows? The real questions are: What is your job really worth to you? Do you need an extra $6.8K/year (or $572/month)? And do you honestly believe working a 9-5 is going to give you the ability to sleep (please. We all know your baby isn’t STTN)?
When making the decision to stay at home or suit up, be realistic. Do the math. It will save you a lot of stress. And, in some cases, it will clear your conscience. Because, if you make less than $30K (like, $6.8K less than that, or approximately $23K), going to work at all might be costing you money.
And, maybe – just maybe – staying at home could be your reality after all.
Mrs. Bottlesoup concentrated in Economics during her undergrad. But, she earned her degree in English, which is how she made this article interesting and informative. And, this disclaimer isn’t here to brag: it’s to inform you of my (pretty limited) credentials. If the mathematical information above doesn’t add up, or if you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on this post. As always, thanks for reading!