Financial Feud: Paying for daycare vs. Quitting to care for a kid

Financial Feud

Submit Your Feud NOW!

Powered by the Public Insight Network

In Dispute:

$1,200 - $1,500 a month

The Argument:

Kyle

I want to quit my job so I can take care of my daughter and avoid paying for daycare, but my husband wants me to keep working. He says we need my paycheck to pay the bills. I say that by the time we pay for daycare ($1,200 - $1,500 a month) and gas for my commute, I might as well not go to work at all. AM I RIGHT?

Expert Opinion:

Financial Feud

Submit Your Feud NOW!

Kyle

The Argument:

Have you seen the cost of daycare lately?!

Ever since I went back to work in March, my mother has been looking after our infant daughter. However, we just found out that she and my father are being transferred to Seattle soon, so we are going to have to find a childcare alternative.

Based on our research so far, it looks like monthly daycare could cost us more than our mortgage -- about twice as much a month. That amounts to 80 percent of my paycheck. If you factor in gas for my commute and other incidentals of working, I’d be left with about $100 at the end of each month. I don't think that's enough to justify having someone else raise our daughter.

My husband argues that we need my paycheck to pay for our car payment, mortgage, etc. My company also offers much better healthcare than his. Plus, he says he's worried about me leaving the workforce and not being able to further my career.

We have until September to come up with a solution, and at this point, we're hoping we win the lotto before then.

In some parts of the country, putting a child through daycare can cost more than sending them to college. That's according to a report by Child Care Aware of America. The study found that annual childcare fees amount to $15,000 in some states. That means it could be cheaper to enroll your 4-year-old in a four year public college than daycare.

In North Carolina, where Kyle and David live, parents pay more than 12 percent of the state median income for childcare.

When you start to weigh those prices against a weekly paycheck, sometimes staying at home to take care of your kids makes sense.

But according to Liz Weston, personal finance expert and founder of AskLizWeston.com, "It isn't just about the money."

"It's not just the paycheck coming in and how much is going out for childcare," she says. "Healthcare is one of the big deals. And making sure that you have coverage, and that it's good coverage."

Kyle's career is also an important factor, says Weston.

"The fact is when you take time out of the workplace, it gets harder and harder and harder to get back in," she says. "And you can't really recover a lot of times the lost pay, the lost pension benefits -- if there's a pension involved -- even the lost social security benefits. Which is why we like couples to think about every possible way that they might be able to work this out."

Weston recommended considering alternative options like working part time and staggering schedules, so that Kyle and David can cut back on childcare costs but hang on to Kyle's benefits.

But she stressed the importance of keeping a foot in the workplace.

"Even if you do decide to quit for a while, keep up with your network. Make sure that you're still going to professional events now and then. Talk to the people you used to work with. Dont' just drop it, because it's hard to drop back in and you will have a tough time making up for lost time," Weston says.

About the author

Liz Weston is one of the most-read personal finance columnists on the Internet. Her columns appear on MSN Money and in newspapers across the country, including the Los Angeles Times and Stars & Stripes.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...