When a working woman decides to start a family, there is likely the nagging question of “should I stay home with my child or should I go back to work?” Of course, financial circumstances will be a huge consideration in making such a decision. Career ambitions may also play a part. Where you are now versus where you want to be in the future may inform your decision.
We had our first child, Kiersten, in 2005, and I went back to work after my 12-week maternity leave. I decided to return because my husband and I were saving for a larger home for our growing family. Even before Kiersten was born, I always knew that I wanted to be a “stay-at-home mom”. However, the timing was not yet ideal.
When we had our son, Gavin, in 2007, we had already purchased our new home and were able to make the decision for me to stay home. I was leaving a great position with great pay, and some people thought that decision was a big mistake. But for me, it was far more important to be present and active in the lives of our children.
Admittedly, there are pros and cons to being a “stay-at-home mom.” On the positive side, I spent a lot of quality time with our kids and experienced many firsts and milestones in their lives. I saw Gavin’s first steps and heard his first words. I escorted Kiersten to her first day of preschool and also witnessed her reading her first book. I was able to experience the pride and joy of these moments in real-time as they happened.
On the less positive side, I missed being in an office work environment and the closeness and camaraderie of spending time with co-workers. We missed the income at times also. Whether it was not saving as much as we felt we should be, taking more modest or fewer vacations, not buying our preferred cars, or eating out as much, we were certainly watching our money more closely.
Once Gavin entered first grade and was attending school all day, I knew that I wanted to go back to work. I started working at PDS Planning in October 2013. Our children have pretty much grown up with PDS. Being able to work part-time has been the absolute best experience for myself and my family. I have the best of both worlds. I am continuing to build my professional skills while working at a company and with people I enjoy, and I have the flexibility to participate and be more active in my kids’ lives than if I was working full-time.
I’m thankful that proper financial planning allowed me the opportunity to follow both my heart and my head. We saved money for big expenses like purchasing our home before I decided to stay home. We managed our monthly expenses wisely allowing us to live on one income while I stayed home with our kids. Now, we use my part-time income to cover the kids’ activities, their sports, and any other miscellaneous expenses that come along. As any other parent would likely agree, the expense of raising a child grows as they do.
Our next big financial goal is to fund our children’s college educations without them having to take on massive college debt. We established College Advantage 529 accounts for both Kiersten and Gavin early on and continue to make contributions as they get older and closer to attending college. As an added bonus to funding the kids’ educations, the state of Ohio increased the state income tax deduction amount for Ohio residents from $2,000 to $4,000 for 529 contributions beginning this year.
If you are considering re-entering the workforce after being a “stay-at-home mom”, I encourage you to read these articles by the Harvard Business Review and Very Well Family. Research studies show that working mothers are more productive than childless women over the course of their careers. This is likely because mothers learn how to rigorously maximize their efficiency and have honed their skills in multitasking, negotiation, persuasion, and stress management. Strategies I utilized when returning to the workforce included networking with past and present contacts, highlighting volunteer and community activities on my resume, and considering what type of employment fit my family’s needs. And most importantly, be sure to choose a job and place of employment where you can be happy with the responsibilities and the people.
Remember, thoughtful and comprehensive financial planning can help you enjoy the things that matter the most to you and help you reach your financial goals. We, at PDS Planning, are committed to helping you create a financial plan that meets your financial goals and objectives. For me, what matters most is my family and providing a great start in life for our children.