Should You Stay Home or Work Part-Time?

The Case Against Quitting

family finances

Much as you may be committed to the idea of staying at home with your children, you may be wise to at least give some thought to some of the financial downsides, if not totally reconsider. Here, a few reasons why you might want to keep your job or explore other options (such as part-time work).

Savings
Some of your former salary may have gone to savings. And remember, too, that savings isn't just about an emergency fund to dip into. There's also retirement savings. "There are IRAs that allow nonworking spouses to put aside tax-free retirement dollars each year," says Monica Samuels. "But that may not match what you'd be socking away with an employer-matched 401(k)."

Social Security
All the time you were working, you contributed to Social Security. But when you stop working, your eventual benefits will be smaller, Samuels says. It just happens to be that your childbearing and parenting years tend to be your most potentially productive work years too.

Career Continuity
No one likes to think of worst-case scenarios, but they happen. You may get divorced; your husband may lose his job or become ill. "I've talked to women who assumed they'd stay home forever, then their husband loses his job and they end up in financial trouble," Samuels says. It may not be that easy to get a job if you've been out of the loop.

Originally published in the November 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.

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