Raising Davis: Budget Glance

Even with savings and pre-planning, Paul and I knew that if I prolonged my mat leave, we would be falling behind and incurring debt. Mind you, I felt pulled in two directions I was missing a part of Davis’s first year but also loved my work. I’m in sales, and work that largely depends on commission is a challenge that keeps me on a high. Looking back, I now realize that I was on an emotional roller coaster during those first months back at work.

We had bought a home together to merge Paul’s life with his two daughters with my life. This was a major change in all our lives. Paul had been living with his two girls, I had been living alone, and suddenly we were a family. We all had to adjust to a brand new way of living. More change was to come. We had agreed, before we married, that we would have a child, so we chose a house large enough to accommodate us, the girls and our probable little fella. I don’t think we fully realized how great the financial impact would be. My unemployment insurance on maternity leave covered only my car payment, insurance and gas.

We had, in preparation for the pregnancy, opened a maternity savings account which was meant to cover my share of the mortgage, taxes and household expenses. Then reality set in. It was inadequate our expenses were so much higher than we had expected.

The biggest expense is daycare, followed by automobile, the upkeep of a professional wardrobe and the increase in eating out and ordering in. Paul, Davis, Madison, Mackenzy and I go to a family restaurant about once a week and we order in about once a week usually when were both worn out at the end of the day! Every couple of weeks we get a sitter and get out on our own.

There were pockets where I had assumed there would be savings, but they evaporated. For example, for years I had been a part-time model and was accustomed to spending money on good hair cuts and daily skin care. I discovered something about myself when I was home on mat leave. I’m a bit of a diva! I didn’t want to give up a regular visit to a good hair stylist and I continued with regular skin care. No savings there!

There was another outlay that I had overlooked. When I returned to work I hadn’t lost all my baby weight. I had to invest about $1,000 in suits, separates and tops and this hurt! I knew (or hoped) that this would be a relatively short-term need, so I was careful to choose styles that could be altered when my body size returned to normal. For example, I didn’t choose suits with lined jackets to keep costs to a minimum when they had to be altered.

So here’s the bottom line: The total cost in going back to work is about $15,000 a year in after-tax money so I have to earn gross dollars of about $24,000 just to cover the cost of working compared to being at home full time. What’s left over covers my share of our mortgage and household expenses.

Nevertheless, I’m happy to be in the swing of my fulltime job and to be managing the household expenses without increasing our debt. I knew, from the beginning, I would go back to work my career is a large part of who I am. But it also is a financial necessity. It was not only the right choice for our family, it was the only choice.

Here’s a monthly comparison of my stay-at-home expenses and back-to-work expenses.

GROCERIES $700 $500
RESTAURANT LUNCHES OUT $40 $200 (when I’m on the road)

$120 (gas)

$240 (commuting and sales calls)
EATING OUT (dinners) $150 (4x a month) $350 (8x a month)
CHILD CARE COST $0 $800 (Wee Watch)
CLOTHES $0 $200 plus $1000 immediate expense for career clothes because I hadn’t lost all the baby weight
HAIR/MAKE-UP $50 $50
ACTIVITY CLASSES $80 (classes were started after I went back to work)
***TOTAL COST OF GOING BACK TO WORK $15,000 a year (largely daycare, which is $9,600 a year, and we spend $4,320 more in restaurant lunches and dinners and $1,440 more on gas)


Published in Summer 2007

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