28 September 2009

SAHP Points to Ponder

I read a very interesting book this past week. The Stay At Home Survival Guide by Melissa Stanton provided some very interesting food for though. I initially though it was going to be more of a story-sharing, lets all bond over how hard this job can be, feel good kind of book, but it proved to be more than that. While Stanton does do a great job of identifying how tough it can be to be home all day with small children and the endless needs of a household, she really addresses the notion of being a stay at home parent through a new frame work. While many feel that staying at home is “giving up a career” and choosing to do the “easy” task of being at home, Stanton argues that this is merely a change in career, and must be addressed as such to make it manageable. Without giving away too much of the book’s content, here are some points to consider to which I had not given much though.

1. Social Security- without getting into the complex formula by which your payments, should they even exist, will be calculated, choosing to stay at home with kids, even if only until they all go to school full-time, may make it impossible to meet the requirements to collect full payments. Granted, you can utilize half of your spouse’s payment in lieu of your own in many cases, but to realize that I may have given up half a million dollars in retirement pay to stay home with my kids kind of shocked me.

2. Disability- most people “in the workforce” understand the benefits of such insurance, or hopefully they do, but what about those of us at home. While we have plans in place to take care of us if, universe forbid, something happened to DH, what would happen if I had to be MIA from the equation. Say I break my leg, or had to be on bed-rest. If we had to fund the childcare I provide with no assistance, it could eat up our cash quite quickly.

3. Life Insurance- Again, we have insured us to provide if the wage earner dies, but the cost of childcare for two kids would be a tough one if DH was suddenly left to single-parent. I crunched the numbers and we are in the clear, but many might not be in that position.

4. Financial Planning in General- being a stay at home parent does not excuse you from keeping tabs on the finances. I saw this all the time as the Co-Ombudsman for my husband’s submarine command. Everyone should know how the financials work, even if they are not responsible for them day to day. Now how women felt comfortable not knowing how, let alone if, their bills got paid when their spouses were routinely deployed in radio silence for 6-9 months, will always remain a mystery to me, but that is a topic for another time.

Now not my all points to ponder were money related…

5. Mutual appreciation- being the stay at home parent is tough and should be considered at equal value to the job of the wage earning spouse, but the key word here is equal. While those of us on the front lines of laundry and story-times do tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to credit for a job well done, it is a two way street. Just as the wage earner should make an effort to understand the demands of the stay at home job, and appreciate the effort put in by said stay at home parent, it never hurts to express some appreciation to the person who does the dirty work of getting the bills paid.

I would really recommend this book to anyone who is currently home, or is considering their options on this front. Some of the information was a bit intimidating, but I think the book provided a really great outline for surviving the career change. If you are already here in the trenches, or just trying to make the tough choice, this book provides a wealth of good advice and factors to evaluate. While the logical pro and con lists are rarely the deciding factor on how one decides to raise their kids, this a good place to start when investigating the logistics of the stay at home choice.


Check out more great lists at abdpbt.com courtesy of Listless Mondays.


Tim G said...

Reality lists are so, well, real. I have been ignoring #1 as I figured it might not ever enter into the equation for our retirement finances. But the others are all points DW and I have paid close attention to through the years. Before the kids were adults we had disability and life insurance for her. Interesting, we have had trouble backing off of life insurance, even though it is no longer essential. Need to re-think that.

abdpbt said...

Sounds like a good book. The financial considerations we've already allowed for with our retirement savings and life insurance, etc., but there are so many good points here. I think I do a good job of appreciating my husband's work outside of the home, but the divide in work does lead to some disagreements. We should probably both read it!