Working from home has a million trade-offs. I knew this from the beginning. I’m giving up certain aspects of a career — everything from eating lunch with colleagues to retirement — and gaining others – like attending school field trips and witnessing my son’s workout routine in my office on a random Thursday afternoon.
One of the numerous reasons I chose not to leave the work force completely and chose the WAHM route instead of the SAHM route was financial. Sure, I want to keep my foot in my career for more personal reasons — because I like and value what I do — but at the end of the day to be able to live the life I want to lead I need to be bringing home an income. Economists say that due to lost income and wages over time (even if they return to work once their children are school age) women who stay home for five or more years lose at least $1 million over their lifetime. That isn’t to say that my children aren’t worth that — they are — but to be able to avoid losing that income is important to me.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t financial downfalls to working from home. There are. I’m still losing money that I would have earned if I worked a traditional outside of the home job. My current positions are all contract work so the pay varies week-to-week and month-to-month. A job can be mine today and gone tomorrow as there is no job security or guarantee of employment. I also don’t have a traditional retirement or pension — but I am saving on my own.
Megan Francis wrote an interesting post regarding the financial realities of work-at-home parents on Babble recently. Her perspective focuses more on freelancing/blogging and how there is an investment of both time and money to move forward in those fields. The part of her article that rang true with me was her opinion on hiring outside help: “It may seem counter-intuitive to consider hiring a sitter, if the whole reason you’re working at home is to avoid having to use child care.”
For me, this was a huge hurdle. And it wasn’t that I was paying child care for one child — I was paying (and still am — only now to their school) for child care for three small children. The first year of my twins lives I paid out nearly as much as I brought in. At that point, making money wasn’t the priority — keeping my foot in the door so I’d have a career to continue (and eventually earn a profit) was the goal.
Now that my kids are in school, I find myself re-evaluating my time and my career. I’m looking for ways to be hired full-time while maintaining the flexibility I love about working from home. Financially, I’d like to bring home more income and professionally, I’m finding myself ready for that next step now that my trio is a bit older.
That said, I’m not sure that full-time income is truly a realistic possibility given my current situation. Some days, I find myself day-dreaming about a “real” job and wonder if that would be a better option. Then I realize there would be no one around (unless I hired them) to pick up the kids and know that this is the best option for my family — at least for right now. But it’s a constant juggling act and I feel that I have to constantly re-evaluate my priorities and goals to assure that I’m achieving the balance that I desire – as well as the income I desire.
Homepage Photo via 401 (K) 2012 on Flickr