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What to consider before a SAHM goes back to work

When a SAHM goes back to work, the pros and cons aren’t completely black and white. What then are some of the things that should be considered? And why am I even talking about this?

Well, even though I’ve LOVED my time as a SAHM for the last 6+ years, and even though I’ve defended my decision to be a SAHM (I’m a SAHM and No, We’re Not Rich), that ship is sailing. I never really planned on going back to work, but things here are changing.

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The kids are all going to public school next year, we just acquired a significant debt when purchasing our house, and although I can’t speak for my husband, the thought of living on an even tighter budget makes me feel a little sick inside. Not to mention we’re not exactly spring chickens, and the thought of not ‘owning’ our home until our 70s makes me feel even sicker.

The only logical solution for us was for me to go back to work.

There is so much to consider when job hunting. Just thinking of all the variables makes my head spin.

What I finally did was to write a list of all the things I had to consider when looking for a job.

  • Full-time or part-time
  • What are the hours?
  • Benefits
  • How would this affect my family?
  • Is this a short-term or long-term gig?
  • If it’s full-time, is there room for advancement?
  • What’s the pay? Is it salary or hourly?
  • What is the commute time?

These are the typical questions that people normally ask, but then there are the ones that aren’t often considered:

  • Is there mandatory overtime?
  • How much will the commute cost in terms of fuel and higher insurance?
  • Will I need to purchase a new wardrobe? How often will I have to purchase new clothing/shoes?
  • Will I need daycare and what will the cost be?
  • What happens when one of the kids is sick?
  • Will I have the support I need at home?
  • Are there any hidden costs (more meals out due to less time to cook)?
  • What are the tax ramifications?
  • How does this position make me feel? (Is it something I can excel at?)
  • Is this just a job or is it a career?
  • Do I want a job or do I want a career?

I’m sure there are even more questions that could be asked, but these are the main ones that concerned me.

These questions could make or break the viability of a job. For instance, there was a posting for a position as a bank teller for $10.14/hour for 25-30 hours per week. This position was 26 miles from my home with 3 out of 4 Saturdays a month required. The hours would vary, but would most likely be 3-4 days a week with hours between 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

So, when I first looked at this, it looked pretty good. In today’s world, $10.14/hour doesn’t go that far, but I really wasn’t expecting that much after having been out of the job market for so long. But then I broke it down and analyzed it more.

  • $10.14 X 27.5 hours (average of 25-30 hours)= $275.20 gross
  • $29.99 in state and federal taxes would be taken out each week with FICA (Social Security and Medicare) is an additional 7.65% total for $21.05 for a total of $51.04. The new take home is now $224.16.
  • I know my truck gets an average of 18 miles per gallon and a round trip to this branch would be 52 miles. At 4 days a week, that’s 208 miles divided by 18 miles which equals 11.6 gallons of gas a week. Iowa’s gas right now is running about $3.50/gallon so $3.50 x 12 gallons (throw a little extra in there) is $42. The new take home is $182.16.
  • There’s also the added expense of more frequent oil changes and tire wear. Tires for my truck are $200 each plus mounting and road hazard so the total will be approximately $1000. I’ll need a new set every four years at the most making that about $5 a week I’ll need to put aside for tires and $10 a month for oil changes. Take home = $167.16
  • I also have to consider that my insurance may be raised too since the mileage to work and home will be 10,816 miles per year putting it into a higher mileage category as well as faster depreciation due to the higher mileage accumulated.
  • I will have to find some sort of after school program for Peanut and most likely Sweet Pea for the days that I have to work late since J doesn’t get home until at least 5:30 pm on the days he isn’t closing the store. The older boys will be in sports after school. Also, I’ll have to find a program for those school days that I have to work and the kids don’t have school and for breaks when the older boys go to their dad’s and Peanut is with us solo. The YMCA program costs $30 per week for after school care. Take home = $137.16
  • Lastly there is the issue of clothing. I have none that would be acceptable to work in a bank. Clothes could be thrifted for around $100 and shoes I buy new. That would be about another $100. Over the course of a year, that comes out to $3.85/week. Take home = $133.31 ($533.24 per month)

In the end, taking that job would have COST me $141.89 a week or $567.56 a month (including taxes)! That’s more than I would have been bringing home.

Now that I’ve bored you to death with my facts and figures, I want to throw this in there. There was also a job for barn help just 3 miles down the road from me. It paid $9 an hour. Sure the physical work would have been harder, and there wasn’t anywhere to be promoted to, but for the hours and the commuting time (or lack there of), I would have absolutely taken that job over a fancy office job any day.

What are your thoughts on these figures? Did anything shock you as to what the actual cost was (other than my tires…I know. Should have looked at that before I bought my truck)? Are there any other hidden costs I didn’t take into consideration?

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