Balancing Paid Work and Childcare Has Been a Financial Boon

  • I have been balancing child care and working from home for years. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.
  • I fit in paid freelance work and use the money to fund my retirement and my children’s college.
  • It also helped me afford two life insurance policies to protect my family.

My oldest daughter turns 6 at the end of July, and by that time I would have saved my family about $ 150,300 in childcare costs by looking after my paid work full time for my children.

That’s not an exact amount, but considering the average babysitter who earns $ 33,398 a year in Colorado, where we live, and the months I took into account for three maternity leave and a few months here and there. took babysitters, that’s a decent estimate.

Like most women, I do deserve a medal, but I also acknowledge how incredibly happy I am. In addition to being a full-time parent, I am also a freelance writer. I make a full time salary but I can decide if I use childcare or not because of my flexible hours.

Although we have been trying to use babysitters from time to time for the past six years, for some reason they have always failed – moving on to their careers after graduating from university, or finding full-time jobs that paid off more. than I offered to the couple. hours a week that I needed care.

After some unsuccessful attempts, I decided to rely on a steady stream of bedtimes, a sister-in-law who stayed with us for a few months and eventually preschool and then kindergarten to work while they were older. (Luckily my husband also works from home and helps with school drop off and pick up, which is another lifeboat.)

Friends and family have questioned my decision to do things this way over the years, sometimes after realizing how tired I am, or after complaining about my scenario, to be honest. The truth is, though, while I always reevaluate whether it’s the right decision, I’m still coming back to a resounding YES.

It goes without saying that I am so grateful for the ability to spend as much time with my girls as possible. The other big advantage, however, is that I was able to make the most of the money I was saving and earning by doing things this way.

I put ‘enough’ money away for retirement

As a freelancer, there are no employer-guaranteed retirement savings options for me, and certainly no company matches. I started freelancing in 2012, so it’s been 10 years I would have given up on investment returns if I had not opened a retirement account that is good for self-employed people and had the money to invest in it regularly. By abandoning childcare for these early years, I can make more of an investment in my future by putting extra money into my retirement accounts instead of paying for care.

I’m ahead of schedule for my kids’ college savings

It’s unclear where the whole student loan argument will end up, but what I do know now is that if I can afford to help my kids go to college without taking out loans, I would love to do so. This meant that we had a discussion with our financial advisor to determine what the funding of a state-college education would look like at the time of their high school graduations, and make a plan to put a certain amount of money into each month. place a 529 plan to help achieve that goal.

Funding three children to a state college in Colorado a few years in the future means putting $ 500 each into those three accounts each month – and it probably will not cover a private school, and that definitely will not cover a master’s or doctoral degree. Fortunately, that solid monthly price tag comes with tax benefits, which helps.

I can cover a reasonable life insurance pillow for our family

I have seen and read enough to know how important a life insurance policy is, especially for a family with young children. Although my husband and I have been happy with our health so far, I do not take anything for granted.

We opened our first life insurance policy in the months before the birth of our first daughter, and then we increased the policy after our third daughter was born. We also made the decision to open both a term and a lifetime policy, hoping that the lifetime policy would provide us with an extra retirement pillow, or provide additional emergency funds should we ever need them.

Abstaining from childcare is not a viable, or even reasonable, option for many families (not to mention single parents, who deserve all the help they can get, and a few more), and I fully acknowledge it. I gave up most of my safety nets – like paid maternity leave, paid holidays and sick days, and an employer-guaranteed retirement plan – when I decided to take a full-time job all those years ago. If a little extra tired some (OK most) days means I can afford to add some of those safety nets again, then it’s worth it for me.

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