So quitting my job wasn’t that crazy after all. As it turns out, I was basically working to pay for our expenses. The crazy part? As much as I read about personal finance, and used my trusty budget to track our expenses, it was actually really hard to get a clear picture of how much I was spending for the privilege to work.
A quick note: I have LOTS of friends who work, are fulfilled & love it. I think that’s a great choice for a parent, as long as it makes you happy. I was not happy. I was actually quite miserable, even after going through therapy, medication, yoga, herbal tea, and everything else I could think of. My choice to leave full-time work in no way means that I think working as a parent is a bad thing. PSA over.
Like every single personal finance nerd, I have read the classic Your Money or Your Life. In this book, the authors ask you to go through an exercise to figure out your true hourly rate. I resisted doing this for some time, and when I finally did it, the results were surprising and illuminating. Here’s a review of the book from a great website: YMOYL Review
When I calculated my true hourly rate, it was about $8/hour take-home. For the sheer exhaustion factor, and stress, it was 100% not worth it to me. Even though I loved my job so much, there was no way I could justify the added stress on my family. Here are the specific savings we’ve calculated so far:
Childcare: $420.00/week or $21,840 a year. This was for two children in full-time daycare. And, when I look at the costs to run a daycare, I actually think this is reasonable. But, I wanted to be home, so it wasn’t really a bargain for me.
Food: Only one of us leaves the house for lunch most days now. You’d be surprised how quickly the lunch food adds up for kids when they have to take a bagged lunch. Convenience ruled for us here, and the budget showed it. I’ll try to break this down better in the future but I’m estimating this saves us at least $15/week (or $780 per year) on pouches, smoothies & lost lunch boxes. Now lunch is primarily leftovers for all of us and is essentially free. In addition,both grownups were buying lunch and coffees (FOR SHAME) at least twice per week for an average of $60/week (or $3,120 per year.)
Gas: Although I worked and lived in a small city, driving only about 10 miles per day, I was still spending money on gas for our car. Now, because I have time, we can walk, bike or take the bus. Estimated savings here: about $780.00 a year. Plus, you know, THE PLANET. We also likely won’t need to replace a second car for wear and tear (and I’m angling for a Masden bike anyway.) As an aside, I was wholly unaware of the excellent public transit options available in the suburbs. Something to look into in your town!
Taxes: TBD. I am determined to do our taxes manually this year so I can understand better what the change in our tax burden will be, but suffice it it to say that we’re dropping a few tax brackets so it should be significant.
Guilt/Convenience Cost: This can’t be underestimated, and I’ll track it as we go. Every weekend we would spend some sort of money on the kids, or grab pizza and ice cream on a weeknight because everyone was tired. In addition, we were buying EVERYTHING new on Amazon. Since I have time now, I’ve embraced the wonder of Craigslist and other methods of procuring used goods like the Buy Nothing Group. This has already yielded a $200 savings on a double stroller, $200 on a bike trailer and I got a free water table from a Buy Nothing community member!
Total Estimated Savings So Far: $27, 020. This doesn’t include our change in taxes, or any other savings we will find along the way.
Would a printable “True Cost of Working” worksheet help those of you on a similar journey? Let me know!
Next up: I’ll be adding a post about the other factors that allowed us to make this change, and the intangible value of quitting my job.
Thanks for reading!