Can You Afford to Stay Home After Having a Baby?

Posted by Shannon Serpette on 3/7/2017 to Life as a Mom
can you afford to quit working after having a baby

Some moms relish the idea of going back to a normal work schedule after their maternity leave is finished. For other moms though, the idea of heading back into the workforce and leaving their baby in daycare is torturous.

These days, many moms feel compelled to go to work because they need the paycheck. But for moms on the lower-end of the earning spectrum, working can cost as much as they bring in. Let’s look at some of the secret costs of working.


Unless your child has grandparents who don’t mind spending five days every week babysitting for free, you’re going to have to hire a babysitter. That can be expensive – no matter if you send your child to a daycare or find a friend to watch your baby in her home. Either way, you’ll shell out a good portion of your paycheck just for babysitting.


Does your job put your household into a different tax bracket? If so, that’s one more hidden cost of working that you need to take into consideration.

Gas and Vehicle Costs

Do you have to drive much to reach your workplace? That can quickly erode your paycheck, especially if you pile on the miles. You’ll need to pay for gas and buy a new car every four or five years because of how much you’re traveling just to get back and forth from work.

Work Outfits

Do you have to dress up for work? Is the cost of work clothes slowly draining your paycheck? Take an honest look at how much money you’re spending just to dress in appropriate work clothes.

Lunches Out with Coworkers

Even going out to eat once or twice a week with coworkers instead of bringing lunch from home can make a big difference in your paychecks if you make minimum wage or slightly over.

Too Tired to Cook

After a long day at work, the last thing you feel like doing is heading home and cooking dinner. But your family has to eat. That’s when another hidden cost of work gets factored in. If your job is causing you to order pizza a couple times a week because you get home too late to make dinner or you’re starving by the time you get home, you need to take that into account when deciding what your true monetary gain is from working.

Fundraisers and Gifts

Working often costs you money in other ways. Whether it’s chipping in money for a Christmas gift for your boss, or buying some items from your co-worker’s child’s school fundraiser, there’s always someone asking for money at workplaces.

Before you unwillingly head back to work after your baby is born, consider these costs and see if there are ways you can save on expenses. Maybe staying home with your child isn’t so far out of reach after all.

Shannon Serpette is a mother of two and an award-winning journalist and freelancer who lives in Illinois. She can be reached at