My Child Has... Article

My Child Has...

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Compare Costs of Parent Staying at Home or Going to Work


Many couples are surprised to find that once all the costs are counted, they are not much better off financially if both parents return to work. This may or may not be true in your case. The only way to know is to sit down and make a list of all work-related expenses and do the calculations.

A simple process that will give you a rough estimate is as follows:

  • Start with the NET income (after taxes and payroll deductions)
  • Subtract the total estimated work-related expenses:
    • Taxes (income tax, social security). Be sure to calculate proper tax rate. Additional income puts you in a higher tax bracket, which means that you will pay more taxes. Research information about Child Tax Credit. You may be eligible and reduce taxes.
    • Cost of child care. Depending on where you live, child care costs may range from $6,000 to $10,000 per year per child. Child care costs may or may not be tax deductible.
    • Cost of clothes required for work.
    • Cost of commuting (gas, insurance, auto repairs, public transportation).
    • Cost of food (lunches out, fast foods, convenience foods, or eating at restaurants because there is little time to cook at home).
    • Cost of additional help (housecleaning, etc.) that may be required.
    • Professional fees (licenses, dues, clubs, subscriptions)

    Subtract total costs from the total NET income will show what that second income costs you. The amount left over is the actual amount the second income will contribute to the household.

    Once you know how much (or little) your second income is contributing to the household, you may be able to find ways to cut expenses. Read books and research the Internet for information. It may be possible to cut expenses enough so that one parent can stay home.


Written by Kate Capage.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-12-13
Last reviewed: 2010-12-13

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

Copyright © 1996-2014 The Children's Mercy Hospital