What it costs to sah vs what it costs to

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
What it costs to sah vs what it costs to
13
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 5:38am
woh.

You know how I love a bargain. And when I find a bargain that's related to this debate, well, I'm in heaven. "So You Want to Be a Stay-At-Home-Mom" (1999)by Cheryl Gochnauer was this week's debate find.


In the author's "Mission Statement" for families hoping to have a sahp, savings is listed as an expense. I have to wonder, then, what the wohp saved while working, and why that wasn't calculated into the *cost* of sah. It was never mentioned. She listed things that the sahp would "save" on - daycare, clothing, the 2nd car. But what she had been saving is not listed as a "savings" when she sah. So how can she list it as an "expense" that the family has to figure in while doing it's budget? IF it's an expense on one income, should what the new sahp isn't saving anymore be listed as a savings? Of course it makes no sense. The author didn't think she could convince anyone that not saving saves you more money than saving does. :-)

But, IRL, when a family figures the cost of sah, it *has* to figure in the lost savings. Why did this author leave that out? All she mentioned was the amount of income that was left after "expenses" every week. And we already know that she considers savings an expense.

Also, "Maintaining Skills" is listed in the mission statement - things like keeping memberships in professional organizations, taking classes to keep up to date, etc.UGHHHH! Those things cost MONEY! Why weren't those things listed as expenses? There's a catch-all category listed - "other". But why so vague? College courses are hardly paid for with petty cash. Education costs certainly merit a mention in the budget.

As I read this book, I felt like I was reading this board. So *this* is where the people find the theory that they use their PHD when they pour a bowl of cheerios while waiting for the spin cycle to finish. ;-)

I think there are two books that are like the Old and New Testaments for the militant sah crowd. One is by the infamous Dr L. This is the other.

Joan

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 10:56am
ARRRRGHHHH! I've mentioned the costs of SAH 123409834 times on this board and its ALWAYS ignored by the "it costs so much to work" crowd.

Every one of my posts on this subject mentions the *costs* of SAH, one of the biggest being *increased utilities.*

But, then, if it goes against their point, of course they're gonna ignore it.

Hollie

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 12:19pm
I hear ya'...

I mean, there are plenty of good reasons to SAH. But saving money is *not* one of them! I'll bet the number of people who actually save money by not earning any are very, very few.

First, what is this idea that a family with a SAHM doesn't need a second car? If one parent can get to work on public transportation or a car pool or on foot, then the family only needs one car regardless of whether the other parent is using the car to go to work or to run errands and transport the children. Sure, some people choose to SAH without a car, just as some can WOH without a car. Whether you can do without a car depends on a lot of factors--where you live, whether the kids can walk or ride a bus to school, how willing you are to take public transport or walk, whether a good bus system is available--I don't see it as a WOH/SAH issue though.

Also, my other pet peeve is the stupid "work wardrobe" argument. Even if you have to dress up for work, anyone with a little common sense could purchase a few good peices and mix and match. Personally, I spend about $200 a YEAR on clothes, and I WOH.

And the eating out argument. This again, is a lifestyle choice. How hard is it to cook up a batch of spaghetti, or rice and beans, or stir fry? We tend to cook quick & easy meals. I can get dinner on the table within about 20 minutes, and I don't use a lot of convenience foods.

And last, ITA about the utility costs. Last summer was our first with AC. It is NOT cheap!Here, it is a luxury rather than a necessity, but I'll grant you that in some climates it is necessary.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 12:30pm
When my sister began to SAH, her food and utlities doubled. My BIL began to WAH 6 months ago and she still SAH. She told me recently that their ultitlies and food bills are now astronomical.

Susan

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 12:34pm
I spend about $175 on average for groceries per week. That's all 3 meals, 7 days a week, for the boys, 5 lunches for the nanny, plus snacks for all three, and non-work meals for DH and myself. AND we all eat a lot of leftovers.

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Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 12:36pm
I here ya loud and clear, hon! I posted on that other post that SAH costs me way more than working does. Firstly, I forgo about $50K in salary a year by working only part time versus full time. And, by only working 16 hours a week, I can't participate in the company's 401(k) plan and get the matching contributions.... that adds up. I drive around and spend more money on gas on my SAH days than my work days. I go to lunch MORE when I'm on my SAH days than my WOH days (other sahms call with cabin fever.... let's go to the mall, Joe's Crab shack, etc). I shop more, etc. I scrapbook more. And utilities, I didn't even think of that one! Yes, lights, tvs, THE WASHER GOES NONSTOP with two little boys, lol. I don't know if the people who argue that sah is cheaper are in low income fields or live by really frugal means. But it COSTS me more money to be mostly a SAH mom than it would cost me if I wohft.
Avatar for mjdphd
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 2:29pm
I agree with you. Those people who honestly lose money by working are those who probably can't make that much to begin with. Those are often the people who feel "trapped" staying at home because they can't earn enough to justify the child care costs, and they are often stuggling financially. That is why I will always tell my children to have a skill where they can support themselves. Whether they have to use it is another story, but everyone should be able to support themselves (and their kids if need be).
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Registered: 03-27-2000
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 3:17pm
I agree that there are definitely costs associated with SAH but for me, utilities isn't one of them. My electric bill (which covers all our appliances, as well as our heating/AC) has not changed since I stopped working. We have a heat pump, and it is not efficient to alter the temp more than a couple degrees in either direction. It works best at a regular setting. So for instance, if I normally keep my thermostat at 68 in the winter while home, it wouldn't make sense for me to turn the thermostat down while at work (down enough to show a difference in our bill). The heat pump then has to work harder to get back up to 68 degrees, expending even more energy than if I kept it at a constant temp. Same with the A/C. The only thing I seem to be using more often is the dishwasher, but even with that, it has not altered our bills. The ONLY thing that really had an effect on our bill was the unseasonably cold winter we had this year. A heat pump is more effective with a relatively mild winter, and this year we were down in the teens/20s much of the time, so our bill was astronomical. But it would have been regardless of my work status.

But I agree otherwise. I spend more money now on gas b/c I drive more than when I worked, I probably spend a little bit more on clothes now, but less on dry cleaning. Our food bill is about the same -while we don't eat out nearly as much, I spend more at the grocery store b/c I make dinner from scratch most nights, using fresh ingredients or making more "gourmet" type meals than I used to, plus I feed my kids breakfast & lunch whereas b/f my dd ate at the sitters. then again tho, we went from a house of three to a house of four at the same time that I quit working, so our family is larger now.

For me, I definitely lose money NOT working, even though I didn't make a huge salary (I worked for a non-profit). But we benefit in other ways from my staying home, and money isn't much of an issue.

~Maureen

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 3:28pm
HEY! How's the baby????

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Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 3:39pm
The furnace/AC Debate is one in its own in our household. We have two of each and the thermostats are programmable...... so I tried setting it so that at night, it lets the downstairs cool off in the winter while the upstairs one then gets warmer since we're up there sleeping, then in the daytime, it reverses.... the downstairs clicks up to 69 and the upstairs goes down to 65 since we aren't up there...... But then the baby goes to nap, and it's chilly, so I turn it back up to 69 upstairs.... then Mike comes home and says the whole house is too hot and turns it down and/or opens our bedroom window. So then the furnace is on and our window is open..... GGRRRR. And he runs both ACs nonstop in the summer, I want to kill him. On days when I work, I try to remember to turn both thermostats down to 63 in the winter and the AC up to 75 in the summer because why heat/cool when we're not home, right? Well, I remember that NEVER, LOL, and what do kilowatts cost anyways? Maybe a fluctuation of $20 in the bill if I remember to be ultra conservative? Again, that is not going to break our bank. Arguing about utility bill savings in this debate is silly, it really is. So my thermostats are usually at 67 down and 69 up year round 24/7 and that's not too bad, although those summer electric bills get up there, lol. I agree with you, SAH costs us much more moola. Hundreds of dollars in "saved utilities" a year doesn't compare to tens of thousands of "lost salary" a year.
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 3:54pm
Just a note about the heat pump. This is an area of expertise for me cause I work for the electric company! lol

You're right in that a heat pump has to work harder when you change the temp extremely. Heat pumps shouldn't change more than 2 degrees at a time. However, if you have a progressive timer on the unit, it CAN save money to alter the temp. A progressive timer alters the temp 2 or less degrees at a time so that it doesn't do that "work harder" bit. So, you can set a 6-10 degree difference from your home/nothome times and not run into that catch 22.

I have one of those timers. During the winter (we have MILDMILDMILD winters here) its set for 62 degrees when we're not home, 68 degrees when we're home and 64 degrees at night. During the summer (really need it then! lol) its set to 80-82 when we're not home, 70 when we're home and 72-74 at night.

You're right in that just going up and changing the temp from 64 to 70 degrees is hard on a heat pump, but using a timer to do so is different.

Just thought I'd throw that out there ....

Hollie

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