WOHP taking a risk too

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2003
WOHP taking a risk too
14
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 3:27pm
I was talking to my Grandmother the other day, a wohm since she was 15. She was widowed with 4 children at a young age and managed to successfully raise all her children. The subject turned to the topics discussed on this board and my Grandmothers bit of advice was to never have more children than you can support by yourself because you never know when you might have to. I consider myself a WOHP on break to stay home with my children while young. The reason I consider myself this way is because I know for the majority of my childrens' lives I will be a wohp. Anyway, I occured to me that people are very fast to point out that a sahm is taking a big risk staying home because if her spouse dies she will have no job to support her kids and she will not have as big of a savings or retirement as she would if she were working and bringing in a paycheck.

I know the topic of the board isn't about how many children a person should have, but I can't help but think the argument would be the same for a wohm who chooses to have 3 or 4 children rather than one or two. If her spouse dies she will be responsible for raising 3 or 4 or more children rather than one or two. Doesn't that put her in the same financial boat as a sahm with one or two kids that she must support if her spouse dies? I know plenty of people IRL that think because they work they can afford to have more children. But isn't this a case of working more, making more, spending more? In addition wouldn't a person have to work more to support more children? Why would a person rather be a wohm that has to do a lot of overtime in order to support 4 kids rather than be able to have regular or reduced hours and spend a lot of time with the one or two she has? Another aspect is that a wohm with 3 or 4 would have 3 or 4 college educations, Dr. bills, etc. to pay for so they won't be saving much money either same as a sahm would't be able to. On one end of the spectrum we have a sahm with 3,4, or more kids and on the safe part of the spectrum we have a wohm with one or two kids. I am just talking about average people here, not people who are movie stars, or trust fund babies, or lottery winners. I am just wondering why people don't compare wohm with many children to sahm with one or two children as far as risk factors go pertaining to money? Aren't they pretty much in the same boat when it comes down to it? When a spouse dies, or when it comes to savings, 4 kids are 4 kids and 2 kids are 2 kids and a widowed parent is a widowed, one pay check parent right? So why don't we ever hear about that situation being discussed when talking about money and children?

Pages

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 4:00pm
I think i kind of lost you in the middle of all of that, but i'll give you my fairly brief assessment of the way that i see it.

First, my continuing to work in my field (only time off for maternity leaves) means that in the 13 years that i have been working, i have more than doubled my salary from that of a first year teacher. I now make over 60K. I have 3 kids.

Compare that to my friend who sah for 7 years with her daughter. Her ECE degree is obsolete (she knows, she's checked into it) without some major college course work. Any job she would get now is entry-level, earning between 20-30K. Right now, she's working for her town and earning approximately 24K. She has one child.

If either of us lost our dh's due to death or divorce, we would both be in a pickle, but i think that she would be more so due to the fact that she's starting out with a whole lot less per year. And even at my salary, i would be hard-pressed to raise all 3 of my kids including food, mortgage and childcare on my salary.

I should say that she has never regretted sah with her daughter, but she is definitely having to deal with the financial ramifications (especially since she's been considering separating from her dh). I should also say that i have never regretted woh while having my kids -- and that teaching is quite a good career to dovetail with having a family.

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for. If i'm not on the right track, just let me know.

Eileen

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 4:06pm
ITA,I am a big fan of family planning, (even though my first was a sort of surprise), which makes me pretty unpopular w/ dhs Catholic family who pop out kids with amazing frequency.I swear some of them are in competition.I think a large family screws a woman over more than sah/woh. If you have 5 or so kids, whether you woh or sah you will be more likely to stay in a a bad marriage imo .At least in the case of a pous edying he would ,I would hope, have A LOT in lfe insurance, and I mean A LOT.

My mil ,a wohm ,always says, "Well, we could never do that because we had four children" and that is a lifestyle choice, but I would rather at least plan (I would never ahe an elctive abortion)to have have less kids and more flexibilty with money .I'd feel more "trapped" as a wohm to 6 kids than a sah of two, personally.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 5:11pm
You make some very good points! I can really see things your way. OTOH your friend would have to provide for herself and one child on an average of 24k for both of them. You would have on average for each child including yourself 20k (60k split 3 ways for 3 kids). Of course the kids could share expenses so it would go more to your benefit that way. But OTOH where ever you live you would have to accomodate 3 kids, whereas your friend would only need to accomodate one. You could make your kids share a room, share clothes, etc. to save money but then we are talking about quality of life. I use that loosely because I don't think sharing a room or clothes ever killed anyone, but still it isn't quite the same as having all new stuff or your own room. I can see where you are coming from, but at the same time I can still see where you wouldn't be that much more well off than your friend though. Especially if she entered the work force some years before her child had to go to college, she would have time to beef up her salary and then send one to college, where as you might be topping out around 60k or so and have to send 3 to college. I can see your point though about leaving the husband, I would think she would need to get back to work asap if that is happening.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 5:18pm
Exactly!! I never see anyone really talk about this but I think even if you have a great job with a great salary if you have 3, 4 or more kids you are really backing yourself into a corner financially. If you are the average woman with a good-to average job (not Oprah or heir to a hotel chain or a famous novelist) you will have only so much money to raise children with and only so many hours of the day to work for the money. I am surprised so many women make such a big deal about whether to stay home or not but don't seem to take a seriously the impact of adding more children to the family. It really does tie in a great extent to the work hours/ extra salary/ retirement/ emergency savings/ family time debate. I agree that number of kids will screw a person into the ground a lot more than sah/woh status ever could.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 5:25pm
Well, I understand where you're headed, but I think you took a wrong turn. You left out some important factors. There are a lot of family-related expenses that are/can be the same whether you have 2 kids or 4.

Rent/Mortgage is one. You could raise 2 kids in a 3 bedroom house. You could raise 4 kids in a 3 bedroom house. A WOHM w/4 kids suddenly forced to pay the mortgage on her 3bd is paying the same as a SAHM w/2 kids who all of a sudden has to pay it.

Car payment. You can transport 4 kids in one car as easily as you can transport 2 kids in one car.

Car insurance. Not affected by the number of people.

Health insurance. Often, a family plan is a family plan. Cover 1 kid or 5 and you pay the same amount.

Utilities. 4 kids don't cost any more electricity than 2. Water, maybe a little higher, but not much.

I guess the point I'm making is that if it takes $15,000 a year to raise 1 kid, it doesn't mean it takes $60,000 a year to raise four. Its not a geometrical progression like that. You reap some economies of scale.

So, a SAHM with no degree, no experience and no skills suddenly needs to be able to make $30,000 to raise 2 kids. But a WOHM with a current job making $40,000 may only need a small raise to $45,000 to raise 4 kids. That extra $5K would be a lot easier for the experienced, educated, skilled mom to come up with than $30K from that SAHM.

**DEBATE BOARD DISCLAIMER**

This won't hold true for every WOHM or every SAHM. There are definitely variables here. A minivan does cost more than a Geo Metro. A WOHM may have a 4 bedroom house. But, in general, from a financial standpoint, I believe it would be easier for an already WOHM to raise 4 kids than a previously SAHM to raise two.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 5:28pm
And there's a lot more to your post than working status. An 18yo WOHM of 2 kids is gonna have a lot harder trouble raising her family than a 30yo WOHM of 2 kids. I think you're grandmother's age at parenthood was a bigger factor than her working status.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 5:54pm
I understand what you are saying. But I think it comes down to quality also. If you only need to pay for one set of braces instead of 3 or 4, one set of dental cleanings, one sports uniform and dues, the child can have more new clothes instead of hand me downs, the child can have it's own room, more of the mothers undivided attention etc. There are things you can certainly share but as a quality of life issue there are some things that would enhance the child's quality of life if they didn't have to share. There are some things you can also afford to do such as go to Disneyland as a special treat if you only have to pay for one plane ticket, one hotel bed, one pass, etc. If you had more children you would probably skip it all together because the expense would be overwhelming. I think there are hidden expenses as well for having more children. Sure there are somethings you can share, or make fit, but sometimes in the quality of life for a child sometimes it isn't always best to have to share or make fit.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 5:57pm
While I agree that expences are not mutiplied each time you add a family member I do have to pick a little at your examples.

With 2 kids you can have a 4 passenger car with 4 kids you need a 5 passenger car so car expences are more. Also the more kids you have the more you may be transporting kids to various places so you also spend more in gas.

More people does cost more in utilities. With 4 kids you would have 5 people taking showers per day. You would be doing more laundry per week. You may have to run the dishwasher twice per day instead of once.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-19-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 5:57pm
Well if it would have meant the difference between getting a college education or vocation I would agree. She worked in the same job for years and never made much of a difference in salary. She had no intentions of going to school. So I don't think it really would have made a difference in what age she had them. Her mother baby sat when her kids were young, but by grade school her mother was in a nursing home, so in that respect she would have been in need of a sitter and probably wouldn't have been able to afford one so it probably worked out best for her having them young. I do agree getting an education or vocation before having children is generally the best thing to do though.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 6:11pm
There are a couple of addendums to those scenarios....working for her town my friend will probably never make more than 20-30K even if she stays on for a long time....however, my pay over the next 10-15 years could increase by another 10-15K easily....and it would not be unusual to be in the 80K range towards the end of my career (especially in the district that i work for).

You are also right about accomodations. Part of it is that we live in CT, which has a very high cost of living for both houses and apartments.

She is also much better with money than i am (she's had to be since her dh tries to spend every last dime on his "toys") and can make a nickel give out an ear-piercing scream! I have more to start with, so i tend not to be as tight with my nickels.

I should also say that we've been through the room sharing with ds and dd until it really became apparent that each needed their own space. additionally, the girls always shared clothes (and then they were passed on to my niece), until recently.

I will also only have two in college (one right after the 1st has graduated) as my middle daughter is special needs (completely handicapped).

hope this clarifies some things.

eileen

Pages