Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

How to Know if Stay-at-Home Is a Reasonable Solution

Dear Cheapskate: With two little boys, my husband and I are paying through the roof for day care. It seems like almost all the money I earn goes to child care, so I’ve been thinking of quitting my job and staying home with the kids. I’m enthusiastic at the thought of spending more time with them, but I also want to be sure my family will be OK financially. Is there an easy way to make sure the decision is right for us? — Monica, Pennsylvania

Dear Monica: I think you’re on to something. But before you make any rash decisions, do this: Write down a figure that represents your monthly net (take-home) pay.

Now deduct from that all of your work-related costs, including day care, transportation, clothes, lunches, gifts, office supplies and anything else you can come up with that would go away if you stay at home. But wait, there’s more.

Consider all the expenses you have because you work, like more fast food, take-out and restaurant meals because you’re too tired to cook. Do you hire help for the yard work or housecleaning? If you are home, there’s a good chance you can do those jobs and reduce your expenses even further.

You may be shocked to discover it’s actually costing you to hold down a job because you’re paying out more than you earn. Unless you make a whopping big salary, there’s a high likelihood you will be better off financially by being at home with your kids where you can also cook, clean and perhaps garden, too. Even if you decide to keep working, going through this exercise is bound to give you a new perspective and clear-cut reason for the decision you make. Hope that helps!

Dear Cheapskate: In the past, I have always donated my unwanted clothing to charity, but with 2-year-old twin daughters who are outgrowing their clothes faster than I can change their diapers, money is tight. I’d like to bring their old things to a consignment shop to earn a little extra cash. Can you give me some tips on how to make the most money? — Priscilla, Texas

Dear Priscilla: Sure, I can help! First, make a list of the children’s consignment shops in your area. One chain I know well is Once Upon a Child, which may be a good place to start, should there be one near you. Next, do some research.

Each shop will have its own unique policies on which types and conditions of items they accept. Find out the terms, i.e., once an item sells, how will they split the proceeds with you? Do they accept gently worn items or only pristine? Must clothes arrive in dry cleaner bags or freshly laundered?

Once you have all the facts, decide which shop you will try first. Make sure your items fit the store’s criteria, then make your first delivery. Keep careful records. Many shops have a policy that what doesn’t sell is given to charity unless you pick up the item in a timely manner.

Consignment shopping and selling is a great way to turn good items back into cash. Another way is to do this online. ThredUp.com is a very popular online consignment and thrift store. Once you are at the site, select “Sell” to discover how this shop works. I have purchased items from ThredUp.com for my grandsons, and it was an easy, pleasant experience. The Kids department is very active. That you have matching same-size items could definitely give your items a lot of attention and quick sales.

It’s possible you will find selling your kids things at your own yard sale nets you more money for less trouble. You just have to experiment. If all else fails, remember when you donate to a qualified charitable organization, you are allowed to deduct the fair market value of each item from your taxable income. When you itemize your tax return, that can add up to a considerable amount and benefit you with a larger tax refund or smaller tax bill.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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One Comment

  1. In addition to all of the other considerations, stay-at-home is about the ONLY way you can (almost) guarantee that your house won’t be invaded by squatters while you’re at work — especially in New York, where they have a “once you’re in, it’s yours” mentality.

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