The dilemma of childcare costs verses work

(26 Posts)
Chattycat78 Mon 21-Nov-16 08:43:43

Hi all,

Not sure what to do. I'm on mat leave with ds2. I have two under two, which means that when I'm due to go back to work, I'll then have to pay for childcare for both of them (until the free childcare kicks in). Having worked this out, it hardly seems worth it to go Back to work!

However, it's not as simple as this. I need to earn something - we can't afford for me to not work at all. But if I DO work, it then generates the need for childcare which any job would also need to cover.

My current job is 3 days a week, and I'm realising that a lot of 2 or 3 day a week jobs simply do not pay enough for me to cover the childcare costs (lot of min wage jobs) so I would need to find a good 2 or 3 day a week job!

I feel like there's no solution! I could go back to my old job for a while but even then we'd be barely breaking even, plus I have to travel to get there which adds more cost each month. I also don't really want to....I'd rather have a change.

Not sure what to do. Help!

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Squeegle Mon 21-Nov-16 08:48:27

I think you need to consider childcare costs for the long term, and also as a shared cost between the two of you.
If you don't go back to work you run the risk of not ever getting back into well paid/ career type work and therefore the costs over the long term are significant. In my view all income and costs are shared and childcare is just one of the expenses that a couple need to pay in order to build a shared life.
I am very keen on a woman being able to continue to earn. You never want to be in a position on dependency. My view only grin

PhilODox Mon 21-Nov-16 08:51:05

What days/hours does your partner work? How much do each of you earn? Is there any opportunity for family to do childcare? What are you qualified in?
Weighing all these up will help.
It's very difficult, but if you don't go back after maternity leave, will you have to pay back maternity pay? And will you be demoted, or are you in a field that will be nigh on impossible to get back into at a decent level once your youngest is school-aged?

Pocketsizedpixie Mon 21-Nov-16 08:55:13

We did the maths a hundred times over. With two under two I can't go back to work as the family budget would need to find £400 a month on top of my wages to pay for the childcare. DH is unable to change his work pattern, and we have no family. Unfortunately we just can't afford the financial hit of me going back, so I will have to stay home until childcare becomes less expensive.

Chattycat78 Mon 21-Nov-16 09:05:11

Partner works full time. Family hsve been asked about childcare and it's sounding like them looking after youngest 1 day is an option. However this doesn't put that much of a dent in the childcare cost unfortunately sad

We both earn similar amounts- approx 35k per year (mine is pro rata to 3 days a week- so around 22k.

I work in marketing/communications for a financial services provider. I project manage, write copy, deal with suppliers and implement direct marketing campaigns. I'm masters degree educated. I was finding that it was very hard doing my current job 3 days a week, however. I was having to log in a lot on my days off to hit deadlines.

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Chattycat78 Mon 21-Nov-16 09:06:26

pocket I hear you- but I'm not sure we can afford for me not to work at allsad

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Chattycat78 Mon 21-Nov-16 09:08:22

I should also say that's it's bed. SuggeTed to me that I get a weekend or evening job. In other words- look after kids full time and then work when they are in bed. Is this madness? I'm already exhausted!

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Chattycat78 Mon 21-Nov-16 09:08:44

"It's been suggested" that should say....

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BikeRunSki Mon 21-Nov-16 09:17:58

I worked at a £20 loss per week (3 days) to the family income, for a year. Things got easier when the Early Years Funding kicked in, and then when each DC started school.

Now both are at school, childcare cost are much reduced, I've increased my work hours and we have space to breathe again. It's been a long slog, but the long term investment in my pension, NI, and employability has been worthwhile. For once, we are no panicking about Christmas!

If you can break even, you need to play the long game.

BikeRunSki Mon 21-Nov-16 09:23:52

There's a zombie thread been resurrected this morning, by a poster who became a SAHM in similar circumstances and hates it, hates the perceived balance of power it gives her DH.

this thread.

We pool our incomes and outgoings, so "breaking even" on one salary, should not leave the other parent penniless.

unlimiteddilutingjuice Mon 21-Nov-16 09:27:33

I had a similar dilemna, although slightly lower earning potential.

Our solution is to both work part time. So, I do Monday, Thuesday and Wesnesday. DH does Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We pay for childcare on Wednesday's only.

I work in Welfare Rights so my one advantage is absolutely certainty over what I'm entitled to!

I've worked out that if i worked full time, earning more but paying childcare- our actual disposable income would be the same as it is now BUT we would be heavily dependant on tax credits (ironically, I would cost the state much more by working since the majority of my claim would be help towards childcare costs).

On top of other disadvantages, that level of benefit dependancy just felt a little unstable. I dread to think the mess i would be in if payments were missed or delayed.

I'm very happy with our current set up. I hear you on the difficulty of obtaining well paid, part time work. I managed it by applying for a full time position and then negotiating a job share at the acceptance stage. It was a bit scary waiting on their decision! DH is in the jammy position of working for his family business.

meditrina Mon 21-Nov-16 09:30:48

You don't seem to have factored in things like pensions contributions or the additional family security of having two parents in employment should one lose their oil through illness or redundancy, nor what it means for career progression and what earnings would be in a 2/5/10 years if you start now (compared to restarting after an even longer break).

It's not uncommon to have a period in the years of high childcare costs, but looking at a linger timeframe, the sums can come quite differently.

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Mon 21-Nov-16 09:31:17

I'm in the same boat, just started mat leave for DC3, DD2 is only 16 month's so full time childcare for two with sibling discount is £70 per day, so at £1400 a month it's a big chunk of my salary but I love my job and want to remain employable in my field so will be working for a pittance for a few years until they are at school and it's just before and after school to pay for.

Squeegle Mon 21-Nov-16 09:35:09

Working weekends or evenings sounds like a nightmare- the joy of work is that it is more relaxing than being at home! I am also in marketing, and after the slog and poverty of the first few years (!). I'm glad I stuck with it. Those who didn't, missed the whole digital revolution and as a result can't get well paid work now. Marketing is particularly prone to fashion. I do think you should do your sums based on 5 years, not just this year. And take into account everything you will get. If you can stay part time so much the better for a bit, you can always go up when they're a little older

Squeegle Mon 21-Nov-16 09:38:33

PS free childcare for 2 children once a week must surely make a big difference! Even if £50 each then £100 per week, £400 a month. I think you're being a bit pessimistic! I think you just are not used to the reality of childcare costs yet!

Carrotgirl999 Mon 21-Nov-16 09:41:30

I work nights (only have one DS to work around though not two) and yes it really is hard work, and exhausting. But sometimes needs must and it is the only way we can both work without the need for childcare... Also the money's good because of the unsocial hours. You do get used to it X

mirokarikovo Mon 21-Nov-16 09:47:49

Definitely take the long view. Yes you'll be effectively working for no net gain, or even a ney loss, for at least a year, maybe two depending when your eldest starts getting the free hours. However, the difference in your total earnings over the next 10 years could be significantly higher if you swallow that pain. Taking a long break will make it massively difficult to break back into a good role.

Have you looked at whether it would be possible for you to work 4 days and DH to work 4 days? Same effective earnings and the difference between 4 days and 5 days in the office is much more manageable.

NickyEds Mon 21-Nov-16 09:56:29

If you can't afford not to work then you have to work. If you will be worse off working with having to pay child care then you will have to work around each other limit child care. Is flexible working an option? So that you can work evenings and weekends?

KP86 Mon 21-Nov-16 10:01:32

If you can afford to work (even if it's only just covering child care costs), then I would do it. Long term, you will be much better off. Even in 12 months' time, when you get at least 15 (and maybe 30) hours of free hours for your older child.

Particularly in a field like marketing/comms/PR, it's really hard to get back into it once you take a big break.

You have what I would consider to be a decent wage and I would not want to let that go! <Speaks from experience>

RattieOfCatan Mon 21-Nov-16 10:03:11

We're in a similar boat but with one child. We pool our income but we had to relocate in September for DHs work, my career is now redundant here (people can't afford nannies in this area) so the only work I can get is minimum wage, and there isn't much scope for career progression. So going back to work puts us "up" by about a tenner a day if using a childminder or slightly more than that using a nursery, that's even if we can find somebody to have our child for 13 hrs to cover the 12hr shifts expected of the roles I'd be able to get (mostly care) and DHs commute. If there was career progression I would be perfectly happy to go back to work, but without it it makes it seem nonsensical for me to return to a min wage job. The only other option is working weekends when DH is home which is our aim when I need to go back and until we can afford for me to retrain.

Chattycat78 Mon 21-Nov-16 11:54:35

Thanks for the input all.

Long view seems to make sense.

The offer of childcare from family is for one child one day a week- not them both.

Flexible working is not an option outside A certain point as I need to be available when everyone else is. E.g. Sat/Sunday hours not possible.

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Chattycat78 Mon 21-Nov-16 12:17:14

I should probably also say that my preference IS to work. I don't think I have it in me to be a SAHM. This year has been incredibly hard with 2 under 2 and the thought of getting some peace at work is pretty attractive! wink

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Munstermonchgirl Mon 21-Nov-16 21:43:40

Play the long game. As others have said, it's not just the immediate money in your pocket, it's your pension contributions too. We had 2 in day nursery and one needing wraparound school care and this was 20 years ago before the early years funding.... I worked for several years for no immediate financial gain. In fact, if I'd packed in work we would probably have been better off short term. However I doubt I'd ever have got my career back on track completely, and my pension would be screwed.

It's tough, I know exactly how you feel but I would hang on in there

trilbydoll Mon 21-Nov-16 21:50:52

Could you do long days? Work 3x 10 hour days so 30 hours salary but only 24 hours childcare. You obviously wouldn't see kids at both ends of the day so depends if you're happy to make that sacrifice.

Would family do two afternoons? Then you're working a full day but only paying for the morning.

In a similar vein, once the eldest is old enough for preschool (rather than private nursery) would family do the 3pm pickup? I've found using the free hours at preschool is cheaper than the wraparound fees charged by nursery.

We are literally the only people I know who pay for childcare every hour I work. Everyone else has clever solutions!

HyacinthFuckit Wed 23-Nov-16 08:43:51

Have you factored in use of either vouchers or the new tax free childcare scheme?

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