62 answers

Do You Work Because You "Have" to or Because You "Want" To?

I work PT (2 days per week). Mostly because I want to. To cover my personal bills and expenses, and "extras" etc.
I think if I wanted to, I could not work at all and we would be fine. (Good thing b/c there are some shake ups happening at work right now!)
I have a relative that watches my child 2 days per week during the summer. During the school year, we don't need child care because I get him to school and my husband is home before the bus.
We're very financially responsible people, so we don't work to pay minimums on credit cards, we save for what we buy and generally have the money to make a purchase. We live on less than we make, in other words.

I know there are a lot of working moms who work because they 'have" to. To those of you, my question is: are you working for the roof over your head, your food and your utilities? Or are you working for car payments, too much house, etc.?
In other words--if you fell you "have" to work, is it really to survive, or is it more to "thrive"? I'm curious.

I think most moms, if they were willing to scale back lifestyle, could stay home til the kids are in school. That's a big IF--about the lifestyle.

BTW, I think we can be great moms whether we work or stay at home. What do you think?

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Great (honest) answers!
KIKI hit the nail on the head when she brought up the "wants" vs. "needs" for a lot of the "working moms" out there.

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Well, those of us without a husband/partner work because we have to. I also enjoy working. I work as a professional and get respect and reward from the work I do. I never intended not to fully support myself and any children I had. I clearly remember deciding this in 3rd grade.

9 moms found this helpful

For me it's a mix of both - the money I make helps us keep a very comfortable lifestyle (swim lessons, gym memberships, mini-vacations,etc) and while we could make it on a single income I do not think I'd like the way we'd have to live - it would be very spartan. That said - I am also well educated (have MA degree) and believe it would be a waste to throw away my education so I can stay home with the kids. I don't get a lot of personal satisfaction from being home all day with my kids - it never was stimulating enough and i was easily bored - so I found a job that is the best of both worlds. I work f/t doing something i love but I am able to work from home - so if my kids need me I am available to get them (one in 2nd grade, another almost 3) on short notice. I love the way things are now...never wanted to be SAHM...so I think it's a perfect solution for me and my family.

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HAVE to. Unfortunately. I "like" my job. But it's not my dream job. My dream job pays next to nothing.

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Well, those of us without a husband/partner work because we have to. I also enjoy working. I work as a professional and get respect and reward from the work I do. I never intended not to fully support myself and any children I had. I clearly remember deciding this in 3rd grade.

9 moms found this helpful

I work because I want to.
We don't need my income.

I am not fulfilled staying at home with my kids. I need other outlets for personal fulfillment and accomplishment. I don't have the patience to stay home with them all day - I'm just not wired like that.

I'm a better mom when I can focus my efforts elsewhere. Then I come home and have 4 solid hours with them every day to play, make dinner, read stories, etc...

That makes ME the best mom that I can be.

9 moms found this helpful

It's complicated.
But the short answer is, in my case I do "have to" work at least PT. (I currently work FT and am seriously considering PT and looking into some options).
I also feel that, considering how happy I am with my job, and the fact that I have on site daycare and a commute that is less than 10 minutes, and never have to work late, travel etc. - it is worth it to continue to work, since it allows us to "thrive" financially.
With that said, i would be more than happy to quit and totally "scrape by" until my kids are in school, IF there were an option to resume my position later. There is not. I would have to start all over and there is a 99% likelihood it would be at a job that does not provide anything close to the benefits I have here. So for now I remain....conflicted.
One last thing....I wouldn't mind giving up my spending money or whatever, but i would hate to be in a position where I would have to tell my children No, we can't afford for you to be in little league or ever have any fun. I also feel a responsibility to save for their college.

8 moms found this helpful

If I didn't work we wouldn't be living in our home. My kids wouldn't be involved in any activities (swim class, sports, music lessons). We wouldn't be able to go on any type of vacation. We wouldn't have the $ to fly my SD home. We wouldn't have $ to put away for college.
So I guess I work b/c I "want" more than that for my family.

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I work because I have to. The sad reality of southern California is that it's very expensive to live here. Unfortunately, there really is no other option. Downscaling wouldn't help because our current mortgage of our modest house is exactly what we would pay if we were to rent. We could move to Riverside (inland) and find cheaper living arrangements, but our quality of life would diminish significantly w/ the hour and a half commute each way and to me, nothing is worth that. Also, my job provides the medical benefits; my husband's does not and he is also on a commission only job. We do sometimes talk about getting out of here, but our family lives here and our parents aren't getting any younger. We hate to think of taking our daughter away from her grandparents, cousins, etc. I assume you're asking this question because of what went down yesterday on here. I'd just like to say that that particular poster could have really gotten some tremendous advice from working moms about how we make it work had she reached out appropriately instead of alienating working moms with her comments. When I had to go back to work, I queried the moms on here about how they do it and they came through in shining colors w/ tons of tips and suggestions. I appreciated it soooo much!!!

And yes, of course we can be great moms either way; it's all about the effort (and attitude) put into it, just like anything else :)

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My SO was laid off last fall when I was 6 months pregnant and my oldest was 3. He lost his insurance of course so we had to place my daughter on my health insurance with my job. It would have cost us more than $900 a month to add him to my insurance on top of the addition $300 to have my daughter on my insurance. He tried finding insurance on his own but was rejected as "individual" insurance is much harder to qualify for than "group." He was disqualified because I was pregnant.

What is my point? It's a good thing we had a back up plan. Initially we had discussed cutting back on living off his income but now he doesn't even want me to change career fields let alone quit. Things are not going to get cheaper: a roof over your head, medical expenses, gas, quality food, education, etc. People are still loosing their jobs and homes despite all the reforms and market outlook. If you lost your only source of income would you loose your house? How much more can you cut back? Sorry, but I don't want to know that answer. And quite frankly, I want to work so I can buy organic/local food for my daughters, take them on family trips to visit her grandparents once a year, let them take dance/music classes if they want, drive a safe car and still spend lots of quality time not having to worry about finances or health care costs.

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I work because I have to. I am the one with health, prescription and retirement benefits (at least until the governor takes them away) I do not consider health benefits to be a luxury. My hubby was able to change his work schedule to be home with our youngest until he went to school, now he works 6 hour days during the week (and more on weekends) so he can drop off and pick him up at school. When I was a SAHM with my oldest (and his dad was a workaholic) I never felt a need to defend my choice. Sometimes when I read SAHMs bragging about doing what's best for their family I "read" that they are boasting about their husband making more money than our husbands, which is kinda like bragging about your naturally curly hair or shiny blonde highlights, although your hair is more likely to not change, other circumstances could change in this economy and with the US divorce rate. I am inspired to read about moms (working or SAHM) who find time to volunteer in their kid's schools, volunteer around their town etc. I am inspired to read about single moms who pay the bills and attend most of their kids's sports, school etc events and deal with sick days and Dr apts and deadlines. I am inspired to read about those of us who spend each evening ENJOYING bathing, reading, cuddling and praying with our children. I am not inspired to read about moms who married well paid men or men with great benefits. (sorry to military wives -I dont know where you fit in this conversation) IF my career paid well enough for a new car and a vacation home should I change to another career that pays less so no one can accuse me of working to thrive rather than working to survive? If i had been trained as a lawyer should I choose between SAHM or working at a fast food place? I have nothing absolutely nothing against SAHMs I have been and would do it again if I could but when I did I was secure enough not to try to prove my choice was better than other's motives and choices. And can we change SAHM to something else? because moms at home do more than "stay" like DE for domestic engineer? I also think that where you live greatly influences the cost of living and whether you can get by on one income. but many of us feel very tied to our areas and unwilling to relocate to a less expensive place

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I have to work. My husband has a commission only job and some months he just doesnt make enough money for a family of 4 to survive. Not only do we need the second income but my husbands job doesnt offer health insurance and mine does ( my
husband has had cancer 3 times so private insurance isnt an option)
I also dont think I have the patience to be a stay at home mama, I love my kids and I miss them every minute but I just dont think I could stay at home with them.

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I have to but I would at least work part time or do volunteer work even if I didn't need to. 1st of all, out of a sense of obligation and 2nd to have a sense of purpose. Being a mom is very rewarding, but imo working outside the home helps me bring more to the table, in terms of life experiance and advice. It's important to me that my kids see me as a dynamic, accomplished person making a contribution in the world and to our home. It's also important to me that my kids get that social interaction.

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I'm divorced so I work because I have to. I don't think it was ever in my future to stay home though. My daughter just turned 18 and I was in sales for the same medical device company from K-12. I was always on PTA, room mom and made it to every softball game unless I was out of state/country. I worked for a very family friendly company and worked out of my home usually two days per week writing contracts and three days in the field. My kid is totally well adjusted even though she went to after care and she appreciates the life I have provided for her.

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For me, it's a little bit of both. I have always made more money than DH and have had more earning potential - honestly, if we had to live on whatever income DH earned, and I stayed home, we would probably be living in a cardboard box under the freeway. Or on government assistance. I find it quite ironic that we sometimes tend to scorn and look down on those who rely on government assistance to get by and tell them to "go get a job" while sending moms the message that the noble thing to do is stay home with their kids and try to get by on less. If you have a husband or SO in your life who can support you and the kids without you having to work also, and that's what makes you happy, then great. But that's not true or realistic for everyone.

I find my career as a veterinarian to be incredibly fulfilling and I feel like I am a wonderful role model for my daughter - I got the education I needed to fulfill what for me was a lifelong dream. I was really fortunate to have parents who expected me to not only be able to be financially independent, but who encouraged me to follow my dreams. And I am also lucky that I can make enough to support my family, have a husband who is willing to stay home with our daughter (since economically it has just made more sense for the time being), and still have a schedule that allows me to have lots of time with her too. Even if DH made a 6 figure income, I would probably want to still work part-time just to be able to keep my head in the game and not go insane staying home all the time.

As it stands, we are not living extravagantly by any means - but we are very comfortable, we have "just enough", and it sure is nice being able to do special things with my daughter and stepsons, like the Disney vacation we took over the winter, including a Disney cruise. I like being able to afford gymnastics for my daughter, and other fun things here and there.

I've seen this type of question pop up here the past few days in various forms, so I apologize for repeating anything. Really, we all need to do what is best for us and our families, and stop either feeling guilty for the choices we make, or casting judgement on everyone else for the choices they make.

6 moms found this helpful

Mostly b/c I want to. We could get by on one salary, however, having two incomes is MUCH more secure. AND we are able to provide for our family - i.e. retirement, college savings, vacations etc - in ways we couldn't on one income. My schedule is very flexible (going to a field trip today over a long lunch with my daughter) and I am VERY fortunate that my job pays very well and I love it. Ideally, I'd like to work a little less, but it's practically perfect. It's still a tough choice some days - just wish I could be home more.... Hoping to cut back on hours in the next two years and have even a better balance. I guess we all strive for that perfect balance... I just try to enjoy the moment and be thankful I have such a great job in this economy.

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I HAVE to, but even if I didn't, I probably still would, even if it was doing something on a volunteer basis. I may b!tch about being so busy all the time, but I'm honestly one of those people that would fall over and die if I didn't have SOMETHING to do all the time ;)

I'm a WAHM, so I get a little bit of both worlds. Everyone thinks I'm so lucky to be able to work from home, and I am, but not like they think! Yeah, I get to stay in my jammies and pump out emails like a crazy lady, but it's really hard having my kids in the very same room, but I can't play with them because I'm working. I think the only people who understand how tough it is to WAH are the other people who WAH!!

But regardless of working, where I work, or if I work, of course I'm a good mom!! ;)

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I am currently looking for work and have had some interviews that look promising.

I am starting the job hunt because there is no money to cover any "extras". We can't afford to send my daughter to pre-school. My son is in martial arts and that is becoming a strain. There is no extra to pay for birthday parties or presents for that matter. We really want out daughter in martial arts as well and piano lesson for our son. These are the extras I hope to cover by going to work part time now.

In a year I expect to be back to work full time and then that will be for extras and then things that have gotten dropped while I have been a SAHM...retirement accounts, college savings, braces will becoming up in a few years, vacation money, etc etc

My husband's job has been cutting benefits like crazy over the past three years with no cost of living adjustment to his pay either. There have been no bonuses, they cut his company car, they are no longer paying his licensing fees, etc. All of these things add up very quickly until you are covering the basics and there are no extras. Oh, and the cost of gas going up...I don't go anywhere that isn't an essential, grocery store, church, etc.

With things getting tighter it looks like I need to go back to work whether I want to or not.

And we practice Dave Ramsey's techniques...so there is no where left to cut but the few extras (martial arts, pre-school costs, etc)...we already have cut everything else, no cable, one phone, eating out, etc etc.

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There are times when I hate working (times when I love it, too), but I view having 2 parents working as a bit of a safety net.
For me - it's part of being prepared for what ever life can throw at you.

The only debt we have is the mortgage and we wouldn't even have that if we could sell the old house (we paid that off years ago) for enough to wipe that out.
In the mean time, we refinanced to the lowest fixed rate we could get and try to keep the old house rented out so rental income pays most of the mortgage payment.
We have enough saved so that if one of us lost a job we could survive for almost 2 years, but our retirement would be in jeopardy.
We look forward to being debt free again soon as possible.
We're working on it.
But I still buy a lottery ticket once in awhile day dreaming about a big win.

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For me it's a mix of both - the money I make helps us keep a very comfortable lifestyle (swim lessons, gym memberships, mini-vacations,etc) and while we could make it on a single income I do not think I'd like the way we'd have to live - it would be very spartan. That said - I am also well educated (have MA degree) and believe it would be a waste to throw away my education so I can stay home with the kids. I don't get a lot of personal satisfaction from being home all day with my kids - it never was stimulating enough and i was easily bored - so I found a job that is the best of both worlds. I work f/t doing something i love but I am able to work from home - so if my kids need me I am available to get them (one in 2nd grade, another almost 3) on short notice. I love the way things are now...never wanted to be SAHM...so I think it's a perfect solution for me and my family.

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both. I worked really hard for my education and chose a profession I really, really enjoy. I am blessed to have flexibility - now if I won a lottery tomorrow guess what - I think I would still work a few days a week, but it would be nice to have the flexibility of only working 8 - 3 or only three days a week, but very few jobs in my sector allow that.
A poll of working moms actually has stated similar results - moms want to work, but not so much - LOL!
I definately agree that moms who work out of the home full time and in the home part time or those who work in the home full time all have the potential for greatness;)
I saw a great little blurb with Ann Curry this AM and she said she gives it 100% at work and 100% at home and doesn't mix the two - I really like her:)

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Definely because I have to.
I have been working since I was 11 yrs old ( v. poor family so started washing dishes in a restaurant at 11 yrs ) and have been working since.
I put myself through college and have always supported myself financially.
I am now 37 yrs and have a near 4yr old and one on the way and would love to stay at home to be a wife and mother.
I have a good paid job and my income keeps the family afloat so I am stuck at work for another while.
My hubby has started his own business so fingers crossed it will be a great success so I can stop working outside the home.
Maybe I might get the urge to return to work in my 50's but for now the craving is to be at home.
B. k

5 moms found this helpful

I work because I have to--to keep the roof over our heads and feed the family and insurance. I also want to work but I would not be doing what I am now if I had a choice. My husband was laid off in Dec so if I quit, we would really be up the creek, no paddles and a bunch of holes in the boat.

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I've often wondered what "having" to work means. And I work so no criticism intended. I see families living in small apartments with the mom at home and other families in good sized houses with nice cars and the mom says she "has" to work. I work to thrive but a lot is behind that. For one, my husband's job never seems to be that stable. Because I've kept working, we have no mortgage, college is paid for, lots of other savings etc so it'd be ok if my husband didn't have an income for awhile and I was a SAHM but it'd bug me to to live off savings. We live well below our means. My job pays very well and has been very stable with flexibility to make it to all my kids' school events etc. And I'm home before 5:00. But I still debate working all the time because no, I don't HAVE to. Then again, working means I'm paying taxes and we can donate substantially to our schools etc. Sometimes I think I'll stay home and work super hard volunteering for our schools or animals etc and then I think "or, I could keep working and just donate more $ than I probably could raise in a year and still come out ahead financially..." I also would have gone crazy at home with 2 really little kids close in age. Finally, it brings me to a question - is raising girls circular? My mom worked so hard to make a good life for me and pay for education etc so I could be successful and well adjusted. She basically achieved that so now I'm supposed to quit this outstanding career she helped foster to stay home so my children are secure and don't have issues from having an "absent" mother? OK. But since my children are girls, I suppose it'll be the same for them. Study really hard, go to expensive schools to develop a strong career and then - 'up, quit when they have kids so their kids in turn can grow up secure and ready to pursue a solid career. However, if they're girls, they'll just be giving up that career when they have kids... I admit women can go back to work later or something but in my case, once I leave this job, I doubt I can ever get a comparable one. So it's not always that easy. I've also heard that one kids are teens, they sometimes look down on their SAHM and are proud of their successful working moms. I don't know... This is something I grapple with almost every single day.

EDIT: I also work bc I'm a worrier. What if one of us gets super sick and we need an expensive specialist that insurance won't pay for? I want to be able to buy whatever medical care we need. Or what if my husband dies? Or what if he leaves me?

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When I worked it was because I wanted to. I was woking to "thrive." Since being a SAHM, I am not able to buy the extras or have as many paid leisurely activities. I would love to go back to work; I'm working on it! It is nice to have some "play money!"

5 moms found this helpful

I work because I *HAVE* to work in order to provide food, clothing, shelter medical/dental insurance, transportation, etc. I work full time vs. part time because we need the medical/dental insurance & I've never been able to secure a PT job that offered those benefits. I know some exist, although not as many as before, but they're in such high demand that I've found it impossible to secure one for myself. I use to work FT because we needed the income that a FT positions offers along with the benefts but now that I've moved up the lader I can actually *slightly* afford to go PT but it would have to include the medical/dental and my current employer doesn't offer any PT posiitons. Also, if I went PT we would be barely squeaking by. I don't work because we overspent and now I"m drowing in debt. I've always been very budget conscious and don't have any credit card debt, etc. . I don't work to mantain a comfortable life style. I work because I have to work in order to help provide for my family esp. with the medical benefts. My husband works FT but is not guaranteed 40 hours a week and so sometimes he only gets to work 20 hours or week or sometimes even less! He also doesn't have any benefts =( When we first got married he had a good job but he was laid off and now I'm suffering the price along with the kids, sigh.

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I work because my husband and I have made decisions that make sense for our family. What I neither "want" nor "have" to do is justify those decisions to anyone else.

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HAVE to. Unfortunately. I "like" my job. But it's not my dream job. My dream job pays next to nothing.

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I think anyone can make ends meet without both parents working. I think the issue is to at least live the lifestyle our parents had both parents have to work.

I don't have to work, we could do just fine on Troy's income. I could have done just fine off of my spousal support that I voluntarily gave up. At least to me after being with an abusive controlling man who hates women I wanted my daughters to understand that a woman can support a family just as well as a man. I wanted them to know they did not have to be or stay in a relationship like mine just to support their kids.

I did stay home until the kids were in school mind you. I could never understand why anyone would pay $20 an hour for someone to watch their kids when they only make $20 an hour. I mean you are not actually making any money, you are working to pay taxes. Then again even that makes sense if you are doing it to keep your job until your kids are in school.

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When I did work - I worked b/c I had too. It was to cover basic costs, house, food, gas, car payments and credit cards. Then added 2 kids on top of that a year apart from eachother and it made it tougher. I left a job I LOVED to go make more money. The extra money was able to pay off our debts and put us in a comfort area. Now I can be home with them and we added our 3rd child.

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I went to work when my daughter was about a yr or so old. I had no choice, we were struggling way too hard for the basics. I still have to work, but even if I didn't I would. Staying at home all the time would drive me batty.

I honestly don't see how anyone can survive in a decent neighborhood, (even if you live in an apartment) without 2 incomes! AND I make 15 bucks an hour now!

I wanna know how you get a car without making payments at some point? LOL

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Hi D.---I work because I want to. I have my own business helping others. It is most gratifying. I doubt I will ever retire. D.

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I kind of wish I worked a day or two a week so that I could 1. get out of the house a little and have adult time 2. my parents could have their one-on-one-time with my son and 3. to make a few extra bucks for spending (husband has us on a tight budget. I can't just go spend $100 on shoes if I wanted to). So I'd want to work just b/c I wanted to. I don't work b/c I don't have to.

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I often find myself dragging my feet while getting ready for work (I work 2-12hour overnights per week) because I don't want to leave my family. I usually have to leave in the middle of dinnertime. But once I'm there, I love it. Working part time is truly the best of both worlds. I could quit tomorrow, cut off cable, ditch my blackberry and get a pay-as-you-go phone, take my daughter out of part-time daycare/preschool, and we'd be fine.

I continue to work because I don't want to lose my nursing skills, I want to continue to be challenged and use my brain, I enjoy the time spent with other intelligent adults, I love to serve and care for those who truly need a compassionate advocate by their side, and at this point in my life it is just part of my identity.

I also identify myself as a SAHM because I spend so much time with my DD. I teach her right from wrong, the abc's, how to count, I play make-believe with her, take her to playdates, etc. etc. etc. Preschool for the most part just reinforces what she learns at home. It gives her an opportunity to play out what she has learned in a group environment, IMO. So yes, I think it's possible to work and still be a great mom. I also think it's possible to be a mom and still make great contributions to the work force, the community, and society. Then again, I only have ONE child (by choice). I'm not sure how great I'd be at balancing work/home life if I had 3 or 4 young kids.

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For me it's a little bit of both. I like to work and have a GREAT paying job. We live in a nice home, in a nice community with great schools. Our house is not huge, but it's very nice. I work so we can stay where we are, drive the cars we have, pay tuition for the school we WANT our kids to go to (even though we could save a boat load and send them to great public schools), take vacations and so on. If we were to "down grade" I could go PT or maybe even quit. I knew that if we did that, I would not get near as good of a job once my kids were in school full time and I went back to work. We WANT to live the life we are living and as a result, I have to work. I personally am ok with it. We have a very happy family and our kids do not suffer one bit.

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I work because I have to. We don't have an extravagant home or cars. Luckily, the only debt we have is our mortgage and one car payment but my husband and I both have to work in order to make ends meet. If I don't work then we don't have health insurance - it's expensive through my job but it's even more expensive through his job. My daughter's getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall and although I think it would be nice to have a few days home alone I would be bored out of my mind after a week or so.

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I am a single mom of 3 boys so I work because I have to. I think that even if this wasn't the situation I probably would still work at least part time.

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because I have to.

I work for health insurance and literally to put food on the table. Hubby covers mortgage/utilities/and the small amount of bills we have. I cover insurance and groceries. and gas for my car and the occasional fun family event. We would "just cut back", but there's not much to cut. We drive old cars with no payments, we don't have any "toys" like boats or campers. I wear my monthly contacts for months, it's that bad.

I am lucky that I can work 4 days a week and one of those days from home(!). I get paid less for only working 4 days, that was our choice so I can spend more time with my kids. So I get to spend 4 of the 7 days with my kids. If the company I work for can keep from going out of business I have it made!

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Hmmm, well I have a lot to say on this subject. None of it will be 'helpful' to anyone.

I WILL say, I'm only 44 years old, my kids are only 19, 17, and 14....the way I see it, I still have 4 more years to decide whether being a (mostly) SAHM will work for me or not. Can't decide just yet.

Meanwhile, the mortgage is paid, everyone has what they need, and most of what they want, we have a relaxed happy healthy well adjusted household. However, we would LOVE a 3 tiered Trex deck for the backyard, a week or more at a beach house, possibly motorcycles, maybe another Golden, the list goes on and on. Plus, I actually have TOO MUCH time on my hands now (can you imagine?!).

So, typically, now same as the past 20 some odd years, what I'M doing right now, works PERFECTLY for everyone but ME. And ironically, if I go to work full time now, my kids will lose their TAP and PELL Grants, my ex husband will lose his three giant tax deductions, and my guy will lose the red carpet he comes home to every week.

:(

So I am STILL on the fence, 20 years later.

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I don't think WORK is what someone pays us for as much as it is what the human race is designed for. Everything good and constructive is a type of work. The Bible says if we don't work we don't eat. I work because I like to see my family eat. I work because I enjoy cable tv, electricity, water, cell phones, all kinds of modern conveniences, and I work because I like to help others too. The maternity homes, homeless shelters, churches, food pantries, and emergency help services like the Red cross need money to keep the loving volunteers going.

I work because it's the right and moral thing to do.

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I have to work. My husband does work that has profound social value, but, well, not a lot of financial value. So I'm the financial mainstay. That said, among all the jobs I could have, I feel fairly fortunate to have the one I've got. On good days, I really enjoy it. On bad days, well, I know enough not to quit. Would I do it on a volunteer basis, if I weren't paid? Nah. Do I feel lucky to have this job, to be supporting my family, etc. Hell yeah. So it's a little of both.

3 moms found this helpful

I work because I have to, though I do think with both of my kids in school I would go crazy being home all day anyway. I did have about a year off after our youngest was born & it was wonderful, but challenging.

We don't live in a huge house, drive fancy cars or go on lavish vacations. We also don't have any credit cards or personal loans. We're not comfortable yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, though it's still quite far away.

3 moms found this helpful

Both. I literally work because I have to. I make 60-80% of our household income and provide all of our benefits. I've had my job for 12 years, my husband is self-employed and undergoes some sort of job change every 6-18 months and never really does anything for more than a few years. Without my income, we'd be living in a cramped apartment and on public assistance. Not really an appealing lifestyle for me!

But I also work because I want to. If I really didn't want to work, or really thought that my children would be better off with a parent at home FT, I would have married someone else or not had kids at all.

I have put my career in a bit of a holding pattern over the past 5 years, partly because of having 4 young children (my youngest starts Kindergarten this year and I was a gestational carrier 2 years ago) and partly because the economy has his my industry hard so there hasn't been much opportunity for growth anyway. But I fully expect that as my company begins to grow again and my kids get older, that I will be more aggressive in my career and take on more responsibility. In the meantime, though, it's been nice to have work at home flexibility, be home after school most days and be able to volunteer, attend events, etc.

All that said, I think it's a bit judgmental and smug to say that most dual-income families could survive on one income if they really wanted to, like working mother income is paying for an Escalade and nice handbags and Caribbean vacations. At least where I live, the cost of living is ridiculous and any standard of living above poverty level more often than not requires two incomes. It's NOT about the lifestyle. And WHY should it be MOM who stays home? Why couldn't dad have that opportunity if it presented itself?

3 moms found this helpful

How you framed your question displays somewhat of a limited point of view.

I have worked since I was in college working my way through school. I graduated with my BS in accounting with no student loans because I worked and my divorced mother sacrificed. After I graduated I got a well paying job because I wanted to contribute to my own life and to my mother.

I was 28 years old when I had my son. I went to work because milk, diapers, clothes, medical care, etc. Babies aren't free and his father wasn't cooperative.

While it would have been lovely to be home with my son, my son and my family were actually better off with me working and earning decent income along the way.

I'm married now. All of my income is being saved. We are saving towards buying a house of our own even though each of us own rental property. Our lifestyle is as scaled back as it possibly can be. We are currently raising 3 teens. Two of whom will graduate from high school next year and be headed off to college. Then we will have two college tuitions to make and one child with three years of highschool left. So at some point in the near future we will have 3 boys in colleges at the same time. College isn't free for most but I do anticipate all 3 getting full scholarships and if they don't we will have to foot that bill too. So momma has to work but I have many sources of income outside of my job and I love my life.

3 moms found this helpful

LOL-- Some days Mom has to go to work and some days Mom GETS to go to work!

Seriously though, I'm a very single mom, so I have to work (or win the lotto)

3 moms found this helpful

I don't work I'm a sahm but when I was a single mom I had to. It was the hardest thing I had to do even though my oldest was watched by family it was very difficult. It killed me to not be home taking care of my child. I have to agree with live off a small income but we are able to live off of just the one. I see moms that say they can't afford to stay home but they won't give up their multiple vacations, their fake nails done every week, the escalade, etc
I'm am very happy with our small ranch and used cars and staying home with my babies happier than I would be if I had to work to pay for a large house, new car, etc and away from my babies.

3 moms found this helpful

I am with Michelle M- it is a little of both. I think if we reaaallllly wanted to, I could quit my full-time job. It would mean: getting rid of 1 vehicle, selling our home for something smaller and older or much much further away (longer commutes), no vacations, no extra spending cash for anything fun. Basically, we would go from "we are doing ok and even putting money on savings as long as we budget" to Full-on cutting costs at every turn. I am very lucky in that I work from home and can choose my own hours. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I do not have to send the kids to daycare and I can go to all the kids' school programs, I get to be here with my kids, yet also bring in a paycheck. It can be stressful sometimes because I am always juggling work and home responsibilities at the same time...and sometimes it means that I am distracted as a mom and an employee. It also eats up 8 hours of the day, of course, and sometimes I think "Ah man, life would be easier if I had that 8 hours for me and the kids!" But then I don't really know that life would be easier, because we would totally have to change our complete lifestyle. Anyway, it seems to work for us.

3 moms found this helpful

sadly... I have too. Wish I could stay home. Truly think it would help my children. We have too high of a mortgage payment. Our economy in our area does not match the wages.

3 moms found this helpful

I PLANNED on returning back to work until my job was 'eliminated' after a month after I announced I was pregnant.

Since then I've been a SAHM but during the school year I wrangle my friend's four kids off to four different schools. That extra money helps out to cover gas and groceries for the week.

I dread the summer because I feel like a mooch but spend time during my work-outs searching for deals/discounts/freebies. My husband NEVER says anything but I feel I need to add SOMETHING to the household in one way or another. He was THRILLED when I found him a year subscription to ESPN magazine for free a couple of weeks ago.

I would like to work part-time but my area has been rocked HARD with high unemployment. Until then we're okay with just my husband working.

3 moms found this helpful

I work because I have to. I may not have to work a full-time job but I definitely need to work to support my family. My husband has what I call a 'feel good job'. He feels good about what he does at the end of the day but it doesn't pay squat. It would not cover our mortgage, utilities and groceries. We both drive older cars that are paid off and do not have credit card debts. Even if we somehow could afford for me to quit my job I have a really good job in health care administration that I spent almost 5 years trying to get (many applications and phone calls). I would love to be able to stay home with my son until he starts school (he is 3 now) but this job would not be waiting for me when I was able to return to work. In the meantime we are lucky that my grandma keeps my son. He loves her and she loves him more than anything in the world....it is a good set up for all of us.

2 moms found this helpful

Because I have to - I definitely don't want to.

My personal debt from the last 6 years has slowly built up as well as my salary goes towards the household's clothing, special things, household items (detergent, paper towels, etc) and family fun events.

My husband pays for the majority of the household bills, but his job is never stable - we are trying to get him a green card but it's expensive and is taking us awhile to save up the sum needed to get it finished. Once he gets his green card, he can work at a stable job and get better wages.

2 moms found this helpful

I work on contracts when I want to - not because I have to...we planned everything we did - buying a home, everything - on my husband's income alone...like you - we live on less than we make...

Right now - I don't have contracts to work because Congress can't get their heads out of the behinds and do their jobs...so even though there are a ton of positions that need to be filled...people aren't filling them until a budget is reached...how sad is that?

My best girl here in VA - she works because she HAS to...she and her husband make a really good living....big house, nice cars, etc....does she want to be a SAHM? Yes...but when the family brings in over $300K a year - it's kinda hard to lose one of those incomes....stuck in a vicious cycle....right now - they couldn't sell their home for much more than they owe on it...so there's no point in moving as well as the fact that the house suits their needs and lifestyle to downsize would only make them very unhappy as no one would have their personal space again...

i also believe you can be a good mom while you work - you just need to be active in your kids life.

2 moms found this helpful

I work because I have to. I carry the medical benefits. My husband just got a job in the last 2 months after not working / working extremely little the last 2 years. And he is contract labor right now. So - my job has paid the utilities, food, clothing, extras until now. I wish I could only work part time in order to be home more but it's just not reality for us.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree with you.

I worked when DD was born because I thought I "had to". What I realized is that if we gave up some luxuries, we could afford for me to stay home & to live on one income.

Now, I'm completely generalizing here, but I think that modern people have forgotten what a "want" is vs. a "need". I think that some modern people feel they have to work to keep up with Joneses. Now, I know that some people choose to work to have nice things & that those nice things are a priority for them, which is their choice, but not something that I would personally choose to do.

On the other hand, especially nowadays, moms work because they have to, because their husband's jobs are sketchy, or non existent, and they just want to make ends meet. I completely understand it. I, myself need to head back to work to help supplement a job change that my DH just made.

I have worked & not worked, so I see both sides of the coin. I think moms/parents should do what's beneficial for the whole family.

2 moms found this helpful

When I go back to work, it will be because I want to! I miss it, but with my business I usually only work part time and my sister watches my kids. That makes it a lot easier!

2 moms found this helpful

I'm a SAHM in the summers because I own an insurance agency that allows me flexible hours so I can do what I need to for the kids. My family comes first always. My husband also sells insurance, he makes six figures on his own so technically I don't "have" to work. However, since we both have a lot of expenses as businessowners, I do like that my income covers some of it. We pay cash for EVERYTHING. Nothing is on credit. If we don't have the money for it, we don't buy it. I sort of feel like I have the best of both worlds. I'm able to be with my kids when they are not in school so no one else has them, and I make money to contribute to the finances, and I have clients, friends, networking opportunities that still keep me "social", which I like. I think women and men alike need to do whatever is needed to keep the family safe, secure and happy, whatever that means for each person.

2 moms found this helpful

Thats a really good question!

I dont work, thank God i dont have to yet. But when all my kids are over 3 and in preschool i will work because i WANT to. But i will quit, or cut back hours if it in any way interferes with my real job as mom.

Again----because my situation happens to allow that

2 moms found this helpful

interesting question. i would say i work because i have to but i truly wonder if i didn't have to, would i miss working after a few months of not? or would i embrace the freedom and just love being a sahm? not sure. but for not i'm going to say i work b/c i have to. if i win the lottery, i'll update my answer :)

2 moms found this helpful

Both. I have to work to pay the bills, but I would work even if we won the lottery because I would go nuts as a full-time housewife.

2 moms found this helpful

Work b/c I have to to help cover living expenses (it seems as if someone always needs to be fixed or replaced). I'd have to definitely change our lifestyle and we'd need to sell our house (unlikely in this economy to happen anytime soon). Even if we did that, I'd still work b/c I want to and need that adult conversation that isn't revolving around preparing for pre-K.

1 mom found this helpful

I work part time on purpose - its a gig that allowed me to stay at home with a high needs, premature baby, that lets me work mostly on my own time, can easily be transitioned into a day-time thing when the child(ren) are in school, it pays well, it has some other perks. I never want to 'burn this bridge' so to speak, its been awesome for 17yrs.

But it was also why we chose to build an addition, and do much needed safety renovations on our home - because we could use the income to cover the expenses.

So, for me, its been a combo.

1 mom found this helpful

I guess I am one of those women who want to. There is a different feeling in the job when you want over having to. Once I there was a time that I HAD to work and it was not a great feeling.

As for Sandy L and the military wife. There are sides to this. Some of the women can stay home depending on hubbies rank (enlisted vs officer). The lower the rank the more likely the wife will have to work to supplement what the military member is paid. Also it depends on what you think you should have over what you really need. I lived on my husband's salary for four years (he got paid once a month) and there were four of us. We were outside the country and I made most of our meals and many clothing articles. It was a very good time in our lives.

When my kids were younger they saw a mom that was able to give them the best of staying home and working and showing them that there are many facets to the life of a mom. My staying home about drove me and hubby nuts so that is why I work.

Now that the kids are grown and hubby has had surgeries he no longer works but he does have a military retirement to fall back on and we do get for now SSI disability. The two together make it so that I do not have to work. My goal is to transition out of the work force in the next two to three years into my retirement business. My job provides additional medical insurance for us.

So do look at both sides of the fence. I like nice things but I have many and don't need extras and am trying to unload them. Clutter is now a way of life that I want to remove.

Being able to provide for a visit from my grandson who did eat me out of house and home and to do things with him was great. There was a rather large dent in this month's budget but it will be fine next month. There are people who could not do this because of their finances. I respect that and what they have to do. No, I am not looking down on anyone as I have been there and I know it is possible to be there again. The next two weeks I will be bringing my lunch because the lunch room at work is closed until the new semester starts. Besides lunches on the outside cost about $7 for anything decent so 7 x 5 = 35 x 2 = 70 that I will save.

My hats are off to you all.

The other S.

1 mom found this helpful

I am a stay at home mom, but choose to work a few shifts a month at the agency I worked with when I was full time. I worked full time in the mental health field, so this helps me to keep my foot in the door. My paychecks go towards our family travel budget. I have been able to pay for trips to visit family, plane fares,etc.

1 mom found this helpful

I work part-time because I want to. And I what I mean is that I "want" my family to not have to sacrifice too much of what we like to do b/c of lack of money. I want to be able to take my children on vacations when we want to. I want to be able to go out for dinner without worrying that it will ruin our finances. I want to be able to pay for the private education I wish my children to have. I want to have the freedom to do all the things we like to do as a family and allow my children to experience so many different things, which sometimes comes with a price tag. But if I absolutely had to stay home, we could make it work. My part-time schedule, I feel, gives me the best of both worlds and my job is very flexible so I never miss things at my child's school or extracurricular activities, I'm a homeroom Mom and my children come first. I like the balance I have and I hope I'm a good role model for my daughter to know that she can do and be whatever she wants. And I believe that you can have it all....just not always at the same exact time.

1 mom found this helpful

LOL - Same here as Sarah! (and I'd even split the lotto w/you!)

1 mom found this helpful

I am blessed to be able to be a full-time mom right now. The one comment that I wanted to add to this discussion is about preparation. We are able to live on one income because we planned for it. When we were both working (and I do admit that we both had very good jobs), we lived as if only one of us was. This allowed for two things - we practiced controlling our spending and we set aside the extra income to help when we really needed it. We bought a house based on what we thought we could afford not on the ridiculous amount that we were "pre-approved" for. I don't mind clipping coupons, shopping at consignment stores, or driving used cars because experiences (and time together) are most important to us. This doesn't mean that we - or our kids - look sloppy or that we skimp on interesting things to do. We may eat out less frequently but we make great, creative meals at home. We may buy clothes on sale, but they fit well and look nice. We may not travel to the Caribbean every year, but we take great trips to relax, to learn, and to visit friends we miss. We may... well you get the idea ;)

We aren't exactly living within our current means, but we haven't had to go into debt (beyond our mortgage, that is) because we saved in advance. I also plan to go back to work when our kids are older, because I feel like it's the responsible thing to do - to set a good example for them, to contribute to society as a whole, and to ensure that their choices for higher education aren't limited. I feel like some of the most important lessons we can teach our children are how to be reponsible for themselves, how to avoid living only in the moment, and how to share what we have with those who are less fortunate...

1 mom found this helpful

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