Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Finance: Want To Stay Home With Your Babies? That'll be $300,000, Thanks!

Just the other day I asked my sister "are you sure you want to go back to work? It might be cheaper to stay home given the cost of childcare..."

Childcare is expensive, true. Most parents I know are paying $100 a day (no, I'm not joking) for junior to be looked after while they're at work.

But it looks like staying home has some serious financial downsides other than the loss of your salary.
MUMS taking time out from work to care for children until they start school face losing $160,000 in superannuation.
The savings hole has prompted calls for teenagers to be taught about the financial perils of being a stay-at-home mother.
The superannuation sacrifice blows out to almost $290,000 when women stay at home for a decade from the age of 30, calculations by financial research firm Canstar reveal.
One year out of the workforce costs $34,000, while three years out amounts to a $95,000 loss, it says.
I knew that being a stay at home mum for a year or two could impact on your super, but seeing the figures makes it real all of a sudden. $34,000 to take off a year?

Of course, my retirement plans don't really take my super into account. I feel like super is too hard to predict - you can't control the investments made past picking what kind of account you want, you can't control changing laws around super, you can't withdraw any money until you're 60. I want to be retired well before 60, and given that I'm committed to living within my means and deliberately building wealth, my super should just be gravy. (Let's keep those fingers crossed).

But there are a lot of parents out there who will be relying on their super in retirement, and it scares me that they could make decisions about whether to continue working or stay at home based on a less than complete understanding of the financial issues.

So is it worth it to stay home with your kids? Of course it is, if that's what you think is best for your family. But you need to know what that means for your financial situation, so that you can make an informed choice.

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