Friday, June 24, 2011

Dollars and Sense

So I've been thinking about money. It's a topic that comes up a lot whether you have a lot of it or little of it. There's been much talk about the economy lately. Everywhere you turn people are saying, "With the economy the way it is these days..." Even the Bible contains over 2,000 verses that have to do with money, finances, stewardship, etc. It's something that no one can avoid thinking about.

As a woman, a mother, and wife--of a seminary student no less--it's something that I've definitely had to think about. There are questions we all face but "Will I work outside the home?" is one at the forefront of marriage and motherhood it seems. I did work for several years but then when God called us to New Orleans, He blessed me with the opportunity to stay at home. This was 100% the best thing for our family and completely Biblical in my opinion (Titus 2:3-5). That's not to say it has been easy. There have certainly been times when I've wondered if our family would come out on top financially should I return to a culturally traditional job. I've wondered if we could then manage to get by without assistance. I've wondered if my husband would be able to cut back his work hours and focus more on school. I really feel as though that would have been outside the will of God for me, however, and am thankful that I haven't listened when doubts have crept in.

But they do creep in. Especially when other women talk about why they have chosen to work and send their child/children to daycare or to school. They certainly seem proud of themselves for contributing or in some cases fully supporting their families (although we know it's the Lord that truly cares for all of our needs). "If they're doing such a good job, what does that say about me?" I ask myself. I ask God. Yeah, yeah, I love, nurture, and educate the kids, keep the house clean, prepare meals, do all of the laundry, etc. but what about the "real" bottom line? What about the moolah?! But then I got to noticing articles here and there about the cost of not breastfeeding. Hmmmm. According to recent studies if all women breastfed their babies the nation would save about $13 billion dollars a year in medical costs. That's about $3,250 a year per child if you're wondering what costs your child incurs for you or the government. That's almost $10,000 I'm saving a year for the three children I've breastfed/am breastfeeding! (It's also noteworthy that over 900 babies could be saved from death if their mothers breastfed them!) What's the biggest obstacle that prevents mothers from exclusively breastfeeding their babies? Being working moms.

Of course the $13 billion dollars pertains only to the children who would benefit and doesn't take into account that the breastfeeding women would also reap health rewards since women who nurse their babies around less likely to get breast cancer, diabetes, ovarian and endometrial cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or suffer from infertility. They also experience easier weight loss and enjoy greater emotional stability!

Aside from the medical costs, formula costs around $2,000-$3,000 for the first year of a child's life. That's another $6,000-$9,000 I've saved!

Another issue that came to my mind was school. Public school is free! I could send my kids off and go to work and come out on top, right? Depends on how you look at it, I guess. A lot of people want to gripe about people being on Medicaid and food stamps and other forms of government assistance but how exactly is that different from accepting free, taxpayer funded education? I looked up the costs associated with public schooling to the taxpayer. According to as of January 2011 the average annual cost of sending one child to public school in the United States is $9,154. (You can look up information for your particular state by clicking here. I found this all fascinating!) And apparently the public schools are doing a very poor job since 2011 studies report that 70% of 8th graders in the U.S. read below their grade level and 67% are performing below their grade level in math.

From "Home school students do exceptionally well when compared with the nationwide average. In every subject and at every grade level of the ITBS and TAP batteries, home school students scored significantly higher than their public and private school counterparts (Figure 1)."

Figure 1

So by homeschooling, not only am I providing my children with a superior education in a loving, Christian environment but, should I educate all four of my children at home through high school, I would save the taxpayers close to $500,000 not providing for inflation.

I may catch some flack for saying this but to me this just points to the idea that maybe God had the right idea situating women in the home and even providing them with a natural, incredibly healthy way to provide sustenance for their babies.

However you feel about it there's no arguing that stay-at-home, homeschooling mamas are worth their weight in gold. Incidentally I calculated my weight in gold and it's $2,629,314.90. Ha, ha!

I also calculated my "mom salary." If someone had to actually be paid for everything that I do it would equal up to more than $117,000 a year. You can calcuate your mom salary by clicking here.

I'm so glad I took the time to look at the subject of finances in an outside-the-box sort of way! And please don't take everything that I've written as me judging anyone for working or for feeding their babies formula or sending their kids to public school. These are very personal decisions and a lot of factors play into the conclusions we come to individually. The fact is, however, that things might be different than you think. It might be more financially beneficial for you to be a stay-at-home mom. Or perhaps you need to look at us stay-at-homers in a different light!

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