Q: I am a married mother of three, and I've been at home with the children for the past four and a half years. My youngest will start kindergarten soon. I would really like to return to work because our mortgage is pretty high, and it's hard for us on one income. But I also love the fact that I'm home when the kids get out of school, dinner is ready, and the house is clean. Paying for a babysitter is so expensive that I'm not sure whether it would be worth going back. What do you suggest?
A: It may surprise you to hear this, but I'm in favor of families having a stay-at-home parent if it works for them financially. I think it's so telling that you say you love being home for the kids, because good things come when you follow your passion.
The key here is to stay at home only if you and your husband can handle all your expenses. If you find you're getting deeper and deeper into debt on just one income, then you need to return to work. But who says it has to be in an office or full time? Think creatively about ways you can earn a living and still be there after school for your children. For example, people can make great money as sellers on eBay.
Even if you previously worked a five-day-a-week office job, see if there's part-time or consulting work you can do in your field—perhaps for your former employer. Companies are always looking to save on the cost of benefits; your willingness to act as an independent contractor means you may be able to negotiate flexible or reduced hours.