Combining work and family responsibilities can be a balancing act so here are some of the expenses you might face as well as potential benefits
For most working parents, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about returning to work after having a baby is finding suitable childcare.
Statistics show that 47% of couples and 51% of single parents with children under the age of five use paid childcare, and of those, 85% of couples and 67% of single parents are using childcare for work-related purposes1.
So unless you’re fortunate enough to have family who are willing and able to care for your little one for nothing, returning to work means you’re probably adding a new outgoing to your family budget.
The government offers a Child Care Subsidy to help families with the cost of childcare. But even with government assistance taken into account, childcare can be a considerable cost, and one that has risen significantly over recent years.
Even taking into account any childcare benefit, the median amount spent per week per child was $162 for couple families and $114 for single parents in 2014 and 2015, which was an increase of 75% and 104%, respectively, on the amount spent in 2002 and 20031.
Long-term benefits of returning to work
If the cost of childcare will take up a large portion of your salary, returning to work might not seem to make good financial sense, particularly if you’re working part time. But it’s important to take a long-term view of your family finances, as well as considering the more immediate costs. After all, your children won’t be in childcare forever!
By returning to work after taking parental leave – even if it’s part time – you’re continuing to build your super, as well as maintaining your industry knowledge, contacts, and skills, which will help protect your ability to both earn an income in the short term and build your future earning capacity. This will help protect your family’s long-term financial security, as well as helping you create a sustainable work/life balance.
How to deal with less income
If you’re like many Australian families you could be facing a reduced income due to the cost of childcare, or because you’ve changed your working arrangements, and are returning in a part-time role or job share.
Here's a tip to help you adjust to the change, as well as some good ideas to help keep your finances on track.
- Ensure you have a budget, which sets out how your money will be spent, and look for any areas you can reduce your spending. If you’re an AMP customer, our free Money Manager tool makes tracking your spending easy, while the AMP Bett3r Bank Account makes it simple to separate your money and allocate it for bills, saving, or spending.
What to do with any extra income
If you’re returning to work when your children are at school this could mean a boost in your household income, and you may be lucky enough to have money left over after all your expenses are met. If so, there are a number of things you could do to help you get ahead financially such as:
- Making additional repayments on your home loan
- Repaying an outstanding uni debt, or any other debts
- Making additional contributions to your super
- Saving for future expenses, such as your child’s education.
As a parent, there are some other important financial matters you should think about.
- Make sure you have enough insurance to help protect your loved ones should anything happen to you.
- Make a will if you don't already have one or update your existing will to reflect your change in circumstances.
- Make sure your beneficiaries are up to date in your super.
Need more help?
If you’d like help organising your family finances and planning your return to work, speak to your financial adviser.
1 Melbourne Institute, The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey 2017, Table 2.11, pg 23
2 Melbourne Institute, The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey 2017, Table 2.13, pg 24
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