My kids are starting school and my husband wants me to go back to work so we can have more income. I'd prefer to be home and not miss their childhood. What should I do?

TIM KIMMEL: You know, this is a standard conflict I hear from so many couples. 

DARCY KIMMEL: It’s a hard one. 

TIM: Yeah, it’s a tough one. It’s one that we had to face when we had our firstborn. You know, we had been married eight years before we had any children, and so she was in the marketplace and she was making great income. 

But there are some other tradeoffs that you have got to factor in, and I think that’s what you are doing with this question. You are saying, “I want to be there for these kids. I don’t want to miss their childhood.” 

More than that, they need you there. But it’s tough, because life is expensive, and you think, “What do we do?” 

Well, the problem is that if you don’t get on the same page with your husband and really factor out the bigger picture here, you could get caught up in some traps that cause you to have to spend far more money having to take care of the kids, put them in daycare, whatever they become—latchkey kids. There are all the problems with that. And on top of that, you might find out that your dollar is ahead if you leave things just the way they are, but handle them better. 

DARCY: I know that your husband is trying to be a good provider, and he doesn’t want anything to fall through the cracks, and so that probably is his motivation in going there, but one thing you might be able to do to relieve some of that pressure is make sure that you let him know that you can be content with less, that you look at your finances, make a budget, and say, “OK. I can live on this. I can make do, and I can be happy.” And then use what his income provides wisely

That way, you can take the pressure off. He might not feel like you have to go out there and work. 

TIM: And on top of that, there actually is quite a myth about the second income. People don’t realize how little it is actually worth, because when you actually start backing out the cost of you working—you take your taxes off, your state and federal, your Social Security, and then you have to many times have either a second car or a better car, you have to have more outfits, you buy more prepared foods, you eat out more, you have to pay to have the laundry done, the house cleaned. 

You back all of that out, and it’s not uncommon for that second income to be hardly worth anything. We have actually had people calculate this out, and they found out they were losing money. 

But here’s the other thing. A lot of men don’t realize their market potential because they don’t have to. 

I mean, think about it this way. Let’s say you are a tightrope walker or your husband was a tightrope walker. Do you know how to become the very best tightrope walker in the world? 

DARCY: Remove the net. 

TIM: You get rid of the net, and you become very good at this thing. 

I remember when were married and she was always making more money than I did, because I was a youth pastor at that time. I mean, kids in my youth group made more money than I did bagging groceries. 

But here’s the thing. When we had that firstborn child, she actually listed and sold a piece of property from her hospital bed the day that baby was born by cesarean section. But when she put that phone down, she said, “Tim, that’s the last one. I am quitting my job in realty.” 

Now, I wasn’t great at math, but I could crunch those numbers, and I knew what that was going to cost us. But I also knew that to raise kids and have them turn out right takes time, attention, and focus. It can’t be done if you are not there. 

And so, we made a decision. She went home, she raised those kids. But what I found out is my market potential went way up because I found I had a lot of gifts and skills that I wouldn’t have had to tap into otherwise that were there. 

When you handle the money right and he becomes more valuable out there, you might be surprised. You are dollars and cents ahead, plus those kids have had a mom to be with them that whole time. 

And that is more important than any money in the bank. 

DARCY: That’s right.