The costs of being a stay-at-home mom


Why are women who choose to stay at home with children at a disadvantage when they return to the workforce?

According to Kathryn Sollman, who spent ten years as a recruiter and now runs 9 Lives for Women, a career advisory firm for current and returning professionals, most women who leave the workforce for motherhood only intend to be away for a couple of years, but end up staying home an average of 12 years.

“The major reason is that they stay out too long,” said Sollmann.

“A woman forfeits up to four times her salary each year she is out of the workforce. In the average 12-year hiatus just to care for children, there are 144 monthly paychecks that are not invested and saved.”

Saved and invested earnings from a low-pressure $25 per hour job during school hours can generate close to $500,000 over a 20-year period.

“A woman who is a higher earner—at $90,000 a year—loses a tremendous amount in retirement savings by leaving her job. Over a 30-year period, lost savings could have grown to almost one million dollars," Sollman said.

Most women don't realize they need 10 years of earnings to be eligible to receive their own Social Security benefits. This affects even educated women who only work for a couple years after graduating college.

“People also think Social Security is not going to add up to much income. But in my book, I show an example of a woman who returns to work to a moderate salary and increases her Social Security benefits by $600,000.”

Kathryn is the author of Ambition Redefined: How to Find Flexible Work & Financial Security (Without Neglecting Your Family or Yourself), set for publication in 2018 by Nicholas Brealey (Hachette Business Group).