This week, we’re looking at the most important question of all: Which is the most valuable asset parents have: jobs or children?
The answer is both.
If you’re a parent looking to take care of your kids, job-seekers have a clear advantage.
Employers pay higher wages, offer more flexible schedules and more benefits than parents.
But, if you’re looking to have kids, it’s going to be a struggle.
“The jobs market is not that great for job-seeking parents,” says Rachel M. Shuster, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies parental employment.
The best advice parents can give themselves is to put themselves first, to do whatever it takes to stay afloat financially and emotionally.
Shuster, along with colleagues at the Economic Policy Institute and the Brookings Institution, found that when it comes to parents’ economic security, having kids is far and away the most influential factor in determining whether they have jobs or not.
When it comes down to it, parents can’t simply pick and choose between having kids and jobs.
That’s not going to change anytime soon.
“There are so many other things that parents need to do, including childcare,” says Shuster.
That means having children is a much bigger financial burden than having a job.
That can mean taking time off, working part-time or getting married early.
For a lot of parents, the combination of child care and unemployment has created a very difficult adjustment for both of them.
“When you’ve got that combination, you’re probably in a worse place,” Shuster says.
For many parents, their financial situation is a bigger concern than whether or not they can find a job or have kids.
For some, the burden of child and unemployment are just too much.
“The economy has been really good for us, but we haven’t really gotten a chance to do anything about it,” says Michelle K. Ransom, a mom in New York City who works part-timatally.
For parents like Ransom and Shuster who are looking for jobs, finding a job is crucial.
But if you don’t have a job, or if you’ve already lost your job, finding one can be even harder.
For a variety of reasons, having a child may be one of the best financial decisions a parent can make.
For one, having children saves you money in the long run.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, when adjusted for inflation, having two kids saves you $11,000 over their lifetime.
That includes a big chunk of your retirement savings.
But when it’s not accounted for, having three children saves the average American $14,000 a year.
It’s a win-win situation for all involved.
The other reason that having a baby is so great for parents is because it creates a family.
For many parents who don’t want kids, having one is a godsend.
It allows them to focus on their careers, and gives them the peace of mind to make the most of their childfree options.
“Having a child helps me focus on my career,” says Ransom.
“It gives me a sense of closure.”
Ransom says the best way to make sure she and her husband can afford to have children is to go to work full-time.
“I think it’s important to be able to say, ‘I’ll make sure that we get paid, that we’re able to afford to do what we want to do,'” she says.
If you want to be an extra in your family, though, it may be best to consider getting married sooner rather than later.
“You need to make a decision sooner rather then later,” says Margo D. Cauce, an assistant professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“Because the longer you wait, the more the economic effects become, the less likely they are to make you financially secure.”
If you or someone you know is struggling financially, consider talking to a financial adviser or a financial counselor.
You might be able see a free or low-cost financial planner for free.
And, in the meantime, you can ask your financial planner to take a look at your income to see if you need help.
You might also want to consider paying off debt first.
It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s actually very important for a parent to have a steady source of income.
“If you can’t get a job at a steady wage, you’ll be in a position where you’re not able to do much,” says D.C. Muhleman, a New York-based family finance consultant.
“If you don´t have enough money to pay for the kids, then it really becomes more of a financial burden on you to support them,” says Michael L. Cohen, a family finance specialist at St. Louis-based Financial Services Consulting. “That