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working mom
no debt no sweat!

The Real Cost of Mom's Job

By Steve Diggs
No Debt No Sweat! Financial Seminar Ministry Some women have realized that they simply cannot afford a job!  Sounds crazy, right?  After all, one takes a job to earn an income.  How can that possibly be a money-losing proposition?  But, ancillary costs and expenses can eat up far more than you might think. 

Try the following exercise:  Add up all the extra costs that kick in when Mom takes a job,and then subtract that amount from the salary to get the true net income.  Then ask yourself one simple question: “With so much to be lost by leaving home, is the money really worth it?  You may find the following table helpful in this exercise.

Your Salary $ ___________________

Taxes, FICA, Withholdings - $ ___________________

Expenses (Subtract from above)
  • Transportation (car, insurance, gas, oil, maintenance, repairs)

- $ __________________
  • Extra Clothing (nicer or special garments that you would not otherwise buy, professional laundry/dry cleaning)
- $ __________________
  • Personal Care (hair styling, make-up, etc.)
- $ __________________
  • Professional Memberships, On-going Education, etc.
- $ __________________
  • Lunches
- $ __________________
  • More Costly Groceries (Due to time pressures, you will probably buy more prepared foods, using fewer coupons.)
- $ __________________
  • Daycare & Children's Costs (Remember to allow for extra clothing and higher doctors' bills, since daycares can increase the exposure to flu, colds, etc.)
- $ __________________
  • Eating Out (Time pressures will probably lead to eating supper in restaurants more often.)
- $ __________________
  • Office Expenses (You will probably be asked to pitch in for co-workers' birthday parties, showers, etc.)
- $ __________________
  • Miscellaneous


- $ __________________
Your True Net Income $ ___________________

Back to The Book

I realize how unfashionable and politically incorrect my comments are. Our culture has changed a lot in the last forty years.  In 1960, about one child in twenty was born to an unwed mother; today it’s about one in three!  Our beliefs and mores within the church have been impacted far too much by the culture around us.  As a people, Christians have become too accepting of the latest advice from secular pop-psychologists, media spin shops, and Hollywood’s hype.  Think about it.  If fame, prestige, and having enough money to buy anything they wanted really equaled happiness—doesn’t it stand to reason that the most blissful homes in America would be in Hollywood?  

The more confused and disjointed life becomes, the more I crave the Word of Life. The Bible never changes.  It never panders to contemporary “wisdom”.  It never equivocates.  It is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.  So, let’s go back to the Book and see what it has to say.

The first thing that impacts me is the high view God takes of children.  In the Palestinian world of Jesus’ day, children weren’t very important.  Frequently viewed as little more than household servants, children were not afforded the protections and respect that they deserved.  It would have been far easier, and more expedient, for Jesus to simply ignore the conditions of His day.  After all, why fight the culture? Children were easy to overlook.  Why not keep His powder dry so He could deal with the weightier issues of sin and corruption?  But, Jesus didn’t work that way.  He used His influence to elevate the importance of children.

“They began bringing children to Him, so that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.’  And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.”   (Mark 10:13-16,  NASV).

To really understand another person, you need to know what angers or upsets him.  The same holds true for Jesus.  If we really want to understand His heart, we need to know what ticks Him off.  Did you notice what caused Jesus to become “indignant” in this passage?  It was some adults (actually, these were his closest followers) who tried to discourage the children from coming to Him. Our Savior loved children.  He found time for them.  They were high on his priority list—they were the future of the race.  Should it be any different for us today?

The Scriptures Have More to Say

Even more to the point, we might ask, “Does the Bible have anything specific to say to moms about their responsibilities at home?”  Actually, it does.

In writing to Titus, Paul had this to say:“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored”  (Titus 2:3-5, NASV, emphasis mine).

The little phrase above, “workers at home,” is rendered in the Greek New Testament as oikourgos.  This word comes from two different roots:  Ergon, meaning “to do work,” and oikos, which refers to “a house or a dwelling.”  Thus, Paul’s admonition here to wives and mothers is for them to focus their work activities in the home.

In another teaching, to Timothy who was working with the thriving church in Ephesus, the Apostle wrote:  “Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to Satan”  (I Timothy 5:14,15, NASV, emphasis mine).

Again, if we review the original language and its meaning, we see that Paul uses the phrase “keep house,” translated from the word oikodespoteo which carries the meaning “to rule a household.”  According to Scripture, being the maker of an organized, peaceful home should be the goal of a Christian woman. 

Rethinking Some Things

As we’ve seen, in earlier times, most people realized that being a parent was more than simply a biological function. They understood that parenting required involvement.  It meant that conception and commitment went hand in hand.  It was more than arguing about who drops the kids off at daycare in the morning.  It was more than trying to convince oneself that to be a good parent one must find the best daycare to warehouse their children.  It was more than trying to persuade someone else that it’s the quality, not the quantity, of time we spend with our kids that matters. 

Of course there are all the trite clichés to help us feel better:  “I don’t feel challenged and fulfilled at home—my job makes me a better parent,” or, “We’re doing this so the kids can have what the other kids have,” or, “It just costs so much to live these days.”

Maybe I’m upsetting you now that I’ve stopped teaching and I’ve started meddling.  Doing right is never easy.  It takes courage and guts.  It often means charting a course that is different from what the society around us is promoting.  Jesus tells us it means considering others’ needs before our own. 

There is an Old Testament passage that I love because it reminds me that real joy and self respect only come when I am doing right before God and my fellow man:“Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at your door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it’”  (Genesis 4:6,7, NASV, emphasis mine).

Even in Our Churches…

If I sound harsh…I’m sorry.  I don’t want to be mean-spirited or overly dogmatic, but I am very passionate on this subject.  For far too long we have focused on moms who want to have it their way—whatever (or, whomever) it hurts.  When I look at the quality of kids this generation is raising, I find myself disenchanted by parents who seem more interested in self-actualization and personal fulfillment than in unselfish servanthood to their own children. Our culture has explored all the reasons why women should be encouraged to leave home with too little concern for those most impacted by that decision. 

I believe it’s time that we as a church come to grips with this issue on at least three fronts:

( 1) We need to teach sacrificial giving to our children.  Jesus set the example—can we do anything less?  The church needs to actively teach the importance of parenting.  Young parents should receive encouragement and help in fulfilling their responsibilities.  Newly married couples should be challenged to plan ahead so they can be financially and spiritually prepared to parent.  We need classes that teach Biblical concepts in this area.  Mature Christian parents should educate younger parents. 

Jenni and Will are young, Christian friends of ours who got married recently.  They are both highly educated professionals who have done some responsible planning.  Instead of having children immediately, Jenni plans to work for a few years in her chosen profession as an engineer.  When they have children, she will stay home and nurture them.  By saving her salary (instead of spending it trying to keep up with their peers), Will and Jenni will have the funds necessary to live on one salary after they have a family.

(2) We need to honor parents who are doing it right.  Often parents who make the hard decisions to keep Mom at home with the kids feel disrespect, even at church.  It’s tough enough to be ridiculed by the outside world—but, when other Christians are discouraging and condescending, it’s devastating.  As fellow believers, we need to hold up young families who make the necessary sacrifices to help Mom stay at home with the kids.  This can take many forms.  Your church might make it a special point to honor such women before the entire fellowship.  In other cases, caring Christians may need to help such families with financial support.

(3) The church needs to avoid sending a mixed message.  It troubles me when a church that teaches that mothers should try to stay home with their children also has a daycare facility.  This seems to be working at cross-purposes. 
The rationale goes something like this: “No, we don’t want to encourage mothers to leave home for the workplace, but one must face reality.  Since so many of today’s women insist on their right to hold jobs, we want to provide a safe, Christian environment for their children.”

Like most rationalizations, this one has a ring of legitimacy to it.  But how different is this from the argument that says, “Of course, we don’t encourage school kids to have premarital sex, but since they probably will anyway, the school nurse will have free condoms available.”  Most Christian adults reject this line of reasoning because they realize that when an authority figure acquiesces to a sin, it is seen by many as accepting that sin.  For a church to claim that they discourage mothers from leaving home and then provide a way for them to do just that sends a mixed message.

Maybe the solution lies in a two-step approach.  First, the church should maintain its encouragement that mothers avoid leaving home.  Second, instead of justifying a daycare based on those few extreme situations where mothers really need to hold jobs, the church could provide alternative forms of childcare.  In such cases, wouldn’t it be better if some of the other women of the church opened their homes to children who needed care?  What a wonderful ministry!

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

After telling his readers that 59% of their children come home to empty houses every day after school, Dr. James Dobson recently spoke very frankly to young women.  He acknowledged the fact that many of these young mothers had, themselves, grown up in busy, dysfunctional, career-oriented homes.  He sympathized at how financial pressures and others’ expectations frequently rendered them unable to cope. Then he summed his case up this way:

"I have never said publicly what I will share with you now—and I will be criticized for saying so in this context—but I believe the two-career family during the child rearing years creates a level of stress that is tearing people apart.  And it often deprives children of something that they will search for the rest of their lives. 

"If a scale back from this lifestyle, which I call ‘routine panic,’ ever grows into a movement, it will portend wonderfully for the family.  It should result in fewer divorces and more domestic harmony.  Children will regain the status they deserve and their welfare will be enhanced on a thousand fronts.  We haven’t begun to approach these goals yet, but I pray that a significant segment of the population will awaken someday from the nightmare of over-commitment and say, ‘The way we live is crazy.  There has to be a better way than this to raise our kids.  We will make the financial sacrifices necessary to slow the pace of living.’”


More articles by Steve Diggs

Steve DiggsSteve Diggs presents the No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar at churches and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve on the Web at  or call 615-834-3063. The author of several books, today Steve serves as a minister for the Antioch Church of Christ in Nashville. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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