How to Figure Out if You Can Afford Not to Go Back to Work after Maternity Leave

The Final Decision

When you and your partner are making your final decision, it's important for you to know yourselves. What is your track record as a couple when it comes to saving and budgeting? Are you disciplined, or do you like to splurge? How do you feel about giving up some of the small luxuries to which you've become accustomed? If you've crunched the numbers and you're just squeaking by on paper, will you and your partner have the self-discipline to curb your spending and change your lifestyle as needed to stay out of debt?

Be honest with yourselves and with one another. Having the tough conversations now can help you avoid resentment, financial stress and crushing debt down the road.

Once you've reviewed your current and future expenses, made a plan and subjected your past spending habits to some deep introspection, your overall financial picture and the answer to your question should become clear.

If you are able to stop working, congratulations! Be sure to talk with your HR department to ask how your decision will affect your maternity benefits. What is your employer's policy on maternity leave? How much will you receive and for how long? Will you still receive full benefits if they know you're not coming back?

If you know you want to stay home, but you simply can't afford it right now, try not to despair. Know that you are making the decision that is right for your financial security and for your family's future, and consider your options. Can you and your partner create a plan that allows you to stop working in six or 12 months, or can you work out a part-time schedule with your employer?

Remember that your return to work doesn't need to be for forever. If staying home is still your goal, chances are that the time you spend with your new baby will have you feeling more motivated than ever before to find a way to make it happen!

Related Articles


  • "Staying at Home: Can You Afford It?" July 2006. (Oct. 22, 2010)
  • Crittenden, Ann. "The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued." Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, LLC. 2001.
  • Martin, Ray. "Can Working Moms Afford to Quit?" CBS News. Oct. 10, 2007. (Oct. 21, 2010)
  • Palacios, Nicole. "Work after Baby: Should You Stay Home or Should You Go Back?" Disney. (Oct. 21, 2010)