As a mom, we make many decisions that affect our financial picture. Whether you choose to stay at home, work part time, or work full time, there are steps you can take to ensure financial success for your family.
1. Take charge of your financial life. Be a full participant in your family's financial planning--do not delegate this responsibility to your life partner! Make sure you know how much money your family has, what your joint financial planning strategy looks like, and what your credit scores are. Do you know whether your bills are all paid on time? How much credit card debt and other liabilities do you have? Make sure you have credit cards and a few household bills in your own name to develop your own credit history. Start saving for a 3-months-expenses emergency fund in your own name.
2. Keep in touch with your professional contacts. Set up regular meetings or lunches with your former colleagues. Show up in your professional persona and talk about your expertise, not just your kids. Look for opportunties to stay active in your field and keep building your resume, even while you are out of the full-time paid workforce.
3. Continue developing new interests and skills. The "stay-at-home" period can be a chance to reinvent yourself. Take short courses, online classes, or enroll in a degree program. Many jobs these days require a Masters' degree, and even if you don't intend to return to work for years, you may be very glad that you made the effort to get those qualifications under your belt now. I have known semi-retired women who had to go back to the workforce full-time when they were suddenly widowed. Even with decades of valuable life and work experience, they found themselves shut out of many job opportunities due to the lack of an advanced degree.
4. Develop an entrepreneurial spirit. Your life is your "start up" company! What do you want to make of it? Yes, it can be hard to re-integrate into an inflexible workplace with a family. But more flexible options are opening up and starting your own business is one way to make that happen. I don't mean to be overly optimistic about these possibilities but I truly believe that a "results oriented" work approach that is freed from rigid schedules will become common in the near future.
5. Take advantage of the opportunity to make progress when you are in calm times. I have learned this lesson the hard way! Over the past year my family has faced several unexpected crises. If I hadn't stayed on track to finish Mojo Mom when I did, it would have been hard to get it done over the past year. Always keep your own projects simmering, and turn up the motivation when you have the chance. If you stay focused you can get a lot done. I finished a novel and wrote a screenplay when I only had 6 hours per week to write, while my daughter was in a toddler preschool program. I valued that time like a hidden stash of gold and I didn't squander it.
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