Because I am, admittedly, a weirdo, I like to play with numbers and spreadsheets. This year I decided to see whether I had “had it all” by society’s definition through math for no other reason that this is the sort of thing that fits my bizarre idea of fun. Of course, don’t forget that I think the concept of “having it all” is complete BS and I discussed it at length here: Having it all: finding a balance between work and life no matter your gender. But I still thought it would be interesting to see what the numbers had to say about it.
I went over the many pitfalls and potential issues with this when I first announced I was going to try this (See: How can you tell if you have it all? Is it something you can measure?) and, in the end, decided to use the simplest form of this for my purposes. You could go nuts trying to factor everything in and so much of this isn’t quantifiable so I just went by the very narrow definition of having it all we’ve been handed by society: that having it all means a full time job that you want to have and a family.
I’m currently a self-employed author, playwright and e-commerce seller and I work from home. I want to have that job. I’m also the primary caregiver for a 2 year old (there’s a husband too but he’s mostly self-sufficient). The working from home, writing and running a company thing has been my gig for long while now, the toddler is a relatively new addition to the mix and I was curious the effect the little one would have on the bottom line. Sounds really cold to say it that way but that’s the nature of this whole idiotic concept of having it all so let’s just roll with it.
In terms of math, I decided to just look at [What I would be making working a normal full time job] – [Cost of childcare so that I could work said normal full time job] and see how that compared to my actual income for the year. If I was making greater than or equal to what I would be making at a normal job working from home with the Very Short and Largely Unhelpful Intern then it seemed safe to say that I had it all.
As simple as that seems, while the average cost of childcare in the USA or even your state (and where I live, NJ, is apparently one of the most expensive for some reason) is easy enough to find and you already know what you make in a year (at least I hope you do!), figuring out your hypothetical salary is harder than you might think. Can you look at what you used to be making and adjust it for where you’d be now? Should you go with half the average household income for the country or your state? Or is it more accurate to go with the average salary for your gender in your state or countrywide? (And, side note, Holy Wage Gap, Batman! I didn’t realize how bad women had it compared to men before I started this research. Very depressing.) In the end, I just put all the numbers in my spreadsheet just for comparison purposes because I couldn’t figure out which one would be the most accurate representation of where I’d be at this point.
I know it’s gauche to talk real numbers but I will tell you this: I didn’t hit the goal I ultimately settled for 2014 on BUT I was really close. A couple of big things that were supposed to happen this year fell through or only paid out in January and the margin was small enough that I feel like it’s an acceptable variance, easily made up if I were factor things like the cost of commuting or other working expenses like clothes and lunches in which I didn’t bother with.
What’s the lesson here? Damned if I know. I do know that I expected this exercise to be depressing but found it weirdly inspiring. Because I’m doing what I want to do and how I want to do it and the fact that the numbers are giving me the thumbs up at the same time is a nice validation. It’s also a great motivator to get my butt in gear and try to surpass that stretch goal in the future. Being a two income family and having a stay at home parent too would be pretty darn nifty!
But I also know that I’m extremely privileged for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that my husband is awesome on a multitude of levels from having a great job to the many things he does to give me the time to work on my company once he gets home. I was hesitant to write this post because I could easily see someone else running these same numbers and feeling like crap or having it come off as bragging when it’s far from it (trust me, I could write a whole book about all the ways I fail at life and why all these numbers should be higher if I wasn’t such a loser). This isn’t done to make anyone feel badly about their life, I just wanted to share my own little experiment for measuring the “success” of my working from home in case anyone wanted to do a similar calculation.