Can you put a price on a stay-at-home mom?

n September 2012, Samantha Schlichting, a young Manitoba mom, was killed when a drunk driver hit her head-on in a highway collision. The loss was profound – one that left behind family, friends, a partner and two very young children. It was a loss that most families can’t even begin to imagine, much less discuss – or plan for.

We don’t like to think about worst-case scenarios and, perhaps only naturally, we don’t like to think about them in terms of how they’d affect our bottom line. Who really cares about money at a time when you’ve clearly lost something so priceless? Unfortunately, the hard reality is that many of the biggest heartaches in life include a financial component. And while we may ignore that fact to protect our hearts, by doing so we are putting the people we love at risk.

As a stay-at-home mom, Schlichting worked to care for her two children while her partner put in long hours at a local asphalt plant. It’s an agreement many couples with young children still work within: one partner puts food on the table while the other feeds little mouths and little minds. And it’s no small task. If you’ve ever been a stay-at-home parent, you know it’s a full-time, ‘round-the-clock job – one that doesn’t draw a salary (except for in smiles and sticky high-fives).

Flickr/Mandajuice

Flickr/Mandajuice

But while most full-time parents and their families recognize that the work they do every day is (quite literally) priceless, that doesn’t mean it has no monetary value. According to a 2012 calculation by Salary.com, stay-at-home moms put in nearly 95 hours of work per week, working as everything from a nanny to a psychologist. Add up all those duties and a full-time, stay-at-home parent’s work amounts to as much as $112,962 per year.

As much as we’d like to hold out this number as validation for every stay-at-home parent’s invaluable role, Schlichting’s story suggests that it’s actually about a lot more than that. Practically speaking, that $112,000+ is a salary, even if mom never draws a paycheque in her life.

Indeed, when it comes to parenting, monetary value is exactly the kind we tend to overlook, not just in a social sense, but also when it comes to financial planning. Unfortunately, if you’re building a comprehensive financial plan without taking this into account, you could be missing a vital piece of the puzzle. Read more in my new article on GoldenGirlFinance.com.

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