Bill attached to cash

How much does working parent REALLY make?

Immigration into a working parent matrix

Like many of us, I immigrated to Canada with big dreams and aspirations. I was dreaming about a new car, fancy clothing, and working from the glamorous premises of a financial establishment.  When I landed a decent job with the bank, I could not be happier. It wasn’t until a year later when I realized how tightly I was trapped in a working parent matrix. Constant traffic jams, high gas prices, transportation costs, and far from perfect child care system finally got to me.

One snowy evening on my way home I was stuck in traffic for over three hours. A minor fender-bender was enough to hold thousands of fellow drivers as hostages of the road. My frustration was taken a step further once I began to recall that my child care center is charging $1.00 per minute for child supervision after the designated pick-up time.

The daycare workers are not supposed to work overtime, as if they live differently to the rest of Canada’s corporate world.

Can you win this game?

So, I paid the $90.00 fee and got reprimanded for displaying the utmost irresponsibility. One week later, I received an official letter warning me that should another late pick-up occur, the consequence would result in my child’s suspension.

In the same year I got two speeding tickets for driving too fast. There was little I could do to help it, as the prospect of late fees and suspension was too powerful for my tired imagination. Well, aside from the ticket expense, my car insurance had skyrocketed by an additional $600.00 per year. You just can’t win this game, eh?

Working overtime

For some reason my employer expected me to work not only during the 9-5 shift but also outside of it. For free. Apparently, a sales job (that was the definition of a financial advisor’s position our management was using) required us to contribute free overtime on a regular basis in order to meet bank’s sales targets.  Sales targets, obviously, grew every year.

When you work past regular hours, your child is being picked up by a local child care provider: child care after after-school care.  And for some reason, this  particular service provider wanted to be paid. On a regular basis.

After crunching my personal taxes and work-related expenses, I had finally realized that I was barely making any money; around $300 per month, at best. To be fair, considering other work perks like group insurance, stock purchase plan and registered pension my profit was worth about $1,000 per month.

And that would only be the case if nothing extraordinary happens. One at-fault car accident, requiring me to pay a deductible, ill-stricken child, requiring me to take unpaid time off,  – two commonplace scenarios would derail my budget for months, putting me in a red. Shocking, but true. Indeed, a great accomplishment for two hours of stressful daily commute, ten hours of work, and years of education and experience in the field.

Looking for options

It took me a healthy dose of self-irony to finally understand that the child care provider, picking up my son along with a $20.00 bill attached, is making more money than I. On top of having a better business enterprise, she is fit, kissed by the sun, always happy, and knows everybody in the community.

I am not proposing to stop working. Rather, I suggest breaking the working parent matrix and looking outside the box in search of creative solutions. I know it’s not easy to see them… But knowing how much money you really make and how much time and energy you really spend on full-time work can help you look for these ways just a little bit harder.

How to get help

Download my Break Even for kids website to see how much money you really make.

Also, refer to Canada Child Tax Benefit Calculatorhttp://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/benefits-calculator/ for numbers specific to your family.

Yours truly,

Tatiana Terekhova

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