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Discussion Starter #1
(Caveat: I live in a state that is on very firm fiscal ground, and I live in an area that has a major labor shortage, very different from most people's situations).

When the baby was born last August, my wife took her maternity leave and then had to find a new job, because we couldn't both work at the newspaper at the same time without paying for daycare, and we don't make nearly enough to justify that.

While she was on maternity leave, she got on the WIC program, which was a very nice boost. When she got a full-time job stocking shelves at Wal-Mart on the overnight shift (for almost the same amount she made as a professional reporter, incidentally), that put us just barely over the line for qualifying for that.

She's found that trying to work full-time on that shift is just a bit much for her, especially because she can't always sleep during the day because my job makes me work very variable hours. Some days I barely work, some days I work all day. So she's cutting down to four days a week, 32 hours. That puts us back under the line for WIC, and with that added back in, we're actually more or less breaking even on the lost day.

That intrigued me, so I started adding some things up. There's a couple fast-food places in town hiring full-time workers for about $1.25/hour less than I make now. I'm tempted, because that would solve the "variable hours" issue, and there's been some goings on at work that I thought were very disrespectful to my position there.

The biggest issue is health insurance. I've never been happy with our plan at work. The company administers its own insurance, paying out of the company money. I've never liked their options, which I felt were too expensive and never had a high-deductible, low-cost option. I like my insurance to be insurance against catastrophe, not a scheme where I pay $1.30 on the dollar for predictable expenses.

So with the $1.25/hour paycut, I could add the baby to the state's excellent free kids insurance program that we are right on the borderline of qualifying for now. Then I could get an insurance that fits my needs more clearly for about $150/month less than I pay now.

Now add in that I'm not putting wear and tear on my car (I'm reimbursed for mileage, but not enough by my estimation to make up for losing the car faster, and I put on a ton of miles), and that I'm not forced to eat concession-stand food when I'm covering games, and I think I'm coming pretty close to ahead on the potential deal.

So I went ahead and applied at McDonald's today. I worked fast food to put myself through college and always enjoyed it. Quizno's is hiring, and I know the owner casually and will be applying there on Monday.

Long story short: Don't let your kid major in journalism.
 

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My brother is a journalist. He was laid off about 2 years ago and became a stay at home dad. His wife has worked a kelly services doing acct. temp work most of this time. My brother was making about $700. a week writing freelance for GM and others. Not consistant but he was getting unemp.
He recently qualified for "no worker left behind" education but didn't do it because he couldn't get his master that way. He didn't want to get another bachelors (for free). I am the "big" sister/I obviously want to kick him in the butt. Don't let your little brother become a journalist major either. He has no health ins. either. He won't "settle". He needs a reality check. 2 adults no stable income. At least they live small.
 

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That was interesting to read and see it all laid out........the whole 'system thing" is such a mess.
I must say, however, that whatever you do, it will be because you have thought it all out and made the best decision for your family.

good luck
 

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I think you are making a great move! Fast food places will offer benefits to right, if you work full time? I know MacDonalds around here pays really well! Its crazy!! It looks like a hard job.

As far as the states free health insurance for kids...I was on it growing up living with my dad...and it was awesome!! I always got the check ups and help I needed.

I think you are making a smart move...

One question though...will they give you set hours??? I would think fast food joints give you all scrambled hours?
 

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Before you drop your employer based insurance make sure that you can get insurance privately.
My DH is also a journalist. He worked at a small daily paper in Iowa, they provided him with insurance. It was not the greatest, but insurance none the less.
Fast forward to now, he left that paper and we moved across country so that he could be come editor at a small weekly paper. With it came a pay raise, but not benefits. I thought no problem, with the pay raise we can purchase private insurance. That is not has easy as you think. We were both denied for small things. We finally got insurance for him, but the rates can change at anytime and he could be dropped at anytime. I still am without "permanent" insurance and will need to insurance through the state because of the denials.
I would think very hard before leaving a job with insurance for one without. I would at least find out if I could get insurance first. Healthcare costs can be really high, especially for the uninsured.
 

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~Have you considered whether or not this is ethical? I fairly certain that government programs existed for those who don't have other options.Of course you'll save money if you shift one member of your family's healthcare expenses on to someone else. But is it the right thing to do?
Can't you decline the coverage at your work? Then you'd have the extra income and that extra $150 of savings on yours and your wife's policy to apply to the baby's coverage.~
 

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Discussion Starter #7
~Have you considered whether or not this is ethical?
Yep, and I have absolutely no ethical problem with it.

Our way of life, our capitalist system, is based entirely on the idea that everybody acts in their own best interests. We are *supposed* to be maximizing our own interests. I see nothing wrong with holding up my end of that bargain.

Can't you decline the coverage at your work?
1) Not until open enrollment ends
2) With my current job keeping us just a smidge over the line, we don't really save much money as long as the baby is on our insurance as well.



That said, I'm probably not following through with this. The gains are too uncertain and the change too irreversible. It makes sense on paper, IF the fast food place never renegs on its promise to give me 40 hours a week, and I don't trust them to do that. And while fast food is always an option, once they've filled my spot at the paper it's gone for the forseeable future. Hard to pull the trigger in that scenario.
 

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Sounds like it is best not to move too hastily, like you said if you did it you couldn't just call a do-over if in reality it didn't work out as well as it did on paper.
 

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I know that I have a friend whose husband is a late-night shift manager at Burger King. I once commented that he at least still had a job after five years. (a record..pre-marriage it was 18 months). She said that after transportation to her "cool-sounding" job at a local college, they were making the same amount of money.
 

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Interesting. At least if you work at McDonald's you get a free meal. I believe they provide you with uniforms. The system sometimes is set up against us.

I used to work at a Community Health Center as a RN nurse manager. The health insurance was $780/month for a family. The Community Health Center was for the uninsured, insured and underinsured. Here it is, I was a full time employee, RN and a nurse manage and couldn't afford the health insurance. I was no different from my patients. It made me feel bad. I couldn't get state health insurance for my children because I made too much money. I asked the board of directors did they think it made since that the employees couldn't afford their health insurance. They got coverage for free so they didn't care.
 

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The job my husband had for 16.5 years prior to this one, the health insurance was a bit pricey. Employer paid part, and employees paid the difference if they wanted it. Factory has now shut down. They were bought out by competition.

His current job of 4.5 yrs, is $ 4 an hour less than his old one. So $ 160 a week less. He has a better insurance plan. He is 3 miles one way from work now, versus 15 one way for the old job. Are we better off ?
Depends on how one looks at it. Money wise, no.
Health insurance wise, yes. Transportation costs, yes.

The job he has now is one he should have tried for over 21 years ago, instead of choosing the factory job to go for. He had worked for a farmer for 17 yrs, who sold the cows and got out of dairy farming. So hubby had to make a major decision. He chose the factory job that had the more money and was a sure thing.
If one could go back in time, he would have never took the factory job, but would have made a more serious effort to get the current job he has now quicker. We are low income yes, but we have good health insurance.

We can't complain about the factory job because it helped us get our house. And then when they closed the place, they gave them a severance pkg. So we paid our house off a year early. So life is about choices and oh how wise we can be when looking back in time. Now if we had a little more control about the future events in store for us.........
 

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Is there any way to predict which days you'll be busy at your current job vs. not busy days? If so, you could always do the food service on your slow days. Or temp work, etc. Or start a side business doing a hobby you enjoy.
 

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My husband has a had a few jobs that all paid within a few dollars of each other, some with insurance some without.
I promise you , we were always better of with the job that paid a little less but offered a good health care plan.

Fast food is not going to offer you steady hours. And it certainly won't offer you health insurance that you would be able to afford.
And I strongly feel that it's NOT ethical to choose to put yourself in a position that you need to rely on the state for your health care.
 

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Interesting read for this type of scenario is:

Does it pay, at the margin, to work and save? - Measuring effective marginal taxes on American's Labor Supply and Saving, Kotlikoff and Rapson, 2006

You can google and find the pdf of it online. It adds in the cost of having gov supplying things like food stamps, TAFDC, Medicaid for parent and medicaid for child - vs the cost of being taxed for those things and not being able to use them. When the calculations were done I found out that while building myself up from 16k a year ($10/hrfulltime) to somewhere around 40k a year, I could have made somewhere just below 8k/yr and it would have been equivalent in how much I would have recieved from gov programs in the form of section 8, food stamps, TAFDC, parent and child Medicaid, etc. . . . as a 36-40k/yr job.

If you look it up see page 45 and you will see what I am talking about.

Although, while building myself up I have added to my resume and it is easier to get a job in my field with increasing pay. . .so I'm pretty glad I didn't just throw in the towel and keep my income under guidelines for assitance.

If it helps, the thought process I used for this is that if you are under 35 or 40, and your field has the possibility of making you more than 40k a year (break even point) in the next 5-10 years then you are best looking at the long term position. I had to decide between working for an HVAC shop for $9/hr and Arby's for $11/hr - but realized that I would make more in 5 years at the HVAC shop through experience and later changing jobs then I would in fast food, even if I made it to manager. It took me around 2 years to make more then I would in fast food and break past the 36k-40k point.


This, of course, is ethics aside. I don't blame banks for making risky loans when they had the moral hazard of being bailed out created for them, and I don't blame someone for maximizing the benefits that are handed to them so freely - I blame the government that is set up to allow this.
 

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Hey now, journalism didn't turn out too bad for me.

Try to find a reporter position where you can work from home!

That's what I do. I work for a small-town weekly newspaper. I go out and cover one or two events each day that take up about 2-4 hours of my time. Most of those events, I can tote a child along.

After that, I come home and do the rest of my work. Over the phone interviews, emails, writing the stories, etc.

I put in around 30-40 hours a week and I practically work from home! I get paid mileage from my driveway, so it's not too bad. And yes, I do put on a few more miles than if I was a SAHM. However, I put on less miles than if I were to commute daily.

You may want to look into it and see if your paper is willing to work with you that way. I was the first to work from home and now there are a few others from our main office who do so.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I do a little of my work at home, but I'm a sports reporter, and my main duties are covering all the small towns in our coverage area. And since this is rural North Dakota, the little towns can be pretty far apart. Most of my time is spent driving and at sporting events, and that's not a great situation for a baby :)

It may all be moot, because a fantastic opportunity may be opening up for Mrs. Stain that would require we switch role (she works the professional day job, I pick up whatever I can on the side).
 

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I do a little of my work at home, but I'm a sports reporter, and my main duties are covering all the small towns in our coverage area. And since this is rural North Dakota, the little towns can be pretty far apart. Most of my time is spent driving and at sporting events, and that's not a great situation for a baby :)

It may all be moot, because a fantastic opportunity may be opening up for Mrs. Stain that would require we switch role (she works the professional day job, I pick up whatever I can on the side).

Oh, yes. Sports is an entirely different story. Now if only you could write the article WHILE driving. My friend works sports for our paper (rural North Carolina) and has crazy mileage. Ah, it was a good idea. I couldn't do sports, I don't have enough of that sports-lingo or knowledge. Stick me to the regular news events. ;)

Good luck to Mrs. Stain and enjoy your little one!
 
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