First Person: It Costs Too Much for Everyone in My Family to Work

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After digging deeper into unemployment numbers, financial experts say the rate is falling because Americans have given up looking for work. According to a recent MSN Money article, many Americans just don't want to work. Members of my family as well as extended family have found it's simply too expensive for everyone to work. While my older son has a job, it makes more sense for my younger son to focus on his college classes because we can't afford another car and higher car insurance. Our parents retired, which means they have more time to contribute to the family unit. Experts are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why there is a 63.4 percent "labor force participation rate." I don't think it's a tragedy in the making as much as a shift in thinking that is positive for families such as mine.

Retiring at an early age

My father-in-law and my own father each began collecting social security benefits at age 62. Experts say a growing number of baby boomers are exiting the workplace early either due to layoffs or choice. By retiring, our parents were able to downsize to smaller retirement homes. Having parents nearby translates into savings. I no longer have to pay for a handyman because my father-in-law can fix anything. Meanwhile, his grandson can mow my father-in-law's yard for free.

Feeling Millennial frustration

I think it's fair to say some of the people who have given up are Millennials. I know a lot of people that age were shut out of the workplace so they returned to college or started on a non-traditional path such as freelancing on the Internet. My younger son decided to focus on college instead of working at fast-food establishments. Because he isn't working, we don't have to make another car payment. We also save on gasoline, car insurance and what I call the "distraction factor." In other words, he isn't distracted by co-workers who want to blow their paychecks. He doesn't miss any classes because he's focused.

Saving on childcare costs

Although I don't have any preschool children, I have a lot of close female friends who chose to stay at home with their children after getting laid off. Some of my colleagues who were laid off from newspaper jobs never went back to full-time positions. They are content to freelance. Whether they are at home taking care of children or by themselves, my self-employed and unemployed friends seem happier than my 9-to-5 friends. They aren't taking government benefits, but learning to live on one income.

Sharing expenses, reducing costs

If anything, life was more stressful for families when everyone was working outside the home. Even though some members of my family don't have jobs, they are working by contributing in other ways. According to the MSN author, 36 percent of Gen-Y are stilling living at home. As a Gen-X'er who worked as much as I could when my sons were younger, I'm downright thrilled about having them around as young adults.

If I lost my job, I wouldn't seek out a traditional or "real job" because I know I have more to contribute than just a paycheck.

More from this contributor:

$500,000 Isn't a Magic Retirement Number

I'm Happy in our Smaller Home

Fighting Fair About Money


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