“Julia Smith, a public defender in a major city in the northeast, has made every major life decision over the last few years based on the cost of childcare.
When she and her husband, who works as a carpenter, decided to have a baby, they realized that their salaries would not cover the cost of daycare, which came to more than a thousand dollars a month. So Smith quit her job in state government to work at a corporate law firm, where she would earn more money even though the work was less fulfilling to her. (She’s asked to use a pseudonym to speak openly without any fear of career repercussions.) “Getting a higher-paying job was absolutely part of my family planning process,” she tells me. “I had to quit a job that I loved to have enough money to pay for my daughter’s daycare.”
Now that her daughter is three years old, she’s decided to go back to her dream job as a public servant. These days, after paying off their mortgage, student loans, and daycare, the family is left with $250 a month in savings. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if we made more money I would already have another baby by now,” she says. ‘But we just can’t afford it. We’re looking for any opportunity to cut down on costs so that we can put more towards our savings.’”