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Ask MP: Build a Side Business or be a Stay-at-Home Dad?

Q: My husband is going to a four-day week. On his day off, I want him to watch the kids (childcare savings!); he wants to build up his side gig as a handyman. What's smarter?

This is a tricky decision. Here are five questions to ask yourself (and discuss with Bob the Builder) before making your choice.

How much would you save exactly by reducing childcare? And are you sure you're not locked into a  commitment with your daycare provider? Any change in your arrange-ment might mean different rates.

How much is your husband likely to earn, really? Research going rates and test demand by putting up flyers or a classified ad online or in your local paper.

Can your budget take some uncertainty? Any freelance enterprise is bound to be a roller coaster, with inevitable dry spells and late payments. You'll need to have enough reserves on hand so you never fall behind on your own bills.

Is your husband losing benefits that will now cost more out of pocket? It's imperative to keep medical coverage and  personal and retirement saving steady, so your new math needs to account for that.

Could your husband be happy as a one-day-a-week stay-at-home dad? A compromise: Agree on a trial phase for his business, e.g., three months working on weekends, while he takes care of the kids one day a week. (You'd pick up the slack on weekends.) If the business takes off, you've got three months of childcare savings and a new income source. 

Our financial expert MP Dunleavey, as the mom of a 3-year-old, faces the same money worries you do. The author of Money Can Buy Happiness, MP answers your tough questions. Write to her at momsquad@parenting.com.

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