One of the great issues facing couples with children is the work/family crunch. There never seems to be enough time or energy to do everything well (or even passably). Most often women bear the brunt of this dilemma, handling the bulk of child-rearing and housecleaning responsibilities while more and more also hold full-time jobs. Sure there are exceptions, but they are still just that. In Two Incomes and Still Broke? It's Not How Much You Make, It's How Much You Keep author Linda Kelley doesn't take sides in the cultural/sociological battle about whether both parents should work. Obviously, economics are a compelling factor for many. What Ms. Kelley does offer is a detailed look at the real, after-tax, after-job-related-expenses financial benefit of a second wage earner in the family. She offers worksheets to help you figure out your own situation. The bottom line is that second incomes usually net less than they seem.
Though she doesn't take sides, readers might conclude that Ms. Kelley's own route (part-time work as a second earner) is the most financially logical and perhaps a better parenting choice. But the author insists the spouse most often at home also has to do heavy lifting on serious household budgeting and comparison shopping (some would say penny pinching). It's not a universally desirable lifestyle. This book will make you take a hard look at what it costs to work, not just work's financial rewards.
Neal Lipschutz is managing editor of Dow Jones News Service.