Economists' Outlook Darkens: 30% Chance of Recession

Posted on August 16, 2011 by Saldutti

The chances of the economy slipping into another recession have risen significantly, and forecasts for economic growth and job gains over the next year have been substantially downsized, according to USA Today’s quarterly survey of top economists.

The 39 economists polled Aug. 3-11 put the chance of another downturn at 30% – twice as high as three months ago, according to their median estimates. That means another shock to the fragile economy – such as more stock market declines or a worsening of the European debt crisis – could push the nation over the edge.

Yet even if the USA avoids a recession, as economists still expect, they see economic growth muddling along at about 2.5% the next year, down from 3.1% in April’s survey. The economy must grow well above 3% to significantly cut unemployment.  As a result, the economists predict the jobless rate will fall painfully slowly, dipping to 8.8% in 12 months, not much below today’s 9.1%. In April, they estimated unemployment would be 8.2% by mid-2012.

The gloomier forecast is a stunning reversal. Just weeks ago, economists were calling for a strong rebound in the second half of the year, based on falling gasoline prices giving consumers more to spend on other things and car sales taking off as auto supply disruptions after Japan’s earthquake faded. In fact, July retail sales showed their best gain in four months.

But that was before European debt woes spread, the government cut its growth estimates for the first half of 2011 to less than 1%, and Standard & Poor’s lowered the USA’s credit rating after the showdown over the debt ceiling.  U.S. consumer confidence in early August sank to its lowest since 1980, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey released Friday.

Source:  USA TODAY

U.S. Debt Downgrade – How Will It Affect Me?

Posted on August 10, 2011 by Saldutti

Lawmakers weren’t able to prevent the country from losing its coveted AAA debt rating.  Although the downgrade late Friday by Standard & Poor’s was historic, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. The three main credit agencies, which also include Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, had warned during the fight over the debt ceiling that if Congress did not cut spending far enough, the country faced a downgrade.  And just like a lower consumer credit score implies that a borrower is a less reliable, a lower credit rating for government bonds implies there is more risk involved in lending money to the government.  It is unclear what will happen in the long term, because of the unprecedented nature of the lower rating and the decisions by Moody’s and Fitch to keep their highest ratings for now.

If investors get skittish and Treasury prices reverse course, that could send the interest rate on Treasury bonds up. Essentially, the rate, or yield, would climb in order to make the bonds more attractive to investors. That could lead to higher borrowing rates for consumers, because the rates on mortgages and other loans are often pegged to the yield on Treasury bonds.

Not every type of consumer borrowing has a direct tie to the government’s credit rating, but there are potential ripple effects for individuals.

Mortgage and home equity loans
S&P’s downgrade may have several implications for homeowners:

  • S&P downgraded the credit ratings of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are both backed by the U.S. government. That could mean higher mortgage rates for new borrowers. Freddie and Fannie together own or guarantee about half of all mortgages in the U.S.
  • Currently shopping for a new home?  While it may be some time before rates climb, consumers should still ask their bank or mortgage broker about the process for locking in a rate. Mortgage rates have been at historic lows in recent months, but fixed-rate mortgages are typically directly tied to the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds. Higher mortgage rates would follow any increase in the Treasury yield. But so far it appears that Treasury yields won’t rise simply as a result of the downgrade.
  • Variable rate mortgages could become more expensive.  For homeowners who still have ARMs, any potential change in their interest rates depends on whether their loan was linked to Treasury rates or some other benchmark, like the prime rate or federal funds rate.
  • Home equity loans could become more expensive as well.  Home equity loans, or HELOCs, are almost always variable rate loans and typically adjust more frequently than first mortgages, sometimes even monthly.  Homeowners with such loans could see shifts in their rates and payments while the markets absorb the downgrade.

Credit cards
Consumers who carry a balance on their credit cards (the average is $4,950 according to TransUnion) will relieved to know that any changes as a result of the downgrade won’t be dramatic.  If there are changes, certain protections are in place.

  • Most accounts with fixed rates were converted to variable rates in 2009 in response to the economic downturn and new regulations.
  • Banks don’t publicize the rates they’re charging current customers, but nearly 96% of the offers sent out for new cards in the first six months of this year carried variable rates.
  • Right now, banks are offering an average annual interest rate of 14.4%, according to Bankrate.com.
  • Like HELOCs, most card rates rise and fall with the prime rate, which is pegged to the rate set by the Fed. That will help protect credit card users from the market’s gyrations in the short term.
  • The good news is that even if market forces start sending card rates higher, current account balances will be protected from rate hikes under the credit card reforms passed in 2009. That means only new charges would be subject to higher rates. If rates rise several times over a period of months, card users could end up with multiple rates on various balances.

Freaking Out About the Economy

Posted on August 02, 2011 by Saldutti

All over America, restlessness and frustration are growing. It has now been almost three years since the great financial crash of 2008, and yet the U.S. economy is still a complete and total mess.  In fact, there are all sorts of signs that things are about to get even worse, and the American people are just about fed up.  Virtually every major poll, survey and measure of consumer confidence shows that the American people are becoming more pessimistic about the economy.

We have never faced such an extended economic downturn in modern U.S. history, and a lot of people are starting to freak out about the condition of the economy.  Here are ten harsh facts compiled by The Business Insider:

1. The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index has fallen to 63.8 after being at 71.5 in June. It is now the lowest that it has been since the last recession “ended.” (See Chart A)

2. Almost every measurement of consumer confidence is going down. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell from 61.7 in May to 58.5 in June.

3. The Rasmussen Consumer Index is down 9 points from a month ago.
4. A recent poll taken by Rasmussen found that 68% of Americans believe that we are actually in a recession right now.

5. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans that lack confidence in U.S. banks is now at an all-time high of 36%. (See Chart B)

6. In many areas of the United States this summer, just about anything that is not bolted down is being stolen by people that are desperate for money.

7. According to one recent poll, 39% of Americans believe that the U.S. economy has now entered a “permanent decline.”

8. Another recent survey found that 48% of Americans believe that it is likely that another great Depression will begin within the next 12 months.

9. According to a brand new Reuters/Ipsos poll, 63% of Americans believe that the nation is on the wrong track. That figure is three percent higher than it was last month.

10. House prices are rapidly declining

CHART A:

CHART B:

In Debt Collecting, Location Matters

Posted on July 27, 2011 by Saldutti

For U.S. consumers with too many bills and not enough money, the end of the line is often a small-claims court.  As companies and debt collectors try to collect on overdue bills that piled up during the financial crisis, the recession and their aftermath, they are borrowing a tactic from plaintiffs’ lawyers: They shop around for the best places to bring their claims. Debt collectors aren’t so much worried about whether a court will rule that the debtor owes the money—most cases are fairly clear-cut on that point—but about how aggressively collectors can pursue a debtor’s assets.

Lawsuits to collect on bad debts have to be filed in the state where a debtor lives. In most cases, debt collectors don’t get to choose the court in which the case will be heard. Unless it involves an especially large debt, it will be the small-claims court in the debtor’s county, and there’s no way for a debt collector to pick the judge.

There are exceptions, however, and they leave debt collectors room to maneuver. Virginia allows companies to file lawsuits in the county where a creditor is based, not where the borrower lives. In Cook County, Ill., collectors can choose between six municipal courts, and in Pulaski County, Ark., they can pick from eight small-claims courts.  Parts of Indiana are also unusual. Although the state requires suits to be filed in the county where the borrower lives, two counties allow collectors to choose among township courts – each with a single judge.

Companies such as Encore Capital Group Inc. and Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc. buy pools of bad loans at steep discounts, then try to collect on them. They begin by determining which states give them the greatest latitude to seize assets from borrowers who haven’t paid up.  Brokers for distressed debt say investors like states such as Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey, where laws permit them to seize assets such as cars, pension payments and a portion of debtors’ wages. Consequently, they try to buy loan pools from those states.  However brokers say investors shy away from buying bad debt from some other states. In Texas, married couples can shield from creditors as much as $1 million in residential real estate and $60,000 in personal property. California doesn’t allow debt collectors to garnishee the bank accounts of delinquent borrowers.

Brokers say geography is the single biggest factor in how much debts fetch. Accommodating laws and judges often mean the difference between a profit and loss on debts pursued in court, says Mark Russell of Kaulkin Ginsberg, a Rockville, Md., adviser to debt collectors.

In states where laws are more favorable to debt collectors, they pay more for such debt. Unpaid consumer debt sells for about seven cents on the dollar in Indiana, compared with two cents in Texas, according to Lou DiPalma, a debt broker in Harrison, N.Y. Such debt also fetches relatively high prices in Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and Virginia, he says.

Debt collectors regard Indiana as friendly territory. Companies can file small-claims suits by mail rather than sending lawyers to file them in person. If a debt collector wins in court, nearly all of a creditor’s assets can be pursued for payment, including real estate, pension payments and cars, which are off-limits in many other states.

 Source:  The Wall Street Journal

Money 101: Your Savings

Posted on July 19, 2011 by Saldutti

How much of your income should you be saving?  A common rule of thumb answer used to be that 10% of income should go into savings.  Saving that kind of money seems so daunting that most people don’t even try, which is why the national savings rate ended up actually being negative in the mid-2000’s. Today, consumers are spending less and saving more, but the national savings rate is still in the low single digits – well below the 8 to 10 percent rate in the 50’s and 60’s.

10 Percent Is Not Enough!  Here’s the real kicker: based on recently published research, the average savings rate really should be 16 to 20 percent of household income… not 10 percent.

Sixteen to 20 percent?!  If 10% was so difficult that most Americans didn’t even try, how likely is it that you will take a shot at 20% savings? It’s almost too depressing to think about.

Mission Impossible? Let’s see if we can make a dent in this seemingly impossible 20% savings target.  The Certified Finanial Planners at Quizzle.com believe that true wealth is built out of cash flow management (not investment management).  Here is what works, based on the successes and failures of various savings strategies.

Step #1: Trim the Fat – Almost everybody can identify 5% in cash flow savings just by paying attention to expense details. Use an online budget planner to chronicle every dollar that you spend.  When you see an expense you don’t recognize or is surprising, you will have found an easy place to trim your expenses. Spending your money on that item obviously didn’t register as much of an experience. Otherwise, you would have remembered it.

Step #2: Understand Value – Take a moment to think about the most important things in life to you. These are your values. For most people, top tier values include relationships, family and special experiences. They almost never include “stuff” (i.e. tangible items). Humans are hard-wired to be attracted to shiny new things, but that attraction doesn’t last and the item is soon forgotten.

Step #3: Pay for Value – Every time you are faced with a spending decision, take a short pause to ask yourself, “Is having this really important to me? How important is it?”  Compare your answers to how important having something different that you would really treasure would be in your life. Understand that every dollar you spend on one thing is a dollar that cannot be spent on something else that you might value more.

Step #4: Shift Your Framework – The last trick is to change the perspective with which you view each purchase decision. Our tendency is to view expenses in comparison to our annual personal income.  When your brain does the cost-benefit analysis – you end up making the purchase.  But you need to compare the purchase decision to the money you REALLY have control over. For most people that “control income” ends up being $100-150 per week for everything including food, clothing expenses and entertainment – truly discretionary expenses. The rest of the money you spend each week is to pay taxes or fulfill previous obligations like rent or mortgage, utilities, loan payments and gas for your car.  Now that purchase IS significant (compared to $100 you have to spend all week), you might be tempted to think twice about dropping the cash.

You Can Do This – Implementing each of these four steps can easily trim 10 to 15 percent of your current expenses without giving up anything that is really important to you. You’re just spending less money on the stuff that doesn’t matter anyway.  In many cases, clients have actually been able to exceed the 20 percent savings rate target and in every case they have said they have never been happier.

Debt Delinquency Timeline: What to Expect

Posted on July 12, 2011 by Saldutti

At a time when unemployment remains stubbornly high and job prospects seem dismally low, the danger of missing a credit card payment or two is all too possible for many borrowers. Some may be tempted to try to outrun the debt by dodging collection calls and throwing away creditor letters. But sooner or later, your debt will find you.  Your delinquent debt can follow you on your credit report and possibly all the way to court if you refuse to pay. Bankrate.com outlines the timeline for debt collection efforts and reveals what to expect and what you can do at each point.

Stage 1: 30 Days Past Due
What to expect: Lenders likely won’t sound any alarms, but instead will use so-called soft tactics to get your payment in. They will call, email and send letters, but all contact will be friendly and helpful.  The creditor may also contact the credit reporting bureaus to report your account as delinquent.
Your options: If you know you’ll miss a payment, contact the lender first.  The creditor will be more likely to work with you if you reach out first. If you don’t and the creditor contacts you, don’t avoid the call. Explain your financial dilemma to your creditor so you both can work out a payment plan.

Stage 2: 60 Days Past Due
What to expect: Your credit card account likely will go into collections status and will be turned over to a department that specializes in obtaining delinquent debt.  The friendly phone calls, letters or emails will turn a bit more aggressive and less positive. The creditor will warn you that your account could go into serious delinquency if you don’t resolve the situation. Also, the creditor may contact the reporting bureaus to report your account as delinquent if it hasn’t done so already.
Your options: You and your creditor can still work out a payment plan or come up with a hardship plan if your financial situation merits one.  You likely will have to pay a penalty fee.

Stage 3: 90 Days Past Due
What to expect: More aggressive phone calls, emails and letters from your creditor. There’s a good chance your creditor will shut down the credit card account and you won’t realize it until you are denied in a store. That should prompt you to call the company and work out a solution. The creditor is most likely reporting the delinquency to the credit bureaus. At the same time, late fees and interest fees add to the total amount you owe.
Your options: There is a chance you can reactivate the account by setting up a payment plan with the creditor.  If you’re facing a financial hardship, your creditor may establish a payment plan with reduced payments. Once you complete the plan, the account may be revived.

Stage 4: Charge-off Status
What to expect: The creditor may sell or contract the account with a third-party debt collector. The creditor will notify the credit reporting agencies that your account is a charge-off and has gone into third-party collections.  The third-party debt collector will call and send emails and letters. They must abide by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, which outlines when third-party collectors can call and how often.
Your options: Get verification of the debt from the third-party collector and confirm the collector’s identity with the original creditor. Set up a payment plan or offer a settlement. Try to negotiate a settlement with the original creditor, which may offer more flexibility. The creditor or debt collector probably won’t settle for less than half the balance.  Get the offer in writing with a clause that states the collector or creditor won’t sue you if you make the payments. Ensure that your credit report reflects any settlement as settled in full, which indicates your obligation to the creditor is fulfilled.

Stage 5: Court
What to expect: You will receive a summons to appear in court regarding your debt. If the debt collector or creditor receives a judgment, then it may garnish your wages or seize assets such as bank accounts to satisfy the debt.
Your options: If you receive a summons, show up for your court hearing.  There, you can dispute the debt – otherwise, it’s an automatic win for the collector.  The judge may also serve as a mediator and create some kind of repayment plan before choosing wage garnishment or the seizure of assets.

Things to Remember

• The federal Fair Debt Collections Practice Act doesn’t cover debt collection calls from the original creditor.

• Know your state laws. Each state has different laws regarding wage garnishment, seizure of assets and statute of limitations for debt collection.

• Any payment will restart the statute of limitations.

• All information regarding the delinquent account will live on your credit report for seven years from the date you first missed a payment.

• Third-party debt collectors sometimes sell off debt to another debt collector if they haven’t had any success. Make sure the debt shows up as the same account on your credit report. Sometimes it may look like another delinquent account, and you’ll want to dispute any duplicates.

Resources:  Bankrate.com, MyFico.com, ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, SmartCredit.com, CredAbility Counseling Services, Experian, American Fair Credit Council

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Economic Recovery

Posted on July 07, 2011 by Saldutti

This is one anniversary few feel like celebrating.  Two years after economists say the Great Recession ended, the recovery has been the weakest and most lopsided of any since the 1930s.  After previous recessions, people in all income groups tended to benefit. This time, ordinary Americans are struggling with job insecurity, too much debt and pay raises that haven’t kept up with prices at the grocery store and gas station. The economy’s eager gains are going mostly to the wealthiest.

Workers’ wages and benefits make up 57.5 % of the economy, an all-time low. Until the mid-2000s, that figure had been remarkably stable – about 64% through boom and bust alike.  Executive pay is included in this figure, but rank-and-file workers are far more dependent on regular wages and benefits. A big chunk of the economy’s gains has gone to investors in the form of higher corporate profits.

Corporate profits are up by almost half since the recession ended in June 2009. In the first two years after the recessions of 1991 and 2001, profits rose 11% and 28%, respectively.  And an Associated Press analysis found that the typical CEO of a major company earned $9 million last year, up a fourth from 2009.

Driven by higher profits, the Dow Jones industrial average has staged a breathtaking 90% rally since bottoming at 6,547 on March 9, 2009. Those stock market gains go disproportionately to the wealthiest 10% of Americans, who own more than 80% of outstanding stock, according to a recent Bard College analysis.

But if the Great Recession is long gone from Wall Street and corporate boardrooms, it lingers on Main Street:

• Unemployment has never been so high (9.1%) this long after any recession since World War II. At the same point after the previous three recessions, unemployment averaged just 6.8%.

• The average worker’s hourly wages, after accounting for inflation, were 1.6% lower in May than a year earlier. Rising gasoline and food prices have devoured any pay raises for most Americans.

• The jobs that are being created pay less than the ones that vanished in the recession. Higher-paying jobs in the private sector, the ones that pay roughly $19 to $31 an hour, made up 40% of the jobs lost from January 2008 to February 2010 but only 27% of the jobs created since then.

Hard times have made Americans more dependent than ever on social programs, which accounted for a record 18% of personal income in the last three months of 2010 before coming down a bit this year. Almost 45 million Americans are on food stamps, another record.

Another study suggest that Americans have a long way to go before their finances will be strong enough to support robust spending: Despite cutting what they owe the past three years, the average household’s debts equal 119% of annual after-tax income. At the same point after the 1981-82 recession, debts were at 66%; after the 1990-91 recession, 85%; and after the 2001 recession, 114%.  Because the labor market remains so weak, most workers can’t demand bigger raises or look for better jobs.  Instead, workers are toughing it out, thankful they have jobs at all. Just 1.7 million workers have quit their job each month this year, down from 2.8 million a month in 2007.

The toll of all this shows in consumer confidence, a measure of how good people feel about the economy. According to the Conference Board’s index, it’s at 58.5. Healthy is more like 90. By this point after the past three recessions, it was an average of 87.  How gloomy are Americans? A USA Today/Gallup poll eight weeks ago found that 55% think the recession continues, even if the experts say it’s been over for two years. That includes the 29% who go even further — they say it feels more like a depression.

Source:  Associated Press

Student Loans 101: Paying off Debt

Posted on June 28, 2011 by Saldutti

You’ve graduated. Congratulations! Now what about those student loans? The average graduate this year has $24,000 in loans – but many have nearly $75,000. Don’t even think of leaving campus until you’ve had a meeting at the financial aid office. This “exit counseling” for federal student loans is a requirement — and failure to go through the process could hold up your diploma or transcripts.

So don’t procrastinate when it comes to dealing with your student loans. Remember, it is your responsibility to stay in contact with your student loan servicing agency or lending company. When you move, keep your address current. Even if you don’t receive a bill, your loan payment is due on time. There’s really no way to escape your student loans. They can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. And if you default, the government will eventually take its money from your Social Security check. Plus, defaults on student loans will have a big impact on your credit report. So it’s worth paying attention so you don’t have to pay forever. Here are some other things to think about as you deal with your student loans after graduation:

Track your loans – The “exit counseling” process is designed to help you keep track of all your student loans — except for private loans and PLUS loans taken out by your parents. If you haven’t kept track of your student loans, you can go to the National Student Loan Data System at nslds.ed.gov.

Check the grace period – After leaving school (or dropping below half-time status) you have a six-month grace period on Stafford Loans and nine months on Perkins Loans. Individual private loans may have different repayment start times. Remind your parents that PLUS loans typically do not qualify for a grace period.

Understand interest rates – Current student loans carry fixed interest rates. But if you have federal student loans taken out before 2010, under the FFEL program where private lenders disbursed the loans, you may get a break on interest rates by agreeing to automatic monthly deductions. Or you may get a lower rate after completing several years of on-time payments.

Understand repayment options – There are two basic repayment plans — the standard 10-year plan, and a stretch plan that allows you to make payments over 30 years. If you take the latter route, you can choose a fixed payment every month, or graduated payments that start low and increase every two years. Just remember that the longer you take to repay the loan, the more interest you will pay over the years. That can really add up.  Check the calculators at SimpleTuition.com to see how much more it will cost to stretch out your repayment period.

Income-based repayment plan – Recognizing the burden of student loans, starting in 2009 the government created the income-based repayment plan.  Using your current income information, an affordable monthly payment is created. This program can be used for 25 years, and at the end of that time, any remaining balance is discharged if you have kept up with your payments. There is more information at IBRinfo.gov.

Deferring loans – One other possibility is deferring your student loans. This is often allowed when you go back to school on at least a half-time basis, or go on to graduate school. But interest keeps accruing unless it is a subsidized Stafford loan.

Forebearance – Proving that it is not completely hard-hearted, the government may allow you to temporarily postpone payments on your student loan. That will require documented proof of unemployment or some other qualifying circumstance. A deferment can be for up to 12 months and may be extended, but interest continues to accrue.

Forgiveness? – Well, that’s the most unlikely solution to your repayment problems. Simply being unemployed will not qualify you for forgiveness. But you can contact your lender or loan servicing agency if you truly have a sad story to tell. Remember, a loan that is late by even one day can cost you a discount for on-time payment. If you are 21 days late, a loan goes into delinquency, and you can expect a collection notice if you are a month late.  A two months’ delay will be a delinquency that is reported to the credit bureaus. After 270 days, the loan is considered in default — and the borrower is subject to wage garnishment and other penalties.

Your best bet in dealing with student loans is to be proactive. Go to FinAid.org and use the repayment calculators to figure out how much your monthly payment will be under the standard 10-year repayment plan. That’s the place to start if you know you will have an income. Set up an automatic monthly payment so you can get the loan behind you before you consider buying a home or starting a family. That’s the sensible thing to do.

Retirement at Age 80?

Posted on June 22, 2011 by Saldutti

Americans better get used to working longer, even until they are 80 years old, according to a study by the Employee Research Benefit Institute (via Robert Powell at MarketWatch).  Naturally, those with lower incomes will need to work longer.

Here’s how it breaks down (via MarketWatch):

• If you make around $11,700 a year – you have to work to age 84 to have a 50% chance of affording retirement.
• If you make between $11,700-$31,200 a year – you have to work to age 76 to have a 50% chance affording retirement
• If you make between $31,200-$72,500 a year – you have to work to age 72 to have a 50% chance of affording retirement.
• If you make $72,500 or more a year – you have to work to age 65 to have a 50% chance of affording retirement.

This study does point out one bright spot for those working past 65 though. If you are putting your money into some kind of retirement fund, your chances of saving enough increase substantially.

From the report:

One of the factors that makes a major difference in the percentage of households satisfying the retirement income adequacy thresholds at any retirement age is whether the worker is still participating in a defined contribution plan after age 65. This factor results in at least a 10 percentage point difference in the majority of the retirement age/income combinations investigated.

What's It Worth?

Posted on June 14, 2011 by Saldutti

The Monetary Value Of A Happy Marriage
Economists David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald calculated the “compensation value” of life events like employment and marriage by surveying 100,000 Americans and Britons from the 1970s to the 1990s.  In terms of happiness, they found that marriage was worth an impressive $100,000 annually.  Meanwhile the psychological value of employment is worth $60,000 annually.  New York Times columnist David Brooks mentioned this study in his new book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement. But he went a step further:

People vastly overvalue work, money, and real estate. They vastly undervalue intimate bonds and the importance of arduous challenges. The average Americans say that if they could make only $90,000 more a year, they could “fulfill all their dreams.” But evidence suggests they are wrong. The deeper the relationships a person has, the happier he or she will be. People in long-term marriages are much happier than people who aren’t.

So find someone, and choose wisely.

A “Mom” Paycheck
Ever wonder what mom should be paid for her work as mom? Salary.com has valuated the “mom job” of both the Working and Stay-at-Home Moms.  Based on a survey of over 6,500 mothers, Salary.com determined that the time mothers spend performing 10 typical job functions would equate to an annual salary of $115,432 for a stay-at-home mom. Working moms ‘at-home’ salary is $63,472 in 2011; this is in addition to the salary they earn in the workplace.

The job titles that best matched a mom’s definition of her work are (in order of hours spent per week): housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, facilities manager, van driver, psychologist, laundry machine operator, janitor and chief executive officer.

A Father’s Salary
Salary.com also conducts an annual survey which determines how handsomely dads would be compensated if parenting came with a paycheck. Salaries for 1,074 stay-at-home and working dads were created using the 10 most common “dad jobs” including: day care center teacher, CEO, psychologist, cook, groundskeeper, laundry machine operator, computer operator, facilities manager, maintenance worker and van driver.  This year’s survey found stay-at-home dads work an average of 52.9 hours a week. Factoring in base pay plus overtime, these dads would earn $60,128 a year. Working fathers would be paid $33,858 a year after spending 30.6 hours a week on parenting duties. And that’s on top of working an average of 44 hours a week at their day jobs.

The dads in this year’s survey are busy looking after their kids, preparing meals, doing work around the house and ensuring the mental well-being of their children.  A recession, combined with a shift towards shared parenting, led to 154,000 American men becoming stay-at-home dads in 2010.