Author Topic: Case Study: To quit or not to quit (and become SAHP / Early Retiree?)  (Read 3924 times)

MsFrugalista

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Hello everyone,

My husband and I (32 and 33 respectively) are, I think, doing quite well. I have a decision to make that may change some things and I want to make sure I consider all aspects of it, both personally and financially. I hope you smart people here can provide a variety of opinions, and highlight anything I might not be considering yet. I'll talk in broad outlines, but please let me know if there is any specific information or numbers that would be helpful.

Our FIRE date is around 2018, based on current income and expenses. We both make high incomes (me slightly more than him: 60/40 split or so), live in a HCOL area, and have low spending other than our mortgage and property taxes. Our savings rate varies from about 75-85% monthly (also depending on if you count mortgage principal payment as savings).

We had our first child earlier this year. I have been taking my full maternity leave (6 months combination of fully paid, partially paid, and unpaid job protection time), and thoroughly enjoying the time with my son and not working. When my maternity leave ends, the current plan is that my husband will take his two months of fully paid paternity leave, while I go back to work. After that, we would be thinking child-care, but now I am deciding if I should just quit my job when my husband's paid leave ends (or even earlier?).

I do get to work from home quite often, but don't think I can manage an infant, the chaos around the house, and be on conference calls. There is sometimes also quite a bit of extended travel associated with my job. I think its fair to say that I don't enjoy working, or rather hate it on some days, and do love spending time with my son. While my husband doesn't love his job, he does like the work he does in general, and is ok with working for a bit longer at some job or another he may enjoy (though me quitting now would delay our FIRE plans).

Our first choice child care right now would cost ~$1000 a month and be in walking distance of home. Our second and third choices might cost closer to $1500-$2500/month, and be biking or driving distance instead. Financially, me quitting would cost more in terms of lost income than the cost of child care.
Since I have been off for the last few months, I don't think there are really any expenses that would go lower with me not having a job (let me know if you can think of any). Expenses that might increase are health care, if premiums are no longer paid by my employer, and the cell phone plan that is currently paid for by work (am I missing any other expenses that might go up)?

So this is my dilemma (not a bad one to have, eh?), I am quite happy to quit, but do want a variety of opinions to see if there is anything I am missing.

Thank you in advance!

russianswinga

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Not quite in the same situation as you, but similar (age 32/33, HCOL area of San Diego, definitely not quite as bad as SF Bay). Just had our first child in March.
I make a decent living for the area ($80K), my wife does not work and has not worked since she moved to this country 2 years ago (she was a speech therapist in Russia - something that she would literally have to start all over with in the US if she wanted to do it, education and all, plus she was not that attached to that career path so it is likely not going to be repeated). Her second background is an elementary school teacher (again, in Russia)

Our plan is this:
- She's a stay-at-home mom / homemaker until our child goes to school. We're likely only having one. NO child care
- After the kid is in school, she will go to work at least part time in an office-type position. Likely full-time eventually, at which point we will hire a russian babysitter to assist with the kid in the afternoons.
- I will continue to work until our kid is in college. That is the earliest time I can think of safely retiring. Luckily I'll be only 50 years old when that happens
- She will work for at least the requisite 10 years to be eligible for full social security benefits down the road.
- When we're 50+..... FIRE!

texaslady22

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Do you ever plan to re-enter the workforce?

My husband had a good job. He left it to stay home with our kids for 4 years (while I established myself in my career). Guess what? He'd have to start out at an entry-level job to re-enter the workplace. He interviewed so many places and, while he was so successful before, his "work gap" looks bad. You have to consider FUTURE loss of income, as well, if you ever want to work again.

That being said, we wouldn't change a thing....having him home with our children was absolutely, completely worth it.

texaslady22

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One other thing to consider:

When I was a SAHM, I felt obligated to do all these things. I wanted to do the Music & Me classes and the gymboree and the little baby sign language classes and the playdates at Chick-fil-A because I felt obligated. I needed to "socialize" my child and myself. It was almost a trap.

Now that my daughter is in daycare, I don't care. She gets "socialized" during the day and I really just don't care if we don't sing wheels in the bus with a group of parents who can't sing. It's taken a lot of pressure off of me.


Krnten

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If you don't enjoy your job but DO enjoy being home full time with your kid, I think there's your answer right there.  You can clearly afford it.  Also, working from home with kids around is totally doable, but you do have to hire childcare to look after the kids.  I think it would be crazy to try it without childcare. 

Maybe, since you and your husband are close to FI, he can try to find work he does like.  I imagine you have FU money stashed away already.  No sense disliking your job when you don't have to. 

Fruglette

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Hi there,

I would be tempted to stick with your current job and fully FIRE in 2018.  It's only 3 more years.  That probably seems like a long time right now, but you have SO MANY years of enjoying your kids ahead of you.  Mine are now 15, 13 and 9 and they are both SO much fun, and also SO in need of a parent around.  I think that when my eldest was a baby I thought that the most parenting-intensive years were 0-3 or 4, when they go to school and you can coast.  Don't get me wrong - those are great and important years for your relationship with your child.  But I've come to appreciate how much they need parenting through the elementary-middle school and high school years, and how arranging things so that my husband and I can be around (working from home and/or working part time) a lot of the time has been both crucial for them, and SO fun for us.  We moved from the city to a farmhouse on 6.5 acres when my middle child was 3, and he hardly remembers his life in the city.  As far as he is concerned, mom and dad have been "around" forever.

All this makes me want to tell you: Stick with the plan!  Then fully enjoy the years that they'll remember...and the tiny years if you decide to have more kids!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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My wife was in a similar situation when our daughter was born, though she earned less than me and my earning potential is higher so it was clearer who should be the SAHP if we went that way. Her employer is a small company and was flexible enough that she's been able to work a little from home. Kids get much more independent around a year so she can usually do conference calls, but sometimes our daughter joins in and in that environment it's fine. Obviously she's lucky to have that attitude at her employer, and the first few months were certainly harder. But if you're able to set clear boundaries with your employer and they still want you, it is sometimes possible.

I know having a SAHP isn't for everybody, but we are so much less stressed out than any of our siblings that have kids.

smoke

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Is there an opportunity to go part-time?

Considering you are so close to FI, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask. You'd be amazed at the lengths that respectable employers are willing to go to make a work-life situation work for their talent. Alternatively, a WFH schedule with child care help seems like a great way to bridge the gap to FI without sacrificing mommy time.


Krolik

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I was in similar position when our daughter was born (4 years ago), although my income was much lower than yours (I am guessing).  I was very close to quitting my job when maternity leave was ending (5 months). I decided to go back to work and see how it goes. I knew the possibility of quitting was always there, but getting back to work after you quit is not always so easy.
Now, four years later I am very glad I didn't quit. Sending your child to daycare is not the end of the world. My child is a very social and she generally likes going to daycare, loves her daycare friends and I know I would be miserable as stay home parent (not everyone is cut out for that).
Unless you absolutely want to be stay home mom and know you will enjoy it, try going back to work and see how it goes. If it doesn't work you can always quit your job.

mm1970

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I was in similar position when our daughter was born (4 years ago), although my income was much lower than yours (I am guessing).  I was very close to quitting my job when maternity leave was ending (5 months). I decided to go back to work and see how it goes. I knew the possibility of quitting was always there, but getting back to work after you quit is not always so easy.
Now, four years later I am very glad I didn't quit. Sending your child to daycare is not the end of the world. My child is a very social and she generally likes going to daycare, loves her daycare friends and I know I would be miserable as stay home parent (not everyone is cut out for that).
Unless you absolutely want to be stay home mom and know you will enjoy it, try going back to work and see how it goes. If it doesn't work you can always quit your job.
+1

MsFrugalista

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Re: Case Study: To quit or not to quit (and become SAHP / Early Retiree?)
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2015, 12:28:31 PM »
Thanks everyone for your insightful feedback.

I do plan on going back to work once my leave comes to an end in a few weeks. I think I will give my husband some time to spend with the little guy and give them space. I think it'll be good for me to go back to work and see what it's like (I've forgotten the routine of a work day already!).

As for the question from texaslady22 on whether I plan on re-entering the workforce, I definitely do not plan on working in the capacity I am in at the moment. Hence our plan to FIRE - I have had a successful career and have no more desire/motivation to further 'move up the career ladder'. However, I do have other plans/projects in mind for once we FIRE (some that will hopefully bring in monetary funds :))

I also have no problems with daycare, I do think the socialization is valuable. However, I am not one to get caught up on wanting to attend the various 'mommy and me' classes. We are very mindful of our expenses and this is something I value. I would much prefer joining local meetup groups and organizing playdates (which I have already done through our local DiaperFree group) and attend events at the local library. I think there are plenty of opportunities for socialization that I will be able to have the time for with my child if were a SAHP.

smoke's suggestion of going part-time is an excellent one! This is definitely something I will be investigating upon my return to work. I know my employer does have that option in certain areas of the company, but not sure if it will be feasible in my situation, but definitely worth looking into. WFH with child care (an au pair or nanny) are options - but we live in a <800 sq ft home, and it might get a bit crowded with another adult, baby, and two four-legged animals :)

Frugelette - I am also very tempted to just stick to our plan! But there are days where the thought of going to my job really makes me cringe!

Another motivation for me to go back to work is I am trying to switch my office base to the location that is 2 miles from our home. This will allow me to bike to work, which my husband currently does and enjoys tremendously. It'll be nice to try it out as I have never commuted by bike to work before.

Fortunately I think I am in a good position with many options. I think I will take it one day at a time and see how things go when I return to work and reevaluate my situation at that time.

Mrs. Pomodoro

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Re: Case Study: To quit or not to quit (and become SAHP / Early Retiree?)
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2015, 01:01:02 PM »
Our situation was very similar to yours before having our boy almost 3 years ago - two relatively high-income jobs (50/50 split w/ similar potential), close to FI (though we didn't realize it at the time) and living in the south bay.

We did some versions of BOTH of us going back to work after using up our maternity/family leave. My manager is very accommodating and let me WFH 2 days a week for a few months; my husband went from full-time to 3-day work week. We also have a part-time nanny to help us out. After doing this for about 5 months we're very stressed out and the extra income doesn't really make us happier. We also felt that we're not our best both at home and at work. With that realization, my husband quit and became the SAHP since his job was more demanding (long hours, traveling) and less flexible. The stress level of the whole family went way down since then.

Do you know how much your FIRE date will be delayed? We didn't know exactly what our savings rate was but I was able to save most of my income and hubby was maxing out 401k, espp and then some, so at least 60%+? Our current savings rate is around 40% to 50% without trying too hard. So yes, we save less but it's still pretty good. I'd say having only one (high) income delays our FIRE date for 1 to 3 years, depending on where we want to live. For us, the benefit of having one of us staying home outweighs being able to both FIRE right now.  What will make you and your family happier? FIRE together in 2018 or be a SAHP and FIRE in, say, 2020?

You also have the benefit of going back to work for a month or two while your husband's taking his family leave before you have to make up your mind. Who knows, the answer might be very clear after you go back to work. :)

MsFrugalista

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Re: Case Study: To quit or not to quit (and become SAHP / Early Retiree?)
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2015, 02:07:12 PM »
You also have the benefit of going back to work for a month or two while your husband's taking his family leave before you have to make up your mind. Who knows, the answer might be very clear after you go back to work. :)

You hit the nail on the head there, Mrs. Pomodoro, I also believe it will be clear once I return to work. Glad to hear you guys worked it out! A happy family is priceless. Thank you for your feedback!