Author Topic: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)  (Read 3411 times)

des999

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Hi all,
My wife has been a stay at home mom for the last 7 years (had some medical challenges so it was a huge blessing).  It has been going great, and we are on track to FIRE or at least go part time in the next 3-5 years.

But, as of right now, the wife is looking at starting a part time job.  I'd love to hear from anyone that experienced something similar.  All my planning has gone around my salary, so this kind of throws a wrench in the plan.  It is part time, so we are only looking at 20-25k per year.  Part of me wants to just pretend like that money doesn't exist and put it straight to the stache, but I know she is going to want to have a little time earning 'her' money and potentially spending it, rather than using our current pay.  She even mentioned she'd be willing to open her own checking account, and that way she doesn't have me always watching over every penny.

My fear of course is lifestyle creep, but she is a fairly frugal person, just not on the level as most of us MMM'ers.  If she truly doesn't touch my pay checks, then I obviously can save more, but not sure how that will affect things?

Also, she may even go to full time in the next couple years, so we've talked about me leaving my 9-5 or going part time once that happens, so it could benefit me from that standpoint.  Her full time salary would easily cover our expenses, and then the stache would just grow, which would be nice.

Sorry for rambling, but kind of a unique situation I didn't expect, after all the planning, things could look different in a couple years.  Any thoughts, suggestions, etc.. 

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 10:29:29 AM »
My husband and I both work. All money in the household is "our" money.  More money wouldn't change the plan, assuming "our" plan is one you both came up with.  If it was really "your" plan, and she didn't feel empowered to change it not making her own money; then I'd say you should rethink your spending level with an income change.  But if she bought into the plan; not changing anything is a great way to grow wealth. If that money goes directly to savings it will really be a good thing.

I've never understood the "I have my money to spend" and he has "his" money to spend- our household is joint. We have money together.  (My salary  is a nearly equal to his though; I make like a thousand bucks more in take gross pay [a lot more in retirement benefits].)

Lady SA

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 11:05:54 AM »
Do you trust your wife? A few of your statements indicate that you don't really, and she may be trying to tell you that she feels stifled and suffocated by how tightly you control your finances. That isn't to bash on you, but it seems like you aren't really listening to her. The statement "you won't be watching every penny" sounds to me like she is not very happy with the current set-up and wants a bit of freedom.

It is far less costly to loosen the reigns slightly than to divorce. :) Taking into account your partners needs and wants makes for a healthy marriage. You say she is a frugal person, maybe not to your standards, but she isn't about to blow everything on a new hummer or something. She sounds like a reasonable human. She is not an opponent or adversary, she is on your team.

Is she on board with the goals that you mention? Did you arrive at these goals together with a conversation over wine and chocolate, or did you decide these and then impose them on her without much input?

Many marriages function with separate finances. Mine does not, everything is one big pot, but I know a few that do. I think your wife having a separate account for fun, judgement-free spending is a fantastic idea, as long as the amount that goes INTO this account is agreed upon by you. Otherwise, you could also have a line-item in the joint budget for judgement-free spending for each partner. This is what my DH and I currently do, we each get $100 per month. I personally usually save mine, but DH is a tech junky, so every so often a new tech toy appears in our house and I say zip, nada about it, because this is planned for and I trust him to not go over-budget (and he doesn't, he is a reasonable human). Judgement-free, remember? That's what keeps a marriage running smoothly.

Also, I am just confused. If she is bringing in $20k extra, how would that possibly throw anything up in the air unless she would suddenly be spending MORE than she is bringing in? Is that your fear, that she earns $20k but then feels entitled to spend $30k just on herself? On what, a new car every year? Anything she brings in would only be a bonus, and I can pretty well assure you, unless you married a giant spendy-pants, she wont inflate the household spending by an extra $20k per year or more.


Additionally, your current situation sounds exactly like where DH and I would like to be in 6 or so years. I want to leave the workforce to have kids, but then I'm interested in going back and doing something part-time. I like the feeling of contributing, I'll likely want to get out of the house and have a few kid-free hours per week, and I feel that having DH be the sole earner would be a negative for me psychologically. But we have a spending plan and shared vision/goals, so everything that we both bring in goes into one big pot and gets allocated based on what we BOTH agreed to. If I were 6 years from now and felt that I had very little say in our spending plan and also little power/income, and feeling kind of restricted or judged/watched like I was a child, I would be feeling a little resentful and eager to have some money that *I* had some say over. Thats the general impression that I'm getting from your post, but I could be entirely off-base.

I would encourage you to simply talk to your wife. See what she likes and dislikes about your current spending plan/budget, and if she had a magic wand, what would she change? What is she actually frustrated about? There could be a very simple solution that meets both of your needs, but first, you need to find out what those needs are in a kind, gentle way. Talk about what makes her feel suffocated or uncomfortable with the current system. Talk about what she wants to spend "her" money on, or what kind of budget she wants per month. It could be as little as $100 per month just so she can go to the spa sometimes or get her hair done, or maybe $500. There is no wrong answer here, as long as that budget is below what she earns. Good luck!

des999

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 11:17:03 AM »
Ok, sorry for the confusion, my wife and I are completely satisfied with the current set up, we both love the idea of MMM, and are glad we found it, and the all the freedom we currently have because of it.

I did not mean to come off like I care what she does with the money, I just think she likes the idea of having an earned income, as it's been 7 years (almost 8) with out one.  I think it's a good idea for her having her own account, and I don't worry at all she will blow through it and some.  I am sure she will save, she even mentioned starting a ROTH.  But, it is a little strange, b/c we've always shared every dollar (we even linked up our accounts before we got married).

It's just odd b/c the plan was always when I could FIRE, b/c she wasn't working, and now that she is, it might actually (or it could) speed things up for me.  But, in the back up my mind, I don't want any lifestyle creep to happen.  If expenses go up, I'll just have figure it out, was just hoping someone else experience a SAHM going back, and how it changed things.

Like you said, maybe the only change it more money, thus more savings.  could be that simple :)

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2018, 11:19:33 AM »
OK- here's my next question.
If she has a separate account; will you get one too?

I know that my Mom has always worked as "her money is her money" and Dad's money is "their" money; and it baffles me; but my Mom's salary for a long time was trivial as compared to my Dad's.  It really was joint money; it's just Mom's money was the amount designated for spending.

des999

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2018, 11:24:42 AM »
OK- here's my next question.
If she has a separate account; will you get one too?

I know that my Mom has always worked as "her money is her money" and Dad's money is "their" money; and it baffles me; but my Mom's salary for a long time was trivial as compared to my Dad's.  It really was joint money; it's just Mom's money was the amount designated for spending.

no, we'd still have the same joint account that covers bills, etc..  Her account would just be for the things she buys for the house, or any extra things she wants, and also, it sounds like she'll set up a ROTH.  So, the money she used to use for shopping or home items would no longer come out of the joint account, so technically I could up the savings rate there.

Gilly

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2018, 11:30:10 AM »
My husband and I like having the freedom of separate accounts. Even though it is all our money, it just takes the mental load off and his is responsible for xyz and I am for abc. So I have no criticism of her wanting separate accounts or not having to track to your standard. My suggestion would be, whatever your current savings rate is have the additional income saved at 5%+ more than that. That way any life style creep will not increase your time to fire. IE you save 45% of your income, set it up so she saves 50% or more.
You both benefit from more savings, but there is some reward.

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2018, 11:40:55 AM »
OK- here's my next question.
If she has a separate account; will you get one too?

I know that my Mom has always worked as "her money is her money" and Dad's money is "their" money; and it baffles me; but my Mom's salary for a long time was trivial as compared to my Dad's.  It really was joint money; it's just Mom's money was the amount designated for spending.

no, we'd still have the same joint account that covers bills, etc..  Her account would just be for the things she buys for the house, or any extra things she wants, and also, it sounds like she'll set up a ROTH.  So, the money she used to use for shopping or home items would no longer come out of the joint account, so technically I could up the savings rate there.

So what do you do when you want an extra thing or a thing for the house?  Why are your things joint, but her things separate?

I mean, these are all questions for the two of your to answer together; what I think doesn't matter...

MayDay

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2018, 11:45:48 AM »
We always had "our" money, but after staying home for 6 years,there was still a bit of a thrill at having my own money that I earned.

U would suggest you encourage her to enjoy spending some more ey at first, but ask her to think about sitting down and coming up with a new plan after 3-6 months.

des999

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2018, 12:49:56 PM »
My husband and I like having the freedom of separate accounts. Even though it is all our money, it just takes the mental load off and his is responsible for xyz and I am for abc. So I have no criticism of her wanting separate accounts or not having to track to your standard. My suggestion would be, whatever your current savings rate is have the additional income saved at 5%+ more than that. That way any life style creep will not increase your time to fire. IE you save 45% of your income, set it up so she saves 50% or more.
You both benefit from more savings, but there is some reward.

I like that idea.

Sibley

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2018, 02:32:33 PM »
For women, financial (in)security can be a serious concern. If you're relying on your spouse's income, what happens if they lose their job or decide to leave the marriage? While it may not be a big concern, it may be niggling at the back of her head - don't rely totally on him! Things can happen! You need to be employable!

Our society also places a high importance on earning money. She's been a SAHP for a long time, and the weight of society's assumptions may be bothering her. It's pretty messed up actually because on one hand women get punished for working with kids, and also get punished for NOT working.

SAHM may also feel guilty about spending money on themselves - little things like clothing that isn't stained or worn out. A new coat to replace the old one that's no longer keeping them warm. The slightly more expensive shampoo (or shampoo that isn't also the kid's shampoo) that doesn't dry out her hair. A part time job can make it feel "permissible" to take care of these not-unrealistic things. There's a lot of societal expectations that have been built up over time around not wasting your husband's hard earned money.

Note - these are all things that you, as a male, are very likely to be oblivious to, but your wife, as a female, may be intensely aware of and unable to articulate to you.

All of which is to say - this may be a response to some deep emotions around things that men, in general, are simply unaware of.

Dictionary Time

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2018, 06:34:00 PM »
I went back to work after a lot of years at home.

Your spending will go up.  I tried to fight it 100%, and it still crept up. 

1.) All the things she does now to save (or that you do to save while she's doing something to help you out) really do add up.  Dinners at home, shopping the sales, gardening, laundry (more often = less inventory), etc.  It's a lot of work and something is going to have to give.  Since you're a good guy, I suggest being aware of this and seeing what you can do to step it up during the transition.

2.) Pent-up demand.  Like Sibley said, there may be stuff she's been denying herself that she now feels more entitled to.  And there's work clothes, socializing, transportation etc. that is just a part of having a job.

Really the key (as to anything) is communication.  If you budget together, talk about where the money is going to go.  Leave some wiggle room and readjust.  Be kind to each other.

What kept the lifestyle creep down for me, was that I was doing this to fund the kids' college.  So I had a reason and a goal. 


des999

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2018, 05:21:37 AM »
For women, financial (in)security can be a serious concern. If you're relying on your spouse's income, what happens if they lose their job or decide to leave the marriage? While it may not be a big concern, it may be niggling at the back of her head - don't rely totally on him! Things can happen! You need to be employable!

Our society also places a high importance on earning money. She's been a SAHP for a long time, and the weight of society's assumptions may be bothering her. It's pretty messed up actually because on one hand women get punished for working with kids, and also get punished for NOT working.

SAHM may also feel guilty about spending money on themselves - little things like clothing that isn't stained or worn out. A new coat to replace the old one that's no longer keeping them warm. The slightly more expensive shampoo (or shampoo that isn't also the kid's shampoo) that doesn't dry out her hair. A part time job can make it feel "permissible" to take care of these not-unrealistic things. There's a lot of societal expectations that have been built up over time around not wasting your husband's hard earned money.

Note - these are all things that you, as a male, are very likely to be oblivious to, but your wife, as a female, may be intensely aware of and unable to articulate to you.

All of which is to say - this may be a response to some deep emotions around things that men, in general, are simply unaware of.

this is very good information, thank you for that.

des999

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2018, 05:27:46 AM »
I went back to work after a lot of years at home.

Your spending will go up.  I tried to fight it 100%, and it still crept up. 

1.) All the things she does now to save (or that you do to save while she's doing something to help you out) really do add up.  Dinners at home, shopping the sales, gardening, laundry (more often = less inventory), etc.  It's a lot of work and something is going to have to give.  Since you're a good guy, I suggest being aware of this and seeing what you can do to step it up during the transition.

2.) Pent-up demand.  Like Sibley said, there may be stuff she's been denying herself that she now feels more entitled to.  And there's work clothes, socializing, transportation etc. that is just a part of having a job.

Really the key (as to anything) is communication.  If you budget together, talk about where the money is going to go.  Leave some wiggle room and readjust.  Be kind to each other.

What kept the lifestyle creep down for me, was that I was doing this to fund the kids' college.  So I had a reason and a goal.


thanks for sharing your experience, that is very helpful. 

I do agree 100%, communication is the key.  If lifestyle creeps up a bit, I'll look at other items first, like cutting netflix or cut back on our eating out 2x a month habit :)   

merula

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2018, 07:30:58 AM »
I think Sibley has some really great points.

My husband is a SAHP, so I'm interested in following how this works out, but I do also want to share how he thinks about money. I think that everything is "our" money, but he feels bad about spending "my" money. It probably has roots in how society values paid labor versus care-giving labor, which is why it most often impacts women, but not universally.

One thing that really works for us is to have our own "allowances" in the budget; money that we can spend with no accountability to each other. It's not a lot of money, but it's nice to not have to weigh those sort of "slightly more expensive shampoo"-type purchases relative to the overall household budget, just relative to what *I* want.

I also think Dictionary Time is right that your spending is going to go up no matter what. Can you work with your wife to figure out what she thinks will be places you're going to spend more, since she's probably closer to it? Planning for it will probably make it easier for you both, especially because this is a major change.

des999

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2018, 08:06:30 AM »
very good points merula.

When I say DW will use her account to buy house things, I don't mean upgrades, fixing things, etc..  I mean candles, pictures, things that we don't 'need' but she enjoys and make the house aesthetically pleasing.

She currently has budget in our joint account for those things, so she now wants to use her money for those extra items, and let our joint account focus on budgeted items, bills, savings, etc..

I am open to her idea, I really just wanted to know if anyone had experiences, as I could see it creep upward a bit.  Again, DW and I do not fight about these things, I don't want to come off as if I'm upset, just trying to understand the situation, so it's easier to talk about IF it comes up.

I do appreciate everyone's input!

slappy

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2018, 08:50:48 AM »
I think Sibley has some really great points.

My husband is a SAHP, so I'm interested in following how this works out, but I do also want to share how he thinks about money. I think that everything is "our" money, but he feels bad about spending "my" money. It probably has roots in how society values paid labor versus care-giving labor, which is why it most often impacts women, but not universally.

One thing that really works for us is to have our own "allowances" in the budget; money that we can spend with no accountability to each other. It's not a lot of money, but it's nice to not have to weigh those sort of "slightly more expensive shampoo"-type purchases relative to the overall household budget, just relative to what *I* want.

I also think Dictionary Time is right that your spending is going to go up no matter what. Can you work with your wife to figure out what she thinks will be places you're going to spend more, since she's probably closer to it? Planning for it will probably make it easier for you both, especially because this is a major change.

My husband is a SAHP and we do the allowances too.  We actually always have, even when he worked, and it has always worked for us. He can spend it/save it/do whatever with it. I usually use mine for kid stuff, but obviously I don't have to.

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2018, 08:58:34 AM »
pent up demand, definitely!

Great suggestions, I wanted to add a few thoughts, but also PTF as my DH will be heading back to work after being a SAHP too.

We have "fun money" accounts. We each get the same amount out of each paycheck. I think DH wants to increase this a little when he starts working ( likely due to pent up demand). We each do what we want with our fun money, so that lifestyle creep is not a factor.

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2018, 01:28:25 PM »
I'm considering returning to the workforce in about 1.5 years after 12 years as SAHM. I anticipate some lifestyle creep: no more yoga pants and stretched out /stained tees, I'll need some decent clothes. I think we'd probably go from no eating out to take-out 1x per week (maybe). And I'd probably pay for click-list (online grocery order / pick up service).  Other than that what I would earn would go towards the stache, with the thought it would go towards our retirement home paid in cash.

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2018, 10:08:51 AM »
Would she like some of the savings in just her name?  She can already set up a Roth account even if she has no earned income.  As a sahm i did that so if anything happens i have a little money.  Now I work part time and some money goes to each of our retirement accounts.  But I work for need not savings.

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2018, 12:50:56 PM »
DH was a SAHD for several years.  The he started working part time at a local coffee shop a short walk from our house, and slowly worked up to full time, but with rather flexible hours, the last couple of years.  About 10 months ago, he took a full-time job elsewhere with regular 9-5 type hours at a nearby university.  The only changes to our spending have been:
-childcare, for over the summer when I'm not working remotely (I work from home 2 days a week), and occasional childcare during other school breaks
-occasional eating out for DH's lunches when he is at work.  We budget $60/month for this, but this also includes his dining out with friends or grabbing a beer with friends.  We went from budgeting one bucket of dining out for the whole family, to reducing the family budget and breaking out mine and his.  Basically anytime we eat out w/o the kids it goes to these our individual budget categories.

That said, there was already excess from my salary that covers these increases.  We don't need the extra money, so it should just be stashed.  And we now have access to both a 457b AND a 403b!  We used to just have my 401k and our IRAs.  His salary is only $40K/yr, so most of his paycheck (80%) is actually retirement contributions.

des999

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Re: How to deal with SAHM going back to work (financially that is)
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2018, 01:16:45 PM »
DH was a SAHD for several years.  The he started working part time at a local coffee shop a short walk from our house, and slowly worked up to full time, but with rather flexible hours, the last couple of years.  About 10 months ago, he took a full-time job elsewhere with regular 9-5 type hours at a nearby university.  The only changes to our spending have been:
-childcare, for over the summer when I'm not working remotely (I work from home 2 days a week), and occasional childcare during other school breaks
-occasional eating out for DH's lunches when he is at work.  We budget $60/month for this, but this also includes his dining out with friends or grabbing a beer with friends.  We went from budgeting one bucket of dining out for the whole family, to reducing the family budget and breaking out mine and his.  Basically anytime we eat out w/o the kids it goes to these our individual budget categories.

That said, there was already excess from my salary that covers these increases.  We don't need the extra money, so it should just be stashed.  And we now have access to both a 457b AND a 403b!  We used to just have my 401k and our IRAs.  His salary is only $40K/yr, so most of his paycheck (80%) is actually retirement contributions.

great info, thanks for sharing! 

Our big thing is one of us will have to carry health ins, so I either have to go part time at mega corp or her job goes to more hours and offer ins.  Unless we get a better picture of what ACA will look like, it seems at least part time work is going to be our plan.   She seems to be open to the idea of both of us doing part time once we hit our number.