Author Topic: Question for Mustachioed Parents  (Read 4817 times)

FLBiker

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Question for Mustachioed Parents
« on: June 05, 2014, 08:19:08 AM »
Here's the short version: my wife and I are going to start trying to have a kid, and I'm wondering if we'd be better off (post-birth) trying to maximize our money or maximize our free-time.  My gut is telling me time.

I make 64K.  We've got about 350K in retirement savings (we're in our mid [her] and late [me] 30's).  She makes 45K, going down to 36K as she switches to a 9-month contract.  My primary question is this: if the only way she can get maternity leave is to come back as a full-time (9-month) employee for a year, would you do that, or would you just burn sick leave / annual leave (she's got a few months worth) and then walk away.  In addition to the loss in salary, we'd also have to start paying for family healthcare when she quits (I believe it will be $230 a month, up from the $30 we currently pay).  Our expenses are about $40K per year (including our mortgage ~$850 a month).

We have a good start on retirement, I like my job and it's quite secure, and I make more than enough money for us to live on, plus continue to add (more modestly) to our retirement.  Thus, my thinking is that it would be better for our quality of life (and our child) not to have to worry about juggling a kid and two full-time jobs.  Oh, and my wife should have a good shot at getting part-time adjunct work (and a future full-time job) at our current place of employment, although that's not guaranteed.

I'd love to hear opinions / experience from other folks about early parenting experience.  And if you'd like to know anything else about me, just ask.

Thanks!

homeymomma

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2014, 08:39:03 AM »
I stayed home (and continue to be home) after we had our first baby. Honestly, I think it will depend on your wife and how she feels about it. You're in a lovely spot to be able to have the option one way or the other. The only reason I personally could see you would want to both go back full-throttle is if you could FI suuuuper quick that way, then both be able to stay home. But as long as that's not the case, which sounds like it's not, I'd err on the side of doing what makes you both happy and comfortable. It is very hard to be a functional human and have a newborn at home. Lack of sleep among other things, but people do it, and do it well, all the time. If your wife feels like she needs to work, for whatever reason, then she should. If she would prefer to stay home, that's great too. Seems like you guys are in a cushy place of really being able to happily choose one our the other without taking a huge financial hit.

I'd let her make the decision, as it's much more of a change for her than for you (from what you've said, you'll be staying at work either way).

Of course run the numbers for different scenarios, look at childcare costs, look at healthcare costs (like, actually look. $230/mo seems quite low for a family of 3 (we pay $536)). Once you know all the numbers and determine what you're most comfortable with, go with it. As long as you go in with your eyes open, you shouldn't have any regret. I.e. Oh I wish I stayed home because I don't think we really need the money and being a working mom is hard. Or the alternative: man, things are tighter than we thought they would be, I really should have kept working.

Part time sounds like a wonderful option once you're past those early months that really take a toll, if she would enjoy working. Some people are just not meant to be SAHMs, they lose their minds being alone all day, or whatever. Its good to have options. :)

zhelud

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2014, 08:41:46 AM »
What does your wife want to do?  I don't see anything about her preferences in your question...

FLBiker

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2014, 09:08:04 AM »
Good question!  My wife does not want to go back to work full-time afterward, but she is somewhat afraid of not having a job.  She's more traditional in that sense than I am, as I spent my 20s not working full-time.

She's also not sure about how she'll feel being at home full-time (since she's never done it before) but she should be able to find part-time work pretty easily, should she want it.

That's partly why I'm interested in hearing experiences of people who have done it, because neither of us really know what to expect.

Thanks!

bogart

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2014, 09:13:18 AM »
It sounds like your wife is working as a teacher or in a teaching role.  What does full-time look like for her position, in terms of schedule and flexibility? 

SomedayStache

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2014, 09:15:10 AM »
Do you have to decide now?  Can you wait till the baby is born and then see how you both feel?

I am a mom to three and know other mothers who thought they wanted to stay home - and then realized that it drove them crazy.  I also know intensely career driven mothers who after the birth of a child became MUCH less career driven.

I fall more into the second set of folks.  As an engineer who likes visuals I actually graphed my career ambition over time for a coworker to show him how the pregnancy/birth of each of my children caused the career ambition to drop off like a step function and then slowly rise over time – only to drop sharply off again the next time I became pregnant.   This was to help explain why  I was turning down promotion opportunities.  Unfortunately I have to continue working full-time.  Fortunately my income allows my husband to stay home with our children.

I found MMM about a year ago and quickly read every single post.  I then fell into a bit of a funk because though frugal and careful with money our savings rate is not even in the MMM badassity ballpark.  Unless we sell our house, my husband finds a job to work evenings and weekends, and I somehow squeeze overtime into the mix there is no way our savings rate will reach those levels.   But then our lives now would be miserable.  If you subtract our mortgage payment our yearly spending for a family of 5 is close to MMMs yearly spending for his family of 3.  But our income is less than half that of MMMs dual income during their earning years.

So this long story can basically be summed up by saying that I have now found peace with the fact that I won’t be able to retire in 10 years.  But we will continue aggressive savings as is possible. We will enjoy life with our children now.  We have a work life balance that isn’t my dream, but works for us.
I had my first child at 25 and only a year out of college.  If MMM had existed then and I had found his site maybe we would have waited to have children…but I’m glad we didn’t. 

Argyle

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2014, 09:20:10 AM »
Also, does your wife want to be a SAHP for the rest of her career?  Or would she want to get back into the workplace at a certain point?  What are the prospects for doing that?  Many women believe it will be easier than it turns out to be, and later regret having taken the off-ramp.  She should talk to people who have come back after some years at home, and see what they advise.  If she would want to go back to work after a certain point, would she be willing to change careers and start at entry level or in a low-paying job?  Finally, and sorry to bring this up, but if she gives up her career, what would happen if the marriage ended up failing?  I know no one wants to contemplate this, but there's a greater chance of that happening than of one of you dying young, and yet people buy life insurance for the latter but have no plan for the former.  All questions to think about so that you can make sure everything works out at every stage.

FLBiker

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2014, 09:29:17 AM »
It sounds like your wife is working as a teacher or in a teaching role.  What does full-time look like for her position, in terms of schedule and flexibility?

You're right that she's a teacher, and it's somewhat flexible.  In terms of hours, she certainly does 40 (or more) hours per week during the semester.  She typically has to be at school from 8-2 or so, M-Th, but her actual schedule usually is more like M-F, 8-5.  That's why, I think, the half-time option appeals to her, but it doesn't look like she'd be able to take maternity leave if she did that, which basically doesn't make it any different than just quitting and becoming an adjunct.

Do you have to decide now?  Can you wait till the baby is born and then see how you both feel?

We absolutely don't have to decide now, but we do have to make some decisions before the baby is born.  For example, if she takes maternity leave, she needs to either come back full-time or we need to pay it back.  Thus, it would be much better for us to use sick leave / annual leave instead of maternity leave if she wasn't going to come back.  You're absolutely right, though, that we have lots of time to make this decision.

Also, does your wife want to be a SAHP for the rest of her career?  Or would she want to get back into the workplace at a certain point?  What are the prospects for doing that?

At this point, she doesn't want to be a SAHP for the rest of her career (having never tried it) and she should be able to get a job again fairly easily.  She has a very good reputation where we work, and it is a large program that employs a lot of teachers (and thus has a good amount of turn over).  She might have a adjunct for a year or two before getting benefits again, but once she did, her "rank" would pick up where it left off.  She's also open to starting over in a new career, and taking classes (through our tuition benefit) in some new direction.

Finally, and sorry to bring this up, but if she gives up her career, what would happen if the marriage ended up failing?  I know no one wants to contemplate this, but there's a greater chance of that happening than of one of you dying young, and yet people buy life insurance for the latter but have no plan for the former.  All questions to think about so that you can make sure everything works out at every stage.
Absolutely.  I'm not sure how to answer this, but we have no pre-nup and all of our non-retirement investments are in a joint account (in other words, I didn't protect any of the assets I came into the relationship with).  And, re: her career, she has lots of connections and will probably be keeping her hand in it through adjuncting.

San

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2014, 10:10:06 AM »
I've been at home with our youngest for the last two years. I work very part time (one long day a week) plus 15-20 hours from home in the evenings. Our decision was to try it out. I had planned on going back to work around her first birthday if I wanted to. I'm a work-a-holic in that I feel like I have to be contributing in some way and doing something concrete. I ended up not wanting to, and just increasing the hours I was working from home. For me, that worked out. Her mileage may vary. But it's not a hard decision that must be made at any point. The flexibility of being able to return to work full time, or return to work part time is something that can be built in to the understanding from the get-go. If she loves being home all the time? That's great, and it sounds like you can do exactly that. If she doesn't love it, she can go back when she wants to and that's great too. The biggest thing is honesty with oneself about how this is working out, and being able to say 'it isn't working out for me like this,' is really important.

One of the things that helped me get over the initial "I'm not doing my fair contribution" was to actively work to save money. Everything I could make at home instead of buying, every time we bike instead of driving somewhere around the corner, that gets racked up in a mental checklist of contributions. At first it was a real time, necessary exercise to help me not feel worthless. Made bread? That's 2.50 we didn't have to spend- a direct contribution to the budget. Ride the bike to do local errands? $5 of gas right there! Have time to make some calls and reduce our cell phone bill? That's $25 per month! Etc, etc. I don't need to do that as much anymore, because doing it helped cement just how much I was contributing in ways that I didn't have the time to do before. It might seem silly, but for me was really helpful with the transition from full time salary to full time being at home.

FLBiker

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2014, 10:15:55 AM »
One of the things that helped me get over the initial "I'm not doing my fair contribution" was to actively work to save money. Everything I could make at home instead of buying, every time we bike instead of driving somewhere around the corner, that gets racked up in a mental checklist of contributions. At first it was a real time, necessary exercise to help me not feel worthless. Made bread? That's 2.50 we didn't have to spend- a direct contribution to the budget. Ride the bike to do local errands? $5 of gas right there! Have time to make some calls and reduce our cell phone bill? That's $25 per month! Etc, etc. I don't need to do that as much anymore, because doing it helped cement just how much I was contributing in ways that I didn't have the time to do before. It might seem silly, but for me was really helpful with the transition from full time salary to full time being at home.

Thanks for this!  I think this is / will be one of the primary issues -- my wife is newer to frugality than me, and sometimes feels bad for "not doing enough" or "starting too late".  I need to do everything I can to discourage these thoughts, and she already does a lot of this kind of stuff -- making bread, making great food, shopping for deals, planning cheap getaways, etc.  I need to be sure to highlight this stuff.

Also, love your avatar.  Princess Mononoke is my favorite movie!

San

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2014, 10:29:54 AM »
I like all of the Ghibli flicks, but Mononoke was the first I saw and will always be my favorite. :)

Something to keep in mind too with that mentality is that it is practice. It took me, no joke, a year to really get to the point where I believed in what I was doing. And during that time, I had some really rough days where I felt bad because it wasn't 'enough'. A change of point of view is *hard*. Harder than any other habit I've tried to form or break. But the key (for me) was not only keeping track of how I *was* helping in real and positive budget ways, but also how that wasn't all that there was. That the time with our daughter all day and our son when he wasn't at school was such a positive gain that even if I wasn't going the other things, it would STILL be worth it. The part that made it work was the support from my partner, reminding me that I was F*ing awesome, and my support in the same direction when he felt he wasn't spending enough time with the kids.

We still remind each other that we are f*ing awesome. Because we are.

FLBiker

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2014, 10:37:49 AM »
The part that made it work was the support from my partner, reminding me that I was F*ing awesome, and my support in the same direction when he felt he wasn't spending enough time with the kids.

We still remind each other that we are f*ing awesome. Because we are.

Thanks so much for this.  This is so important!

socaso

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2014, 10:43:05 AM »
Our son is two now and I was home with him the first year and a half and I really started to feel down about midway through that. Being a stay at home parent is isolating. I suppose it might suit some people just fine but I'm very social. Before we had a child I read a book called Opting In that really helped me feel secure in my choices as a parent. I always recommend it to people. I found a copy at a thrift store, I'm sure you can find it at the library.
http://www.amazon.com/Opting-In-Having-Without-Yourself/dp/0374226725

bogart

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2014, 10:45:55 AM »
In terms of hours, she certainly does 40 (or more) hours per week during the semester.  She typically has to be at school from 8-2 or so, M-Th, but her actual schedule usually is more like M-F, 8-5. 

So -- and intend no offense by saying this -- particularly assuming she's got some flexibility in when she actually works those 2 pm -5 pm hours on M-Th and her Friday hours, this is already a situation that many people would think of as "part-time" rather than "full-time."  I in no way intend to suggest that she's not working really hard, or putting in the hours, or whatever else.  But, from a parent's perspective, that's a pretty nice set up with lots of times to be with the kid even while working full time.

This is coming from a mom who's very, very happy to be in the workforce.  The kind of happy that you'd have to pay me A LOT to get me to stay home.  Now, sure, I like my job.  But mostly, I like the fact that my key roles in life involve stuff outside my household and family (though interestingly on a recent mother's day "worksheet" they did at school my first-grader had to list "my mom's work," and his item was, "take care of me.").

A factor to consider not yet addressed in your posts is the availability of good-quality childcare in your area.  We've got access to LOTS of great options (and can afford them), so putting DS in childcare/preschool/camps has never for us been a question of, "Oh, should we really subject him to this sub-standard situation."  His paid care and schooling (and now public school) have been enriching, positive, and provided great opportunities to interact with other kids.  But I know we are lucky to be in an area where that is true, and that not everyone is so situated.

Assorted other random thoughts:  I'm an introvert, and time away from my (apparently) extroverted kid is essential.  He wakes up at 7, goes to bed at 9, and talks non-stop between those two time periods:  Aigh!  Another issue:  how much sleep will your kid require?  Some need more, some less.  Mine has always been toward the less end of the scale, meaning I never felt like I didn't have "enough time" with him after getting home from work or whatever.  I mean, sure, there's a lumpiness aspect -- some days I have too many hours and some too few.  But over all?  Plenty.  Last but not least, different people value time with kids at different ages differently, but personally, the baby/toddler/preschooler phase is far from my favorite.  The older DS gets, the more interesting and fun I find spending time with him, and the happier I am not to have spent more time out of the workforce when he was little, thereby constraining my options for having time available with him today.  Ooh, free bonus thought:  add to that aging parents and the awareness that I may (again) need time out of the workforce at some point in the future to help them and I am particularly glad to have been a working mom adding to my 'stash.

FLBiker

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2014, 11:22:16 AM »
Our son is two now and I was home with him the first year and a half and I really started to feel down about midway through that. Being a stay at home parent is isolating. I suppose it might suit some people just fine but I'm very social. Before we had a child I read a book called Opting In that really helped me feel secure in my choices as a parent. I always recommend it to people. I found a copy at a thrift store, I'm sure you can find it at the library.
http://www.amazon.com/Opting-In-Having-Without-Yourself/dp/0374226725

Thanks for this.  I'll definitely get a copy.

So -- and intend no offense by saying this -- particularly assuming she's got some flexibility in when she actually works those 2 pm -5 pm hours on M-Th and her Friday hours, this is already a situation that many people would think of as "part-time" rather than "full-time."  I in no way intend to suggest that she's not working really hard, or putting in the hours, or whatever else.  But, from a parent's perspective, that's a pretty nice set up with lots of times to be with the kid even while working full time.

Yes and no.  The schedule isn't totally within her control, so having Fridays off or being out of the classroom at 2 or 3 might change semester to semester.  And, while I appreciate that it is more flexible (or, at least, variable) than a lot of people's jobs (mine included) it is in no sense part-time.  40 - 50 hours a week is full-time, regardless of when those hours happen to occur.  And, in fact, my full-time office job offers more flexibility in some ways, as I'm able to do things at my desk (make phone calls, do online research, read MMM, etc.) that she can't do in the classroom.  Plus, I can take time off (more or less) whenever I want, whereas she can only take time off between semesters.

And, perhaps most importantly, she doesn't love her job.  She's been thinking about a change even before we decided to try having kids.

I really appreciate all the feedback.  One of my big takeaways from this is that everyone's experience is different, and you can't really know how you're going to feel about it until you do it.

Thanks again!

historienne

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2014, 11:27:55 AM »
I think this question depends a lot on how sure she is that she will want to stay home full time, and I think that's actually quite a difficult thing to know in advance.  My husband thought that he would love to stay home with our daughter. Then she was born, and now he's totally flipped on that.  He's a wonderful, very engaged father, but is definitely not up being a SAHP (nor am I, but I knew that going in). 

Also, you say that the only way to get maternity leave is to commit to coming back for a year after, but how is that enforced?  Is it just that they will want the money back?  If so, I'd take the maternity leave but put all of the money in savings, and then see how it goes after she comes back to work.  If she really wants out, y'all will have the money to pay them back. 

bogart

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2014, 11:30:01 AM »

Yes and no.  The schedule isn't totally within her control, so having Fridays off or being out of the classroom at 2 or 3 might change semester to semester.  And, while I appreciate that it is more flexible (or, at least, variable) than a lot of people's jobs (mine included) it is in no sense part-time.  40 - 50 hours a week is full-time, regardless of when those hours happen to occur.  And, in fact, my full-time office job offers more flexibility in some ways, as I'm able to do things at my desk (make phone calls, do online research, read MMM, etc.) that she can't do in the classroom.  Plus, I can take time off (more or less) whenever I want, whereas she can only take time off between semesters.


Oh, duh, yes, very good points.  I have taught, so I get the ways in which that is actually astoundingly inflexible, not to mention being hard work (and time-consuming).  My bad.

FLBiker

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Re: Question for Mustachioed Parents
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2014, 11:37:51 AM »
Also, you say that the only way to get maternity leave is to commit to coming back for a year after, but how is that enforced?  Is it just that they will want the money back?  If so, I'd take the maternity leave but put all of the money in savings, and then see how it goes after she comes back to work.  If she really wants out, y'all will have the money to pay them back.

Interesting.  I think she's sure that she wouldn't want to come back full-time right away, but if she's not this is something we could do...