Author Topic: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?  (Read 8129 times)

epowers

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Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« on: October 10, 2013, 11:43:35 AM »
Gross Income:
My income (Project Engineer, 5 miles from home): 55k/yr + 3% 401k match
My income (Fitness Instructor, 4 miles from home, 9 miles from work): 3k/yr
Husband's income (Systems Administrator, 1 mile from home): 55k/yr + 4% 401k match

Current expenses:
Mortgage: $1532.86/mo (1026.82 principal & interest, 506.04 taxes & insurance) 
Car Payment: $482/mo
Car insurance: $350/six months (for two cars, full coverage)
Gasoline: $100/mo (almost all visiting friends and family out of town)
Vehicle Maintenance: $100/mo
Registration: $119/yr
Groceries: $300/mo (We're suckers for Oberweis milk, I can get this down to 200 if I seriously coupon, but it is hard to justify the time)
Restaurants: $200/mo (mostly going out when we have guests in from out of town, also some lunches with co-workers)
Alcohol: $75/mo (We're trying to curb this by buying Bota Boxes and winking owl, but we just bought a case of gin which brought the monthly average up significantly)
Electricity/Natural Gas: $150/mo (about $20/mo of this is "fuel" for our LEAF, about 10 times less than we would pay in gasoline)
Water: $40/mo
Internet: $36/mo
Garbage/Recycling: $18/mo
Sewer: $15/mo
(Cell phones through work)
Health Insurance: $145.55/mo (we will switch coverage 1/1/14, probably will pay slightly more for new employer plan)
Prescriptions and Doctor/Dentist Appointments: $50/mo
Veterinarian: $40/mo
Pet Food and Supplies: $10/mo
Newspaper Subscription: $13.12/mo
Amazon Prime: $79/yr
Clothing/Dry Cleaning: $50/mo (we can easily trim this in half or more, I bought some super expensive yoga pants from my friend's kickstarter this year)

Total Monthly Expenses: $3,432.36

We have recently been putting an extra $1500/mo toward extra principal on the mortgage, and what is left after that goes toward other: gifts, travel, home improvement and precious metals.

Assets:
House: Zestimate = $175k, bought in 2008 for $189k
My 401k: $26k (was contributing 12% with no match, will start contributing 30% 4/1/14 with new employer)
Husband's 401k: $25k (currently contributing 20%)
My Roth IRA: $12k (maxing since 2011)
Joint Vanguard Taxable Account: $16k
Savings/Checking: $8k +/-
2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X: $20k (bought new in 2009, paid off in 2010)
2011 Nissan LEAF: $20k (bought new in 2012)
Precious Metals: I don't know, but my husband won't sell/trade until the zombie apocolypse, or should that be werewolf apocolypse?

Liabilities:
Mortgage: $90,653 left on loan, we refinanced to a 15 year loan at 3.875% in 2010
Car Loan: $20,185 left on loan, 5 year at 2.75%  We could have paid cash for the car, but decided that since the rate was so low, it would make more sense to put that money toward the mortgage

Specific Question(s):
So, I guess I'm looking for advice from emotionally unattached parties.  I just took a new job making 3k less than I was making, but I have the potential for a bonus and I will get a 401k match, neither of which my previous job had.  I'm hoping I like the work and environment more than my current job, which I don't think will be hard.  Still, I don't think I'm making enough money for my qualifications (Masters degree, licensed S.E.), but my options here are limited.   
My original plan was to work until about 29 (which would be next year) or 30 and then stay home with a potential child while my husband continued to work.  I would continue to teach at the gym and probably use my sewing skills to open an etsy store or something.  Maybe if I got bored I would start my own engineering firm.  Anyway, since discovering MMM and ERE, my husband has decided he wants to retire early.  And by early, he means as soon as possible.  He has no plan for what he wants to do in "retirement".  I figure that we could both retire if we both continue to work for about 12 more years, but at that point, I'll be 40, and I'm worried I wouldn't be able to have a child anymore, if I even can now.  It would be more like 20+ years if just one of us works, which doesn't wind up being so early.  Also, by refinancing our mortgage and the constant increase in property taxes, we can't really afford for one of us to stay home right now, unless we pay off the mortgage.  I'm ok with continuing to work after having a child, but I'm worried about trying to nurse for several months as an engineer in a cubicle, and I'm a bit concerned that my husband wouldn't be great with an infant.  Once the kid is walking, I'm sure he'll be a great dad.  My husband and I are both only children and I'm feeling pressure to make grandbabies.  His parents live about 3 hours away and my parents live about 7 hours away in the opposite direction, so our parents won't do much babysitting. 
We also have a huge house (2000 sq. ft. + basement) and I would like to put our extra bedrooms on AirBNB to maybe make a little extra income, but my husband is worried about strangers in our house (they might steal or damage things!).  My husband is often bored, but I feel like there isn't enough time in each day.  My questions:
Should I be making more money?
When should we have a child?
Should my husband or I stay home with a child?
Should I put our extra rooms on AirBNB?
Should we move out of Illinois to escape the taxes?
If we move, where should we go?
Are there any savings you think I'm missing?
Do you have any other suggestions for us?

Thank you!

Lans Holman

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2013, 12:17:35 PM »
If your husband is often bored now and has no plans for what he would do with his time, he shouldn't be the one who is looking at early retirement while you keep working.  That's completely backward. 
As far as having a kid, the thing missing from your entire statement is any sense of whether that's something you are excited about.  You talked about making your family happy and how to make it work financially, but are you personally excited to have kids?  This would be important.
If having random people come through via AirBnB isn't appealing, maybe look into more long term possibilities.  Our local community college has a lot of international students and pays pretty well for host families.  We hosted a Japanese student for a school year and that worked out great.
What are your taxes exactly?  Hard to discuss whether you should move away from your jobs to get away from them otherwise.
If he's so fired up to get to ER, would he consider biking to work so you can sell the Mitsubishi and invest the proceeds?
Finally, I want to commend you for bringing attention to the oft-overlooked possibility of the werewolf apocalypse.  Zombies get so much press these days, we forget about all the other threats.  Don't sleep on the dolphins,either, they look cute but it's only a matter of time until they turn on us.

grmagne

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2013, 12:27:34 PM »
Considering your ages & salaries, you’re already off to a good start at building your net worth and your monthly expenses are very reasonable.  If having family is really important to you, then you definitely shouldn’t put It off until post-retirement.  If you’re willing to sell one car and replace half your restaurant budget with life insurance (and werewolf spray), then you’ll be able to afford a child and still save a fair bit for ER.

StarryC

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 12:47:00 PM »
You can afford to have a kid.  You can even afford to have one of you stay home full time.  (Your monthly expenses total $41,000 a year, and either salary is over that.)  Once you have the kid, you'd probably reduce eating out and alcohol budgets.  If one of you was home, you'd only need one car, reducing car insurance expenses.  Think of the baby as a little tax deduction, too. 

I'm assuming you want to have a kid since you said you planned on it.  Does your husband?  If not, you've got big problems entirely non-financial.  Does he want to retire early more than he wants a kid?  It seems like you had a plan, but your husband wasn't in on it?  Or has he changed his mind?  Wanting to be a stay at home parent seems like it should be something that comes up before the wedding.  You should not plan to wait until 40 to have a kid if you want one now since you can afford one, and are in a stable relationship.  Why did you plan on quitting? Was it because a parent caring for the kid is important or because you, personally, want to care for a child instead of working for pay? 

Here would be my proposal, assuming you are both confident you'll be able to find jobs with ease.  Have a kid.  You take a year or 18 months off.  You go back to work, and dad takes a year to 18 months off.  Re-evaluate after that. Maybe what your husband is saying by wanting to retire early is that he needs a break, and parenting for 18 months is pretty different from working for pay. Maybe he is saying he wants to stay home with the kid some.

lackofstache

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2013, 01:01:45 PM »
Should I be making more money? There's always room to do this, but it seems like you're doing well with extra payments on the mortgage & savings contributions!

When should we have a child? When you feel ready. I started at 24, my older brother will have his first at 36. He's in a much better spot financially than I was, but we'll be ok.

Should my husband or I stay home with a child? It's rewarding if you're wired for it. Although many on this forum will base it solely on financials, I don't think you can. My wife has been a SAHM & we've found ways to supplement our income and save in some ways because she isn't going to work. If you WANT to, you're in a fine position to do so. You may not be able to retire now, but I would consider at least one of you FI, meaning your life can be sustained by just one person at the moment, you've got savings. If you have a child now & stay at home for the first 6 years, you can always earn money again and both retire forever before the 20 years. Making money doesn't stop because you've had a kid, it just changes how you do it.
Should I put our extra rooms on AirBNB? If your husband isn't comfortable w/ the idea, no. You don't NEED the money, though, if you have a strong desire to make a little extra, go for it.
Should we move out of Illinois to escape the taxes? Sure, go to Oregon or Washington or even Tennessee if you want other things they offer. I personally wouldn't move ONLY because of taxes.
If we move, where should we go?
See previous answer.
Are there any savings you think I'm missing?
Do you have any other suggestions for us?

Johnny Aloha

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2013, 01:43:59 PM »
Should I be making more money?
Yes.  A master's + licensed structural engineer with a few years experience should be making at least $70-75k in your location.

When should we have a child?
When do you want one?  This is highly personal.  We had one at 32 and it was great, plus allowed us to keep building the stash until we were ready.

Should my husband or I stay home with a child? 
Do either of you want to?  Again, highly personal.  Some people love it, some prefer to go to work.  Each side claims it's best for the kid :).

Are there any savings you think I'm missing?
Those are pretty nice cars!  I'd sell and get two less expensive ones.  Or better yet, one less expensive car.

Do you have any other suggestions for us?
Yes, I do.  Sounds like you guys have a lot of questions about the direction of your life, and are thinking about some pretty significant changes.  I suggest taking some time to evaluate your long term goals (kids, where to live, hobbies, etc) and don't rush into anything until you are sure it's the right decision for you and your husband (not your parents and in laws!).  There's nothing wrong with not having kids.

Best of luck!

Dulcimina

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2013, 01:54:24 PM »
You can afford to have a kid.  You can even afford to have one of you stay home full time.  (Your monthly expenses total $41,000 a year, and either salary is over that.)  Once you have the kid, you'd probably reduce eating out and alcohol budgets.  If one of you was home, you'd only need one car, reducing car insurance expenses.  Think of the baby as a little tax deduction, too. 

I'm assuming you want to have a kid since you said you planned on it.  Does your husband?  If not, you've got big problems entirely non-financial.  Does he want to retire early more than he wants a kid?  It seems like you had a plan, but your husband wasn't in on it?  Or has he changed his mind?  Wanting to be a stay at home parent seems like it should be something that comes up before the wedding.  You should not plan to wait until 40 to have a kid if you want one now since you can afford one, and are in a stable relationship.  Why did you plan on quitting? Was it because a parent caring for the kid is important or because you, personally, want to care for a child instead of working for pay? 

Here would be my proposal, assuming you are both confident you'll be able to find jobs with ease.  Have a kid.  You take a year or 18 months off.  You go back to work, and dad takes a year to 18 months off.  Re-evaluate after that. Maybe what your husband is saying by wanting to retire early is that he needs a break, and parenting for 18 months is pretty different from working for pay. Maybe he is saying he wants to stay home with the kid some.

I agree with this post but would go even further and say you could probably get rid of one of your cars right now based on the 1 mile commute to work. 
Questions:
Your house will be paid off in the next three years with prepaying an extra $1500 - might that be a good time for one of you to stay home?
Can you close the basement off to make a separate rental apartment?
You threw out the idea of your own firm as an option if you are bored at home.  Could you earn more from that than Etsy, etc.?

epowers

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2013, 04:03:18 PM »
Thank you! I really appreciate your advice.

Lans Holman: I am definitely excited about having a kid.  I'm sure that some of it is biological clock, but I am totally stoked for progeny, even if it doesn't come off that way in my writing.  And I won't ignore the dolphins.  I'm always suspicious of our bunnies too, I know they're planning something.

grmagne:   We could probably sell the Mitsubishi now, but it was just recently that we were able to get down to two cars from three, and the Evo is my husband's dream car.  The LEAF is my dream car, so the decision to get rid of either is difficult to say the least. 

StarryC: Perhaps I am underestimating the impact of adding a dependent, but the annual take home for either of us is just over $31k, or maybe $33.5k if you include my fitness money.  But that is more than $6k less than we spend in a year.  That doesn't consider the increase in health insurance or life insurance once adding a family member, but it also doesn't consider the possibility of reducing 401k contributions.  But still, how is that enough for one of us to stay home? 
When we got married, we agreed that we wanted one child in a few years.  We also agreed that one of us would stay home with the child, probably whoever was making less money.  Fast forward a few years, and we're making almost exactly the same as each other.  I think I'm ready for a baby, but my husband thinks he wants our one child in a few years.  He showed me a graph to illustrate that he's not alone in his thinking.  The graph for when women want a baby is linear and goes to Now! around 26 years old.  The graph for men has an asymptote approaching 2 years from now.  I don't want to push him into such a big thing before he's ready, but I'm also getting impatient.  I think you're right that my husband is saying he wants to stay home with the kid, he's just afraid because he's not my dad (who stayed home with me and is awesome).  My husband is also awesome, but in entirely different ways.
I'm not confident that either of us could get as good of jobs here again if we both took time off.  I believe we are both somewhat underpaid and still easily replaceable.

lackofstache: How do you know if you're wired to be a stay at home parent?

Johnny Aloha: Your comments are more in line with what I expected.  Both of us think we want to stay home with a child.  The cars are definitely our major indulgence.  Honestly, we could survive without any cars.  My husband can walk to work, I like biking, and the bus system in town is great.  We could take the Amtrak to visit friends and family.  We could rent a car if we needed one.  But we have an unnatural emotional attachment to our cars.  Yes, we are not great at making decisions, especially not big life decisions.  That is why I am seeking advice.

Dulcimina: Yes, it is our plan right now to pay off the house in 3 years.  That is indeed when we were thinking one of us would be able to stay home.  We would have to add a bathroom to the basement to make it an apartment, in addition to an egress, which would probably cost in the $10-$15k range if we did it ourselves.  The basement is our favorite part of the house though.  Probably not going to happen, but thanks for the suggestion.  Yes, I could most certainly earn more from an engineering firm (especially a FBE firm) than from an etsy store.  But  it would be a significantly larger time commitment, with more risk, but with the potential to be quite profitable.


athomeintheworld

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2013, 04:16:33 PM »
You can certainly have a child. And stay home if you want to. 

I am quite enjoying the "domestic engineer" role :)

Lans Holman

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2013, 04:39:43 PM »
With the further information you've provided, it seems pretty clear that this is not really a financial decision (or, at least, not purely financial).  By that I mean that if you want to have a kid, you can do it this year.  If your annual shortfall would be 6k, I count at least 5 ways you could make that up, none of which involve moving: 
-Sell the car that's paid off and just use that money 
-Sell the car that you owe on, getting rid of that payment
-Stop contributing so much to his 401k
-Part time work for you
-Take on a renter
As a bonus, the consciousness-altering powers of sleep deprivation translate into big savings in your alcohol budget. 
If you're only having the one kid, taking turns to take a year or two off sounds like a great plan.  You can pick up again with the serious 401k savings once you're both back to work. 
So then the real question is, what makes your husband feel "not ready"?  It's a scary step, to be sure.  What is important to you two in terms of your current lifestyle that he would be missing out on?

Daleth

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 06:41:32 PM »
I figure that we could both retire if we both continue to work for about 12 more years, but at that point, I'll be 40, and I'm worried I wouldn't be able to have a child anymore, if I even can now.

You are wise to be aware of that. Two of my friends went into early menopause in their late 30s, and even if that's not an issue for you (which, of course, you wouldn't know until it was too late), the two issues with waiting are: (1) women's fertility plummets after 35, and (2) men 40 and up have a higher risk of having kids with autism.

The most objective way I know of to see what happens to women's fertility, on average, after age 35 is to look at the success rates of IVF in fertile women (that is, women who are doing IVF only because their husbands/partners have a sperm problem). You can do that at the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology website: http://www.sart.org/find_frm.html
Just go there, click on "SART National Summary" above the map, and when you get to the new page with all the statistics, go to the "All Diagnoses" dropdown menu at the top middle and change it to "Male Factor." That shows you IVF success rates in fertile women whose men have fertility problems, broken down by the woman's age. Look in the big box called "Fresh Embryos from Non-Donor Oocytes."

What you'll see is kind of startling: women under 35 have a 43.2% chance that their IVF cycle will give them a baby. Women 35-37 have a 36.7% chance, and women 38-40 only a 25.6% chance (in other words, there's a 3 out of 4 chance that it will NOT work!). In women 40-41 it drops to 16.5%. Those are pretty steep drops with only a couple of years' difference in age.

And having them naturally when you're young enough for it to be easy will be FAR less of a financial hit than waiting too long and having to pay for IVF!

But that being said, I agree with those who say to really explore how enthusiastic you are about this and to not have kids unless you actually want to. I mean don't have them just because people are pressuring you for grandbabies or all your friends are having them or it seems like the obvious next phase in life or whatever.

StarryC

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2013, 06:50:27 PM »
I am by no means a tax expert.  Based on a quick web test at paycheck city, claiming 3, earning $55,000 a year, your after tax income would be $43,628.  You will no longer have any money taxed at 25% because the income would decrease so much, plus adding a dependent plus the $1,000 child tax credit.

Then, I suggested you go to one car, reduce eating out, alcohol, and insurance expenses.  Savings of about $150 a month to go to life insurance.  I didn't think of the added health insurance, and depending on the policies of the work places that can vary quite a lot. Maybe you'd be eligible for a subsidy at that point?

Your husband's argument that the statistically average man doesn't want a child until X age is worthless.  He is not the statistically average man.  He is a human being married to a human being living an actual life.  You need to ask him what he thinks will change in 2 years and what he thinks will make him feel ready, and what it is he wants to do or see happen before that point.  Maybe make some friends with kids?  However, the fertility/ birth defect difference between 28 and 32 isn't much.  It's when you get from 28 to 34 and above that you see a much higher risk/lower rate of fertility. 

lhamo

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2013, 03:31:30 AM »
We could probably sell the Mitsubishi now, but it was just recently that we were able to get down to two cars from three, and the Evo is my husband's dream car.  The LEAF is my dream car, so the decision to get rid of either is difficult to say the least. 


I'm going to be very blunt here:  Do you want freedom or do you want stuff?  Only you can make the choice.  For me, the idea that a dream car is more important than a dream life is pretty hard to understand.  But your priorities might be different. 

There is an awful lot of justification of your current level of spending -- which isn't high but certainly could be lower.  I have a 12 mile cross town commute in one of the most congested cities in the world.  We have chosen for now not to have a car.  It isn't terribly convenient but we make it work. 

Same with your grocery spending.  Could save $100 a month but can't be bothered.  Why not?  Just by changing your shopping pattern you could have an extra $1200/year in your pocket.

Anyway, at least you are starting to question where you might make cuts and what your long term values/goals are.  that's all good.  Just thought it might be helpful to nudge you a bit more toward thinking about what you REALLY value.  Are those dream cars, fancy milk, and dinners/drinks really worth more than being able to stay home with your future kid, if that is what you ultimately decide to do? 

epowers

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2013, 02:21:04 PM »
Thank you again! I've definitely gained some perspective.  I'm honestly a bit surprised that so many imply that I should stay home, and not my husband.  He is the one that is more unhappy with work. 

lhamo, thank you for being blunt.  That is just what I wanted, and why I enjoy this forum.  I do want freedom, but personally, I also want some limits.  The issue with the grocery spending is yes, I can save $100/mo, but that is at the cost of several hours less per week that I would otherwise spend with my husband.  Thus, it is hard to justify and definitely doesn't feel like it is making me any more free.

StarryC, thank you for cluing me in to paycheck city, that is very helpful for estimating changes.  Once more of our friends have kids, I think my husband will be more ready.  The graph I mentioned is supposed to be humorous.

Daleth, thank you for giving some solid statistics.  Seeing that definitely makes me not want to wait too long.

Lans, thank you for the suggestions on how to make up the difference between income and expenses.  And thank you for reminding me of the mind altering effects of sleep-deprivation.

galliver

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2013, 02:48:32 PM »
Johnny Aloha: Your comments are more in line with what I expected.  Both of us think we want to stay home with a child.  The cars are definitely our major indulgence.  Honestly, we could survive without any cars.  My husband can walk to work, I like biking, and the bus system in town is great.  We could take the Amtrak to visit friends and family.  We could rent a car if we needed one.  But we have an unnatural emotional attachment to our cars.  Yes, we are not great at making decisions, especially not big life decisions.  That is why I am seeking advice.

Hi! You really don't need a car (especially on a daily basis) in Champaign! I bike everywhere; and take the bus when I'm not feeling badass enough. Granted, I get "free" bus service as a student, but my boyfriend comes down from Chicago maybe 2x/mo and still gets the annual bus pass. At $72/year it pays for itself pretty quick. Now, if I was having a kid, I'd probably want a car. But I still wouldn't use it on a daily basis, and I don't think two are necessary at all.

Every bone in my body screams that as an engineer with a masters you should be making way more than $55k. Even in Champaign. If the market for SE's isn't so good, maybe look for greener pastures? Seems a SysAdmin can find employment anywhere... (I realize the low COL in this town would be hard to leave, heh.)

If you and your husband are making the same salary right now, maybe look at your respective prospects. How much would staying in the industry impact your future earnings vs his? Who will have an easier time keeping up their skills through part-time/side-gig work and going back to work later? I think that's a fair way to determine who stays home.

Freckles

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2013, 08:58:47 PM »
I wouldn't wait until 40 to start trying to have kids.  I had my first at 35 and my second at 38, and I feel like that was pushing it in terms of energy levels, physical ability, and the future in terms of being grandparents ourselves.  In short, I wish we'd had started earlier.

You didn't say where your parents and in-laws live, but what about moving closer to one of them?  I'm thinking you could get away from the high taxes, the too-big and therefore expensive house, and have a free or low-cost babysitter in one move.  I sure wish we lived close to grandma!  Other side of the country for my husband's mom, and my mom died in a car accident four years ago, so that's not working out for us.  :(

Argyle

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2013, 09:41:27 PM »
Part of the reason people are suggesting you would be the one to stay home might be stereotypical assumptions, but part of it may be that you said you were worried that he wouldn't be good with an infant.  Combine that with his not wanting to have a child right now, and you sound like the more committed one. 

So again, an important question would be: if he wants to retire early, but doesn't know what he wants to do, why does he want to retire early?  He just dislikes work?  What does he think about the prospect of his staying home?

You might also want to think about: what if the person who stays home turns out to hate it?  I myself would have gone nuts being a full-time stay-at-home-parent.  Of course, I knew that from the beginning.  But sometimes people also think they'll like it and don't.  So it might be helpful to have a Plan B in case whoever stays home decides in a couple of years that they want to change course.  Make sure changing course remains an option, whatever that would look like.

But I think you and your husband need to arrive at an agreement about when to start trying for a baby.  When you've got the timeline a little more refined, you can know how urgent the other considerations are.

StarryC

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2013, 11:48:32 PM »
What Argyle said, plus you talked about pumping in a cubicle, so you seem to want to nurse.  As dad can't breastfeed, it would make sense for you to stay home for the first year or so.

lhamo

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #18 on: October 13, 2013, 10:07:50 PM »
I do want freedom, but personally, I also want some limits.  The issue with the grocery spending is yes, I can save $100/mo, but that is at the cost of several hours less per week that I would otherwise spend with my husband.  Thus, it is hard to justify and definitely doesn't feel like it is making me any more free.


Ok, I'm gonna push back a little here (because resistance is what builds muscles :))

Why does couponing have to be your solitary job?  Why can't you and DH do it together?  And do the shopping together, too.  Looking for deals together. 

I have never done extensive couponing, so maybe I don't know what is involved, but seems like something that could be shared.

You may also find that the level of time investment to save $100/month is not worth it, but the level of time investment to save $50/month is.  You could focus just on getting free stuff of the household variety -- that seems to  me to be the place where the best deals are with all the different drugstore membership programs, rebates, etc.


Cinder

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2013, 08:34:38 AM »
I do want freedom, but personally, I also want some limits.  The issue with the grocery spending is yes, I can save $100/mo, but that is at the cost of several hours less per week that I would otherwise spend with my husband.  Thus, it is hard to justify and definitely doesn't feel like it is making me any more free.


Ok, I'm gonna push back a little here (because resistance is what builds muscles :))

Why does couponing have to be your solitary job?  Why can't you and DH do it together?  And do the shopping together, too.  Looking for deals together. 

I have never done extensive couponing, so maybe I don't know what is involved, but seems like something that could be shared.

You may also find that the level of time investment to save $100/month is not worth it, but the level of time investment to save $50/month is.  You could focus just on getting free stuff of the household variety -- that seems to  me to be the place where the best deals are with all the different drugstore membership programs, rebates, etc.

My wife and I do some basic couponing, not extensive.  We get the sunday paper, and look up in about 3 different coupon sites, as well as checking what deals we can load on our local Grocery store card.  The biggest thing that makes couponing and grocery cost reduction manageable is meal planning.

We used to always just buy 'things we liked' and every day we were like 'What do you want for dinner?  I dunno" which leads to more frequent trips to the store and/or more eating out. We would spend a significant amount of time every day trying to figure out what we wanted that evening.

We later did once a week grocery runs paired with meal planning.  It made it much eaiser to spend about as much time as 'two days' worth of 'what do you want to eat' time to figure out a whole week.  We have since switched to bi-weekly grocery trips/meal planning.  We just plan in one 'cook' week and one 'leftovers' week, so we take basically the same amount of time as planning for one week.  It is very nice to just look and say 'what's for dinner tonight' instead of having to make a decision.

She does the bulk of the looking, but I go though the newspaper, cut out all the coupons, and pick 'which days' get which food.  Her problem is that she doesn't like eating too similar of a food multiple days in a row.  I on the other hand don't usually mind eating the same thing for two weeks straight, so I usually end up doing that with extra leftovers. 

We also don't go crazy with coupons.  If we see a coupon for something we buy, we cut it out.  If we need it, we use it.  If it is soon going to expire, we leave them at the store.  We don't buy things because we have coupons, we use coupons for things that we buy. 

She also has trouble figuring out what is the best value when coupons are involved.  The price per unit on the shelf works without coupons, but I made a simple excel sheet she can pull up on google drive, put in the price, quantity, volume, and any discounts, and it turns the row green for which is the best value. 

We just turn off the tv and get it done without distraction, it's time that would get sucked up just watching crap anyways (she still watches to much crap, I try to go do other things so I don't become a couch zombie)

Dezrah

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2013, 11:15:36 AM »
epowers,

For starters, I really wanted to give you mad props for what you’ve already accomplished in education and certification.  I’m also a project engineer (though I only have a BS) and I’m currently studying to take the Mechanical PE.  From everything I’ve heard, the SE is much harder than the PE, so I am extremely impressed that someone barely older than me has such a powerful resume.  Admittedly a large part of my respect comes from meeting another young female industry engineer.  There will come a time when this extra detail is less interesting, but for now I still find such people personally inspirational.

Now to your questions.

“Should I be making more money?”

I think the answer is definitely yes.  I don’t mean to harp on the gender thing, but statistically, we women are very poor at salary negotiation and tend to underprice ourselves. 

When I went to my first engineering job, I took the first salary that was offered because it felt easier and less greedy than asking for more.  However, came to sorely regret that and felt I should be earning closer to the industry average.  When I took my second job, I researched average salaries based on experience and put down a number 16.5% higher than my previous salary figuring they’d come somewhere in the middle.  When their offer was at that amount, I was shocked but I still asked for a little more money and vacation time just on the principle of taking a stronger hand in negotiations.  This move made me squirm like crazy and went against all my natural inclinations.  Much to my amazement they accepted.  Whether they accepted or not though, I knew I could take either offer knowing I’d given it my all.

It’s possible this isn’t an issue for you the way it was for me, but since you do have a good job right now, I don’t see the harm in putting out feelers for a great job and taking a hardline along the way.  The worst they can do is say no and then you’re no worse than you started.

“If we move, where should we go?”

My first employer in rural Missouri would absolutely love to get an Illinois SE on staff.  The cost of living there is super low.  Off the top of my head, I’d say you could probably ask for and get about $62k, though they didn’t offer any 401(k) match while I was there.  The biggest problem of course is I have no idea if they or any of the other businesses around could offer your husband anything comparable.  If you’re interested in chasing this lead, send me a PM and I’ll give you more details.

“When should we have a child?”

DH and I are also late twenties asking this all the time.  We’re on the plan right now of asking “now?” every 6 months or so and keep coming back to “not yet.”  At 30 we’ll reevaluate the situation and either pull the trigger or adjust our expectations.  The biggest leap I’ve made though is accepting there truly is no such thing as a “perfect” time to do this.  The biggest thing holding us back is not finances since I see shining examples all the time of people who do it with less, but rather a general ambivalence toward children.  If I felt the way you do now, I would definitely go for it.  Just make sure your husband is truly wants children and isn’t simply saying he does to appease you.  If you guys are children-incompatible, it’s kinder to find out now and move on than waste more precious years.

“Should my husband or I stay home with a child?”


I don’t know the answer to this and I don’t think you guys do either.  My advice is to have both of you take as much parental leave as your vacation, employers, and federal laws will allow and see what feels right.  Perhaps you’ll be surprised at how much you or your husband love caring for the baby and choose to stay home or perhaps you’ll find a daycare-work combination simply isn’t that bad and gives you the professional satisfaction you crave.  Don’t underestimate your ability to adapt is whatever ways are necessary once you actually feel the course that’s right for you.

Good luck to you.

Catbert

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2013, 12:51:38 PM »
Thank you again! I've definitely gained some perspective.  I'm honestly a bit surprised that so many imply that I should stay home, and not my husband.  He is the one that is more unhappy with work. 

I think most thought you should be the one to stay home is that you didn't think your husband would be good with infants.  Plus if you're breast feeding it's a PITA to pump so much.  Most importantly being unhappy at work is a lousy reason to stay home with a child.


epowers

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2013, 08:36:08 AM »
My husband has little to no interest in clipping coupons (and in the past has been more of the buy it because we have a coupon mindset, rather than the other way around).  I've tried meal planning before, but it just didn't work for us.  He also hasn't done much of the shopping, so he has a lot of learning to do about what are good prices for what we buy.  And learning about what we don't need to buy.  We're investigating ways to save on groceries that my husband is enthusiastic about.   
We also talked about the cars, and for my husband it is a non negotiable.  He would much rather have awesome cars than pretty much anything else.  He didn't say it outright, but I get the impression that given the option, he would rather sell the house, continue working and live in the cars, than sell the cars and retire tomorrow. 
We also talked about getting a tenant/renting a room on AirBNB.  My husband doesn't like the idea of a stranger in our house, whether it is for a few hours or a few years, but he said he'd be willing if we got a safety deposit box to keep all his valuables, the people were never in our house without us there, he didn't have to do any extra chores, and we didn't start until the garage is renovated.  So, that won't be happening any time soon either, but it could still be an eventual possibility. 
Based on our discussions, we've decided to stay put for a year and then reevaluate.  We talked about it, and when we have a child (which might still take a while) we would both take off the max time for FMLA, and we'll see how each of us like being home.  We might each go back to work part time after a couple months to see where we'd rather spend our time.  My husband has started reading some stay at home dad blogs and seems to be kinda psyched about that possibility, so, we'll see where it goes.  Thanks again for all your advice!

ritchie70

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2013, 10:01:32 AM »
My husband has little to no interest in clipping coupons (and in the past has been more of the buy it because we have a coupon mindset, rather than the other way around).  I've tried meal planning before, but it just didn't work for us.  He also hasn't done much of the shopping, so he has a lot of learning to do about what are good prices for what we buy.  And learning about what we don't need to buy.  We're investigating ways to save on groceries that my husband is enthusiastic about.   
We also talked about the cars, and for my husband it is a non negotiable.  He would much rather have awesome cars than pretty much anything else.  He didn't say it outright, but I get the impression that given the option, he would rather sell the house, continue working and live in the cars, than sell the cars and retire tomorrow. 
We also talked about getting a tenant/renting a room on AirBNB.  My husband doesn't like the idea of a stranger in our house, whether it is for a few hours or a few years, but he said he'd be willing if we got a safety deposit box to keep all his valuables, the people were never in our house without us there, he didn't have to do any extra chores, and we didn't start until the garage is renovated.  So, that won't be happening any time soon either, but it could still be an eventual possibility. 
Based on our discussions, we've decided to stay put for a year and then reevaluate.  We talked about it, and when we have a child (which might still take a while) we would both take off the max time for FMLA, and we'll see how each of us like being home.  We might each go back to work part time after a couple months to see where we'd rather spend our time.  My husband has started reading some stay at home dad blogs and seems to be kinda psyched about that possibility, so, we'll see where it goes.  Thanks again for all your advice!

I'm sorry to be rude, but it sounds to me like once you have a child you'll be up to two children in the household and one adult. At the least he isn't down with the whole ER thing - he just doesn't like his job!

To more directly address your question/this discussion, my wife gave birth roughly 18 months ago at 41, and I'm a couple years older. A baby is a LOT of work - and ours seems to be an especially easy one. We both thought she'd go back to work after a few months, but at this point she doesn't want to, and we're getting by on my pay. It isn't always pretty, but I make enough to pay all the bills and put some toward the 401(k). We cancelled cable and got an antenna, and did a bunch of other stuff that is saving us money here and there, but we do still have some splurges like monthly house cleaners and going on vacation.

Even without the financial incentive, we barely ever eat out any more and generally all of our discretionary spending dropped - gasoline, restaurants, etc. But we're not willing to be the people in the restaurant with the crying baby, my family is 100 miles away, and her mom has physical handicaps and her dad, well, just no way. I wouldn't trust him to watch a dead dog.

EK

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2013, 10:18:08 AM »
Not to pile on, but it sounds like your husband is excited to quit is job and be a stay at home dad, but he's not willing to make any of the sacrifices that would help make having a stay at home parent a financial possibility for y'all. 


Good luck though!! I hope you're able to work it all out and start your family.

epowers

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2013, 12:28:04 PM »
ritchie70: I'm not sure what you're trying to say.  Yes, my husband may be a bit immature, but I am just as guilty for coddling him.  My husband likes what he does, he just doesn't like the regular hours of working for the man, so he finds ER appealing.  We are aware that kids are a lot of work, which is why we want to be prepared before we procreate.  We both have very supportive parents that we would trust with a child.  I'm also sure our parents will visit often.  His parents already see us at least once a month, even though they live 150 miles away.  I'm sorry you aren't as fortunate.

Evakatharina: Quite the contrary, my husband is willing to make a lot of sacrifices.  He is willing to move, he is willing to work with me to save money on groceries, he is willing to learn more about cooking, he is willing to sacrifice alcohol, he is willing to give up Oberweis (I'm more reluctant on that), he is willing to eat out less, and he is willing to give up a lot of stuff (i.e. digital piano, computer equipment, "collectibles", etc.).  He is even willing to eat less meat, and if you knew my husband, that is huge.  He just isn't willing to sacrifice safety (by renting out a room), or to sell his car - at least not yet. 

Dulcimina

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Re: Reader Case Study - Do we have to move to have a family?
« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2013, 06:01:07 PM »
epowers, I have a couple more questions for you:

1) What assumptions are you basing the 12 years to retirement on? In other words, will both of you have to keep working with a baby? Saving at the same rate? Once the house is paid off, will that money go towards increasing savings, daycare, or offsetting the lack of income because one parent is staying home.

2) How much exactly is left after prepaying the mortgage? You indicate that whatever is left gets used for travel, home improvements etc, so I'd be interested to know if there's any room there to cut back and increase your savings rate.

3) What are your top priorities and does your spending reflect those priorities?

Let's say your top three are to have a baby in three years, have at least one parent at home and/or both parents able to retire early and be able to spend time with family. In that case, does it make sense to spend $770/month on cars (car payment, insurance, maintenance, gasoline and electric fuel, registration) or on increasing your stash? Even if renting a car once a month to visit family costs a couple hundred a pop, you'd still be ahead of the game while working toward all three priorities. Then , you mentioned being able to work from home (engineering or etsy) or as a fitness instructor once you have the baby. How much income will you need to earn from those activities and what can you do now to set set the stage to make a living from those things in three years?

So it's not simply a matter of moving or not moving to have a family.  If the priorities are different,e.g. having the kid grow up in the same town as grandma and grandpa, then it's a matter of adjusting the other expenses/incomes to make that happen.