Author Topic: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out  (Read 13988 times)

mobileagent

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Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« on: November 19, 2015, 04:35:14 PM »
I am hoping that Mustachians can help us think through a decision we are facing. Here are the details:

- Me 42 and DW 38. 2 Kids - 10 and 7. Married for 15 years, going strong.
- Both of us are in technology profession with highly demanding hours
- Incomes: Me at $400K and DW at $100K. We are very blessed
- Assets: Paid off house worth at $1M. $550K in retirement/liquid funds.
- Expenses: We have a luxury lifestyle by most standards. Our annual expenses can be between $60K and $85K depending on travel/vacations

Both of our jobs are getting very hectic lately and giving us very little time for family and enjoying life. We are discussing the decision about DW calling it quits and be a stay at home parent. I plan to work for another 10 years. Here are some of the pros and cons of this decision from our perspective.

Pros
- Low stress home environment
- Quality time with kids and each other
- Healthy food
- Enjoyable evenings and weekends
- Much better social life
- Quarterly vacations as it is just managing one person's calendar
- Still save significantly but with an increased quality of life
- I can focus more on my career and benefit from the current trajectory, and the lost income can be covered in a couple of years

Cons
- Lower income, but it nets to be an impact of $40K in savings after tax and extra expenses
- Potential boredom to DW from lack of intellectual stimulation (try to do volunteer work and reading/projects)
- DW can't get back into technology workforce in future as this is pretty much an ER
- Risk with disability, insurance (insurances in place)
- Risk with divorce (this is not an option we consider after 15 years of strong marriage.)

My preference is DW stay at home, but it is her decision to make as it impacts her more. What advice do you have for us to consider and what would you do in our shoes? Thanks for your help.

Dee18

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2015, 06:00:09 PM »
My only advice is to think of several additional scenarios, so this is not a choice between two options.  In my experience, that greatly improves outcomes.  So another option might be to hire more help, or for your wife to do a different job, if there is one she would like, or for you both to set some limits on work schedules.  I loved my very hectic career, but I traded that in to be a professor when I became a mom.  That's just what worked for me. I would not want to be a SAHM with kids that old, but I loved working with a more flexible schedule.....but that's just me.  Staying home full time with kids in school would have driven me bat shit crazy.  Perhaps because I have liked my jobs so much, I do not think the financial issues are key in deciding whether the wife/ mom works.  I think the most important thing is whether she wants to work.  If she does want to work, then both of you should be equally responsible for taking care of whatever is making life too hectic. 

use2betrix

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2015, 06:50:37 PM »
I could not fathom her working for a fraction of your income of your lifestyle is that hectic, unless she's one of those people that just "needs" to work.

AgentCooper

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2015, 07:02:55 PM »
In that situation I'd encourage my wife to retire tomorrow (or in 2 weeks) and if she is bored she can go volunteer somewhere for 10 or 20 hours a week. 

Argyle

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2015, 08:03:13 PM »
If your marriage is strong, then that most likely means you wouldn't mind signing a "post-nup" that guarantees here a certain level of income if something should happen and you divorce.  Because that event would be considerably more catastrophic for her if she gave up her sizeable income.  So that's what I'd recommend, just in case.

okits

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2015, 08:03:39 PM »
Try setting limits on work hours and demands, and/or outsourcing more time-eating chores.  That would be less drastic and more reversible than outright quitting one entire job.

I don't know you or your wife, but I do think starkly dividing the family duties (one works a job outside the home, one does the home and caregiving work) is likely to change the dynamics of your marriage (perhaps for the better, perhaps not, perhaps dramatically, perhaps only a little.)  Just be aware that a drastic change could result in a different type of stress on your relationship.  You may be trading one set of problems for another.

letired

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 08:37:19 PM »
I think I'm missing something (or several somethings) in this post. If both jobs are getting more and more hectic, leaving less time for family, how does one person quitting their job change anything? Sure, one parent will have more time to take care of the necessary household chores, but that still leave the second parent working long hours, and under increased pressure as they are the only income. With this being the case, I'm not sure how you get benefits like 'Quality time with kids and each other' (you are still working all the time),  'Enjoyable evenings and weekends' (still working a hectic job! Does this mean you are excused from all household upkeep activities?), 'Much better social life' (still working that hectic job! When is this social life supposed to happen? Is this supposed to be for the SAHP, or both of you? And is the SAHP suddenly responsible for planing all social outings?)


It seems to me like a more logical solution is to look for positions with fewer demands and/or more flexible working schedules. Given that you both have extremely high salaries, you both are obviously well-qualified and theoretically in high demand.

It sounds to me like you are suggesting a highly unequal division of household labor (SAHP: all household upkeep, all food-related activities, all social planning, all vacation planning) which would put me on the fast track to extreme unhappiness.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 08:41:08 PM »
Wife quitting and you focusing more on your job isn't going to make your life more hectic or give you more time with your kids.

Net-worth-wise you have won the game in the terms most of us see life in. Your kids are nearly teenagers and they'll soon be far less approachable. What are your priorities?

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2015, 10:20:14 PM »
I have to answer this one with a question - why now?  Our biggest decision points came around the arrival of each of our two new family members.  'Suddenly' considering SAHP at 7 and 10 y.o. children seems like you haven't given us the whole story.  Do you feel that your family is FI and want your wife to RE?  In this case, I do have experience, and my wife loved the early days of ER... for the time that she felt needed and was rediscovering herself.  Eventually (9 years later) she felt like an unappreciated maid and cook, despite my best efforts, and she has been more fulfilled being back in the workforce.  Do you plan to keep working or will you also become a SAHP?  This was the ER deal breaker for me - I prefer working more that the SAHP role, wife working or not.  And ultimately, it was unrealistic that I expect my wife to SAH if I wasn't willing to.

Hope I've given some things to think about, and maybe you can shed more light on the situation...

TheDudeReturns

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2015, 02:03:27 AM »
What is with these incomes? Jesus Christ; serious "first world problems" on this site as of late!

If you're making $400k and she's making $100k, she should quit, end of story. Her $100k is only bringing in an extra $40k net? Yeah, you may miss out on 401k, 457, etc., but that is a true golden handcuff if you can't quit when you're pulling in close to 1/2 a million a year.

At those incomes, you can hire a maid and cook to avoid "burnout" from DW being an "unappreciated maid and cook."

Of course, seeing all the high income types get antsy is always good for a laugh as they don't seem to have the idea of being a "self-starter" down. Help! I have $2M in the bank, can I FIRE? How about actually making some cool tech, rather than being a corporate codemonkey? Your wife can contribute to open source code, consult, etc. Money does not all flow from the 9 to 5.

lakemom

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2015, 06:12:07 AM »
Financially you are in the 1%; she should leave if emotionally she wants to.  In your shoes I would have quit yesterday!  But this is about what keeps her fulfilled as a human being not you and not me so its her decision.  Because of the lack of volunteers just about any organization she'd be interested in would jump at the chance to keep her busy while the kids are in school.  Keep the discussions flowing and help HER come to a decision that will enrich HER life and everyone will be happy.

MMMWannaBe

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2015, 06:48:37 AM »
We had a somewhat similar situation except I WAS the breadwinner.  My job was sucking the life out of me (long commute/ long hours).  2 Years ago I took the leap (we did have younger children).  No regrets.  None.  People say the cliched, "you won't miss the work, but you will miss the people".  Not true.  I don't miss the people either.

When I left my lucrative job money was beyond tight.  We had negative cash flow each month.  So to me your decision seems like a no-brainer.  Our life became so much easier once I wasn't working.  No haggling over what to do when a child is sick (yes, I will confess to giving my child ibuprofin and sending him to daycare knowing I would have 6 hours to get work done before I received the dreaded call).  Time to do grocery shopping and actually cook dinner at a reasonable time during the week.  After school sports - no problem.  I have time to plan fun family activities during the weekend.  Before our weekend seemed comprised of all the stuff we couldn't get done during the week and getting ready for the work week.  Life is just better.  I will also confess to being a little lonely in my transition from working to SAHM.  It is important to have a strong base of friends.  I go out to lunch a lot with my friends and I need that (sorry true MMM devotees).  And when my husband does not get home from work until 6:30 PM it is hard.  But I know now that I will never go back to Corporate life again.  I want to live.  And that was not living.

A part time job came my way and I took it.  The pay is a shadow of what I was earning but it eases our financial strain (and will give us money for vacations).  If my husband made what you made I would never go back to work again.  I would fill my time with volunteer work and projects and friends.  For some people it is an easier adjustment than others.

This is one former corporate drone's opinion.

FIREby35

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2015, 07:27:35 AM »
I've read some of the other posts. Of course, all view points are valid. However, I really think your wife staying home could make life less hectic and greatly improve your quality of life. I'm a high earner and my wife quit a lucrative career with a big 4 accounting firm to be at home with our three kids. It's made our lives much, much better. Sometimes I think the "wife stays at home so husband can earn big bucks" gets flack for being to traditional (hence, your post-nup suggestions and "how is this going to help if SHE gets more family time" type comments). But, my experience is that it is a great lifestyle as long as everyone (in the family) is on board with the decision.

FYI, for those people suggesting "getting help" - what's up with that? It's better for the wife to have more time with the family than hiring a nanny, gardener, cook or whatever. Why work for 100k and spend it all on "help" just so you can NOT be with your family? Especially when they are suggesting they want more time together and it is clear the wife's salary is immaterial. This sort of out-sourcing is the exact type of thing MMM would seem to be cautioning against - it's lifestyle inflation caused by choosing a more complex lifestyle and solving problems based on a lack of time with money.

Side note, I bet if your wife applies the organizational talent that allowed her to be a high income earner to your home that your expenses will significantly drop. She'll be able to find all the inefficiencies and eliminate them. In my home, avoiding day care costs, supporting my ability to work and finding and correcting inefficiencies adds value of 70k+ to our family. It is a real thing.

Anyway, sometimes writing comes off meaner than expected, so consider the above comments made in good faith between mustachian friends.

Ceridwen

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2015, 07:59:12 AM »
I too was surprised with the outsourcing suggestions made in earlier replies.

DH and I are in a similar situation (but in much lower earning brackets - 150K for him, 50K for me), so we have had this conversation numerous times.  Ultimately for us, I decided to keep working because:

1) I really like my job.  It is interesting, challenging, and I contribute to the "greater good" with it (non-profit organization).

2) Daycare in my province (Quebec) is excellent and government subsidized.  I personally would not want to work just to have the bulk of it go to pay for daycare.  (I know your kids are past the daycare age, but I'm pointing this out for my own deciding factor.)

I do see how your wife not working would improve the quality of life for everyone in your family.  You would have more time with the kids too because now your evenings and weekends would be free for mostly fun/family activities since she would take care of all of the life/household stuff during the week.

I would do it if I were your wife (or at the very least, I would look for part-time work), but you're right - that's her decision to make.

Dicey

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2015, 08:00:12 AM »
I can personally testify that one working parent and one SAH does make life easier, for all the reasons you cited and more. However, I hated my job, and was doing non-profit board/volunteer work before I retired, so my social connections were in place long before I jumped out of the work force. If it's relevant, I earned slightly more that my husband, but neither of us were pulling in over $85k. Much depends on how your wife feels. She should have the majority input in this decision.

I'd like to address a bigger concern: What the hell are you doing with your money? Frankly, your savings rate is rather paltry, given your age and income level. $550k on your salaries is facepunch-worthy. To put it differently, you are 42 and 38 and only have 110% of one year's salary saved. Huh? Does this include college savings? (I know that your house is paid for, but you will presumably live in the same place until your children are up and out, so I wouldn't consider it for the purposes of this decision. Also, at your income level, paying off a house that cost less than two year's salary is also in the yawner range for this audience.)

Whether your wife quits or continues to work, your savings rate is in need of serious attention. And yes, you can improve it even if she does decide to SAH, so don't use that as an excuse.

Here's another idea: Both of you keep working for just two more years. Live on her salary and save ALL of yours. Then you will be FI and can RE together.

Shane

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2015, 08:29:18 AM »
Ummmmmmmm.... You make $400K/year.....

Why would your wife possibly have to work at a job for money? If she really wants to, then fine, but it sounds like you guys are stressed out. From personal experience, I can assure you that having one parent stay at home makes life a lot easier when you've got kids.

You say you're earning $500K/year between the two of you, but you're only spending $65-85K/year. What happens to the other $400K/year? Why do you only have $550K in retirement savings? It seems like, even on just your salary, you could get your retirement savings up over $1MM in just a couple of years. In less than 10 years you should be able to get retirement investments up to $2.5MM, which would throw off around $100K/year at 4%WR, which is more than you're spending now. Then you could both ER and enjoy life together...

Good luck!

asauer

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2015, 08:58:34 AM »
What if you both cut back a work- maybe both took a paycut?  That may give you both more time at home with family and would still keep you financially stable.

mobileagent

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2015, 10:31:32 AM »
Thanks everyone for your perspectives, guidance and questions. It is very helpful as we evaluate this decision. I want to clarify a few things:

- Why now? With a paid off home (recently did), total net worth of $1.55M, and annual expenses of $65K-$85K for a luxury lifestyle, I don't feel the same need for both of us to work this hard. My income alone is sufficient to cover the expenses while still saving $200K+ annually. I have also changed my role to a new domain that is adding more time pressure and this will most likely continue as I take on more responsibilities at work. So, financially I don't see the same need for both of us to work while sacrificing quality of life. We both believe that our quality of life will be better as explained by some of the posters.

- Outsource? We already outsource cleaning and gardening. Our annual expenses are inclusive of those and I insist that we keep those services so that DW does not feel like a "maid and cook". Our focus is more about creating quality time as a family before kids leave for college and also to focus on academics of our kids.

- Low savings? We have been making good salaries only for the past 5 years. I don't think $1.5M is a small amount that we have saved. But, your point is taken that we could save more.

- Both cut back? Given the way our tax system work, it is much more efficient for one person with higher income to work while other person frees up time. I do think there is merit in looking for a new job for DW that is less demanding or pick a part time job, which we are considering.

- Put up for a couple more years and retire? Due to the reasons explained earlier, we don't need DW's income and she does say she would quit if there is no need for money. She does want me to work until kids are out for college though :) I will most likely work for a few more years until we accumulate more savings.

Overall, if DW can scale back or want to be SAHM, it is up to her. Both of us are looking for a solution that provides the best environment for the family.

okits

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2015, 11:06:27 AM »
FIREby35, Ceridwen, my outsourcing suggestion comes from no mention in the OP that his wife really wants to quit her job.  Many "should one be a SAHP?" posts are along the lines of "one of us really wants to be a SAHP, wants to quit his/her job, can we financially do it?"  The OP's family can obviously swing it, financially, and his most recent post clarifies that his wife wants to quit if there is no need for her to earn money.  (Usually the potential-SAHP's burning desire to quit is foremost in the case for SAHP.)

I do take Argyle's point that in a divorce, the SAHP spouse is typically at a financial disadvantage.  In this case, though, splitting $1.55MM in assets (even quite unevenly) should leave the poorer spouse still with some financial base from which to start over.  If there's no post-nup the SAHP should be aware that s/he is bearing this risk.  (Yeah, I know this is a real downer subject but sad stories do happen.)

dramaman

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2015, 11:19:11 AM »
My wife and I experienced a similar decision a year ago, except our salaries were lower and commensurate (around $80,00 each). The stress of both of us working full time and trying to juggle our schedules with kids, school and meal prep was extremely hectic. Moreover she really didn't enjoy her job that much. After crunching some numbers and determining that her income wasn't really necessary for us to keep our standard of living and I could likely still FIRE within the next 5-7 years, I told her that we didn't need her to work if she didn't want to. Within a few weeks she decided to stop working.

I was initially a little concerned that I might harbor some jealous feelings with her essentially ERing several years before me, but having her being free to handle the household and kids has made my life SOOOOOO much easier.

So my advice is that with your salary, money shouldn't be an issue regarding whether she works or not. It really comes down to whether the satisfaction she gets out of her job is worth the stress. And if she decides that it is, but you disagree, then perhaps you ought to consider whether you should quit and be a SAHD. Either way, money shouldn't be part of the equation.

Totemic

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2015, 11:42:27 AM »
Um, you have expenses of 65-85k (that is a very big range...maybe try to narrow this down to an ACTUAL number?)

You have 1.55M in assets.

So you can BOTH practically quit RIGHT NOW if you are comfortable downsizing your home.

4% SWR on your savings is $62k/year
If you (and NOT your wife) work for one more year, saving $200k as you said...that SWR will be $70k.
Two more years and it will be $78k
Three more years and it will be $86k

So my advice would be to decide on your ACTUAL number for spending, then quit at the appropriate time for that. Your wife should absolutely not continue to work if she doesn't want to, given the circumstances.

If you don't want to downsize, then it will take a bit longer...but again, each year you continue to work is adding $8k to your SWR. Each year your wife continues to work is adding only $1600.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2015, 11:44:23 AM by Totemic »

mrs sideways

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2015, 01:11:25 PM »
I was initially a little concerned that I might harbor some jealous feelings with her essentially ERing several years before me

I'm the one at home and I'd hardly call it "retirement". I just traded my bosses at the office for new ones at home: the husband, kids, and the house, inasmuch as I spend my time working for/taking care of all of them.

As for OP, you make tons of money, you'll be fine, and having one spouse at home can change the dynamic, but I'm glad we did it.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2015, 01:58:41 PM »
I encourage spouses to stay in the workforce, regardless of the practicallity of one being a SAHM/D.  The reason is sometimes things don't work out as planned (D's:  death, divorce, disability).  It is extremely difficult/sometimes impossible to get back in the workforce (my sister in law as an example:  Degreed and asked questions like:  "What were you doing all those years...like she's some kind of idiot...") in this harsh job market.

I would suggest one of you look for a lower stress job.

dramaman

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2015, 02:37:23 PM »
I encourage spouses to stay in the workforce, regardless of the practicallity of one being a SAHM/D.  The reason is sometimes things don't work out as planned (D's:  death, divorce, disability).  It is extremely difficult/sometimes impossible to get back in the workforce (my sister in law as an example:  Degreed and asked questions like:  "What were you doing all those years...like she's some kind of idiot...") in this harsh job market.

I would suggest one of you look for a lower stress job.

Insurance and social security can help to ameliorate some of the loss of income risk from death and/or disability.
Whether divorce is a risk is something that individual couples have to determine for themselves.

One someone is comfortable that the risk is minimal, a spouse shouldn't feel bound to stay in the work force out of fear.

There are ways to minimize the risk of death, divorce and disability.



Avidconsumer

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2015, 02:57:17 PM »
It is really up to the OPs wife. I personally work for my own sanity.

Margie

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2015, 03:15:54 PM »
Our children are 10 and 13 and except for a brief (6 months full time work) between babies I have been home.  I went back so I could get a Mat leave (1 yr 55% pay in Canada).  It was a tough 6 months, pregnant and with a toddler at home.  The worst two memories I have from that time included a day when my 18 month old said "no working mommy, no thank you to that"  as I ushered him into the truck to take him to my MIL's house (whom he loved greatly)  Another instance, my husband reached for me in the evening and instead of "Game on!! woohoo"  I was like "seriously I am exhausted please leave me alone"  He gave me a quick kiss and said "don't sweat we'll catch up on the weekend"  He rolls over and goes to sleep, I literally laid there feeling like crap.  I was seriously giving all my energy to other people but NOT the most dearest people to me.  I was thrilled when the job ended. 
I loved my jobs before I had my children (health based) but not enough to miss the early years.
Although I mainly enjoy staying home for the most part, the days were sometimes long.  But overall the years have flown by. 
The original plan was I would stay home until the youngest was in school full time and then I would upgrade for a year or two (already have college diplomas but recognized 10 years away from "work" might make it harder to go back) and then get back to work when "baby" was 7.  Life is funny sometimes, I ended up getting diagnosed with a seriously life changing disease at age 35.  Wow, am I ever glad I have had these years with my children.   I am equally glad that we are used to living on one income so when my husband said "go back or stay home, whatever makes you happiest and healthiest is OK with me"  I knew we could do it. 
I am intensely grateful that he loves me more than my paycheque.  I volunteer a lot and can't count the number of children I have taught to read while volunteering at school so it has worked out reasonably well.
I guess, the point of my story is the D's - divorce, disability and death - you never know what is coming for you so you had better be spending your time with the people who matter doing things you value.
As for the financial part - we saved his and lived on my salary for six years before we had our first child so we were ready to continue living on one salary.   I very rarely ever envy someone's stuff and I find it funny when people say "what do you do all day"  I fill a day so easily that I have no idea how I ever worked for pay!  Because, all parents "work" just some do it without a paycheque.
Anyhow, good luck and remember you can always readjust the decision if it doesn't work out as well as planned.

Cassie

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2015, 03:32:49 PM »
Find out what your wife wants to do & then do it. If she will be too bored then maybe she will want to work a p.t. job. Personally once my kids were in school all day I could not be home all the time.  P.T. might be the perfect answer.  I have found that often volunteer work is minding numbing & even if you have numerous college degrees they usually give you the crap work to do.  Having 1 parent home most or half the time will greatly improve the quality of life.  Since he makes so much more then her it only makes sense for him to be the  one to keep working & saving.  You guys are actually in a great position. Now enjoy:))

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #27 on: November 20, 2015, 04:10:32 PM »
Does your wife LIKE cooking and domestic tasks? I would hate for her to quit her job and then find out she's unhappy.

Would YOU value the work that she does? Would you see it as equal to your own, or would you resent her or see your own work as more important and more valuable? This article has me reflecting on my role as a part-time homemaer: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/08/women-gender-roles-sexism-emotional-labor-feminism

FWIW, if Mr. FP and I had 1.5 million, neither of us would ever work again. Our combined household income is less than your wife's.

mobileagent

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #28 on: November 20, 2015, 07:20:07 PM »
Thanks for the continued feedback. DW is leaning towards being a SAHP for some time and then decide to take part-time or volunteer work.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #29 on: November 22, 2015, 09:28:18 AM »
Find out what your wife wants to do & then do it. If she will be too bored then maybe she will want to work a p.t. job. Personally once my kids were in school all day I could not be home all the time.  P.T. might be the perfect answer.  I have found that often volunteer work is minding numbing & even if you have numerous college degrees they usually give you the crap work to do.  Having 1 parent home most or half the time will greatly improve the quality of life.  Since he makes so much more then her it only makes sense for him to be the  one to keep working & saving.  You guys are actually in a great position. Now enjoy:))

Huh. I've often thought that I'd prefer being a SAHP when the children were at school. Time to myself during the day and time to actually get stuff done means I could enjoy being with them anf focus on them when they were not in school. Before that/during the holidays I think I might go nuts to constantly have the little needy voices around and not be able to concentrate on anything. (Not a parent.)

MMMWannaBe

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #30 on: November 22, 2015, 10:45:13 AM »
I want to follow up on a reply that is definitely another benefit I didn't consider when I made the decision to stop working and stay home with the kids.  I had a slew of projects on the back burner that I immediately addressed.  Once my severance pay ran out I turned to our personal finances.  I had the time to take a hard look at our investments and money habits that I previously had left on auto pilot (and find these financial blogs).  I consolidated all of our 401K's that had been left behind over the years into a Vanguard account.  I focused on the expense costs of our funds and our asset allocation.  I would like to think that we may be in a better, stronger financial position now than we would have been had I continued working.  We had NO idea what we had and we were a little shocked when we finally had a comprehensive view of our net worth (thank you Mint).  When I stopped working we thought that I was living on borrowed time until I would be economically forced to return to the rat raced called corporate life.  Thanks to the many folks on the board we came to the realization that I never had to work again.  It was a game changer.  And I love that I now have time to monitor our finances - actually, I think that I monitor them too closely these days.  Now I am a fairly hard core budgeter.  Nobody will care about our money more than us and I am glad I now have the time to tend to it.

serpentstooth

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #31 on: November 22, 2015, 12:40:42 PM »
I quit my job a few months ago to stay home with our baby. I was grossing somewhere between a half and a third what my husband is, and after childcare and taxes was making about $10/hr. I'm hesitant to declare victory on the enterprise three months into it, but thus far it's been really nice. My daughter is a lot happier and behaves better. I used to come home to a sobbing, anguished little baby who would just lie on my chest and cry for hours. That stopped as soon as I stopped leaving her with a nanny for 10 hours a day. When my husband is home, he can either work or relax. There aren't chores to do, shopping trips to take or repairs to do, because I've already done them, so his life is less stressful and hectic. He's also not coming home to a stressed, cranky wife and crabby baby. Our quality of life has gone up a lot and I think we'd like the current situation to continue as long as possible.

mm1970

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #32 on: November 22, 2015, 06:19:13 PM »
What is with these incomes? Jesus Christ; serious "first world problems" on this site as of late!

If you're making $400k and she's making $100k, she should quit, end of story. Her $100k is only bringing in an extra $40k net? Yeah, you may miss out on 401k, 457, etc., but that is a true golden handcuff if you can't quit when you're pulling in close to 1/2 a million a year.

At those incomes, you can hire a maid and cook to avoid "burnout" from DW being an "unappreciated maid and cook."

Of course, seeing all the high income types get antsy is always good for a laugh as they don't seem to have the idea of being a "self-starter" down. Help! I have $2M in the bank, can I FIRE? How about actually making some cool tech, rather than being a corporate codemonkey? Your wife can contribute to open source code, consult, etc. Money does not all flow from the 9 to 5.
If she wants to quit, sure.  But maybe she likes her job...

mm1970

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #33 on: November 22, 2015, 06:27:25 PM »
Quote
I think I'm missing something (or several somethings) in this post. If both jobs are getting more and more hectic, leaving less time for family, how does one person quitting their job change anything? Sure, one parent will have more time to take care of the necessary household chores, but that still leave the second parent working long hours, and under increased pressure as they are the only income. With this being the case, I'm not sure how you get benefits like 'Quality time with kids and each other' (you are still working all the time),  'Enjoyable evenings and weekends' (still working a hectic job! Does this mean you are excused from all household upkeep activities?), 'Much better social life' (still working that hectic job! When is this social life supposed to happen? Is this supposed to be for the SAHP, or both of you? And is the SAHP suddenly responsible for planing all social outings?)
I imagine it works like this (I don't SAH, but I did work PT for awhile):
1. One parent at home means: time to grocery shop during the day, and cook dinner, and meet the plumber, and clean the house, and do the laundry, and balance the checkbook, and change the oil in the car, and help with homework, and take the kids to the dentist, and be at home if the kids are sick.

2.  That means...two parents aren't trying to do grocery shopping, bulk cooking, cleaning, and laundry on the weekends.  That frees up the weekends.

I remember when my older son was little.  We had a really large new parent's group.  The SAHMs would get together during the week during the day.  I was sort of in charge of the working moms, so I scheduled things in the evenings and on weekends.  Well the overall "leader" was a SAH, and I asked her once why she didn't schedule anything on the weekend, and she said "why would I bother, I have plenty of friends I see during the week."

For my second son's group, I met another family in our group at the beach in September.  Our weather is good here most of the time.  We were the only 2 families, and the husband said "I can't imagine how we are the only two families here, what is everyone else doing?" (His wife SAH.)  I said simply: "chores.  Laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, going to the bank, going to the post office, etc. etc."

For sure that puts *some* more pressure on the husband.  But what I found, when working PT (and paying for FT child care), is that I just took on more of the home duties.  I only had to work 30 hours a week, and I scheduled them "whenever".  So if my kid had a dr's appt, I took him and went in late.  If there was a school function, I left early.  If I had to meet the plumber, I did that.  I left early enough  most days to pick him up, go to the park, then go to the grocery store.  Come home, play for 20 minutes (get him started on a project) and cook dinner.

If the kids were sick, I stayed home. Because I could just cram 30 hours into 4 days if I needed to.

dramaman

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #34 on: November 23, 2015, 06:32:37 AM »
Quote
I think I'm missing something (or several somethings) in this post. If both jobs are getting more and more hectic, leaving less time for family, how does one person quitting their job change anything? Sure, one parent will have more time to take care of the necessary household chores, but that still leave the second parent working long hours, and under increased pressure as they are the only income. With this being the case, I'm not sure how you get benefits like 'Quality time with kids and each other' (you are still working all the time),  'Enjoyable evenings and weekends' (still working a hectic job! Does this mean you are excused from all household upkeep activities?), 'Much better social life' (still working that hectic job! When is this social life supposed to happen? Is this supposed to be for the SAHP, or both of you? And is the SAHP suddenly responsible for planing all social outings?)
I imagine it works like this (I don't SAH, but I did work PT for awhile):
1. One parent at home means: time to grocery shop during the day, and cook dinner, and meet the plumber, and clean the house, and do the laundry, and balance the checkbook, and change the oil in the car, and help with homework, and take the kids to the dentist, and be at home if the kids are sick.

2.  That means...two parents aren't trying to do grocery shopping, bulk cooking, cleaning, and laundry on the weekends.  That frees up the weekends.

I remember when my older son was little.  We had a really large new parent's group.  The SAHMs would get together during the week during the day.  I was sort of in charge of the working moms, so I scheduled things in the evenings and on weekends.  Well the overall "leader" was a SAH, and I asked her once why she didn't schedule anything on the weekend, and she said "why would I bother, I have plenty of friends I see during the week."

For my second son's group, I met another family in our group at the beach in September.  Our weather is good here most of the time.  We were the only 2 families, and the husband said "I can't imagine how we are the only two families here, what is everyone else doing?" (His wife SAH.)  I said simply: "chores.  Laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, going to the bank, going to the post office, etc. etc."

For sure that puts *some* more pressure on the husband.  But what I found, when working PT (and paying for FT child care), is that I just took on more of the home duties.  I only had to work 30 hours a week, and I scheduled them "whenever".  So if my kid had a dr's appt, I took him and went in late.  If there was a school function, I left early.  If I had to meet the plumber, I did that.  I left early enough  most days to pick him up, go to the park, then go to the grocery store.  Come home, play for 20 minutes (get him started on a project) and cook dinner.

If the kids were sick, I stayed home. Because I could just cram 30 hours into 4 days if I needed to.

Bingo!

little_brown_dog

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #35 on: November 23, 2015, 08:38:19 AM »
Quote
I think I'm missing something (or several somethings) in this post. If both jobs are getting more and more hectic, leaving less time for family, how does one person quitting their job change anything? Sure, one parent will have more time to take care of the necessary household chores, but that still leave the second parent working long hours, and under increased pressure as they are the only income. With this being the case, I'm not sure how you get benefits like 'Quality time with kids and each other' (you are still working all the time),  'Enjoyable evenings and weekends' (still working a hectic job! Does this mean you are excused from all household upkeep activities?), 'Much better social life' (still working that hectic job! When is this social life supposed to happen? Is this supposed to be for the SAHP, or both of you? And is the SAHP suddenly responsible for planing all social outings?)
I imagine it works like this (I don't SAH, but I did work PT for awhile):
1. One parent at home means: time to grocery shop during the day, and cook dinner, and meet the plumber, and clean the house, and do the laundry, and balance the checkbook, and change the oil in the car, and help with homework, and take the kids to the dentist, and be at home if the kids are sick.

2.  That means...two parents aren't trying to do grocery shopping, bulk cooking, cleaning, and laundry on the weekends.  That frees up the weekends.

I remember when my older son was little.  We had a really large new parent's group.  The SAHMs would get together during the week during the day.  I was sort of in charge of the working moms, so I scheduled things in the evenings and on weekends.  Well the overall "leader" was a SAH, and I asked her once why she didn't schedule anything on the weekend, and she said "why would I bother, I have plenty of friends I see during the week."

For my second son's group, I met another family in our group at the beach in September.  Our weather is good here most of the time.  We were the only 2 families, and the husband said "I can't imagine how we are the only two families here, what is everyone else doing?" (His wife SAH.)  I said simply: "chores.  Laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, going to the bank, going to the post office, etc. etc."

For sure that puts *some* more pressure on the husband.  But what I found, when working PT (and paying for FT child care), is that I just took on more of the home duties.  I only had to work 30 hours a week, and I scheduled them "whenever".  So if my kid had a dr's appt, I took him and went in late.  If there was a school function, I left early.  If I had to meet the plumber, I did that.  I left early enough  most days to pick him up, go to the park, then go to the grocery store.  Come home, play for 20 minutes (get him started on a project) and cook dinner.

If the kids were sick, I stayed home. Because I could just cram 30 hours into 4 days if I needed to.

This. I recently transitioned to SAHM status when our daughter was born. Having a parent home during the week ensures that things like laundry, random errands, grocery shopping, etc get done during the workday and not left to the weekend. Our weekends used to be crammed with chores we never got to during the work week. Now the weekend to-do list is much shorter, leaving more time for us to relax or do something fun. It sounds like money is no object in this scenario - if DW wants to stay at home, I highly recommend it!

mm1970

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #36 on: November 23, 2015, 09:13:06 AM »
I wanted to add - vacation and sick time are huge.

In some jobs, full time these days means more than full time, and "on" all the time.  That's just the expectation. I have been unable to convince my company to allow me to go back to 30-32 hours a week for that reason.

Well, let's see:
The kids get sick and have to stay home.  (Generally this happens when my husband is traveling).  A parent has to take a day off, or split the day. (or 2 or 3)
Then there are the school holidays.  One week at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas.  MLK Jr day, President's day (2 days), Veterans day, Good Friday. Spring break. These are not business holidays.
Then you realize that school starts and ends on Wednesday.

When you total it up, there are a lot of days off that someone has to take to be home with the kids.  We find that a significant number of our "vacation" days are used for this, and only one of us has off.  Luckily for us, we're old and get decent vacation, or else ALL of our PTO would go to this.

With one parent at home, dad doesn't have to worry about taking Veteran's day off on a Wednesday, or work half days for a week in Spring break (right before tax time!), etc.

I also left out in my previous post - by getting chores done during the week, weekends are truly family time.

Sibley

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #37 on: November 23, 2015, 09:26:50 AM »
Given those incomes, I'm going to add my voice to the question of why don't both of you just FIRE soon? Someone posted that if you downsize the house you could FIRE pretty quickly, and if you choose to keep the house then it's just a few years.

Take a hard look at your budget and figure out what your retirement budget would be. Then figure out long it would take for you to save enough to FIRE. After all, you have a cleaning service and gardening service right now so that one person doesn't feel like a maid. If you both feel like a maid, you're still even, and you'd be significantly reducing your current living expenses.

Plus, you have kids who are plenty old enough to significantly help out at home. Yeah, they'd probably hate you for it, but it would be in their long-term best interests to be able to cook, clean, fix some stuff, etc.

If your SO wants to SAH, then it just slows down your FIRE goal a little bit, and possibly speeds it up if  she can reduce living expenses in the meantime.

Easye418

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #38 on: November 23, 2015, 11:57:29 AM »
You are on the wrong forum....

1%ers go to Boglehead... The rest come here. 


FIREby35

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #39 on: November 24, 2015, 06:59:27 AM »
You are on the wrong forum....

1%ers go to Boglehead... The rest come here.

This comment does not create a welcoming community. It is also factually inaccurate.

Easye418

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #40 on: November 24, 2015, 07:57:38 AM »
You are on the wrong forum....

1%ers go to Boglehead... The rest come here.

This comment does not create a welcoming community. It is also factually inaccurate.

Just my opinon on the two forums.  I think most would agree that higher income individuals will post on BH more often than MMM... for the obvious reasons.

Good example of an judgemental MMM:

What is with these incomes? Jesus Christ; serious "first world problems" on this site as of late!

If you're making $400k and she's making $100k, she should quit, end of story. Her $100k is only bringing in an extra $40k net? Yeah, you may miss out on 401k, 457, etc., but that is a true golden handcuff if you can't quit when you're pulling in close to 1/2 a million a year.

At those incomes, you can hire a maid and cook to avoid "burnout" from DW being an "unappreciated maid and cook."

Of course, seeing all the high income types get antsy is always good for a laugh as they don't seem to have the idea of being a "self-starter" down. Help! I have $2M in the bank, can I FIRE? How about actually making some cool tech, rather than being a corporate codemonkey? Your wife can contribute to open source code, consult, etc. Money does not all flow from the 9 to 5.

I'm not saying that he is not welcome here, I just think that he lives a luxurious life, rightfully so, and MMM might be too biased to provide him an accurate answer.  For example, I have already read many responses who have find it unfathomable to have someone stay at home yet hire help around the house.  I think this is something earned when you are in the 1%.

I totally agree its a first world "problem", but to help this gentleman get an unbiased response, I forwarded him to Boglehead


« Last Edit: November 24, 2015, 08:00:42 AM by Easye418 »

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #41 on: November 24, 2015, 10:09:51 AM »
After reading through moblieagent's replies, I vote for the wife to set up a plan to go SAH ASAP.  You can't get these years back with the children and I'm not seeing any glaring warning signs (like, her self worth and identity are tied up in her work, or she needs the spending money).  I get that it is a big change, and these are tough under even the best of cicumstances (which has been amply referenced :), but I really hope you can get moving on this change before the kids are teens - we all know what happens by that point...

Best of luck, and hope you'll stick around.  MMM's audience spans from ERE extremists to ER.org spendthrifts, with a healthy middle ground and lots of interesting ideas.  As long as people don't show up just to troll (e.g. intentionally argue the merits of outsourcing, consumption, and generally living a wasteful existence), then I think the more variety of incomes and net worths we have here the merrier...

mobileagent

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #42 on: November 25, 2015, 11:52:31 AM »
This thread has been very helpful to DW and me as we evaluate our priorities for life. I am open to multiple perspectives, but let us try to minimize tangential discussions to the topic for the benefit of everyone who may read the thread. Thank you for your continued advice and time. We are much better informed as a result of your recommendations.

GordonCopestake

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #43 on: November 26, 2015, 05:05:57 AM »
Heres a crazy idea, why dont you BOTH quit your jobs!

Downsize your $1m house to release say $500k to add to the $500k you already have. You then have a paid off $500k house and $1m in the bank. That is more than enough for a comfortable retirement for both of you and your kids. Yes you would have to do your own cleaning and gardening (gosh!) but you would have all the time in the world to get it done. You also get to do it together.

mobileagent

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #44 on: November 26, 2015, 12:41:52 PM »
Heres a crazy idea, why dont you BOTH quit your jobs!

Downsize your $1m house to release say $500k to add to the $500k you already have. You then have a paid off $500k house and $1m in the bank. That is more than enough for a comfortable retirement for both of you and your kids. Yes you would have to do your own cleaning and gardening (gosh!) but you would have all the time in the world to get it done. You also get to do it together.
Ignoring your sarcasm, it is a good option to downgrade for early retirement. However, I want to work for few more years before we retire. At that time, we will downgrade the house and also most likely relocate to a place where we get more house for the money. Thanks

GordonCopestake

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #45 on: November 26, 2015, 02:00:45 PM »
Heres a crazy idea, why dont you BOTH quit your jobs!

Downsize your $1m house to release say $500k to add to the $500k you already have. You then have a paid off $500k house and $1m in the bank. That is more than enough for a comfortable retirement for both of you and your kids. Yes you would have to do your own cleaning and gardening (gosh!) but you would have all the time in the world to get it done. You also get to do it together.
Ignoring your sarcasm, it is a good option to downgrade for early retirement. However, I want to work for few more years before we retire. At that time, we will downgrade the house and also most likely relocate to a place where we get more house for the money. Thanks

No offence intended. It does sound as if you may be suffering from OMY (One More Year) though

sunday

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #46 on: November 26, 2015, 04:17:52 PM »
Can your wife take a temporary sabbatical and try the SAHP route to see how that works for your household?

honeybbq

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #47 on: November 27, 2015, 09:24:17 AM »
You are on the wrong forum....

1%ers go to Boglehead... The rest come here.

I'm a 1%er. Guess I'm lost. Though perhaps BHs would have more appropriate suggestions for the OP given the question that was asked...

To answer the OP - We have a similar household income, though the split is more 50/50, so we struggle with this idea, too. But I can see where it makes your wife being the one to cut back an easier decision.  Is there any possibility she could scale down to a 4 day work week? Or 3? I would love to have just one day a week when the kids are in school to do 'stuff' for me, the house, the family, etc.  Is she ready to be done FOREVER at 38 since you mention it will be hard for her to reenter the work space? Sounds like cutting back might be better for her so she can retain her skills and career momentum.

There are some positives to having her work, assuming she has access to 401ks, etc, she can squirrel away more money in tax advantaged space. Can you get double coverage on medical or can she receive extra cash for waiving coverage at her work place (assuming she's covered at yours?).  Can she stick more money into an HSA with an HDHP?

Does she ENJOY working? I think that's the main question. If the answer is yes, outsource more and don't feel guilty spending the money on a "mother's helper" or anything else.

Someone else rightly pointed out -- how much money do you need? What is the status of your children's educations? Are you planning on paying for those? What is your expected financial need when you pull the trigger? Do you guys WANT to retire early? That is not everyone's goal. It's easy to sit back and say 1MM is enough but it isn't if you want to provide 2 ivy league college educations for your children. You need to figure out what your end goal is, and work backwards to see what you need to get there. How much would the decision for your wife to quit change that?

If you need ____$$ and she quits, how many more years will you need to work? How many if she continues working? You gotta do the math.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2015, 09:35:40 AM by honeybbq »

mobileagent

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #48 on: December 09, 2015, 09:41:08 AM »
I want to update that my wife has decided to leave her job to be SAHP and she has notified her employer. She plans to keep her mind challenged by involving more in kids education, financial management/investments, and doing some software projects. It was a tough one for her to quit as she enjoys her work and it will be hard to get back into her career. At the same time, there were too many dimensions like health, family time, stress free environment etc. that were not getting enough attention earlier, that can get more focus. Overall, I also feel that it is a great decision for the family, even though there are some transitional pains in the short term. It is easy to get into the trap of keeping up with Joneses by looking at dual income couples and working until 65, but life is much more than just for working most of our high energy years. We hope that this arrangement of one high income job and one SAHP will give us best life experiences until kids are out for college. Thanks for your help in this process. 

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Stay At Home Parent or Get Stressed Out
« Reply #49 on: December 09, 2015, 01:01:25 PM »
Congrats!  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised that, although it's a transition, things balance out pretty quickly to the better between the positives and what you expected as negatives.  I fondly recall my wife's immediate relief those first months when the stress levels drop and she regained her own interests, as well as the substantial improvements to everyone's Mon-Fri home life (more home meals together, always on top of cleaning and errands, better exercise routines...).  The change in income turned out to be more of a mental roadblock than something we actually felt. 

Oh, and a little advice - if it works out as well as it did for us, always be sure to mention how much you appreciate her SAHP contributions!  Over time, I did this less and less (hedonic adaptation) and now my wife is back at work which kinda sucks :(