My father-in-law was the first person my wife and I told about our decision to quit my job and me becoming a stay-at-home dad. His eyes got pretty big. I’m sure he was thinking, “Great, now my daughter has to take care of two children.” He asked us if we were financially stable and if we knew what really went into having a baby. “Babies are expensive…” “A lot of people struggle on two incomes…” You can tell he was stressing for us because every 30 seconds he would blurt out another one-liner. And I understand his concern and the concern of everyone else since our “coming out.” From their perspective my wife and I are getting in over our heads. First time parents and already we are dropping half of our income before the baby is even born. What made us think that this was even possible? In order to make such a drastic change to our future, we had to take a look into our past.
Our first year of marriage was pretty tough, not unlike a lot of young couples. We lived in downtown Corydon in a 450 square foot apartment. We had one car and though my wife could walk to her job, my job didn’t have standard or even dependable hours. Faith got us through most of the days. We learned to cook meals that, though didn’t lack in taste, were extremely cheap and could last for days. Cutting coupons wasn’t just a hobby at that time, it was a means to our survival! And yet, somehow, in that hard first year, my wife and I were still able to save enough money to go on two vacations.
Midway through our first year I took a job on second shift. I worked three days and quit. Not because I was lazy but it was a joint decision that my wife and I made together. What was the point of having money if we didn’t have time with each other? And that decision has driven our marriage ever since.
It was from this point that we decided to live differently. No matter what the cost we would always find jobs where we would have the same schedule. Too often we have seen friends and family suffer due to working opposite hours and even though we didn’t have children at the time, we wanted to stay in our honeymoon stage as long as possible.
Fast forward to year two where we both had good jobs, two cars, and were living in Kansas City. I was making a whole $8.50 an hour! We didn’t know what to do with all of the money we were making! We could finally afford that $150 flat screen and a brand new $30 Mr. Coffee coffeepot. But our fist year had taught us how to live frugal lives so all of our extra money went to paying off our debts and into savings. We worked hard and saved money in order to spend it on weekend vacations.
As we got older we were both offered different jobs that we could’ve really helped out but we opted out if it meant losing the family time that we wanted.
Our vacations meant so much to us that we would have them planned out and paid for months in advance. By the time we were done with one trip, we would have the next one on the calendar. Seeing the world was what was important to us. It didn’t matter what income we were making, we always made sure we would take a new journey somewhere.
Fast forward again to our sixth year of marriage and not much has changed. We have better jobs and now own our own home but our saving habits haven’t changed.
When my wife and I decided to get pregnant it was under the condition that one of us would stay home with the baby. Family was always a priority and that wouldn’t change when two became three. We want to bring our daughter up in a family that is present, where mom and dad make the decisions together and family time is the most meaningful and there would be plenty of it to go around. And if that means that our budget suffers, then so be it. There are other ways to be rich. My daughter will only once have her first step, her first word, her first taste of organic homemade puree carrots and I want to be there for it!
Before even deciding to try, we did look at our income and expenses, we discussed who would be the better candidate for a stay-at-home position and whose job would better suit our one income house. I was moving up at my job but her job offered better insurance and was more lenient towards days off and PTO. Her job alone can cover everything we need in order to live happy lives. Every check of mine for the past six months has been put into savings to give us the effect that we are already living on one paycheck.
All this to say, rest easy, though a lot of what we are planning is in the hands of faith, we are not going in blind. I didn’t just quit my job with no back-up plan and tell everyone that I was going to be a SAHD in case nothing else came through. We thought ahead, prayed, planned, and saved for all of this to become a reality.