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Staying home for baby
Old 06-10-2007, 07:45 PM   #1
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Staying home for baby

Hi all. Many moons ago, I posted a question asking for tips on saving for ER with two working parents and a new baby. After some serious number crunching (projecting out 5 and 10 years) and evaluation of our quality of life, we decided my wife would stay home to raise our new baby (and any future arrivals).

I really just wanted to check in here to see if any of you had tips for staying on track with ER savings with one income. By cutting our expenses, avoiding daycare and paying off our vehicles we're off to a good start, I think, but are there any other insights you can share? Any pitfalls to watch out for?

Thanks everyone!

S
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:08 PM   #2
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You're off to a good start with your budget. when we made that move the income dropped but we didn't control the expense side. If your wife wasn't making huge money you should be able to do almost as well financially with a much better lifestyle (we have that). The kids are 12 & 9 now my wife has worked at the school since the youngest was 5 and it has worked out great. She makes a little income and is home before the kids every day and off every day they are off. depends on the kids ages but maybe your wife can do some project work from time to time. When my wife makes "extra" cash that was in any way an imposition for the kids we throw it in the 529 acct. as a guilt management tool for us.
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Old 06-10-2007, 08:42 PM   #3
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My advise is to avoid buying "stuff" for the kids. Things don't increase a child's quality of life but can cost Mom and Dad a bundle.

Participate in your community park programs, the library. I swam in the community pool, attended the library children's programs, during the summer there were crafts and sports activities at the park.

Utilize kid pass-a-longs with pride. I grew up in a neighborhood that was known for economic diversity and lots of intellectuals (a sort of Greenwich Village of the west). I took great pride in wearing the clothes of an older girl who I admired because she wanted me to have these things.

My parent's weren't poor but they stretched every dollar. My Mother also remined me that the wealthy didn't get that way by frivilous expenditures.
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Old 06-11-2007, 12:01 AM   #4
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I stayed at home with the kids and we lived on one income. It's do-able, but it definately had a big impact on savings, especially for retirement. We mostly worked on saving for college and maintaining the cars and the house.

What helped us most was driving older cars that were paid for, staying in our older home with an affordable mortgage payment and a general attitude about living within our means.

Having me at home was a priority for us. Friends made comments about how nice it must be to "have the luxury" to choose to live that way. But there was no luxury involved. We gave up a lot of stuff, by choice, and we are all happy with the decision.

The kids are now 20 and almost 23. The older one graduated from college in 2006 with minimal government student loans at a very low interest rate. The younger one is still in college, he goes locally so he lives at home and this cuts the cost in half so he has no loans. I'm working part time, to complete my Social Security credits and to try to catch up with what we missed in retirement savings. My husband works for a local government so he will have a pension of 66% of his salary at 30 years / age 59. This is a lot less than many posters here, but it looks like it should work for us.

Of course we should have saved more, earlier. And we should have remodeled the kitchen, replaced the windows and gotten new furniture. In the big picture, we did what was important for us.
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Old 06-11-2007, 12:06 AM   #5
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The grocery store can suck up a ton or you and wife can learn to cook with what's in season and have a meatless night fairly often. Use store brands and have a well stocked pantry. Go green on cleaning products (the baby will benefit as well), vinegar is a vastly under rated product! With gas prices eliminate frivolous driving. The list goes on and on. Videos can be borrowed from most libraries for free. Hit the thrift stores for clothes. Play board games and take a walk at night vs gym memberships. Plant a veggie garden, and have clean food and exercise.
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Old 06-11-2007, 12:37 AM   #6
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Please always accept donations from other parents (clothes, sporting goods, baby/kid gear, etc) Was a welcome addition at the time. Also, as other posters mentioned: watch spending - discover the "good" thrift stores (also - Second time Around when they get old enough) Absolutely feasible!
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Old 06-11-2007, 01:13 AM   #7
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Even the most "up-ity" keep a sharp eye for bargains. A gal in my circle is regarded as 'old money'. When brother & I were discussing the toll the nursing home laundry takes on Mom's nice clothes she remarked that the local Goodwill has a lot of things that may be suitable. Brother and I paid a visit and found several nice sweaters that if they only make it through the laundry three times they were worth the price.

Mom looks well turned out in a crowd of swells.

When it comes to kid's stuff it only takes a week or two for it to look warn. Absolutely accept serviceable pass-a-longs.

I agree with others new cars and eating out is money down the drain. Spouse will need some relief from daily meal prep, prepare twice the recipe and freeze half.

My SIL stayed home with their first born. He learned first hand that the role of home-parent isn't easy. Whatever has happened at work the home parent's day may have been even more stressful. When you step in the door step up to the joy of being a parent. Ask how you can best help.
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:44 AM   #8
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Lots of good info for one-income-families is available on The Dollar Stretcher (check the archives) and at the forums of www.slnet.com
Establish regular nights out for her and for both of you as well as weekends for dad with the kid(s) without mom.
Train grandparents and other relatives EARLY to give only one reasonable gift per event and to donate for education funds instead of sending more and more clutter to your house.
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Old 06-11-2007, 09:27 AM   #9
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I think the cmments on expenses are generally on track.

I will take anther tack: income. What is your wife's profession? Is there a way for her to keep a hand in and keep her skills sharp while she is a SAHM? When DW quit her day job, she set up a private practice to keep her skills up. It takes a modest amount of time and nets maybe $5k a year (which goes into a solo 401k). The money is a minor motivation: keeping her skills fresh and having some professional adult contact are the main drivers.
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Old 06-11-2007, 09:59 AM   #10
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The Complete Tightwad Gazette makes the point that you can make up much or all of a spouse's lost income by using the extra time to save money. A lot of that book is devoted to saving money on kid's stuff.

I was the one that stayed at home -- I ran my business from home while taking care of DD:

WorkingWithJ.jpg
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Old 06-11-2007, 10:50 AM   #11
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lots of great suggestions already here - you should get enough "nice" new stuff for the kids via gifts from friends/family (often more than you ever want or need)- so don't go out and buy anything yourself - and if you do - definitely go second hand (craigs list, ebay etc)- and save everything for the next kid.

for #2 i didn't have to buy hardly anything cuz everything was saved - and still got hand-me-downs etc.

other savings: breastfeed as long as possible! and make your own baby food - jar food is way overpriced, not as fresh and has added salt etc.

i hope you also discussed the break down of which chores are hers and yours - since some (eh hm) may assume they are now all in her domain as the home maker. but watching kids is very full time duty, and particularly overwhelming with #1.

not sure how far out you are looking ahead, but preschool can be costly too - but you can save if you start your kid later like 3 or 3.5 and part time - but if you do then your wife could pick up extra work while kid is at school - unless there are other bambino's to watch - but eventually when kids are in school she can pick up some income then. or if you opt out of preschool - she can teach them at home, just make sure they get the social interaction so they aren't the kid wailing on mommy's leg the first day of kindergarten... the most fascinating stuff about preschool for us is what our daughter learns socially...

good luck!
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:21 AM   #12
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A lot of great recommendations here.

My wife went to part time (15 hours a week, ten in the office and five at home). When she goes into the office from 1:00-6:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays, I watch the baby. We have juggled schedules and luckily both our employers have been extremely accommodating and understanding. Breastfeeding has limited expenses for us and of course is much better for the baby. In addition, we use the new cloth diapers (with velcro and water repellent outsides) and that has saved a couple thousand dollars just this year. We pretty much got top of the line cloth diapers and are still way ahead money wise. Not everyone is willing to do this, but if you are it can save a ton of money.

We have gotten so many hand me downs that were barely worn. TJ Maxx and those kind of stores have incredibly cheap baby clothes. There was no way we were/are going to spend 35-50 bucks on a baby outfit that our DD will outgrow in a month or two.
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:47 AM   #13
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Yeah, baby clothes can be had pretty cheaply, assuming you have to actually buy much. We live near a Carter's outlet that has constant sales off their already low prices, so the clothes are close to disposable (in price, anyway; some of the actual clothes have survived our older daughter, my niece, and are now being worn by our younger daughter).

Oh yeah: in case you are having second thoughts, DW and I believe that having her stay home with the kids has been more than well worth it for her, the kids, and me.
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Old 06-11-2007, 12:01 PM   #14
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All of these are great ideas and helped us a lot. My situation was a little different in that I did work part time from home. I could log in to work during naps or at night, although I often wished I was napping myself!

In addition to the points already mentioned, don't forget to have some couple time and some alone time for the stay at home parent. Hopefully you have family or friends that can babysit a few hours here and there while you have inexpensive dates. Also a lot of stay at home parents don't realize how vital it is to get out alone sometimes - even if it's just to take a walk, browse at the bookstore or have coffee with a friend.

Congratulations on your new family!
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Old 06-12-2007, 07:24 AM   #15
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There's no way around it, it is tough to raise a family and save for ER on one income. A lot of good advice so far. Just keep the faith, keep an eye on expenses, and don't spend a lot of dough just because all your friends and neighbors are. After all that, keep in mind that you are in a tough spot, so don't deprive yourself too much. Good luck.
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Old 06-12-2007, 07:44 AM   #16
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We are also in the SAHM-planning stage (baby due in a few months, I'm already not working) One thing to add about staying on track for ER - fund retirement first, college savings afterwards. Remember the SAHM can have spousal IRA contributions even with no income at all. Also, we're setting up a 529 that in the beginning we expect to be funded more by grandparents than by us - at least we are telling them when they want to buy baby something to put that money into the 529 instead.

Also, to second the comments about clothes - MIL went to a baby store and bought about 4 things for $20, then went to goodwill and bought 2-3 huge bags full for $20. And the goodwill things looked like they had never been worn.
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Old 06-12-2007, 08:45 AM   #17
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There's no way around it, it is tough to raise a family and save for ER on one income. A lot of good advice so far.
Agreed. But on the flip side, it forces you into adopting frugal habits which can significantly decrease the amount of money you need to retire, as long as you don't relapse once the kids are out of the house.
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Old 06-12-2007, 09:52 AM   #18
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Our first child is now 5 months old and we're also doing the one-parent-stays-home thing. Everyone has posted great advice already.

Resist the urge to buy lots of stuff for the baby. We've found that the most important things are: a good quality crib, rocking chair for your wife for those middle of the night feedings, car seat, "snap 'n go" thing which the car seat fits into and can be the only stroller you use for at least the first 6 months, and a "pack 'n play" for the kid to sleep in when you travel. (If you don't know this lingo yet, you will soon!)

So far, all of the clothes that we've been using have been handed down to us from friends/relatives, along with a few things we've picked up at second-hand stores. A baby grows so fast that used clothes are barely used before he outgrows them, so the used stuff works great. At 5 months, his favorite toys are still his hands and feet, so don't bother getting any of that stuff yet.

Breastfeeding has been super convenient (not to mention the health benefits) and also free - but the first week was pretty tough for my wife, so give your wife support and maybe try to make contact with your local La Leche League ahead of time, so if your wife has questions she has someone she can call during those first few days. If my wife would have given up and gone with formula, it would be much more expensive and less convenient by far.

We didn't run out and buy a bigger car just because we had a baby - we're still driving our little Toyota and probably will do so until a #2 comes along or whenever the Toyota dies. With the car seat in the middle we can still fit two passengers in the back on either side.

In some ways, our entertainment costs have gone down, because now for me the best entertainment is a weekend playing with the baby, going for walks (oh yeah, he likes the Baby Bjorn carrier thing, so that's another good investment), and just hanging out together.

Well that's all I can think of at the moment. Congratulations and good luck!
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:20 AM   #19
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This doesn't relate to saving for retirement, but more to being a one income family with a SAHM.

We had quite an attitude adjustment after the first child was born. Friends and relatives made comments about me leaving my job to be at home. The message from "the media" in the 1980's seemed to be that a SAHM was extinct. Everyone else went back to work, so I should, too.

Things like -

-When are you coming back to work?
-Aren't you bored at home?
-You're wasting your college education.
-We all work and raise families, why can't you do both?
-How are you ever going to be able to afford college/vacations/a better house/an SUV?
-You'll never get back on track with your career.

So our attitude adjustment was that we stopped caring what other people thought. You can't please anyone but yourselves and that's all that counts anyways.

With regards to breastfeeding, both families thought I was nuts to nurse! How do you know he's getting enough? How can I help you if I can't give him a bottle. Any cry he made was seen as a sign that he must be starving, because I was only breastfeeding.

All this really bugged me until I just decided that I knew that what I was doing was absolutely the best thing for our family. DH was always very supportive. Looking back, hormones just MAY have been a component as to why I took it all personally!

The baby was about 3 or 4 months and I just gave up caring about what other people said. It just didn't bother me anymore. This didn't just apply to the issue of being home with the kid and living on one income. It pertains to just about all aspects of my life. I've been very happy all over since then.

Son #2 came along 2.5 years later and it was all a breeze! We already had all the gear, knew what equipment worked well, how to get a baby on a workable routine and the families could see that we knew what we were doing.
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Old 06-12-2007, 01:20 PM   #20
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With regards to breastfeeding, both families thought I was nuts to nurse! How do you know he's getting enough? How can I help you if I can't give him a bottle. Any cry he made was seen as a sign that he must be starving, because I was only breastfeeding.

All this really bugged me until I just decided that I knew that what I was doing was absolutely the best thing for our family. DH was always very supportive. Looking back, hormones just MAY have been a component as to why I took it all personally!
This is true of many families, I've come to understand. We just sort of gave up caring as well. I could care less what my family thinks about our parenting decisions. I think it's easy to take this personally, especially with your first, b/c you are trying to do everything perfectly, and any criticism is taken to heart. I mean, my wife was actually told by a family member that breast feeding is "gross." A lot of it is our culture. Other cultures routinely breast feed until age three or more, but here many have a seemingly built-in repulsion to anything "natural". Oh well, we'll just keep giving our baby the best care we know how and let everyone else think what they want.
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