Family / Family-building

Must be funny, in a rich man’s world

As a family of two things are pretty great for us right now. We both work and make enough money to pay our bills, drive a safe vehicle, eat out occasionally (ok, more than that but we’re working on it) and pretty much do as we please. There isn’t often a real financial stretch for us. We’re afforded the luxury of being able to not have to agonize over paying the rent.

Believe me we understand what the privilege that being educated, white, and coming from middle class backgrounds affords us, and we also know that there are many other lesbian couples in very similar financial situations as we are. And while we know some couples who are slightly better off than we are, and some who are not, financial issues around child rearing are concerns that we all share.

We also know a few other things. One of them is that children are expensive. Both the conception and the raising! Our family dreams include being able to afford to have one of us (ok, me) be a stay at home mom for at least the first year of our child’s life. I have alluded before to the whole “governmental help” angle of things, and this is something that we’re still considering, but what I’d like to know how YOU do it.

For those of you who have made the choice and or have had the opportunity to be a stay at home parent how have you been able to accomplish this? What concessions have you had to make in order to make spending this extra time with your child possible? What tips and tricks do you have for others making this choice?

Even for those of you who aren’t stay at home parents, what kinds of methods have you employed to make ends meet after adding one (or more) to your families?? In addition to saving what we can, now, what else could we be doing while we’re still at this stage of the ttc journey?

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  1. Here are a few things that come to mind for me:

    General scrimping always helps, but I’d advise that you do allow yourselves the occasional treat. Deprivation just leads to resentment, IMHO. If you think you’re splurging too much, though, try repeating “college fund, college fund” several times.

    Make a list of all the things you spend money on in a month, and just as an exercise, see if you can cut out $50…$100…$150…more. You don’t then have to make all the cuts, but you’ll get a sense of what you’ll be giving up at various levels of savings. You can implement as needed, once tranche at a time.

    Resist all the marketing that will be thrown at you as a new parent. There are a lot of things marketed as “must haves” for babies that really aren’t. You can also look around eBay for bargains (though I’d always recommend buying an unused carseat). Join a local moms’ group a few months into your pregnancy, and you’ll probably find moms willing to give away clothes and other items their children have outgrown. I wrote up a reasonably frugal baby gear list a while back, which may also be of use. (I hasten to add, though, that all babies are different. Just because my son didn’t need an item doesn’t mean yours won’t, and vice versa.)

    I’d also suggest reviewing all your various financial accounts–not just checking and savings, but also, if relevant, IRAs, 401ks, employee stock-purchase plans, etc. If the one of you who leaves employment has a 401k, for example, you might consider taking the opportunity to roll it into an IRA. That might not help with your day-to-day finances, but it’s good planning for the future. (Disclaimer: I’m not a financial advisor. Check with a professional before you make any changes to your accounts.)

  2. I don’t have much to add on how to do it, because there are many days I wonder just how we are doing it.

    We are both students, both on contract. I was able to get unemployment insurance, and in Canada, mat leave is a year, paid. We have a pretty good union, so I was able to get a top up and make as much as I would have, had I been working. I’ve been home for 11 months now, and my mat leave ends in a month.

    One suggestion I heard on a TV financial planning/reality show was helpful (imagine!) They suggested that during the time you are waiting for the baby to arrive, to reduce your monthly income to what you would earn while one partner is on mat leave/not working. Put that money into savings. That way, when one of you is on leave, you have already adjusted to living on less income AND you have the money saved for all those lovely purchases that come along with children.

    We didn’t do this, but I have to say, our kid hasn’t been that expensive, yet. He is breastfed and we feed him the same food that we eat. We received a lot of hand me downs from a wonderful friend I met online and other moms in our apartment building. We also live in Canada where health care is free, subsidies are available for daycare (we probably will pay about $200 or so out of pocket for full time starting in September) and the government gives out working families, child care and child tax subsidies/benefits.

    So far so good. We will see how it goes as he gets older and needs more things!

  3. Make a budget, find out how much you spend to how much the bread winner brings home.
    Sell off anything that you don’t HAVE TO HAVE. ie. boats, extra cars, trailers, etc.
    Try and have most of your credit card bills cleaned up or consolidate loans in to one payment.
    Make sure to have a few thousand in savings.

    As far as government assistance. The only government assistance I took advantage of, was health insurance….my wife was unable to insure me do to state laws.

    Make sure to take FULL advantage of the tax benefits for your working counterpart. Have her claim the kids, the house, and don’t forget the costs of getting the kids here…that is all deductable.
    You don’t have to be rich to find the loop holes.
    I couldn’t imagine working so hard to get my baby here and then leaving her in daycare for 10 hours a day. I guess material things, even trips were not as important as the time I get to spend every day watching her grow up. She sure could care less about Florida, Hawaii, Cancun, or Disneyland. She’s much rather curl up with me every day.

    Once you make the decision, I don’t know how…but you just seem to make it work. You think that you are living month to month now with both of you working, but it just seems to work out some how.
    Good luck

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