I just came across the story of the house that two incomes built, and although it’s a couple years old, it’s still well worth sharing. It continues with part 2, and the photographs are what make it particularly interesting, along with the description of the personal struggle involved with deciding whether to go back to work after the birth of a child.
Some parents would rather go back to work, and they feel more fulfilled with both a career and a child than they would staying home full time. And the opposite side of that is the parents who know that they want to stay home and have planned for it long before their first child arrives. In the middle are the parents who aren’t sure. And the ones who would stay home with their kids if money were no object.
The money issue is tricky. If you’re used to living on two incomes and have expanded your lifestyle to use up all or most of those two incomes, the option to have a parent stay home with a child will require more than just a letter of resignation. It might mean getting rid of a car, cutting back on shopping trips and vacations, or even moving to a less expensive home.
I’m very fortunate to be in a situation where my husband and I both work from home. We spent five years growing our business before we had our son, and purposely structured it so that we are both home most of the time. The most important thing we’ve done though is to not inflate our lifestyle as our income grew over the years. As a result, a good chunk of our income goes into savings and extra mortgage payments. The future is never certain, but if our business were to stop making money, we could continue our current lifestyle on less than an average single income (obviously we wouldn’t be able to continue saving and paying off the mortgage at our current rate, but we’d be able to get by). We could have bought a more expensive house or upgraded our cars, but that would have increased our monthly expenses and put us in a more precarious situation in terms of needing a higher income just to get by.
This isn’t about whether parents should stay home with their kids. That’s a decision that has to be made by each family, and is a highly personal one. But if you focus on keeping your expenses (especially for the biggies – housing and transportation) as low as possible, you give yourself more options than you have if you spend everything each month.
I wanted to share the story of the house that two incomes built because I find it inspiring to see people making drastic changes in their lives in order to focus on what they want most. Obviously this sort of thing is not limited to staying home with children. It could be about starting your own business or retiring early or setting out to travel the world. What matters is that we actively choose our path and make decisions with our goals in mind, rather than falling victim to advertising and debt.
Would you move to a much less expensive home/area in order to be able to work part time, stay home with a child, focus on volunteering, travel, etc?