HomeFamilyGet back in the kitchen woman!

Get back in the kitchen woman!

First and foremost, I admit that I totally titled this blog post “Get back in the kitchen woman” primarily for the controversial draw it might bring. Second, yes that makes me a sellout. Third, a more accurate title would be “Get back in the kitchen…if that is where you want to be.” Fourth, Did I redeem myself…at least a little?

The biggest personal finance decision most couples will face (p.s. sorry if you are over personal finance topics that have to do with relationships) is not what house we buy or where our children will go to college, but whether or not one spouse will leave the work force and become a stay at home parent.

Let’s say you plan to have your spouse stay at home. Let’s also assume your spouse makes $40,000/year. That means every 5 years your spouse stays home, you lose out on $200,000 of income. If you are planning on popping out three or four kiddos, it could be 20+ years before your significant other looks to rejoin the workforce, resulting in an $800,000 loss of income. Holy Cow, did you just poop a little? I did. That’s a scary thought! Even scarier, that $800,000 figure doesn’t account for potential promotions or bonuses either, so we could be talking like a cool million gone baby gone!

Girl Ninja has always wanted to be a homemaker. In fact she has volunteered to quit her job numerous times so she can stay at home, shop, and lay out at the beach all day…isn’t she sweet? No, no she’s not. When it comes time to produce a million baby ninjas, I too would like her to play the role of the CFO (Chief Family Operator).

My excel spreadsheet tells me Girl Ninja and I can have our first kid sometime between June and August of 2013… just kidding, I don’t have a spreadsheet that dictates our lives that much…although I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you do? Okay, focus Ninja. In all seriousness it will probably be another two years before we consider parenthood. That gives us two years to prepare ourselves for a huge loss of income (about 35%).

What’s our plan you ask? Here’s what I got so far.

1) Stay out of debt.

2) Save as much of our income as possible (currently banking about $3,000/month).

3) Budget our expenses based off my income only, that way we wont be devastated when we lose Girl Ninja’s.

4) Explore other jobs. I love my job, but I bet there are other jobs I’d love too that would pay me more. My goal is to find something that would help recuperate the loss of Girl Ninja’s income.

5) Once baby Ninja comes along, reevaluate the stay at home mom gig. Are we happy with it? Does Girl Ninja feel trapped at home? Does she want to explore part time employment? Just because we both want her to stay at home now, doesn’t mean it will necessarily be that way forever. If she wants to work, she can work. If she wants to stay at home, she can stay at home.

6) If plans one through five aren’t working out, I have a backup plan: Sell our baby on E-bay. I’m thinking we could get at least $20,000 for baby ninja…any takers? Or you can “buy it now” for $19,500.

So that’s low down on stay at home parenting (haven’t I done a good job trying to remain gender neutral?). I can’t stress the importance of planning ahead and being aware of the financial costs associated with transitioning to a one income family. It’s a BIG FREAKIN’ DEAL!

Stay at home peeps: How did you and your spouse prepare for it? Was it super hard to adjust? Was there ever a period where you went back to work for a while? What would you have done differently?

Future Stay at home peeps: What are yo doing today to prepare for tomorrow? Are you living off just one persons income? How will you handle the income loss?

Dual Income peeps: How much does full time child care (per kid) every month? What are the pros and cons of keeping both parents in the workforce?

Peeps that don’t want kids: Sorry you had to read this article.

p.s. Girl Ninja turned 24 years old today! Woohooo. I’m real sad that I can’t be with her to celebrate 🙁 Take a minute and wish her the best Ninja-free 24th birthday ever! Love you Girl Ninja!



  1. Even though Hubby and I are DINKs (and staying that way), I still enjoyed the article and will pop back in and read the comments.

    Happy 24th Bithday Girl Ninja!! I’m sure Ninja will make it up to you when he’s back in the U.S. of A.!

  2. “Just because we both want her to stay at home now, doesn’t mean it will necessarily be that way forever. ”

    Whoa! What ever has happened to our Planny McPlannerson! You have ruined my illusion of your life planned excel spread sheet…

    So as a single income family – me at work husband at home, here is what worked for us

    1. No debt including the mortgage (although that was just good timing – we were buying our home sat a time when prices were still fair – yay for middle age!)
    2. Save as much as we could before the event
    3. Live modestly and within our means

    As the one working I can tell you it is so much easier having someone at home. the thought of conordinating child care etc made my head spin. But my husband was happy to stay at home, so it worked fine for us. but it is such a personal thing, with so many variables, there is no one answer.

    And if all else fails – sell the baby. They aren’t as great as everyone goes on about…

    Happy birthday Girl Ninja!

  3. Happy Birthday to Girl Ninja!

    We are parents of 2 great kids, and we both work full time. Sometimes it isn’t easy to be away from them all the time, but I know my strengths. And being a stay at home parent isn’t one of them. Some type of job sharing arrangement would be perfect, but so far no one has accepted that opportunity that I”m seeking.

    When our kids were both in daycare full time, we paid about $1200 per month to child care. That will probably make you poop some more Ninja. It definitely has to be worth it for both parents to continue to work. Both hubby and I make good salaries, but if i didn’t, and the cost of staying at work minus daycare only left me with a couple hundred dollars in the bank at the end of the day, I would choose to stay at home and raise my own children…

  4. I stay at home with our 7 month old daughter. We planned on this in a couple of ways:

    1. Paid off all credit card debt well before having kids.
    2. Eliminated as much debt as possible. We still have the mortgage(s), student loans, & one car loan.
    3. Lived for a year on just my husband’s income and saved my entire income. This was key, both to make sure that we could live on just his income alone.
    4. Budgeted the crap out of having a baby. We cloth diaper & breast feed, so there were a lot of up-front costs, but not a lot of recurring costs. She doesn’t eat much real food yet, and we are fortunate enough to receive a lot of clothes & toys as gifts. (Although we have budgeted for those as well)

    Adjusting to staying at home has been pretty easy. There are some days where I need to get out of the house, but we luckily live near friends with kids that the baby and I can meet up with. I also run my website to have a “job”, and that gets me thinking and talking about things besides dirty diapers and onesies. (Well, kinda. It’s a website about babies & kids)

    I would not have done anything differently, but if it took us longer to have a baby, we would have continued to save & pay off debt.

  5. The thought of having kids scares the schist out of me (and probably my wife, too). 2011 is the year of paying off debt for us, so we are milking EVERYTHING out of our dual incomes. In addition to knocking out the student loans, we are saving for a house and working around 2 car payments. They’re only $600 a month which is doable, but we have a lot of things right now that are taking big chunks of our take-home pay.

  6. Tricky….

    Jordan and I are planning on kids on a vague timeline in the future.

    I plan on rotating working / not-working – capitalizing on maternity leave benefits until we pop out three little ones. Once the third one, I would like one or a combination of both of us to stay at home until all three are into school – then, happy for both of us to be working full time again.

  7. We both work. I carry FULL benefits for our family of 4…I don’t pay a dime for it and really have no deductibles and very, very little co-pays….I think the last time I looked it would run me $1700 a month to have the same plan. I paid less then $100 for my last C-Section and a $30,000+ hopsital visit for my husband cost us like $60.

    As much as I would love to stay at home with the last kidd and there are months it feels like I work to pay daycare and school tuition only, to give up the benefits (and I didn’t even mention the contributions to 401K that don’t require me to contribute) I’d be foolish. I wouldn’t get ahead or even for that matter break even. I’d save on daycare-$130 a week and gas which is a couple hundred a month. I’d still have to have a car due to the nature of my husbands job and where we live. I don’t necessarily like my job but I love the company I work for and the people I work with.

  8. When both kids are in daycare full time, it’s almost $1650/month. With one kid in school, it’s been a lot cheaper (til summer that is). So, the good news is that it’s really not $800,000 of lost income over the course of your career..especially after childcare and taxes.

    Pros: I’m in a field that would mean career suicide if I exited the workforce, so the biggest one, aside from the $ and financial buffer a second income brings, is maintaining my employ-ability. I also love having access to some of the most experienced child rearing people in my area.

    Cons: I’d love more time with my kids, sometimes juggling two careers and travel schedules is extremely chaotic. Now that one of my kids is school aged, scheduling extra curricular activities is more challenging as many of the things are after school type programs.

  9. My good friend just had a kid in February (their first) and she is deciding to stay at home after this school year end (she’s a high school teacher).

    For them, the decision isn’t about money because the lack of her income (~$35-40k) is the SAME as the nanny they are hiring to take care of the baby. So for them there isn’t a lack of money at all, whether she works or not is the exact same from a financial perspective.

    They have decided that it would be her that would stay home though since he makes about 3x her salary and can support the family even without her working.

  10. We are planning to try to have kids in about 9 months or so, and I plan on staying home for awhile and then getting a part time job. I make okay money, but daycare is super expensive in our area and my husband works 60-70 hours per week. I will be the one needing to pick up more of the parenting responsibilities and my husband said its up to me if I want to go back full time (I don’t). We’re lucky that we’re a good financial place and are able to plan for this.

  11. I became a stay at home mom when my son was born. It wasn’t super hard to adjust. Adjusting to a new baby is way harder. It’s not your old life with a baby, it’s a whole new life. What that new life is going to cost is hard to predict. The best way to prepare is to save save save save save and then save some more. And then a little more.

    We had a good chunk in savings that we tried to replenish when we could. I’ve always looked for little ways to make money here and there to try to help out. For me, working part time (ideally from home) is the best balance. I get stir crazy when I’m home all day.

  12. Happy Bday Girl Ninja! Aren’t Aries babies the best? (I turned 25 on the 9th!)

    I have no kids, but can I just say that Option 6 made me just laugh at loud at work? Now people really know I’m not doing work…

  13. I stay at home with our 9-month-old.

    How’d we prepare? We bought a house we can easily afford on my husband’s income. (when working full-time my monthly take-home was more than twice his.)

    Was it super hard to adjust? Being new parents had its learning curve, and times of exhaustion, but staying at home made all of that much easier.

    Was there a period where I went back to work for awhile? Yes. My maternity leave ended after 16 weeks (6 were fully paid), and I returned to a 22 hr workweek. My husband works nights as a police officer, so between him and other relatives, we didn’t have to pay any childcare. However, I ended up being exhausted, my husband lost a lot of his daytime sleep, our household just became more stressed. Top they off with my daughter refusing to take a bottle and having a medical condition that causes poor weight gain…and I quit after two months. Now I’m on the payroll as relief and get offered a few shifts a month.

    What would we have done differently? Well, if my husband hadn’t been laid off for the six months prior to our daughter’s birth (thanks, economy!), life would’ve been a little sweeter.

    Happy Birthday, Girl Ninja!

  14. I get a full-year off at almost full pay so in a few years when babies become reality I’ll be taking full advantage of that. The catch is that I sign an agreement to go back to work after the year’s up. Ideally I’d like to go back to work part-time, but I’ve never seen anyone do that so I’m guessing that’s not going to happen.

    I’m currently in Australia and am so impressed with how they accommodate working parents at my employer here. They make every effort to have their employees come back part-time, job-share, work from home, change work schedule when necessary, etc. There is a very strong emphasis on work-life balance. If only in Canada!

  15. Happy Bday Girl Ninja!!!!
    As for the parenting thing… I’d love to have kids just not right now. And the whole stay at home thing would drive me crazy!!! NO THANK YOU!!! But who knows I might change my turn when the they show up lol

  16. I’m not married or thinking about having kids for awhile, but I’ve always been wary of what happened to my mom. She stayed at home for a long time, even though I think she thought she’d go back to work when my younger brother was in high school. However, after 18 years out of the real work force, computer technology had completely turned her field (advertising and art design) upside-down. Even though she took some courses, she just wasn’t comfortable or confident enough with them to be able to enter that field again, especially with the recession. She says she wouldn’t do it any differently, but I think that would drive me crazy. If Girl Ninja does want to re-enter the work force at some point after raising kids, she should think about how long she can stay home and still keep her skills fresh.

  17. Happy Birthday, Girl Ninja. Sorry I missed it on the 18th.

    First, let me say that there really is no planning when it comes to kids. The number one priority is to be incredibly flexible and become creative at problem solving. We have 6 kids ranging in age from 18 and in college to 11. There really wasn’t much planning involved on our part which is not something I would advise. But when it happens, you adjust.

    My wife worked for a while after our oldest was born, but that became too difficult. Even having a good friend watch her, it was more important for us to have her at home and not have strangers raise our children.

    You really have to evaluate the benefits of having a second income. After spending on taxes, child care, transportation, etc, there may not be that much left for take-home pay.

  18. We have 2 kids and I stay home now but I worked until my youngest was two. I worked part time after my oldest was born. I’m an RN so I worked every weekend on the midnight shift. Family time was very limited as my husband worked long days during the week. By the time I left work our mortgage was paid off and other than that we were debt free. We continue to be debt free and get by quite nicely on a single income. I have no plans to go back to work as my oldest has both physical and intellectual disabilities and he requires a lot of care. We saved a lot before we had kids and we continue to put money away every month for our selves as well as for our daughter’s education and we hope to have enough to allow my husband to retire at 55. You can’t plan for everything in life but if your financial house is in order it certainly helps.
    Happy birthday Girl Ninja.

  19. I am home grad degree and all. I love it. My life is peaceful and I look far better than I ever looked as a working mom. Since I am not trying to everything at once (work and home). I have the time to take advantage of sales can make more food at home, etc. We do not spend as much as we used to.

    Happy birthday girl ninja.

  20. You joke about a spreadsheet to plan when to have kids, but sometimes it is true. We know we’ll have to wait until our oldest is in kindergarten before we can have #3. 3 kids in day care is out of the question (and our budget)!

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