Debt Family or Marriage Finances & Money

Expanding Your Family and Reducing Your Income

By Shawn

Shawn, a subscriber and frequent commenter here at Clever Dude, as well as a personal friend of the Clever Dude and Dudette will be posting occasional guest articles. You can read his introduction here.

My wife and I are less than 10 days away from the birth of our first child. As a result, we’ve had first hand experiences with a lot of the concepts that the Clever Dude has discussed on this site.

Stay-at-Home Parent

The first arises because my wife and I thought it would be best if she stayed home for a year or so. This means we’ll be heading down to one salary.

One of the most important things we needed to do as a couple to make this adjustment was to sit down and discuss our new financial goals. We’ve had a debt-free plan that was contingent on a 2 person family with 2 incomes. Adding a third and losing an income obviously has an affect on our goals.

Planning Ahead and Adjusting Goals

The good news is that we had these discussions before we decided to start a family. We had to make sure that we were OK with adjusting our goals.

In order to readjust our goals, we needed another principle discussed on this site — a budget. We used my current salary as our basis for the budget (that is, we didn’t try to estimate what my salary would be given a lower tax rate, etc).

Even with another mouth to feed and less take-home pay, we’re still able to get out of debt in the near future while still continuing to build savings and retirement. However, our debt-free date moves from 30 months to 45 months.

We only spent about an hour coming up with our new plan. The reason we were able to do it in such a relatively short time stems from another principle stressed on this site — communication. We already had a set of goals, and we both wanted to adjust to our new life while staying as close as possible to those goals. By constantly talking with each other about our expectations, we’re able to stay on the same page.

Those of you with families, how did you decide if one of you would stay home or if both would return to work? What was your decision process? Were you willing to compromise on any of your financial goals in order to have one of you stay at home?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • This is a really interesting topic, and one that I believe a lot of young couples struggle with if they have not discussed these matters beforehand. Before my son was born – even before my husband and I were married – I made it clear that I would be at home with our children while they were young, and my husband agreed that this was a priority. When we decided to get pregnant, we put away my entire income for a full year prior to my son’s birth, both to pad our savings and to get used to living on one income!

    “Were you willing to compromise on any of your financial goals in order to have one of you stay at home?” I keep going back to a quote I read recently from another SAHM asked about how she managed being at an economic disadvantage: she stated simply that she did not perceive any disadvantage. Her family was happy, and their needs fulfilled; everything else has to to do with values. This goes right to heart of the question. I absolutely would compromise on financial goals, because money is subject to our family’s values and happiness, and for us that included me being the primary caregiver for our son.

    Congratulations to you both!

  • My wife and I recently had these discussions and decided that she would not become a SAHM. As the director of an early childhood learning center, she will be able to take our child to her work. Actually, the decision was less about money than it was about her desire to keep working. Plus we like the idea of getting the socialization benefits of our child being around lots of other people from such a young age while not loosing the bonding time between mom and baby. That being said, we probably would have gone the other way if she didn’t already work in child care. To us, the socialization payoff wouldn’t outweigh the decreased time my wife would get to spend with our baby.
    We also did talk about a plan if it doesn’t work out. Since we already live off of my income and use hers for extras and savings, we could transition to plan “B” with some minor alterations to our lifestyle.

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