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Multiples and More Question of the Week – Stay home or work?

When I was a child, even a high-schooler, the question of whether or not I’d be a stay at home mom (SAHM) was an easy one. I would stay home, of course! When I met and married a man who worked in children’s ministry the answer became more like “in an ideal setting I’ll stay home full time, but I know that may not be possible at times and I may have to work even a part time job”. When we found out I was pregnant we were mulling our decision a bit, but hadn’t really focused on the answer too much yet. We knew we wanted to save as much money during my pregnancy as we could so that regardless of our decision we’d have a solid emergency savings fund. Then we found out we were having triplets and the whole ball game changed, which brings us to today’s question of the week over at Multiples and More…

In the end, we decided it was best for me to be a full-time SAHM. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly, and involved many nights of pouring over our budget and finances to come to a decision. In the end the bottom line was this: I really wanted to be a SAHM anyway, and my tiny salary would be just enough to cover the daycare costs of 3 infants. Financially, it just didn’t make sense to continue working, no matter how much I loved my job.

While I’m thrilled with the decision we made (most days, ha!), it hasn’t come without a lot of sacrifices on our part. We knew to make things work on just Nick’s salary we’d have to do a lot of cutting back in areas of our life. I remember at one point Nick even declared he would move us into a tiny, cheap apartment if that’s what it took to keep me home and keep us on budget. Thankfully it didn’t come to that… instead we found a house in a cheaper part of town and our mortgage payment ended up being about $100 a month less than our rent had been.

Instead of rushing out and buying a bigger car, we decided we could make due with our current (and paid for) vehicles if we could find a narrow enough car seat. Spending $600 on three car seats was much more financially sound than taking out a $15,000 car loan. We cut our grocery budget from $450 a month (easily) for just the two of us, down to $250 a month. When the boys started drinking milk we added $60 to the total and now spend $310 a month on groceries, toiletries and household supplies.

We don’t have cable or satellite. We only just added a minimal texting plan to our cell phones this past fall. We rarely go out to eat, unless we have a gift card or Groupon to use.  We almost never order take out or hit up the drive thru window. It’s just not in our budget. Sure, we could technically afford to do some of those things, but we choose not to so that we can have a good sized savings account for when unexpected costs arise (like the $6,000 in car and medical stuff we paid in the first 4 months of 2010).  It’s hard, but it’s worth it in the end.

Some day I’d like to go back to work. I have dreams of returning to the radio airwaves some day, or going back to writing ad copy (what I was doing when I got pregnant with the boys). I crave that adult interaction and the knowledge that when you finish a project you get to move on to something new (versus the same old, same old here at home). I crave the praise for a job well done! Some day I’ll return to the work force, even if it’s just on a part time basis.

If you’re expecting or even if you already have a child or two (or three!) at home and have been debating staying home, look at your finances. Try living on just your spouse’s salary for a few months. Not only is it a good experiment, but you can build up your savings account or pay down debt! If you have a lot of debt, focus on paying that off. Life is much easier on one income when you have little to no debt. When our boys were born we still had two student loans to pay off and life has been much more comfortable since paying those loans both off.

  • July 25, 2010 - 3:08 pm

    Liz - loved reading your post Helen!
    I was working full time at my church and a daycare director before I had the boys. It really was the right choice for us to have me stay at home. Your story sounds like ours with re: to cutting back on things financially. I never knew that I could live on less – God’s helping us so much.
    Your boys are beautiful and I wish you the best with #4.ReplyCancel

  • July 25, 2010 - 5:02 pm

    pop pop - Let me just say this right up front Helen….. GOOD JOB on raising those boys !! Mom and I are SO proud of the way you and Nick have made the “sacrifices” so that you could invest in your boys. Good Job !ReplyCancel

  • July 25, 2010 - 9:44 pm

    Ann Marie - I hear you! We knew right away that if it was triplets, that I would have to stay home. In my area, it would basically cost us more than I made to put 3 babies in daycare. So and easy decision for us. Fortunately we can afford for me to stay home. If it had been when I got pregnant with our first, then we’d be in a different position altogether. I will have to say I am impressed with your Saturday savings. I haven’t been so lucky!!ReplyCancel

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