How to Survive on One Income After Baby: Part 1

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Today I want to talk to you about something that has been heavy on my mind lately…

I see a lot of individuals who dread going back to work post-baby, or wish to stay home after another child is added to the mix and it honestly kind of breaks my heart.

Now while I know this isn’t feasible for everyone nor does everyone desire to stay at home part- or full-time with their child(ren), today I wanted to share my story of how we are surviving on one income post-baby, and how you might be able to as well.

You see, I never expected to up and quit my job after having a kid. I have always worked and genuinely love working. Working gives me purpose.

Even as a teacher and having the summers “off” (if you will..teachers know that’s not entirely true!) I would always get a bit of the summer blues without having a set purpose each day.

Sounds strange for those of you who loathe your jobs and hate working, but I know I’m not the only one.

So while I quit teaching to go into financial services over 3 years ago now, I didn’t expect to leave the industry after the birth of our first child.

I’ll be the first to admit that leaving a steady-paying teaching job to take on a commission-only role is Those 2.5 years in the industry were definitely more of a challenge than when both my hubby and I had stable jobs, but I wouldn’t take it back. It opened my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship, helped me begin this career as a financial coach, and has helped shape me into who I am today.

After our daughter was born in May of 2017 I took 5 months off from financial planning with 6-weeks of short-term disability. I resumed my high school soccer coaching job August-October and returned once the season ended. It started with 4 days back, then I dropped down to 3 days, and finally it went to 2 (before saying “goodbye” officially in February)

I know everyone is different and has different viewpoints on childcare and I am definitely not here to change your mind one way or the other.

This article is for those who are like me. Those who were “career-driven” and then surprised that they wanted to be home with their child more than building their career. Or those who already know they want to stay home with baby #1 (or 2, 3, 4 whatever!)

I wanted to give you a run through of how we have managed to survive on one income. (Although I do pull income in it fluctuates depending on the month and we have come to view that as “extra” and do all of our bill paying and planning off of my husband’s income.)

So here goes…

How to Survive On One Income After Baby

Step 1) Don’t upgrade until AFTER you’ve had a child

So I know this might be unreasonable for some people, but this has really helped us. We bought the home we currently live in over 4 years ago when I was still teaching. We absolutely love this home, but now adding a dog and a baby it has become quite cramped! However, we refused to upgrade until we knew a little bit more about how our financial situation was going to play out post baby. If you think you may want to stay home with baby part- or full-time, I recommend not making any major moves until after baby has arrived and you can evaluate your financial situation.

2) Understand there will be trade-offs

My husband and I love to travel and since dating have always taken an international trip once/year (at least!) We would go for 1.5-2 weeks and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

Since having baby we haven’t made any international or extended trip plans, and don’t have any plans to do so in the near future (especially with baby #2 arriving next March!)

Although yes we both love traveling and exploring other countries and cultures, this is just something that is not in the cards for us on one main income and we are OK with that. We know we will return to internationally traveling (likely with the kiddos!) in the future and are happy with our long-weekend trips when we can sneak them in.

3) Know your numbers

I highly suggest people understand what is coming in and what is going out every month. We use Mint to categorize our spending and track budgets, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It helps me understand where we’ve overspent, what we can cut back on, and how we’re doing financially at any given moment in time.

4) Find ways to save money that will work for you

For us, it’s menu planning and grocery shopping on the weekends. If we don’t have a solid game plan going into the week, it is FAR too easy to grab take out or go out to eat after a long day.

For others it might be going down to one car (something I have actually thought about!), cutting out unnecessary subscriptions, or buying used goods instead of new (fellow thrift shopper here!)

5) Plan ahead

If you know you’re going to three weddings in the Fall (that’s us!), have a vet appointment coming up, or are paying your bi-annual insurance premiums, mark it down so you have an idea of what will be spent so you’re not caught blindsided with the expense when the time comes.

Try adding a savings category for “unexpected” expenses (not emergency fund, that’s different) as I’ve found that unexpected things tend to happen every month!

6) Adopt “short term pain for long term gain” as your mantra.

Sure you many not be able to take all the vacations, buy all the things that you used to be able to, or save as much for retirement as you’d like currently. BUT the satisfaction of being able to be home full- or part-time with your kiddo if you desire will be totally worth it.

Alright, that’s a wrap! For those of you already at home part- or full-time, anything you have to add? For those of you who aren’t but would like to, what questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Katie O.

P.S. - Need help organizing your own finances? Set up a free 20-minute consultation call to see if it’s something I may be able to help you with! Book here: