Parenthood can throw a real wrench into a couple’s ability to maintain their existing employment. Ideally one parent could leave work and stay home full time, but this may not be possible for financial reasons. While it can be argued that the cost of child care would all but negate that second income, it could still be possible for the couple to work on alternating shifts that make child care unnecessary. Whichever way you choose to go, you’ll be sacrificing in one way or the other.
If your plan is to work alternating shifts, you run the risk of seeing very little of each other, save for weekends. This can be hard for a new couple and a new family. Not getting to share in the joy of child rearing together could cause a good deal of emotional pain. One work-around to this is if one partner is sleeping while the other works. This is a great alternative, but unless one of the parties can get work during a midnight shift it probably isn’t feasible for one or both partners to have to sleep either during the day or afternoon.
If you’re planning to forgo the second income, you’ll likely have to take drastic measures to cut out some of your excess spending. Remember that you’re not only losing that income, but you’re also going to have additional expenses coming in from the baby. It’s the financial equivalent of a left cross followed by a right haymaker. This is often exacerbated by the fact that many new parents underestimate the additional costs that a baby will bring. Diapers and formula and by no means cheap, and you also have clothing, health care and other expenses to take into account.
It’s unlikely that your sole income will be enough to cover this without cutting back in other areas, so let’s look at a few of the areas where you make some headway on that lost revenue:
Commuting: You’ll very likely need to leave that car at home, or in the case of two vehicles, get rid of one of them for financial reasons, so this will be the perfect opportunity to start taking public transportation to work, carpooling or biking. Of course if you get an allowance from your place of employment that covers any transportation expenses, this will not be necessary, though cutting out a second vehicle would still be a good idea.
Food: Here’s another major one, and one that may also be helped inadvertently by a partner staying at home. Instead of both family members eating out at work, buying coffees on the way to work in the morning etc, you’ll only have one doing so. If you can cut that down to none, even better. You’re also less likely to go dining out with your new child in tow, so that should cut out on those expensive evenings out. Just don’t replace the dining out with ordering in, as tempting as it may be. Try to alternate the nights to each partner cooks dinner to compensate for the higher amount of home cooked meals being prepared.
Home-based income: There are certainly many opportunities nowadays for people to work at home, so this may be a viable option for the stay-at-home partner. Depending on their past work experience, they may be able to find similar work online or look into getting the skills necessary to do that or other work online. They may also consider looking after additional children in their home which can also be a lucrative proposition.
Whatever your choice, some difficult financial and consolidationdecisions will need to be made. The sacrifices will be well worth it in the long run though as you have the thrill of seeing your child grow and mature.