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Planning For The Expected and the Unexpected

October 7, 2011 · 19 comments

in Life, Personal Finance

There are some things in life that seem to come out of nowhere and strike unexpectedly.

Then there are things that you know are a possibility, and can be planned for.

Having a baby generally falls into the latter category.  Even though not all babies ‘are planned’, people know what can result in a baby…

Going Into Foreclosure To Stay Home With A Baby

I was reading a great post over at Squirreler’s this week that instantly inspired me to write this post.  Squirreler writes about a couple who is headed toward foreclosure because they had a baby, and mom decided to just up and quit her 6 figure income job because motherhood was her ‘calling’.  This couple is also in their late 30s from what I can surmise from the article, and they live in a large home that requires two incomes to pay for.

First of all, if I was childless into my upper thirties and couldn’t afford to live on one income, then shame on me.  I cannot imagine how much money my husband and I would have stashed away if we hadn’t had children young. Also, why did this family of 2 need a large house with an equally large mortgage payment?  Both were making over $100,000 a year, so I imagine this house was way more than 2 people ever needed.

Second of all, where was the planning in this situation?  It isn’t like you get pregnant and the baby shows up during yoga class the next day.  It takes 40 weeks for that baby to make an appearance, give or take a week or two.  This couple could have either aggressively saved during the pregnancy, or looked into downsizing their home in order to have enough money for mom to stay home.  Instead, the mom threw caution to the wind, the dad just nodded his head yes and let her do whatever she wanted, and she went in and quit her job after the baby was born.  Meanwhile, the neighbors can watch their home values drop because this house will be going in to foreclosure.

These are grown adults that should know better!  It would be one thing if the baby had unexpected medical problems and the mom needed to be home, but that is not the case (as far as I know).

I Wish I Could Have Stayed Home Right Away Too

When I got pregnant at the age of 25, my husband and I were living in an apartment and didn’t have a ton of savings. We started looking for a house anyway, and ended up buying a cute starter home, which was reasonably priced.  Because of student loans, car payments, and the mortgage, we knew that I would have to return to work once the baby was born. That sounded reasonable when I was pregnant, but things changed once I had the baby.

You Can Never Understand How Much A Baby Will Change Your Life, Until You Have One

I had zero experience with kids or babies when my son was born.  As a matter of fact, my son’s diaper was the first diaper either my husband or I had changed, ever.  I had no idea what I was in for was that child appeared, and I was caught off guard in a million different ways when he arrived.

One huge thing that happened when my son was born was I did not want to return to work.  I just did not want to leave my little guy at all, I just loved my new role as mom.  Some of my friends were able to stay home while their kids, but they either didn’t have student loans, or were older than me when they had their children.

Anyway, when my maternity leave was over, I plodded along and went back to work, crying as I left the house.  I didn’t want to leave, my heart was broken, but I did what I had to do.  Nobody told me to get pregnant when we weren’t financially ready to live off of one income, it was all our decision.  Each month we paid down the debt more and more, and I constantly looked at our finances to see when I could quit.  After my third child was born, I was finally able to be a stay at home mom.

Never, in a million years, would I have quit when we could not live off of one income.  Sometimes life is hard, and sometimes we all have to make choices we don’t want to make.  However, we were not born with the right to do whatever we want, letting other people suffer consequences along the way.

You Must Always Look At Where You Are Now, and Where You May Be Tomorrow

Life can take twists and turns, and it is impossible to totally predict the future.  But, you can do your best to be prepared for the future. For instance, when I got my BA in Finance, I was engaged.  Since marriage and kids were not too far off in the future, I decided to immediately enroll in the MBA program because I knew my personality, and figured that I would never want to go to school at night while raising kids.  I knew what my future circumstances were most likely going to be, so I took appropriate action to prepare for my future.  I could have just gotten a job after graduation and enjoyed finally making some money.  But I put the money-making on hold to take care of something that I knew I needed to do instead.  In other words, I looked at the long-term instead of living for the moment.

Do Not Wait For Life To Happen To You

In this economic climate, many people do not know if their job may be eliminated tomorrow, or if a pay cut is waiting for them around the corner.  People should always have a backup plan in mind.  Don’t just think  ‘oh I will look for a job while I am on unemployment’. Start thinking now of what you would like your next step to be.  Maybe you are an engineer and always dreamed of being  a teacher.  If so, take the next step and see what it would take to get a teaching certificate.  Only you can control your future.  Your employer and your spouse have some impact, but ultimately, you are responsible for your happiness and your income potential.  Don’t be an excuse maker, be a future-creator.

As I said, none of us have 100 percent control over what happens tomorrow.  However, if you take the time to really be aware of what is going on in your life, and in the world around you, it will be easier to handle the things that come your way.  I know that many people love to use the phrase ‘ignorance is bliss’.  To me ‘ignorance is stupid and dangerous’, and people that believe it is bliss just want to bury their head in the sand and complain when something goes wrong.

Don’t be that person that is unprepared for the future (especially if the future you create is a baby).  Make sure you frequently review where you are now, where you want to be in the future, and the steps you need to take in between.  If you do that and also live below your means, you hopefully won’t have to face foreclosure when you are 39 years old and making over $100,000 a year.


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