My dream for quite a long time now has been to be a stay-at-home mom. I am living that dream! I had my first child last December, and officially quit working in May. My husband and I also have massive student debt.
For a lot of reasons I won’t get into here, we decided not to wait until the debt was paid to have children. It was an excellent choice. No amount of money or financial freedom could convince me otherwise. (And, for the record, raising children is way less expensive than we are led to believe. More on that in a future post).
I had planned to work for at least a while longer, but during maternity leave two things happened. First, my husband got a new job, with better pay and potential for increasing that income over time. It was also cut his commute from fifty minutes in the car to about eight minutes on foot. Second, I realized I could not go back to work full time. I had spent two months home with Little Guy, and they were the best two months of my life. I knew this was where I was supposed to be.
We will never regret this choice. I am happier than I have ever been. I feel I have found my true calling and passion. I am also much healthier! I lost ten pounds beyond my pre-pregnancy weight, without really doing anything other than not working at a desk all day and eating way less fast food. Beyond that, I wasn’t giving up as much as it seems, when you factor in the cost of childcare, convenience spending, commuting, and inevitable lifestyle inflation. And our family has greater flexibility to better my husband’s career and maximize his income.
I am actually oddly grateful for the lower income–I am convinced it has changed our financial life for the better. When I quit my job, we had to seriously evaluate our finances, make a budget, and cut our spending drastically. This sounds miserable, but actually it was very freeing. Had I kept working, our two-income family would have coasted comfortably along, without ever really facing the reality of debt. Though we would have been making enough to pay our debts down faster than our current plan (nine years or fewer, BTW), the truth is we probably would not have. We also would have just made standard payments, rather than choosing a strategic approach, which will save on interest.
Our family’s plans are not exactly traditional, and our path to the debt-free life isn’t going to be traditional either. Making this dream of mine a priority caused us to finally make our debt a priority as well–so, despite the loss of income, we are actually on a better debt payment track than before. We don’t have to choose between following our dreams and crushing our debt. We choose both. This blog is about dreams and debt and how we do life with both.