When I began dating my now husband, I already had a little girl from a previous relationship. In order to get serious with me, he had to adjust to the idea of late-night dinners at restaurants to takeout scheduled around bedtime. Luckily, he did so beautifully and won both my and my daughter’s hearts.
One wedding, two successful careers, and a substantial mortgage later, my husband adopted my daughter and we were ready to add another tax deduction to the mix. We were used to having to make adjustments to accommodate life’s surprises, so we thought a baby would cause minimal monetary ripples in our fairly stable life. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
I had a high-risk pregnancy and spent much of it on bed rest, completing my corporate responsibilities from a laptop and my couch. When my son finally arrived strong and healthy, the idea of spending his infancy working in a cubicle broke my heart. Two months after my maternity leave ran out, I gave notice at my job. I still do some work from home, but my income is nowhere near what it was.
Before the baby came, we began purchasing diapers every time we went grocery shopping; diapers, baby clothes, and formula are the obvious expenses the stork drops at your door. But with the addition of our son and the subtraction of my salary, we had to make adjustments that we weren’t expecting. One of the things that obviously had to go was our mortgage payment. Downsizing could have been a bummer, but we moved into a smaller home that I love and have room to breathe.
Out of necessity, we have become more careful with our spending — to be honest, probably as careful as we should have been to begin with. I use cash to keep myself from impulse spending, and we’ve adjusted to spending less pretty easily. We simply set a budget and stick to it — something we tended to fudge a bit before I “retired.” Simple changes like buying some generic brands and eating at home more often keep our checkbook neatly in balance. Sure, we’ve had minor arguments over things like HBO and some tense conversations about budget spreadsheets, but we did that before, too.
Having a second child has also made us evaluate the serious side of our financial planning. Dave Ramsey would be proud to know that we already had an emergency fund, but with my husband as the primary provider, we had to revisit priorities like life insurance. Seriously upping his policy has allowed us to breathe easily, knowing that the kids are covered no matter what scenario life throws us next.
So do I still shop like I used to? No. Will we be taking any exciting vacations anytime soon? Not a chance. But if you and your partner are starting to think about having kids, don’t let that change your mind. Our son drastically changed my family’s lifestyle, but it’s been for the better. Not only will I never end up in a nursing home, but having a baby together has brought my husband, daughter, and I even closer together. Whether you take the plunge to full-time mommy-tude like I did or make the arguably saner choice to use daycare, having a person who shares a little bit of both of you and your life partner is priceless – and totally worth the switch to generics.
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