Monday, October 09, 2006

Living on One Paycheck

This morning's Dallas Morning News carried a story about making life for 2 + Baby work on one paycheck:

"We started preparing a year and a half ago," says Mr. Dunn, 31, who has a joint professional counseling practice with his wife in Frisco. "It's amazing what percentage of income we're losing."

But they're committed to providing their baby with a full-time parent and are preparing to move from a two-income household to one with a sole breadwinner.

Many families dream of being able to do what the Dunns are planning, and financial planners say anyone should be able to do it if they're willing to sacrifice.

I wonder how many people plan so well for this big decision? And, is really "anyone ... willing to sacrifice" able to do it? Or does the financial sacrifice just seem too much?

I have to admit that we didn't plan because we didn't really expect to find ourselves in this situation. When Peanut was born in Finland, the plan was for me to stay home the usual one-year while collecting maternity/parental leave pay from KELA (the Finnish Social Insurance Institution), and then I would head back to the office and Peanut to daycare. Then half-way into the year, peanut's papa was offered a tempting position here in Dallas and here we are.

Since we had committed to the idea that I would be home with Peanut for her first year, I continued to focus on being mama. Certainly, we considered the financial impacts of continuing on just one salary (and me not getting the KELA benefit), but did not have time to practice and save as the Dallas Morning News article suggests.

It isn't always easy. We have significantly scaled back and often can't do all the things we want simply because its not possible financially (though isn't that the case for most people anyway -- one paycheck or two??!!). We occassionally worry about how to save up for Peanut & Tex's futures as well as my retirement. But, we see the immeasurable benefit of having mama at home for Peanut in these short and formative years. And, I trust that the coming years will give us even more prespective on this decision and we'll be even more thankful for having the will to stick it out.

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