This past week I was reading an article in the New York Times about the Opt Out Generation Wants Back In. I thought it was an interesting perspective of women who opted to leave their high paying careers to become stay at home moms. As I read the story, I could relate since I am a woman with a young child who felt the urge and pulling to opt out. I completely understand why women make this choice even though it was one I didn’t consider prior to having my daughter. Because for me, I always wanted to maintain my career which is why I started my own business.
As I continued to read the story, the planner came out in me. I started wondering how this decision would look from a more financial perspective rather than an emotional one. I wondered if the couples discussed the option of the mother staying home prior to having children? If so, would the effects on the family have been different?
One of the roles I play as a financial planner is a facilitator of current and potential life altering decisions. This may be the only time a couple have to flush out all the different affects of the decision on the household both personally and financially.
Now, let’s talk about this deeper. As you make this family decision, are you truly considering the finances? Here are some questions to consider:
1) How long do you want to stay at home with your children?
2) How long do you think your finances can support this decision? So, I hope you will take time to give this some serious thought? Because as we know, financial conflicts can truly strain a relationship to its breaking point. You have to be able to talk about these sometimes difficult topics. Otherwise, they create resentment in your relationship.
3) Will you still be able to maintain a savings plan that includes your retirement, such as a spousal IRA? Or the plans for your husband’s continual contributions to his 401(k)?
4) What amount have you socked away in your 401(k)? This is your money for your future. As I recently read in Forbes, women only consider dipping into these funds as a last resort. That’s why you develop a plan so you won’t have to.
5) Will all of this be enough towards your future plans?
Right now, as you can see the questions center around you and your spouse. I didn’t even mention educational savings for your child(ren). In many cases once the children come along, we sacrifice our life to ensure theirs is as good as we can make it. I have to say, that I, too, am guilty of this.
Women, we have to think about ourselves. Unfortunately, we live in an environment where the divorce rate hovers around 40%. As some of you may have experienced, divorce can truly diminish your current livelihood and lifestyle. I encourage you to always think strategically about what your plans are from various vantage points. Asking what is the worst thing that can happen? What if all things go right? Now, what’s in the middle?
If these discussions are difficult, bring in a professional to help you talk through your situation. It helps having an un-bias third party who is not emotionally involved to aid in coming to a consensus. I believe that at the end of the day, we all want the best in our lives and for our families. And men, this could also apply to you. So, don’t take walking in our heels lightly.