So last week I talked about HOW we got out of debt – this week you get to hear about how it began to radically alter our lives. At the time (2002) this change was huge. Now I can look back and see that it was JUST the beginning.
After we paid off our debt, we turned to Baby Step #3 and built up a savings account of 3-6 months expenses – at the time about $10-12,000. With no debt other than our mortgage we had freed up around $1,200 a month that we funneled to savings, accomplishing our goal in a little less than a year.
At the time Mark was teaching at a Christian school and working part-time for our church. I was working full time for the state university (an hr commute each way). Noah was 2 and going to daycare 5 days a week. I was pregnant with Natalie who was due in November.
I don’t remember exactly when it was, but sometime during the spring/summer of 2002 I began to realize how little time I actually got to spend with Noah. I literally counted up the non-sleeping hours and it hovered around 35 hours a MONTH. He must have sensed my contemplative nature because suddenly he was crying every morning when I would drop him off at daycare and really playing on mommy’s already frazzled emotions.
Mark and I began to talk about whether it was even possible for me to stay home when Natalie was born. At the time my salary made up for 2/3 of our income and included benefits at a lesser cost. It seemed impossible.
We went over our budget with a fine-toothed comb. Where could we trim expenses? How could I bring in some income and still be at home? We did lots of praying and calculating and finally decided to take the leap. And God showed up BIG TIME!
First, Mark was offered a full time position at the church which paid a bit more than the teaching job. Praise #1.
Then in mid-October I went to my boss to tell her that I was going to resign when Natalie was born. At the time the state was under a huge budget crunch and the university had been trimming positions in lots of places. So I made a proposal. The mission-critical parts of my job could be done in about 10 hours a week. And I could totally do them from home, working around our family schedule. Would they be interested in exploring a contract or part-time position?
I totally didn’t know if they would bite but they did! I basically went to a 25% time job. My salary was reduced accordingly and I lost my benefits but it meant an additional $1,000 in income a month. Praise #2.
By then we had been engaged in the baby steps for 3 years and so honestly, we were used to living on less. It didn’t seem like a huge shift in lifestyle to get us to the point where I could stay home with my babies.
At the time I didn’t know how long the arrangement with my job would last but I figured God knew and he would work it out. Turns out that I continued in that role for 5 years! Even now that amazes me. By the time it ended, I had already been contemplating leaving.
I cannot begin to explain the incredible feeling it was to be ABLE to quit my job when we felt like it was what we needed to do for our family. I know there are probably lots of other moms & dads who dream of this opportunity and maybe think that it can never happen.
Maybe it can.
THE REST OF THE STORY
- Part 1: The Early Years: In Love and In Debt
- Part 2: Joining Financial Baggage
- Part 3: Driving Our Debt Around
- Part 4: The Baby Years: Baby Steps, Baby Boy
- Part 5: The “B” Word: B-U-D-G-E-T
- Part 6: The Envelope System – It Makes Your Budget Work
- Part 7: The ever-important emergency fund
- Part 8: Dumping Debt