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Ask Dave

Pacing the Work Hours

Carrie and her husband want to cash-flow an adoption, and they have $14,000 in debt. They make $63,000 a year. The adoption will cost about $12,000. Should her husband take on another job to help cash-flow this?

QUESTION: Carrie in Frankfort and her husband want to cash-flow an adoption, and they have $14,000 in debt. They’re going to take the next three months to save and see how much they can come up with. They make about $63,000 a year, but Carrie just started a new job that could bring in more. The adoption will cost about $12,000. Should her husband take on another job to help cash-flow this?

ANSWER: You’ve got two goals on the table. Both of them are $12,000–14,000. You’ve got a new job, he’s working 60 hours, we’re on a budget that’s written down—if you’re not, you need to be—and then the two of you look at that and the more you want to hit those goals and the faster you want to hit them, the more everybody works. But there’s only so much work you can do, obviously.

Whether or not he can pick up another shift has to do with can he physically stand it, number one, but then number two is he is as on board with this as you are. Otherwise, you’re sending him out the door with a lash on his back, and that’s not going to work, kiddo.

Just slow down and have a little patience with these goals. Instead of doing it in 12 months, you do them in 14 or 18 or 24 months. There’s nothing on fire here except your desire to adopt, which is a wonderful desire. You have to just pace yourself at a point that you’re actually both still alive to be able to enjoy this kid.

It sounds like he’s willing to do a lot of things. I think you’ve got to sit down and just say what is reasonable. You don’t want to get fired for doing a bad job at one of the jobs, right? You’ve kind of got to gauge this out and go, “What can we do that’s fair and reasonable?”

I’m all about work. I like work. I think work’s a good thing. It’s a sure-fired money-making scheme, this thing called work. I don’t have a problem with that, and you just have to really talk it through together because if you’re not on the same page about it, then it becomes very difficult with the kind of hours he’s putting in. You have to be his biggest cheerleader. You’ve got to really believe in whatever he’s doing with those hours. He can’t come home to somebody that’s not thrilled with what he’s been doing. That’s not going to work. It’s too exhausting.

That just means you guys have got to sit down and talk this through and find what combination of graveyard/shift work/OT/extra job and your commissions coming in, and is there something else you can add to the pile of this since you’re doing 35 hours, and you know, what mix of all of those things gets us to debt-free and $12,000 in the bank to do the adoption? I think you can do that in about a year, but you’re going to be on beans and rice, rice and beans. There’s not going to be a vacation, and don’t talk to me about eating out. Those are easy sacrifices to make for the sake of an adoption.

You lay those things out, but in terms of should he work more? Yes, but in a smart way and in a way that both of you are on board with. That’s how we do it at our house. If we’ve got a goal to hit, if there’s something we’re trying to do, we’ve got to turn up the fire, man. It sounds like he’s willing to do that and he agrees with both the goals. So the only question then becomes what’s the best mix of these jobs that allows you guys to stay sane and still get this accomplished in the shortest possible time?