You Can't Afford To Stay Home Yet

Emily's a nurse anesthetist. She's making about $130,000 a year, but her husband would like for her to stay home with their kids. They don't know how to make this a possibility.

QUESTION: Emily in Lubbock is a nurse anesthetist. She’s making about $130,000 a year, but her husband would like for her to stay home with their kids. He’s a teacher, and they don’t know how to make this a possibility. Dave says it isn’t an option today but could be a short-term goal.

ANSWER: You don’t. You’ve boxed yourself in a corner on this. “We’ve always believed we should be at home with the kids, but we went $250,000 in debt.” These two things are inconsistent with each other. You don’t have that as an option today. You can have it as a short-term goal.

If you continue to make $130,000 and you’re not going to make $130,000 after you quit, then that means you need to learn to live on his income, which means you ought to be able to pay off $250,000 in about two years. If you learn to live on his income, that’s fine. But we need to also in the process of doing that for you to be able to stay at home comfortably and walk away from what is undoubtedly a fabulous career. And I think it’s a good idea to walk away from that if you want to be with the kids. I’m all with you on that.

Don’t misunderstand me. But if you’re going to walk away from that kind of income and all the study and all the work you did to get there—you’ve invested a decade of your life in this—then he needs to have established himself in a solid way into something where the family is going to be taken care of. “I hate my job and I don’t know what God called me to do,” is not a good place to start from. He needs to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up and get with the business of doing that, so to speak. If he can do that in the next two years while you work your tail end off, and you could kick your income way up if you went crazy for two years as you know, all with the idea that this is for the short term and you can do anything in the short term so that you can be home with the kids forever, then during that time, his task while you go crazy making a pile of money and clean this mess up is to find his calling and get plugged into it so that when you quit, you’re comfortable doing that. And he doesn’t have to be making $100,000 a year to do that. That’s not the point. He’s not stable right now because he doesn’t believe in what he’s doing. You need to have this sense that he’s in a zone. You could handle the income he’s making, but he needs to be in a zone.

I think we set some goals with some calendars. I’m thinking that probably around two years is the mark, give or take, that you’re debt-free and he gets his act together. Then it’s reasonable and fair and fun for you to quit and be home with the kids. Keep your certifications and everything up to date or whatever you’ve got to do to do that because it’s too hard to get what you’ve got without having to keep it, unless you have to work full time to keep it, which I don’t think you do. But I would do what it takes to stay licensed and to stay up enough on things to be employable.