covid-19 chronicles

Is a two-income household still worth the effort: COVID-19 chronicles?

I am wrapping up my second week of working from home since the outbreak of the Coronavirus. We’ve been in quasi-quarantine for the last ~4 weeks. Needless to say, Im questioning everything I know about life.

Working at home with 2 kids under 4, in a job driven by stock market activity is terrible. And when the stock market is going haywire because the end of the world is here, things get amplified.

So here I am, thinking to myself, why am I sitting here stressing about this job? My wife makes twice as much as I make and can easily support this household. Should I write a proposal to become a stay at home dad? Why are we killing ourselves to work for money that we will never get to enjoy? I don’t know how long this thing is going to last, and we are saving buku bucks by staying home, so why I don’t I just focus on the kids while my wife gets some work done?

For the first time in my life, I am stressed out about work!

In my 14-year work history, not once have I been stressed out regarding work! I may have been stressed about not making enough money, not getting along with a colleague, etc. I just did not think I was that kind of person. This is the first time that the actual job function is stressing me out!

It could be that I am fairly new to the role and still trying to prove my self. Or, it could be that I am underpaid for the position and therefore feel the need to show what I am worth. Or, it could be a combination of those things, added to the unfamiliarity of a new work environment (our dining room) and dealing with coworkers that are under 4 and constantly need your attention.

During the 2007/08 great recession, I was new to the corporate world and had a different job function. Times were still trying then, but it didn’t stress me out. I survived the first round of layoffs at my company and was happy to be employed when so many others were having a hard time finding a job. Maybe I should apply this frame of mind now?

Why do we need two incomes anyway?

Seriously! Why?!?! Our biggest expense is our child care. Right now, during this pandemic, we’re paying half the rate we would pay normally, even though our kid is not attending. Our youngest was scheduled to start in late March, but we’ve postponed that until we are out of the woods from this virus.

The account we normally use to pay for child care is flushed with cash and its making me question why we choose incur this this expense in the first place. Shouldn’t the lower earning parent (me in this case) fall on the sword and stay at home with the kids?

After daycare, our next highest expense is our mortgage which is easily covered by either of our salaries alone. This was designed on purpose. As we continue down the list of our expenses, you’ll find the same theme. If we were to use my salary as a base, there would be less room for discretionary spending and we definitely would not be able to max out our retirement contributions, but we’d live relatively comfortable.

Becoming a stay at home dad?

I know it’d be challenging, but I think I would be an excellent stay at home dad. But do I really want to be? I don’t know! I talk about it so much and Im starting to wonder if it is really something I aspire to do. What I do know is that using this time as a comparison for what life might be as a stay at home dad is not fair, given that work is always on the back of my mind.

BUTT…

and its a big one…STUDENT LOANS! We both have balances and we don’t consider them as household expenses. So even though the household expenses would be covered if either of us would to leave or lose our jobs, our individual expenses would not be.

Side note: I do, however, take our balances into account when I calculate our household net-worth.

Student loans have been the biggest ball and chain for me. That’s why I decided to get more aggressive and get them paid off. Back to the salt mines I go!

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