Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

Two to One
  Adjusting to a New, One-Parent Income Family

Two to One
Adjusting to a New, One-Parent Income Family

Avoid Harm To Your Baby Or Young Child
From Mercury in Fish and Shellfish

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Gerber Life Family Times Archive

Before Christine Walker became a full-time mom in 2002, she was a regional sales manager in the Business Sales Organization with Tiffany & Co. She had spent well over a decade building a prestigious career. But once her second son, Schuyler, was born in 2000, she realized something would have to give. Even though she had a home office, she was on the road often. “I could be away on business for up to a week at a time. I hated being away from my son and hated even more hearing what I was missing from my sitter. I felt that only I could be my son’s mom, so off I went.” 

She made this transition around the time her child was born. She says she traded her “laptop for a double stroller.” A third child followed in 2004. A growing family and a shift from two incomes to one required some adjustment. That transition incited her to write a book - “The Smart Mom’s Guide to Staying Home: 65 Simple Ways to Thrive, not Deprive on One Income” – in which she captured the ideas that she discovered along the way.  For example, she advises parents-to-be to explore church rummage sales – in wealthy neighborhoods.  “Rummage sales tend to be a very big deal,” she says. “Churches can raise up to $100,000 in a day. You may see $22 outfits from Baby Gap on sale for 50 cents. You’ll see items there with their price tags still attached.”

She took two years to complete the manuscript, writing while her children slept or while a babysitter looked after them. She self-published, and began to give talks and interviews. “It’s about priorities,” she says. “It’s about valuing tomorrow’s quality of life more than the impulses of today. It’s not about going without; it’s about getting it for less – or later.” 

This is the right mindset for all parents trying to create more family-focused lives, according to Jennifer Lazarus, a Financial Planner with Lazarus Financial Planning in Durham, North Carolina. The sacrifices are largely financial, but the number of families making the transition has grown over the past decade - nationwide. There are steps every family can undertake beforehand to ease the transition, she says. 

  • Practice living today on what your financial situation will be in the future.  If that means going from two salaries to one, then save the second salary or use it to boost your emergency cash fund or pay off credit card debt.
  • Look at your current expenses and group each item into one of three categories - Essentials, Important Items and Niceties. Make sure that you are still contributing to your emergency cash fund, retirement accounts, and setting aside a certain amount of money for those unexpected-but-they-happen-every-year expenses.
  • It often helps to track every expense – so that you know where you’re spending your money.  Look at this data against your three categories of expenses.  Does your day-to-day spending reflect what’s most important to you? 
  • Even before the baby is born, add your baby into your budget.  Get used to having this expense.  While you’re pregnant, use the amount you “spend” in this category to build up your emergency cash fund or to pay for prep-for-baby expenses.
  • Make room for other “growing family expenses” – such as life or disability insurance or savings for private school or college. 
  • Project your expenses for the coming year and track your actual expenses against this projection.  This way you’ll see early on if an unexpected expense will have consequences down the road, and make necessary adjustments.
  • Set a limit for how much you’ll spend on preparations for the baby.  Make this a safe and realistic amount based on your savings goals and living expenses.

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