10 years ago we used to be DINKS (Dual Income No Kids).
Then my wife decided to grab a couple extra degrees (a Masters, leading to a P.H.D.), and we quickly became SINKS over night (Single Income No Kids).
That was pretty manageable, but then we decided to shake things up even more and pop out a couple of kids, thereby activating SIKS status (Single Income, Kids) where we’ve been chillin’ ever since.
Now, 4 years later, we enter into a brand new territory…
Introducing the best news of the year:
MY WIFE GOT A JOB!!!!
WHICH MEANS A SECOND INCOME AND A NEW CAREER FOR HER!!
And it only took 6 years of schooling, 1 and 1/2 years of applying and doubting her self-worth/wanting to give up and blog full-time like her sexy husband, and then finally re-applying for the same job she was originally rejected for a year later this time to be accepted :)
Way to go honey!!! Get ready to swap out unruly children, for unruly adults who pretty much act like children, haha… And I’m allowed to say that because she’ll be working for the government ;)
But in all seriousness it’s been quite the emotional – and financially draining – roller coaster at times, but in the end she got the job done and starting next month we’ll officially move from being SIKS to DIKS (Dual Income, Kids). Not to be confused with DICKS.
(Here’s even more acronyms btw if you’re enjoying this as much as I am, haha… 40+ Financial Acronyms – Which Are You? Some of these may or may not be made up ;))
So yayy!!! Give it up to her, guys!!
Now to the dirty dirty which I know you’re curious about…
While we’re incredibly thankful AND excited about this on many different levels, it doesn’t come without its shortfalls – both financially and lifestyley. With the main one meaning it’ll require us to move back to the DC area again which we’re not that thrilled about :( But for now it is what it is, and we’ll scheme our way back here whenever it makes sense to do so again! The home is where the heart is anyways, right? Or something like that? :)
Here’s what it all means financially – the good and the bad:
We’ll start with the good:
- $53,000/year — Her starting salary for the first year
- $64,000/year — Her bumped up salary automatically in the second year!
- $500/mo healthcare savings — (estimated) We’re currently paying $950/mo!!
- $400/mo investments — What we estimate retirement contributions to be around for her TSP (Thrift Savings Plan – like a 401(k), but for government employees)
- Extra life insurance — Not sure what this will be yet, but comes as part of the benefit package.
- Other benefits I’m forgetting? — Any gov’t workers out there?
And now to the not-so-fun parts, womp womp…
- $2,000+/mo for child care — Nothing says “welcome back” to the DC area like paying more for your child’s care than your rent, ugh… Was fun having them home (for FREE) while it lasted! (The Mrs. was a stay-at-home mom while applying to jobs the entire time…)
- $500+/mo bump in rent — We’ll also have the privilege again of paying ridiculous amounts for a roof over our head :( Unfortunately the new gig isn’t near any of the places we used to love/live, so we’ll be ponying up a lot more for a lot less in return.
- $200’ish/mo extra in cost of living — Costs a lot more for groceries, gas, etc too
- $500-$1,000 in moving costs — Thankfully only a one-time thing, unlike the above!
- $10,000-$20,000 for a new-to-us car — This one here’s going to be the hardest one to swallow… Not so much in the money aspect which of course is less than optimal, but more so because it means giving up Frankencaddy :( Who’s served us sooooo well over the years and whom I’m going to miss dearly (as will my wallet!). As the new adult in charge of shuttling our two kids around going forward though, I just can’t risk the unreliability/safety of her anymore so it’s on to a newer car for us in the very near future. It’ll be a used one of course, but stand by on who wins the SUV vs Minivan battle we’re currently having ;) Feel free to cast your vote in the comments, haha…
So as you can see, this extra $53,000 in salary quickly diminishes with each new factor that comes up… We’re still wrapping our head around everything and need to lock things in, but a very (very) rough estimate puts us coming away with only about an extra $500’ish in cash each month – depending on the car situation. Not the worse thing in the world, but not earth shattering either.
Still, as eloquently mentioned in Monday’s post, there are many factors that go into big decisions than just the money, and ultimately getting the Mrs’ career going is a big one on the priority list. So this gets the job done, all the while taking our family on a new adventure together :) I wish we could have remained in the same town here we’ve grown to love over the past three years (can you believe it’s been that long??), but we do what we have to do and make the best of it in the process.
Better to endure short term pain now for continued happiness later than the other way around, right? The whole foundation of saving money and freedom?
So send over all the positive vibes you can muster, please! Lots to do over the next few weeks as we get things in order! And my apologies in advance if I’m slow to respond here and there…
Big congrats again honey, if you’re reading this!!! Your four boys are proud of you!!!
PS: Anyone still reading the blog from when Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy first started applying to grad school?? Here’s a trip down memory lane if so, 8 years in the making :)
- Mrs. BudgetsAreSexy got accepted to Grad School! (March, 2008)
- How we’re putting the Mrs. through grad school (December, 2008)
- Life in Grad School Doesn’t Have to Suck… All Your Money (2010)
(The interesting part, fyi, is that she had to make a pretty big decision early on in the process: go after the big name school and take on $150,000 of debt – OR – accept the lesser known school but get a free ride + stipend in the process… You can probably guess which one she took ;))
Get blog posts automatically emailed to you!
Congrats, DIKS! I vote SUV… That’s what we did recently. We love our pathfinder which went through a big remodel about 3-4 years ago. Great family SUV.
Pathfinders! Forgot about those! I’m def. fighting hard for the SUV route so wish me luck :)
I’ve got a 2001 pathfinder with 218,000 miles on it. My mechanic assures me it is still going strong. Living in the city, I’ve accumulated quite a few dents and dings, AC went on me, and the tape/cd player died on me. btw, All fixable items, but the biggest plus has been no car note for nearly 7 years! Bet you could find a one for a very reasonable price. 3K to 4K
Yeah for Pathfinders!!
We managed to score a used one with leather seats (actually a GOOD thing with kids!) and a DVD player for only $14,000 last year. Have had no problems with it so far and I love it! :)
I strongly recommend a minivan. It is the exact right tool for the job.
An SUV is going to cost more, get worse mileage, be less practical, and have worse driving dynamics than a van. It may be more fashionable, but that should be your lowest priority.
If you do get an SUV, I strongly advise against the Pathfinder (at least the latest generation). I’ve tested pretty much every vehicle in that segment (as part of my job) and the Pathfinder is at the bottom of the pack, along with the Explorer.
Overall, my top recommendation would be a Toyota Sienna. The Odyssey is nice, but I don’t trust Honda’s transmissions. The Sienna also comes with all-wheel-drive, if you think you need that.
If you have to have an SUV, the Toyota Highlander is probably the default choice, but the Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sorento actually drive better, and come with a crazy warranty if you buy CPO.
+1 for minivan. Ruck up and realize you’re a dad and put your family first. Minivans are the absolutely best tool for your needs – hauling your family around.
And congrats to the Mrs for the new gig, and your family for the new adventure!
I used to own a Highlander when I started this blog 8 years ago :) Though back then I really *didn’t* need it and sold it for a $3,000 hoopty instead, haha… Which my wife continually gives me crap for.
But yeah – I agree minivans are more practical here. It really is to bad I don’t live my life to be more practical though because I’d have a lot more money in the bank!! ;) And I wouldn’t be a blogger either – hah. I’m okay with ponying up more $$ if I find a car that excites me more. Even if it’s minivan, for that matter.
I don’t much about this stuff, why an SUV or mini van?
As a father of two kids, if you try to do any driving where you need to bring your stuff (vacation, trip, etc.), you’ll struggle with a regular car. The suitcases, the pack and play, the stroller, etc. It’s very tough. You could get one of the hamburger things on top but that’s a whole different set of issues.
Haha yup… plus, it’s nice being able to transport bigger stuff from time to time too. Not a necessity, but a nice want :)
My life completely changed when I got an SUV. It was like a breath of fresh air, I got mine almost 3 years ago and I still smile almost every time I get in it and am so thankful to have the extra space. It just makes life so much more convenient with kids. 100% worth it.
“I still smile almost every time I get in it”
That’s when you know you did it right!! I do the same with My Caddy even though it’s falling apart :) But I could also smile just the same in a $10,000 or $20,000 or even $50,000 car – doesn’t really matter how expensive or fancy it is, just that it makes me happy to jump into! So good job finding yours!
Congrats to the Mrs! Lot’s of changes. You can’t sell Frankencaddy. You need to put it in storage or leave it at you parents house. I vote SUV. Budgets ain’t so Sexy driving a minivan. :)
I thought you were going to say a museum! And I was going to agree!! :)
Can you find one that will take it? Maybe PT will start a FinCon museum?
Hahaha….. A portable one too, so we can see it and add to it at every new FinCon location!
Congrats to your wife. Getting a PhD is no joke. Awesome!
Is she working for the federal government or the state? My wife is state and gets a 457b on top of a 401k. They both have the same funds available, are both tax deferred, but the 457b has no 10% early withdrawal penalty as long as you’ve left the company. Very cool stuff.
For the car, maybe a 2012 Mazda5. It’s not super big, but it gives a lot of space and good gas mileage. We just got one a few months ago for ~11k after the trade in. The 2012 model is identical to the 2015 model, so don’t get the newer one if you can find one with lower mileage. I really wanted a Ford Flex (I drive the min version, a Scion xB) but I don’t want to deal with the shitty MPG of the flex. Something in the teens! Shoot me up an email if you have any questions about our van. We love it so far. Also, for booster seats, check out a mifold. Very tiny and fits a lot easier in cars!
Mazda5 is a great option. We researched cars for over a year before deciding to buy a Mazda5. Currently at 2 kids and trying for more we found that it was a great size option, gave us room to grow but saved us from the extra expenses of a full sized minivan. Look for at least a 2010 since that year they made some needed modifications to the original mechanics. We got our 2010 a year ago for $9.5k and about 84k miles. It averages about 25 mpg for us.
Here’s a link to an article that I wrote about it if you’re interested is knowing more about the process that brought us to our decision: http://www.bandofsavers.com/2016/02/new-car-purchase.html
Thanks guys!!! Mazdas are the one type I don’t really know much about (my whole family is Honda/Toyota lovers) so this really helps. Especially when others have done all the research for you already to save you time ;)
Dissenting vote on the Mazda 5 here, they’re notorious for mechanical issues and costly repairs. We have a 2004 7-passenger Toyota highlander and I’m obsessed with it (I was the anti minivan spouse here) – We have three kiddos, and the back two seats are folded down into the cargo area so we only pull up when we’re transporting extra friends around. Love the space, love the handling, love the versatility, love the reliability. Congrats to your wife. My hubby recently finished a PhD and while I’m bummed his salary starts so low for the ten years of work it took him to get there, there’s a reward beyond dollar figures that you can’t discount. Plus, it will indeed lead to better work/salary down the road.
True that the original Mazda5’s had some serious mechanical issues. Thankfully they made several large changes to the mechanics in the 2010 model which has mitigated those problems. Ours is now over 100k and hasn’t had anything wrong with it.
We lucked out and were able o grab our 2012 with 35k miles on it! Couldn’t believe that it was available. The 2015 is literally identical but more expensive. We saved at least 5k just by getting the older model.
We love it so far and havr only put 3k miles on it so I’m not sure about mechanical problems. As owners of a Mazda3 previously (put 100k miles on that one), I can say that major repairs aren’t cheap but the cars are very solid.
Congrats on your husband’s land too, Sarah Lo! My wife was also dissatisfied with her lower than expected starting salary, but def. agreed that it’s a great foot in the door and will only go up over time. Along with her happiness :) So I think both our families made the right call!
Big ups to your wife. That’s a sh*tload of schoolwork she’s gotten through. She really deserves some payback :)
Also SUV all the way – buying a minivan is like admitting your life is over. Sorry minivan drivers.
We’re sitting pretty as SIKS and don’t see that changing until after we’re empty nesters, by which time I’m hoping to have retired and be living off of investments.
As someone who’s starting a grad school in the fall, nothing makes me happier than learning another PhD found a job in her field — huge congrats to your wife!
Thanks Vita! And good luck to you and your new venture too! Was just checking out your blog – love the name of it, haha…
Thanks! The name is *mostly* a joke…
Congratulations!! A long road of work and sacrifice for what feel like ‘at last!!’ results!
Also, NO to the minivan. I don’t care how practical it is, I can’t bring myself to sit in that drivers seat. 2 kids, 1 dog, 2 adults and we do just fine in a Ford SUV.
I’ll be sure to use that in my arsenal ;)
Best title for a blog post I’ve seen in a while J$ :D
Well done to the Mrs. $500/month is not much money to have to go out to work all day and leave the kids, I guess that is going to get some getting used to (although maybe she will be glad of the adult company!) but I can see that you are thinking ahead when the pay rises etc… come in. Like you say she has to start somewhere and this sounds like a great starting point.
Good luck and hope everything works out for you! :)
P.s. don’t get this SUV vs Minivan thing. Just buy the smallest and most efficient vehicle you can get at the lowest price!? We got a 5 door hatchback for just over a grand in sterling so what $1700? It does us just fine and we’ve been on holiday with all the baby gear as well.
Why do people assume you need to drop $10-20k on a car?
If you need an SUV to pack all your stuff in then maybe you have too much stuff?
I thought you was an aspiring minimalist my friend ;)
Hah! I agree you can get by just fine with smaller economical cars – which we’re doing right now with our Toyota – but there’s more to it all than just the finances ;) I’m okay ponying up more money to have more room and a car with much less miles on it that I love to drive every day. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but never been one of those “it just has to get you from point A to point B” type people though my wallet often wishes I was.
Voting SUV all the way!
thays a nice second year salary bump! Well deserved after 6 years of extra schooling – enjoy packing!
Skip the minivan and the SUV and go with VW TDI wagon. Yeah VW’s are down right now because of the mileage scandal but just like with stocks buy low and reap the benefits. I found a 2009, one owner w/ALL the service records, 80k miles, new tires in really nice condition for under 10k. When the service the intervals are followed you can get up to 200k on the drivetrain and they get 40 mpg highway.
Huh. Never owned a VW before but not opposed to it. Will add to my list to check out, thx man! And nice find!
Huge congrats to your wife! And aren’t you so glad you have switched to the freedom of renting and don’t have to worry about a selling a house. That has to make this move so much easier.
Get a station wagon! I love ours. Sorry about Frankencaddy :(
I AM thankful for that!! It’s annoying enough just trying to pack up the whole family and find your next “right” place – in anther state no less – but to have to get your house up on the market too? Yikes… We’ll be able to just sign and go! And fortunately the offer comes within the same time frame of needing to let our landlords know what the deal is for the next year :) So no breaking leases in the process!
Congratulations! The daycare costs are the worst, right? Ugh! Well, at least once your kids are older, that cost will go away or at least go down significantly.
Congrats to Mrs. Money! If you need a deal on a new Subaru, let me know I can hook you up with a sweet discount. :) I’ve still got some friends over at the plant here in Lafayette that can get you into the VIP program which is usually good for a few thousand off MSRP if you’re looking for a new car vs. a new to you car. :D
How do you register for the VIP program? I’m about an hour away from the Lafayette plant and have been looking at 3.6R six cylinder Outback.
Oh, nice! Awfully kind of you man – will let you know if we change routes! :)
Congrats to Mrs. Money and you guys! Seeing that daycare budget made me chuckle because we have months where the daycare/preschool is above our mortgage. The reader coomments are funny when they’re like, “Gah, your daycare is more than your mortgage!!” Sigh…
On the car front – We love mazda’s and VWs and they’re both fun to drive. As far as the Mazda5, it gets good gas mileage, has space for the kiddo’s stuff, but I don’t think it has a 3rd row option, if you need that much space. The CX9 has been awesome for us and we fit 4 adults and 2 kids in it fairly comfortably and fairly regularly. It’s still peppy and fun to drive even as an SUV. The VW TDI’s are good, if you can find someone selling one since they haven’t really figured out how to deal with the emissions scandal. Be warned, if you go that route, it may have to get “fixed” with a recall at some point. When we had one it was 2011, and it fit us fine with just one kid, but with 2 kids it could be really tight, especially if you regularly have the whole family in it. It got great mpg’s though, but again it’s short on space depending on how much you need.
Good luck on the car search and the new lifestyle!
Thanks for the info! And here’s to not needing daycare anymore in a few years!!! :) I just keep having to remind myself that it’s only temporary, haha… Thousands and thousands of dollars temporary.
Are you able to watch them like 2 days a week and find a daycare that will do part time? Also, I know what going rates are for daycare in the Maryland-DC Metro area as my mom is in the business. $2K a month seems awfully high, unless you are at a center. Expand your search to home daycare, Are both your kids over 2? If so I can’t see spending more than $400 a week tops full time combined.
I assume you aren’t actually going to live in DC. Just pick somewhere metro or marc accessible and be done with it. The marc will let you live further out and stops at union station. The govt pays for employee smart cards too. Her commute is going to be long no matter what, at least with metro she can read a book instead of sitting at the wheel getting frustrated and hating life. That will also reduce your need for a $20K car.
If you haven’t finalized a place to move and want some good info on Maryland LMK. I think you would find it a better value than NOVA (i.e .Fairfax, Loudon). I mostly complain about living here but that’s just because I bought an expensive house and work from home 100% so I don’t really need to live here, I just do because there are a lot of jobs in my field in this area.
I wish I could have them home for me, but then you can say goodbye to this blog and other goodies I have lined up ;) We’re looking at both centers and daycares though, and honestly the range has been $1,900 to $2,800/mo so far – it’s insane. Looking at all different areas to live though for sure…
Getting rid of the blog would be completely unacceptable to me, so I guess you are going to have to pay, lol! There is a big DC commuter population in Frederick, MD. Its a pretty cool place. Schools system isn’t great but its one of those things. MD overall is #1 in the nation so I’m not sure how bad it could really be. It puts you very close to 270. Not sure where you need to be in DC though, that would make all the difference for sure. I live about 20 minutes away from a Metro station, out in the country. For me this is ideal because if I ever choose to go into DC I can just hop on the metro and I’m at my stop in about another 45 minutes with minimal road frustration.
Without knowing whats important to you I generally recommend Howard County though. Somewhat expensive but the best place for a family overall.
Thanks man! appreciate the info
Ummm. 4 boys?!?
Don’t forget Ryan Gosling!
I was wondering, too, Debbie.
So glad she found a JOB!!!!! That is awesome!!!!
I’ve owned both a minivan and a SUV. As much as it pains me, the minivan is the right tool for this part of your life. I love my SUV, but I regret it every time we have to drive more than an hour. Minivans are more flexible (either stow-and-go seating or just take the seats out entirely) and more comfortable. You can stow one or both middle seats, put the kids in the back row, and have room to haul a potty seat and strollers and still have space to picnic inside the car when it starts pouring during soccer practice.
Most importantly: sliding doors can’t slam into other cars. Kids just don’t have the full set of skills to prevent that from happening with SUV doors, particularly as they are often fairly heavy.
Practical is sexy.
I’m a Dinkwad! Thanks for the 5:30AM laughs and big congrats to your family!
Thanks, Dinkwad ;)
I’m a city govt employee in Virginia – we get a 401h with match, a pension plan (vested after 5 years of service) and the option of a 457b. We also have access to free basic healthcare at the employee clinic!!
As for vehicles, we’re fans of wagons/hatchbacks. Better gas mileage, less $ to buy and we can fit ourselves, a five year old, a lab and a pitbull inside – it’s a crazy ride when that happens but we still have room :)
Not sure if you’ve looked into it but Montessori school is around the same price as daycare in my area. Of course, DC could be totally different though – I actually turned down an job at the pentagon a few years back due to the crazy cost of living!
Hah! Baller! I remember seeing a lot of Montessori schools up in that area – thx for the reminder :) And awesome about free employee clinic!!
Alright Mrs. Budgets are sexy! Congratulations!!!
Another car to throw into the running. Scion XB. They are the ugly boxy cars. We love love love ours. It’s made by Toyota. Last year was the last model year. We had baby #2 this year and bought ours brand new for 16k. The 2015 was hanging around on the lot and the dealership was thrilled to get rid of it. They are super roomy inside, have great reliability. Easier to park to because the footprint isn’t as humongous as a van or SUV. Nice if you want to go into the city.
Lastly, another hair-brained idea. For childcare costs, is there a day or 2 your littles could go half days? Or even 4 days instead of 5? Can you structure your work day differently? Maybe hiring a dude student to come over and rough house with your little guys. Tucker them out while you work on this fine blog. Friendly “challenge everything” push ;)
Haha… while blogging is definitely flexible, I like to tell people it would be the same thing as bringing one of their kids to work with them for the day. Do-able, but you won’t work as well and they’ll feel sad you’re not paying attention to them :( And if you do – which of course you’d want to! – you only have to make up the work later that night or on weekends and then you’re back to not paying attention to them again. At some point though I plan on working a LOT less and then it’ll be a much different story :)
Govt employee here! Regular cost of living adjustments were an unexpected benefit. Access to a 457 plan (deferred compensation), which is like a 403B, but without the penalty for early withdraws. My agency lets me sell back sick and personal time annually (equivalent to an extra 1.5 paychecks!). Working elections is another one. Some governmental agencies provide paid time off to work elections, which you typically get paid to work. They can be long days, but I enjoy the work, and love that I’m getting double paid.
Well that’s kinda neat! Would be a fun learning experience too I’d imagine?
DIKS! Buahahaaaaaaa!!!! That headline sure caught my attention. Yeah, I know that says alot about my maturity. :-D Congrats, you two, I think.
Whats your trick dude, my wife stopped working and gets anxiety really bad when we talk about her going to school or going back to work…It seems like there is no real benefit for her since she is, for all intents and purposes, already retired. I ran the numbers and even with just like another $50K a year we could be mortgage free and FI in 10 years. I would like to join in the not working fun too but I guess that’s my plight… I should probably just move to a cheaper state, it would solve 85% of my problems and allow me to sock away another probably $2K a month toward early retirement….you know, now that I think about it…screw Maryland.
Also, A lot of Minivan hate here. I’ll admit you do hate yourself for buying it but quickly realize its the best thing you’ve ever done. People need to get over themselves, stop trying to pretend you aren’t a soccer mom or family man, own it. I couldn’t think of a better way then a van. Plus featurewise you get a lot more for your money compared to an SUV, which I would think readers here would at least consider.
Oh man, not even gonna touch the women working part other than just to say everyone’s different, haha… And it’s interesting to see who ends up LOVING being a stay at home mom and forgetting about/pausing her career and others who do the opposite! Never really know how you’ll feel until they pop out… :)
Yep, I don’t blame you, I thought about deleting that part of the comment for fear of backlash. At times its awesome, and at other times its frustrating because I know how much faster we could get to FI. I just keep telling myself life is about experiences not money, it helps when I am feeling frustrated.
Congrats on the new job and becoming DIKS haha! Best of luck on the move.
I’m sure you’re well-versed in the ways of saving money but I’ll throw my 2 cents in having just bought a new vehicle last year. Make sure you price shop for cars online. You can get the dealer listings online to compare prices for dealerships in any area. We ended up getting our Nissan Pathfinder (we’ve had awesome experiences with Nissans) at a dealership an hour away from our house because it was $4,000 cheaper than comparable models at the dealerships closest to us. It pays to do the due diligence!
Congratulations!! On the car front, we had a minivan for a long time, and it was pretty cool for very long car trips. But it was a total monster for in town driving, guzzling gas at 12-14 mpg. A couple years ago we sold it and got a Prius (actually we got 2, in nearly the stupidest way possible, a financial decision we are still working on…sigh).
It was revolutionary, especially in a heavy driving city like Phoenix (us) or DC. The hatchback holds a surprising amount of stuff–I will never go back to a trunk again. And getting 50mpg+ is amazing. Also, you no longer burn gas while idling. If you get one 1-2 years old you will get the reliability you want, and a very nice car for about 15k. We have 3 kids and used to think a sedan would never work… until we tried it again. Congrats again and good luck with all the changes!
Huh….. I’d consider a Prius. I like that it would be a new experience for me too on top of the gas savings as I get bored having the same type of cars. Thx for the note!
We checked out a lot of minivans and SUVs and I found that the Sienna handled the best of all of them, had better gas mileage (by a small bit) and was cheaper than the SUVs. They charge more for the SUV because people don’t want a minivan and you don’t GET anything for it. And I like Marilyn’s idea, mother’s helpers (teenagers that come around and help with the adult there) can be much cheaper than daycare and since you are home a possibility.
Congrats on new status!
I took my kid with us to buy our Pilot She totally wanted the minivan, as it was a lot easier for her to get in and out of. She’s almost 6 and i still have to help her get in my SUV because of the height off the ground, and I only just stopped having to climb into the backseat myself to strap her in her car seat.. If we had more than one kid, I think a minivan would be the better choice.
Good point about the heights… Also hadn’t considered the heaviness of the doors as someone mentioned above!
Just make sure she is maxing out all retirement accounts + traditional IRA to max tax deductions
Well, congrats I guess? Ending up with $500/mo in take home pay would make me shrug and say “why bother; seems like a lot of headache for not much gain?” but I understand she probably wants a career and this is the bottom rung on the ladder that leads to bigger gains.
Regarding SUV vs. minivan, we finally made the plunge a couple months ago. My wife wanted an SUV forever and swore she would never get a minivan. After lots of research we ended up with a minivan. Better stuff hauling capacity, usually a little lower gas mileage. More convenient and comfortable interior layout (real third row seat that comfortably seats 2 adults or 3 kids vs craptastic 3rd row seats in mid size SUVs that comfortably fit emaciated toddlers). It was also significantly cheaper than a similar sized SUV.
Of course we’re not the typical car consumer. Since both of us are retired, our primary driving each year is long road trips out of town where space and comfort are important. If we only had 2 kids, we would probably stick with a sedan because they are so much easier to drive (and borrow a big truck/van to haul stuff as necessary).
As for particular models, we ended up going with a 2009 Toyota Sienna 7 seater with 112000 miles for $8200 out the door. Great solid vehicle with many miles left in it for less than a third of the brand new price 7 years ago. Our search had us in the 2008-2010 Toyota Sienna years based on a combo of price and reliability (ie still run for 7+ years but the initial cliff of depreciation is over). We owned honda sedans previously but the Honda Odyssey in those model years we were targeting had some transmission unreliability issues (and nobody wants to drop $3000 on an $8000 vehicle shortly after purchasing!).
Interesting!!! Makes sense for lots of long driving around like y’all do too.
Congrats! Best of luck with your move. I’d be interested in a post about your daycare experience. My friends in that area pay at least $2500/mo for 2 kids (7 mo and 2.5 years) in a home daycare (which they really lucked out finding). Here in my Philly suburb it would be around $2600/mo for two in a well known daycare “learning center”/chain establishment. You can find less expensive options but they also come with less flexibility (reduced hours, random times they close, etc) that would require more flexibility on the parent’s.
Yup… it’s one of those things you just have to deal with while you’re in that phase!
The cost of child care still always gives me sticker shock! I suppose it’s an area where you also don’t want to go for the “budget” option. :-) Based on the responsibility, importance, etc the cost is not crazy. However, it still always sticks out to me. Eek.
Congratu-damn-lations to Mrs. Budgets Are Sexy! I lived in the D.C. area for 10 non-consecutive years, so I know what you mean when you say that you aren’t looking forward to that part. But hey, if it contributes to your wife’s happiness, we know that it’ll contribute to YOUR happiness as well under the guidelines of “Happy wife, happy life”.
Onward and upward, guys! :)
Congrats! And yeah, it totally sucks that working is actually an expensce thing to do in America. Almost defeats the purpose if it didn’t serve other purposes than actually earning an income. You know, purposes of maintainting sanity because you sort of get an 8 hr break from kids jumping on your furniture and stuff, lol.
Congratulations to the Mrs! I do remember reading about it way back when, because my wife was going back to school at the same time.
As for your car dilemma… SUV. Hands down. Lots of people say minivans are cheaper, but when I was researching new and used SUVs/Minivans when we found out we were having a 3rd child, minivans were in short supply and commanded a similar price to a large SUV. Gas mileage wasn’t all that different.
Consumer Reports recommends, from smallest to largest, Subarus Forester and Outback, Kia Sorento and Dodge Durango.
We ended up buying a new Durango at the end of the year last year (solid incentives, limited inventory). I love it, and get 19-21 mpg on average, 3rd row access, etc. I love the way it looks and drives. It was between the Durango, Chevy Traverse and a couple minivans. We took the Traverse on a long road trip and loved it as well, but it was the test drive of the Durango that sold me.
We looked at the Sienna and Oddesy (both CR recommended minivans), and both commanded high premiums for the features we wanted (namely leather). Both coming in around $40K MSRP. Honda/Toyota dealers were unwilling to go toe-to-toe on pricing with a Dodge SUV, instead tried to get me into the 4Runner and Pilot. Neither of which we wanted as neither were near the Durango in rankings.
Hope this helps.
It does help! I’ve only ever ridden in a Durango once but I remember feeling like it was a powerful one. Didn’t realize how highly they’re recommended?
This is wonderful news, J; well done to your wife and may her career take off so fast that we all get whiplash trying to follow it’d development :).
Very cool that she got a new job, YIKES on the child care costs! I actually just turned down a full time permanent job at home making $60K (no benefits) due to the work life balance and having to put kids in daycare. So far we have been parents of young children for 12 years and only have 2.5 more to go until they are all school aged. So far we have never had to put kids in daycare and really don’t want to start.
Nice!!! It can def. be done, that’s for sure. I’ll admit I have thought about just retiring from the blog and being a stay at home dad before :) I’d eventually have to go back to work when all the $$$ ran out, but hey – would be fun in the process!
Get the minivan, and if it is 10 years old or newer, you can drive UberXL for extra cash as you run around town.
But seriously, as a govt employee, look into the 457b deferred compensation plan. Always a great option to defer taxes and invest those dollars before Uncle Sam gets his hands on the money (and you, too)! Plus as others have mentioned the ability to withdraw penalty free before 59.5. I’m at a lower salary than your wife’s starting salary, but getting close to maxing out my contributions to the 457b just for the tax benefits.
Cool! We will!
I have zero regrets giving up self employment to take a job for the federal government. With a 4% TSP match plus an extra $125 a month they give you for choosing an insurance plan that is HSA eligible, it is so much easier than how we were managing before. Plus fees are even lower than Vanguard.
Paid sick days, holidays, vacation without having to work. Pretty easy to get used to. Health insurance also covers things like routine dental cleanings and x-rays without even having extra dental insurance. Even though your take home is low at first, the other benefits probably make up for it.
That’s what we’re thinking too! I’ve got no shame working for someone else either if a great fit came along… You’re always working for someone anyways whether you’re self-employed or not! :)
A lot depends on the mileage you’ll get with a minivan VS an SUV. We have one of each – a GMC Yukon XL (basically a Suburban) that my husband drives, and an Chevy Uplander minivan that’s my ride. They have the same number of seats, though his is longer, wider, and will haul more cargo. But the thing is I can get an easy average of 19 MPG, while he’s really excited that his digital read out just averaged 16 with high octane gas, fuel conditioner, and highway driving.
And of course, you could get all Mr Money Mustache and get a kid hauler bicycle, like the Yuba Mundo or a Bakfiets for a lot less than you’ll spend on a car! Even if you get one with e-assist it’ll cost less. I mean, just tell me this ride isn’t sexy! http://www.workcycles.com/products/child-transport-bicycles/workcycles-kr8
(I have an e-assist trike like this, but I’m about a week away from popping out my 4th kid so it’s getting a lot of shed time right now.)
HAH! Totally sexy!!!! And congrats!!! :)
Government employee here! Make sure she signs up for the extra life insurance immediately! I turned down the extra insurance, but 7 years later I’d really like to change that. Open season for life insurance only occurs every 10 years. Rumor is that 2016 is open season for life insurance, but that’s just a rumor.
Other things to consider: she will be forced to contribute to the pension plan. There’s no way to opt out, but Congress frequently threatens to take away this benefit.
Definitely sign up for FSA! It took me several years to realize what a great tax benefit this is! I do $1200/year.
When I started with the government they didn’t have a Roth option, but they do now, managed by TSP with very low fees! I have a Roth with Betterment, but if I was just starting with the government I would sign up through TSP.
Here are my numbers for comparison: $77,000 salary, 15% to TSP (about $412), basic health insurance, take home pay is $1651.
Hope this helps!
Wowww yes – it DOES help thank you so much!! Love seeing real life numbers like that, you’re awesome.
Years ago, I had a Toyota Sienna. It was really comfortable, lots of leg room, easy to haul most stuff, get kids in and out etc. It also killed me to drive it – I was 28. Pure vanity, I know. It eventually got replaced for a Honda Pilot.
Real men drive minivans. They are the ultimate in sexy, and that’s what you are all about! Get a used Siena, tint the windows and live like the rockstar you are.
Haha… only if I could hire you to drive it around for me while I chill in the back :)
I bet your wife will be happy to get some “grown up” time out of the house too. :) This fall I’m in a sort of similar situation – after being home for 5 years after being laid off, our youngest is now going to Kindergarten so we thought maybe it was time to look into a new job for me.
Well, finding a job that is only M-F while the kids are at school is pretty much impossible. We’ve had several friends that tried the one-works-nights-one-works-days situation, and almost every single one got scary close to divorce, so we decided early that was not for us.
After thinking about different issues (school after care being $100 a week, what about summers?) someone told me about how much they were enjoying being a substitute teacher! You only work the days that you want, if you have a degree you make over $12 an hour, and if you work at the school your children go to, then you pick them up immediately when your day is over, and you don’t work summers!
So I’ll be trying it out this fall – I figure after taxes and such I can bring in about $70 a day. So even if I only work 2 to 3 days a week, I can bring in an extra $400 a month. Not a ton, but certainly a nice bump! I’ll let you know how it goes in the fall! :)
Excellent idea!! I really like that!
I believe we’ve actually done a side hustle post about that before…
Yup, here it is!
Let us know how it goes! :)
Congrats to you and congrats to me!
Congrats to you on your wife’s job and new career.
Congrats to me as I now have a place to stay when I visit DC. :)
I hope you have an affinity for pull out couches though, as it looks like we’re gonna have to be downsizing quite a bit! :)
Congrats! Being a DIKs must be great. Hahaha! :)
Congrats to your wife and family! A wife happy in her career is worth so much in the family’s well-being.
Maybe you’ll walk more being in DC? Factor that in, too? Free museums and things to do with kids all the time.
Hell yeah! We sucked at doing that sorta stuff when we were younger and childless (unless you count stumbling from bar to bar :)), so we’re def. excited to have those options again now… And I take walks every day and the best is exploring new areas!!
Congrats to your wife! I would vote that you use part of the extra cash flow to contribute to retirement accounts for her since all (or most?) of your retirement account money so far is in your name :)
Indeed! Def. a part of the plan… only about $25,000 worth is in her name now :( (Roth IRA)
We are about to move too. I haven’t announced it because I have been so busy. We are moving to St. Louis. New job offer for me.
Congratulations!!! That is fabulous news!!
St. Louis is pretty dope too – I really like it there. Can get so much for your money too and crazy quaint areas!
Haha amazing. My wife is in school so I am SINK for now but we will get be DINK about 2 years from now. SINK is tough but manageable so far slowly growing net worth.
That salary seems way to low for a PHD. Is that the norm, or is there a long-term play I’m not aware of? Like, start working for the government, then switch to lobbying for a huge payday?
It is low, but her degree typically leads you to teaching which is a lot lower ;) So she’ll be working her way up through the ranks there and then eventually (hopefully) getting to the more juicier parts that she enjoys – higher $$ or not. And since it’s all extra right now we’ll both have the freedom to go with our heart over $$ long term!
Congrats to your family! But a question in the post – you said four boys? I thought it was you and the two boys. Is there further news coming?!
Haha no… It was just my lame joke to go along w/ the Ryan Gosling gif. Putting him in there with one of my wife’s “boys” :)
If she is a federal employee, a lot of agencies use the SmartBenefits program or other transit subsidies. So she could be eligible for ~$100 of free public transportation a month. When I was an intern, it covered my daily commute (not including the cost of parking at a metro or private parking lot). It’s ‘free’ money if she is already planning on using the Metro during the week and you relocate close to a Metro station or express bus route.
Congrats to you both!
Well that’s cool, thx! I’ll have her look into!
As far as government benefits go, don’t forget about the dependent care flexible spending account for pre-tax childcare costs. I think it’s up to $5K per year now. https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/flexible-spending-accounts/
Congrates! My son is a gov. worker and when I tried to help him understand his benefits I came across this guy he seems to know his stuff. http://www.fedretirementplanning.com/ good luck!
Nice! Lobe a niched blogger like that, adding to my list to check out!
Ha im late to the game on the word DINK but I keep seeing it now all of a sudden. My wife and I are totally DINKS right now but not for long. I am about to make some crazy life changes that will really affect our lives and allow her the option of not having to work.
Ill know more after the weekend though. :)
Well that’s pretty damn exciting sounding! Haha… now I want to know what you’re up to over there!!! TELL US!!! :)
I’m in awe of people who make it through grad school, especially with kids. It is an incredible accomplishment. Ugh – and yes, the cost of childcare. Could talk all day long about THAT doozy.
We have a 1996 Toyota 4Runner with over 400k miles and a 2001 Nissan Pathfinder with 187k miles, both bought used, so that’s how we roll now. But that has been since my kids were grown. Anyone I know who has small kids would vote minivan all the way. (When mine were in car seats I had a two-door Buick Regal. I’m still mad at my husband for buying that one year before I got pregnant.)
400,000 miles??? I can’t say I’ve ever seen one with that much mileage, haha.. that’s awesome!!
Congrats to Mrs. Budgetsaresexy! Since you’re a big fan of Vanguard, you’ll love her TSP even more. They have even lower costs than Vanguard!! Amazing right?! I worked in the federal government for a few years and had the benefits of the TSP…even after I left, I never rolled it over to an IRA or new 401k because the TSP is so awesome. There should also be a pension too so that’s nice. Not sure if it’s the same with her job but I also had eyeglass benefit, transit checks, and you can open flex spending accounts (great way to save some money on childcare!). And as for Minivan vs SUV, I hear a lot of people hating on Minivans because they’re not cool, but they seem the most practical and usually more affordable. But now with a second kid on the way, I’ve been kinda checking out the Mazda CX-9. The main reason is that the gas mileage is great for that size of a car and I have a long commute (plus it has some cool features)…if we ever go to two cars, I’d get a cheap, small fuel efficient car and a minivan for the family.
That’s incredible about the TSP! Def. didn’t know that until today – I’m gonna max the hell out of her stuff so long as she lets me ;)
Congrats to your wife (and you)!!!
My husband and I are DINKS in Northern VA (and loving it, for now). He became a fed gov’t employee two years ago. Some others have already mentioned additional benefits like FSAs and transit benefits/subsidies (though public transit might be a little rough now because of SafeTrack). I’m not an expert and YMMV but here is a list of other things we’ve learned:
Life insurance: We opted to go with our own private insurance since it was a much better value for us than the federal program.
Disability insurance: This one is still a struggle for me to decipher! It seems like there are a few reasonable private options for disability coverage (short or long term) but I haven’t found one definitive source for information on this.
Flex spending accounts: Check out the dependent care FSA to reduce the sting of those day care costs.
Day care: Some agencies have subsidized day care options, but I think the income limits are relatively low.
Education: Some agencies have programs to help with student loans.
Moving costs: Some agencies are willing to help with this.
Thrift Savings Plan: I heard a rumor that you can roll other 401(k) monies into a TSP account. Some really smart friends of mine have told me that this process is a pain, but worthwhile for younger people because of the potential savings due to lower fees. Someone else already mentioned that the government allows a Roth TSP option; two great benefits of this program are that eligibility isn’t limited by income, and it’s subject to the higher 401k contribution limits rather than the regular Roth IRA contribution limits, though the cap applies to the sum of contributions to both the Roth and traditional TSP accounts.
Pension: The FERS pension plan probably isn’t very valuable for short-timers, but can really add up for those who serve for many years. Some agencies/branches allow employees to accrue at a slightly higher rate for time served abroad. It doesn’t yet affect our calculations for retirement planning but we’ll start incorporating that in a few years. (We’re looking a doing a Roth ladder to cover some early retirement years, and a pension might make it more feasible if it will replace some of the income we could have gained from the Roth dollars that we drew down before retirement age.)
Paid leave: I think most agencies cap the amount of vacation time you can accrue, and then you can get paid out for up to that much time when you leave. Sick leave isn’t use or lose; you can accrue an unlimited amount, but I don’t think you can get paid out for this time. However, I believe unused sick time will count toward the pension calculation.
Flex schedules: This is a value-of-time benefit for some. I have a friend who gets every other Monday off and she uses that time for dr appts, errands, pedicures, etc. since she can do them quicker without her 3yo son in tow.
Every-other-week paychecks: This is one of my favorites. Two or three times a year, my husband gets three paychecks in a month. Since we have a monthly budget, we don’t include that money in our budget, which means we get a big bonus that we can use for our other savings goals.
Two other things not specific to fed govt employment: You might already know where you’re going to live, but if not, it might make sense for you to check out DC neighborhoods where you could qualify for free universal pre-K starting at age three. Also, VA/MD both offer state tax deductions for 529 contributions (I don’t know about DC). And if you’re staying in VA, don’t forget to think about personal property taxes when calculating the cost of adding an additional car into the mix. If you move to DC, there is a bigger registration fee but then you’re done.
Congrats again, and good luck!
Such great info, thank you!!! We’re REALLY hoping to do that flex scheduling stuff too as soon as she’s allowed to (might have to wait until all trained up and what not). Flex spending will be a nice extra too as we’ve never had that before :)
Yay congrats Mrs. BudgetsareSexy! xD (and to your whole family as well J$, it does sound like an exciting adventure you’re starting on!)
On another note, you make it sound so easy to just “up and move your life” (which I’m sure it probably does get easier if I just get my head out of being stuck in my current city – self-imposed of course >.<)!
Looking forward to how you make it out in a few weeks/months! Good luck :D
Well, it helps when you were raised in a military family :) This will literally be the 22nd or 23rd move I’ve done in my life… But the only one with two kids – yikes! (And it helps when there’s a good *reason* to move too and/or you’re forced to :))
Congratulations on the new job!!! I’m sorry it’s so much hassle and expense to get it though.
Anyway, about family vehicles, I am about to type something you can print to hold against me, lol.
I am trying to get pregnant with our first kid right now (been trying since November). Our plan with 1-2 kids is to keep doing it with a Toyota Prius and a Honda Fit…we love our cars, they have back seats that fit car seats, and they have storage space in their hatchbacks for his sports officiating stuff, future parent stuff, hobby stuff, etc. We just see them as smaller mini-vans. So maybe look into a hatchback? You can get a brand-new Honda Fit for $18,000 or less drive out right now. Or a used one for $10,000-$12,500 depending on the year and miles.
Someone else here mentioned Prius for kids! It never crossed my mind but I’m totally gonna run it by my wife. Not sure if I’m a fan of the Fit yet, but will google when I’m done here to remember what it looks like :)
As for pregnancy stuff – keep on practicing!!! Haha… Took us 2 years and as soon as we went to the fertility doctors to start checking us out the good news came :) Then with the 2nd baby it worked on the very FIRST TRY!!! Which I hear is pretty common actually?
Anyways, hang in there! Gonna be a most beautiful thing once that baby’s on its way!
Oh and btw I vote for the SUV :P
Has more of a “cool parent” factor than a minivan lol… But that’s just me xD
Congrats on your giant DIKS. Childcare costs are crazy. I had an employee quit just to stay home because it wasn’t worth what she was pulling in to work all week and barely take anything home. Took a 15 hour at home job and ended up keeping more while working much less.
Hah – I bet!
Congratulations! That’s awesome! You’ll be able to save a little more now. Oh man, childcare is expensive. It’s a big trade off because you don’t save that much more and she won’t be home with the kid. Hopefully her income will increase quickly.
BTW, our kid is starting kindergarten this fall. I can’t wait!
I just wrote about our SINK to DINK to SIOK situation. :) Life is good. Enjoy it!
Single Income One Kid? What about SI-FIRE-OK? :)
Don’t know how open you are to other car options, but we bought a newer-but-used Mazda 5 three years ago and it has been just perfect. We put roof racks on top and regularly put doors, windows, etc up there, as well as bikes, kayaks, and a cargo box when we travel. we put a hitch on the back and have a folding bike carrier that holds 4 bikes for all of us. We can fit a washing machine in the thing with all the seats folded down and completely shut the back/truck door. And when my parents or bonus kid come to stay, there’s a third row of seats we can use. Not spacious by any means, but they get the job done. Plus, we drive and park in a city, and I can easily parallel park it. We’re over 100k and no major problems yet.
Googling now – thx!
Congratz to be DIKS now. The acronym does sound weird…!
As you say, there is more to big decision than just money. Happiness, the feeling of achieving something, …
In the long run, the daycare will go away, that is a nice extra then.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a huge deal that is! I’m sorry about poneying up for more childcare, the good thing is, soonish they’ll be going to school and that childcare bill will be a distant memory (sad that they’re not always babies though, sniff sniff!!!)
As for the car: yay for used! It sounded a little like you might finance it monthly which would make me so sad. To be winning with money and then throw it away on interest. :-(
BUT maybe that’s not the plan and the plan is cash – yay!
Our plan is: we already have a car worth about $4K. We’re saving $200/month and in a year we’ll have more than 2K saved. We’re going to buy a 6K car with our trade in, and do it again, but by that time our kids will be both in school so we’ll have $1292 freed up from childcare, so we’ll put more like $400-$600 away for a car and in a year we’ll go up to a 10K – 12K car. Two years, no interest, no risk, all bank. We could keep going if we wanted but our 4K car is pretty good so I don’t see why we would. BUT that’s just an example of how to save up for a car… and the crazy thing isthe average car payment today is nearly $500. Can you imagine just saving that cashola for car to buy in cash? That’s the way to go! :-)
And please tell us all about your journey to DC – I’m actually a Capital-phile so I’d love to live there one day, roach motel and all :-)
Hah! We def. won’t be living inside the city but taking advantage of all the fun still ;)
Our cash reserves are all jacked right now so no cash-only option for us unfortunately… I don’t mind paying extra for a little bit until we can wipe it all away again. Also helps knowing I can dump investments at any time to pay off too :)
Oh hey, that’s awesome! Congrats from one PhD-er to another. :)
Also, I would love to find out what school was asking her to PAY for a PhD?? That’s nuts. I admit that I had to fund one summer of my PhD myself when my funding temporarily disappeared, but for the most part my PhD was covered, as are most PhDs. (My student debt is from way before I ever applied for my PhD program.) Anyways, glad she took the funded option. :)
Oh wow – didn’t realize that! Way to snatch it up for free too over there :)
Congratulations to your wife! That is a huge accomplishment, and I bet she can’t wait to put that degree to use. I am in a similar situation – I’ve been contracting and working very part time for the past four years to be home with the kids, but have my master’s degree and feel like I am not putting it to good use. Part of me is itching to work more – I love getting a paycheck and would love working in an environment with other adults. BUT, I know my kids are only this little once, so I am trying to be patient and enjoy the flexibility of my schedule and sheer time I’m spending with them. I think it is a tough pill to swallow that it will only generate about $500 in actual income after expenses, but if she found a position that is difficult to get (and likely wouldn’t be there if she were to wait), I totally understand. As for the car, I am not much help. I don’t have the visual-spatial skills to drive anything larger than a Camry. Good luck on your decision!
Def. hard choice for sure with kids at this age. She would go back and forth from loving every second with them to then wondering if she’d ever get a job and feeling stressed about it. If only we knew going in that she’d be home w/ the kids for 1.5 years and then a great job would be waiting for her! Would have made the whole thing more enjoyable, but such is life :) And fortunately she did get to try the stay-at-home-mother route to see if it was a long term fit for her or not.
Everything is coming up Aces in the Money world, congratulations!! I did a little digging, and was totally impressed with your personal library post. I’m going to steal that idea!! Curious as to its current status…. coming along for the ride?
Hey, thx! I just came across the initial notes on it when I was sketching it out all those years ago :) It’s currently broken up into three states right now for mini libraries at our current rental (we’ve since moved from where it was first installed), and we’re now debating on whether or not we’ll have space for it or not (all the homes we’re looking at are MUCH smaller than the one we’re in now). On the other hand we’re not getting rid of a lot of the books, so my guess is we’ll bring them and see what we can concoct, and then just donate/sell the remaining bookcases :)
Would love to see pics if you do end up giving it a shot! It was a fun (and cheap!) project! And looks so cool!!
Here’s the post for anyone else interested in seeing:
DINKS here. The second income should speed up for goal to 1 million networth? Does she get a government pension or a 403(b)/401(k)? Stay bogleheadish in her retirement account :)
You know it! On all accounts!
Congratulations to the new DIKS from a couple of DINKS. Childcare is really a killer in the big cities – sometimes it almost seems like you are working just to pay someone to take care of the kids although that isn’t actually the case. Luckily its only for a few years. The extra security from a government job has to make it worthwhile as well.
Congrats to Mrs. Budgets are Sexy, sounds like a lot of hard work to get to this point!
Congrats to Mrs. Money!
I drove a mini van for years with the seats out. Friends & family have enjoyed the Nissan Rouge for small SUV style. Both have advantages. I’m a big fan of consumer reports safety ratings to make my final decision.
Best of luck & here’s wishing you a smooth move!
Thanks Jacq :)
Big congrats! Maybe change your blog title to GovernmentBenefitsAreSexy?
Even though daycare and rent eat up half the check, that will only be until your oldest hits school age, at which point the costs will fall again (plus that $11K increase isn’t too shabby).
I hope she enjoys her new career!
Haha… someone actually shot me a link above to someone who actually blogs about all that stuff ONLY! It’s all about government benefits! Haha…
With 2 kids, I’ve often heard its just as economical or maybe even cheaper to hire an in house nanny rather than daycare. Never looked into it myself, but maybe something to consider?
If your wife is going to work for state or local government, then ignore the below.
Lots of feds are able to work compressed schedules such as 9 days per pay period or 4 days per week. You still get 40 hours per week because the days are longer. If your wife can do so and it works with the kids, I highly recommend that. Sometimes they make you wait six months or a year at my place to do this.
3 day weekends are generally great. Depends on the boss, but some are highly flexible in moving those days off within the pay period–I move mine a lot. Handy for stacking with a vacation, long weekend, or doing that chore in the middle of the week during the business day because that’s the only time you can do it. My wife is on shift work in a hospital and she always works on my day off so we don’t have to pay for daycare on that day. We’re in a DC suburb and use a licensed daycare run inside of the person’s home and pay about 3 days a week at $60 a day. Most centers would require us to pay the whole week regardless of use. I had a buddy in Houston get into his preferred daycare 2 months before the birth of his first child. Daycare wouldn’t guarantee a spot if he waited. He paid 2 months without use just to hold the spot and for the first month or two only used it 2 days a week but still had to pay the full time rate. Ouch.
Have you thought about a high deductible HSA instead of a more traditional plan. I keep hearing that there’s real opportunity to use it as another tax deferred investment account rather than getting reimbursed for expenses immediately from financial podcasters and bloggers. If not your cup of tea, than I’d recommend doing the flexible savings account and in either case also doing the dependent care account. Shifting some of those expenses to pre-tax will help to lessen the blow.
I hear routinely (but never checked) that for people in good health that the base life insurance FELGI is cheap and good but that the option to purchase extra life insurance through the federal government isn’t the cheapest and that you’re usually better off going outside work for that.
Another tip is that there are numerous financial advisers that will give free financial seminars explaining the tips and tricks to federal government employee benefits and retirement. I see emails about free seminars a couple of times a year and go ever so often. It’s a good overview. The advisers do it as marketing to try to get new clients, but it’s easy to ignore that part. At my place they aren’t allowed to actively market themselves, just ask for your email if you’re interested in meeting one on one at a later date, so the presentations aren’t too pitchy. They generally specialize in this niche and I always learn something new when I go.
Free transit benefits are nice.
Pension is a long term play.
I think of sick leave as extra short-term disability flexibility–note I don’t think of it as a replacement for insurance. You get unlimited accrual of sick leave. I’ve seen people with longer careers who are sitting on months or over a year of sick leave. Why does that matter? I’ve also seen many people have cancer or some other serious sickness which requires them to take months, a year, or more off of work. If you use your sick leave wisely when you truly are sick as opposing to using it just to have extra days off, then there’s a reasonable chance that you’ll have lots of sick leave saved if a longer term issue arises.
Lots of places offer discounts for federal government employees. For example, I know AT&T and T-mobile offer discounts off of their cell plans. I’d guess that the other big ones do too, but never had reason to check.
Congrats on the change and good luck!
Rock on man – thanks for all this!!!
We are REALLY hoping to take advantage of that Flex working stuff for sure. Not sure when she’ll be able to start (gotta get trained up and all that first) but as soon as she’s able to she’ll be working the extra hours to get those days off :) Although you’re right – does suck to have to pay for childcare even when you’re not there, ugh.. (Unfortunately your friend’s situation isn’t uncommon!)
We prob wont’ do the high deductible HSAs at least at the start (the kids part scares us) but def. an option down the road…
Maybe we’ll come across each other in the suburbs sometime?! :)
Congrats to the job, degrees, and the new adventures!
If you ever want more kids or want to drive your kids’ friends around someday, a minivan is probably the way to go (since kids are in carseats till like 8 now). My husband has a Ford Escape which works great for our family of four but we can’t fit another carseat in the back if we have more kids or shuttle others around. I would love another SUV like a Pilot but they cost more and have worse gas mileage and would be harder for grandparents & great-grandparents to climb in. So I think we will become a minivan family next year after saving more. I am not excited but everyone I know with a minivan already say it is the best!
That’s what we keep hearing too! I think eventually we’ll need/want one, but wondering if we can make it one last round until pulling the trigger ;)
It is indeed a big decision to take up a job when you have kids; also it requires confidence to balance between personal and professional life. It will a bit difficult to manage financial front for some days since the daycare costs are high. Moreover, sometimes the couples feel what’s the use of taking up the job when you can’t save more every month. But, after a few years, the daycare cost might get reduced, the salary will increase and she will be experienced enough to get a better job with a lucrative salary. So, I think it makes sense to move to a different place and buy the new vehicle a little later. All the best to the Mrs. for her new venture.
Depending on where her job actually is (feds work in many more places around DC than *just* “the city”), you might be better off living closer to that area. We loved living in NoVA, and have seriously considered moving back, despite the cost of living (although, we pay more for a house in Pittsburgh than we did in Centreville because of the property taxes). Housing prices near metro stations are high, but many of the outlying counties (like Leesburg and Frederick) offer commuter busses. A friend living in Burke and a fed worker slugs in, or rides the bus. There are a *lot* of carpool options, and there’s a local program Guaranteed Ride Home that will pay for up to 4 “emergencies” per year to get home (like sick child needs picked up from daycare) if you normally take transit.
Congrats to the Mrs on her job and good luck moving back!
Thanks so much!
We actually *just* found the place we’ll now be living (more on the blog tomorrow), but we’re pretty excited about it :) Ended up sticking close to where the actual job is (not in the city) so there’s less commuting and more family time, but it def. wasn’t cheap…
Thankfully it’s not permanent though :)
Congratulations DIKS!!! I am still a SIK and in the PhD process so I can understand your wife’s pain. You guys rock!
Hey Lulu! Haven’t seen ya in a while – congrats on the PhD stuff! Sending you over positive vibes! :)
But you can take the kids to the zoo for free. So that’s like an extra $20 saved each year. =) Best place for writing: Botanical gardens in the winter. So that will save you like 4 bucks in Starbucks coffee. =)
I’ll need all the savings I can get too! Just locked in our place and it is NOT cheap – yikes.
another vote for the minivan
Cool news. One thing to consider if you haven’t already… Your wife should be eligible for a 457 retirement plan. After taking full advantage of any match to a 403b, it can be a great option. The money in the 457 isn’t subject to any penalty if used before 59 1/2 (as long as you have separated service). It’s a good option for folks that want to retire in their 50’s. Just a thought. Good luck with the new opportunity!
Hey thanks! She is invested in one of them but forget what it’s called… Def. maxing out the free matching in the retirement plan, that’s for sure! Freakin’ love the gov’t! Haha…