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The Best Laid Plans

Recently my son did a post about living on a single income while one parent stays home with the kids.  I found the subsequent comments quite interesting and diverse.  Further to this topic, I would like to write about my experiences.

Of course, my children are now grown but even back in the “olden days” the question of staying at home with your kids was quite open to debate.

Staying At Home With Your Kids

We purchased our first house shortly before our oldest child was born in 1976.  Maternity leave was only three months at that time and I didn’t want to return to work after so short a period so I quit my job.

I happily stayed home taking care of my babies and getting to know the neighbours in our new housing development with distant thoughts of getting a part-time job when the kids started school.  Unfortunately two events occurred that changed all my plans:

  • My husband had a serious accident at work that resulted in his being unemployed off and on through most of the ensuing years.
  • Double digit inflation almost doubled our mortgage payment amount when it came up for renewal (along with other increased expenses).

I had no choice but to return to the work force.  I started working for a bank as a secretary.  I found an excellent day care but the cost was almost an entire two-week paycheque.

Related: The High Cost Of Child Care

I always thought that this would be a temporary situation.  At that time an employer sponsored pension plan for women was optional and I didn’t take advantage of if because, 1) I couldn’t afford the deduction and, 2) I didn’t think it was necessary because this was temporary. (A big lost opportunity there.)  This temporary job lasted for almost twenty-five years!

Even during the years of Women’s Lib when women entered the workforce in droves and denigrated those ladies that stayed home to be “just boring housewives,” I was never really career minded and I would have quit in a minute if the right circumstances occurred.

I still feel guilty to this day that I left my children in the care of others and was not around while they were growing up.

Luckily, finances and investing were interesting to me and I learned a lot as I slowly worked my way up the ladder, took all the courses and started to build my own portfolio.  I don’t know if I would be in the same financial position if I had gone to work in another industry.

My main point here is that often life doesn’t quite work out the way you expect.  You might have to have a plan B or C or even Z.  I think I have done quite all right for myself financially even with all the drawbacks I have experienced.  My mortgage is paid off and I have a respectable investment portfolio.

I have learned that if I want to be financially secure I can only rely on myself.  There’s no white knight on a charger holding a winning lottery ticket to bail me out.

I have found out that I can be resourceful and (after the odd couple of days of feeling sorry for myself) persistent and still find the time and money in my semi-retirement to enjoy life and do the things I want.

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6 Comments

  1. Financial Cents on October 14, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Well written Boomer.
    You never know what curves life is gonna send your way, so on the personal finance front, absolutely agree: “I have learned that if I want to be financially secure I can only rely on myself.”

    Cheers,
    FC

  2. Balance Junkie on October 14, 2010 at 7:12 am

    There’s a lot of criticism thrown around on both sides of the work at home vs. outside the home debate. In the end each of us needs to balance the pros and cons for our unique situation. No matter which route we choose, there are trade-offs. It sounds like you did a great job supporting your family – financially and otherwise.

    Thanks for sharing your story! 🙂

    • Boomer on October 14, 2010 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks for your comments Financial Cents and Balance Junkie. I’ve learned that you can only do the best you can given you circumstances and hopefully things will work out in your favor eventually.

  3. A.Rajah on October 14, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Great post!! Thanks for sharing youre experience.

  4. youngandthrifty on October 16, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience! Life does throw you curveballs and you can try your best to prepare for it, but you never know what gonna happen.

    Sounds like things happened the way it should have, now you’re a successful boomer with a money-conscientious son! (echo!) =)

  5. Eric Putnam on March 20, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Very well done post @boomerandecho. I see too many clients who thought that they were invincible but LIFE is a four letter word and it throws curve balls at us all. We need to learn from life’s experiences of others if we are to ever achieve our short AND long term goals!

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