Q. I bring home about $2,800 a month, and our mortgage payment is $1,100. We have been forced to take money out of our savings account occasionally over the last year or so to help pay the bills. My wife loves being a stay-at-home mom with our two preschool kids, but even she is talking about finding a daycare for the kids so she can go back to work and help out financially. How do you feel about this idea and our situation?
A. I can’t blame your wife for loving the idea of staying home with your kids when they’re so young. Being a stay-at-home mom is a great thing if you can make the numbers work. Still, I’m sure it’s no picnic trying to live on $1,700 a month with two little ones in the mix.
Let’s look at it like a math problem with three components — house payment, income and lifestyle. Forty percent of your pay is going toward your home. That’s way too much. Your mortgage payment or rent should never be more than 25 percent of your take home pay. I suppose you could look into the possibility of refinancing your home, but that’s not going to solve all your problems.
One option would be finding a way to generate some extra income, whether that means a part-time job nights or weekends, or pursuing additional education or certifications to get your income level up at work. Another is to sell the house and find a less expensive alternative, but I’m never a big fan of that idea — especially in a family situation — unless there’s absolutely no other way to avoid bankruptcy or foreclosure.
I think you and your wife need to sit down, and spend some serious heart-to-heart time talking things over, crunching the numbers and creating a plan. There’s going to be some sacrifice involved for everyone, and only you two can decide what’s worth it and what isn’t — for you two and your kids.