When I write posts about how approximately 50% of our budget is dedicated to savings–and extra debt repayment–I want to take a victory lap around the table and send myself all sorts of celebratory GIFs. Truth be told, sometimes I do. But based on the number crunching that we’ve been doing lately, it seems the confetti may have come out too soon.
Saving half is powerful. Saving half lets you accelerate debt payment, fully fund retirement vehicles, and do all sorts of other essential money things. But saving half doesn’t let you live on one income. At least not always and certainly not in our case.
I make more money than my husband, and I likely always will. He works so hard to close the gap by coaching throughout the entire school year, and he even begrudgingly went back to school once he realized that the only real way to get a raise in education is to
learn more buy it. But the cold, hard truth is that I outearn him not only because my district pays slightly better and I have more degrees, but largely because I have two extra years on a salary schedule than he does.
So while saving half of our income has unlocked some amazing financial freedoms for us, there’s one door that we can’t quite jimmy open: covering my maternity leave. For the three months that I am out on FMLA leave, we can cover most of our needs and wants through his regular paychecks but not all of them. And we certainly can’t double or triple our mortgage payments or sock money away in our Roths like we normally do.
Don’t get me wrong. We’ll make it through this leave just fine. In fact, he still has one season of coaching to be paid for this school year, and that extra income will be more than enough to cover those needs and wants while I’m not working. The extra savings and emergency fund that we have, plus the really excellent advice from you all, makes me feel more confident about this number crunching than I ever thought possible.
But I do worry. I don’t worry as much about getting through those three months financially, but I wonder a lot about them emotionally. We don’t talk about the disparity between our paychecks with other people very much, and I certainly haven’t ever addressed the topic here. It makes my husband really uncomfortable, and now that I’m in a position where I won’t be making any income for three months, I can absolutely see why. It’s hard to prove to someone that their worth exists outside their income in today’s world.
To put us on a more level playing field financially, he’s constantly offering to do more coaching or refereeing on weekends, but I value our time together–and his incredible ability to fix all the things–even more. If the basement wall pees itself when it’s raining really hard or the disposal throws up in the sink when the dishwasher runs, I can mitigate the disaster temporarily, but he actually solves the problems.
I can only imagine how things will feel when Half Penny is added to the mix. Him being gone for 10-12 hours a day will be hard enough. I’m not willing to send him away on weekends, too, especially not when there’s a baby to love and actual pee and throw up to address.
It’s true that in our situation, living on 50% isn’t everything. But saving half now is what will allow us to float my maternity leave later. Barring any wildly unexpected circumstances, there won’t be credit card debt, there won’t be new loans, and there won’t be unpaid bills. And that’s really something.
So Tell Me…Do you save half? Have you ever thought about what 50% means when your incomes aren’t equal?