1. Beth D

    Penny, I have no doubt after reading your posts for awhile, that you have your head on straight about finances! Relish your maternity leave and know throughout your journey that you are soooo much more than your paycheck! Take it from a retired pediatrician who will continue to read your posts.

  2. I totally relate to your new “spend your savings” stage. As savers/investors, we’ve been accumulating digits and commas (well, one so far) and it’s a huge mental shift to start drawing that down. But that’s exactly what the money is there for in the first place!! Past Penny and Mr. P loved future Penny and family so much that they made sure they’d be ok later in life. That’s not just at Old Age.

  3. Karen

    Penny, I remember the decision to stay home with my little one, I was so grateful that my teaching job would still be there when I returned to my students. But yes, we really treaded water those 2 years. In a blink my little girl has graduated from college and is on her own. During her undergraduate years I was in my heaviest season of earning, picking up every stipend I could alongside extra chaperone/service work. It was exhausting but it was to the benefit of the family (no student debt, maxing out retirement accounts). Now I am coasting a bit, no stipends this coming year and I doubt I will pick up too much extra work, only if it is of interest to me—call me burnt out! Some habits die hard though, I still track every penny (year 5 of tracking net worth as well). But my mindset is adjusting to coasting towards retirement. The intensity of earning extra money just doesn’t seem healthy right now. I am reaching that point in life–celebrating that elusive feeling—We have enough, I am enough!

  4. Lily

    I love your blog. It’s so refreshing to read a personal finance blog written by someone with a relatable income.

    We also just took an income cut. I quit my job to stay home with our baby for the time being rather than paying a huge portion of my income to put her in childcare. We can’t afford to do this long term, but we can afford to do this for a bit provided we are frugal.

  5. I think you are right. Or in the case you might could make more money it would involve terrible trade offs that more than negate the value of the money. Like you are doing you just have to deal with what you have for a season. I always made more than I needed or felt like I deserved and we lived in a low cost of living area. I also did not want to retire very early because I was one of the unicorns who loved his job. So we never had to pull back spending. But you’ve obviously thought this through and will do a great job. It is kind of a slap to people’s faces to tell them they can just earn more money. Because as you point out, that’s not the case a lot of the time. Glad you said it.

  6. Teaching ourselves to switch gears may be one of the most valuable life lessons. ? You deserve to spend this time with Squish and HP and not try to knock yourself out earning supplemental income, and that’s why you worked so darn hard before this season.

    We’re earning well but we may end up spending a HECK of a lot too as we try to find a safe alternative for JB and Smol this coming year.

  7. I have had years where earning much simply wasn’t in the cards. Fortunately my wife was the high earner (pharmacist) so living in her income wasn’t too bad.. I could “Shop our house.” I learned how to shop for the best deals on food and anything else we needed.

    This summer, I have more dogs to sit via Rover than I know what to do with. That will go away when school starts and people travel less. I can still do well with other work, but I will shift again into a bit of conservation mode. We’re close to having the savings to get my wife retired (which we could do now, but there’s a “one more year” thing going on.

  8. That’s true. I remember in one instance the person actually got into an accident so it was physically and literally impossible to make money. I also remember my boss talking about FIRE people as “these people don’t account for the worst case scenario”.

    To an extent, she is right. Sometimes, it just isn’t. All we can do is make the most of our working years and hope that they care of everything.

  9. There are so many seasons in life, particularly around kids, and it absolutely makes sense to prioritize levers that align with those seasons.

    As a father of 4, it is often easier to focus on the cost cutting, particularly in the earlier years.

    The making money lever often has a lead time and can take weeks / months before you start to see the impact. Whereas the impact with cost cutting can be more immediate.

  10. Kate

    I have enjoyed reading your posts and seeing how they have changed as you have grown. I agree completely that our mental health regarding money is the most important thing in being able to make it to the end of our careers. In my district many women purchase disability insurance before their children are born. I often wish that we had done this instead of me rushing back to the classroom after only six weeks each time. I often look back and wonder how the heck I survived those days and why I even felt pushed to jump right back in. Thank you for the reality that you bring to your posts!

  11. Good on you for being ready to spend your savings, that is exactly why they are there. I had this realization too that I finally would have to dip into my savings when I quit my prior job and had no other job lined up. While it was initially weird, it was liberating. That is exactly why I diligently saved all of these years and now my financial net was ready to pick up the slack in my life. Congratulations on the baby and enjoy your maternity leave!

  12. Yup, you can’t always make more money. At one point you just have to wonder what’s enough? Plus things change in life so you gotta be adaptable. There’s nothing wrong with spending some of your savings.

  13. This is a great point–kind of what I discovered recently when I started playing with fire in order to FIRE by funneling too much money into investments (and not leaving enough left over). I had to get a little creative as far as where the next dollar was coming from, and I ran out of options embarrassingly quickly. Time to re-appreciate the regular paycheck coming in.

  14. “Personal finance is about operating multiple levers: sometimes you rely on making more and other times it’s about spending less.”

    This is a great principle to live by. I’d add and sometimes both. Your preparations for times like this make your personal finance goals possible. Although it is unfortunate our teachers do not get the maternity coverage they deserve. Thank you for being a teacher.

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