When Will and I first got married, our combined monthly income was around $1,000. I worked on campus about 20 hours a week for slightly more than minimum wage. Will worked in a physics lab for slightly more than that. But we managed to live on that, pretty much do what we wanted, and more or less keep from going into debt (with the exception of student loans.)
We moved to Washington shortly after I graduated. I made about $1,000 a month at my .6 FTE teaching position. Will worked at Target until Christmas, and then quit so we could go home to Montana for the holidays, and he was unemployed for about two months once we got back. Then he started a job making decent money, but my non-continuing teaching position ended, and I was unemployed for the rest of the summer, though I was still getting my pay checks through August. Even so, we were able to afford our apartment, we still went to events like concerts occasionally, and although sometimes we carried a balanace on a credit card, it was never very much, and we usually managed to pay it off within a few months.
That fall I began working for medical company in their records department. I made about $1600 a month, which was more than I’d ever made before. A year after that I started teaching again, full time this time, and I again I was making more than I ever had before. At that point we started renting a house. We were paying three times in rent what we had paid when were living in family housing in college. This was the point when I finally felt like we had graduated to “middle class.” We were still renting, but it was a house. We both had full-time jobs, benefits, and we weren’t in any credit card debt.
Now that it’s over, I’m not sure I fully appreciated this time. We bought a house in 2010, yet again increasing the portion of our income going toward housing. And now that we have two children, the cost of baby clothes, diapers, and other supplies seems to be expanding exponentially. We’re paying for daycare now, and I’m also back to working .6 FTE. Our salaries have gone down the last three years due to the economy, and this year they will take the biggest hit so far.
I’ve known this time was coming since last fall when we found out we would be having two babies instead of one, but I just took my first good look at my bank account since the school year has started, and it just made me feel depressed. It’s like we’re back to where we started… possibly worse than where we started. We’re two adults with college degrees, one with a Master’s degree, and financially there just isn’t much to show for it.
I’m struggling so much with my decision to go back to work, and whether or not that is the right decision. When I look at things financially I know that I have to work somewhere, but knowing that doesn’t make leaving my babies every day any easier.
**** Please note, I’m just writing this down to work it out in my head. We have money in savings and are not financially “in trouble.” Please don’t think I’m putting this out here for any other reason.