I’m starting a new series of articles that focus on some people who have already achieved my goal of exiting the corporate world. Our first interview is with Hunter, a stay-at-home Dad who writes for and runs a personal finance blog @ Financially Consumed. For those Dads who think it would be awesome to be called upon to do home-duty, Hunter explains that it’s far from easy. While very rewarding, there has also been considerable sacrifice. Please enjoy the interview.
Can you tell us about how you decided to become a stay-at-home dad? Did this transition occur when you had one kid or two? I know it can be very difficult to cover daycare costs with more than 1 kid.
When Christi and I married 11 years ago she was already in the Navy, and we decided to have children shortly thereafter. While childcare services make it possible to continue your career when raising a family, we decided it was best for us to have one of us home with our young children. Maybe we were just paranoid newbie parents, but we simply didn’t want to outsource the care of our children.
Christi’s maternity leave expired 6 weeks after our first child was born in 2002, and there is no negotiating with Uncle Sam. I was working in mortgage lending at that time, and could easily resign. We knew we had a military relocation scheduled in 12 months, so I would have been forced to leave my job anyway. It was the right decision for us at the time.
Were you a full time stay-at-home dad? When did you decide to do part time work/blog?
I was a full-time stay-at-home-dad, but I didn’t plan it that way. My intention was to continue to work as a mortgage loan officer from home; it’s the type of work you can easily do remotely. However, after just a few days at home alone with our baby son, I knew I had my hands full. The needs of a baby are paramount and can’t wait. I was busy all the time. Any plans of being super-productive with a side job were beyond me. I quickly earned a great deal of respect for dedicated parents.
Over the years my work has been volunteer based, nothing professional. But volunteering has been important in keeping the soft-skills tuned; people skills are just as critical as technical ones. Later I added to my technical skills with some additional study. Running a house with three children and completing a master’s degree part time was all I could manage. (That is already impressive to me!)
Blogging began as an extension of my studies. I was researching social networks and was tasked with finding out why financial planners have been slow to adapt to social media. Since graduating, the blog has developed beyond its original purpose and I now treat it like my #1 professional outlet. I would be lost without it.
It must have been a big adjustment changing from working to raising the kids full time. Can you tell us a bit about that?
It was shock on a number of levels, and I underestimated how challenging the transition would be. I had always worked, so to be suddenly removed from that social interaction and professional challenge was all new. It was nice for a while, like a vacation, but then I really missed a lot of things about my work environment. We’re definitely social creatures.
I reached out by joining a few play groups for our children. Of course, I was the only Dad. There are obvious barriers to a male in an all female group: I couldn’t engage in birthing conversations, and it’s not like I could hang-out with young mothers at their house, nor would I want to.
I didn’t make the decision to quit work and stay at home with the kids to make some bold social statement or change the world. But I found out very quickly that I was in a tiny minority. It was an isolating experience.
It was also a shock financially. When I stopped working, I was making more money than my wife. So we more than halved our income just as our expenses were taking off. It took us three full months to learn how to spend less than we were earning, and longer to save and invest. Our lifestyle had to pull way back.
Did you receive any objection/criticism from friends and family when you became a SAHD?
Friends and family were generally very supportive. In fact, the response was overwhelmingly positive. But I can always count on my Mother for an honest opinion. Her immediate reaction was not positive. She asked indignantly why I had chosen to go to university for so many years and now give it all up? That was her perspective, and I had to accept it.
My attitude has always been that nothing stays the same for very long. I am still young, fit (ok, I could be a little fitter), and healthy. I get along with people, have a great education, and motivated to make something more of my life. I will enter the workforce or start my own business when my family is ready.
What are your plans for the future? Will you go back to work once the kids are off to school?
I am focused on developing my blog to its full potential. It’s exciting and rewarding to see it grow, so I’ll see how far I can take it.
I would like to sit for my CFP exams to tick that box, and then work in a financial advising / counseling setting. My preference is towards financial counseling as I like to help people that are really struggling.
I’m in a very fortunate position now, as my wife makes great money, all three of our kids are in school, and I have some time each day to pursue my interests. For the first time in a decade I can be selective about how I spend my own time. I’m loving it.
Thank you so much for answering many of my personal questions. I am planning to be a stay-at-home dad/blogger someday and this had been very illuminating. I took 3 months off to be a stay-at-home dad/blogger and I had a great time. I agree with Hunter and found that taking care of a newborn took up 95% of my time and I could only blog when Mrs. RB40 got home. It wasn’t easy, but it was great spending time with our baby!
You can read great posts from Hunter like She Is The Man Now and many more @ Financially Consumed.