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Interview With A Stay-At-Home Dad/Blogger

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interview

flickr - A. Germain

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.


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{ 62 comments… add one }

  • MoneyforCollegePro September 22, 2011, 2:37 am

    It is always interesting to hear a bit more about the people behind the blogs that you read. Hunter, I really do respect what you are doing. I think it’s awesome that you and your wife have been able to work out an arrangement that works, while providing love and support to your kids. It’s refreshing.

    I am looking forward to the awesome things you will do with your blog!

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 22, 2011, 5:17 am

      Thanks! We have been determined to make this arrangement work, and now that we can look back for 11 years it’s satisfying to see how far we have come.

      I hope we can all do great things with our blogs!

    • Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter September 22, 2011, 8:22 am

      I agree. What you are doing is important and very valuable. I really like how you and your wife operate as a team. My hubby and I try to do the same. It not helps keep a good relationship strong but it also helps keep the duties balanced between the two of us.

      Thanks for sharing a bit more about yourself. It was great to learn a bit more of what is behind Hunter.

      • Hunter September 22, 2011, 1:59 pm

        Thanks Miss T! I can’t wait to read your interview.

    • Jon -- Free Money Wisdom September 24, 2011, 4:58 pm

      Enjoyed the interview too. It seems like you guys have a great balance worked out. Hopefully my fiancee and I will be able to have such a symbiotic relationship.

  • My University Money September 22, 2011, 5:38 am

    Great story hunter! Talk about multi-tasking, sounds like you have been working pretty hard juggling a lot of different commitments! Good luck with blogging and the CFP test, I’ve been thinking I might like to do CFP work at some point myself.

    • Hunter September 22, 2011, 8:14 am

      Good luck with the CFP exams. I’ve been putting that off, and need to take care of it before I forget everything. It seems like life has been very busy from the Q & A above, but I don’t think we’re busier than anyone else.

  • Shaun @ Money Cactus September 22, 2011, 6:39 am

    Well done on the juggling act, I’ve found it very difficult to be productive at home with family demands. Looking forward to seeing more stories in this series too.

    • Hunter September 22, 2011, 8:19 am

      It’s tough finding time to continue to grow when children come along. My wife & I give each other space and time to be free from the noise. My wife scrapbooks and runs, I like to ride bikes, without that space we would go nuts.

      • retirebyforty September 22, 2011, 9:53 pm

        We need to do better here. Mrs. RB40 is active with Toast Masters, but have cut way back this year. I don’t have much time for extracurricular activities lately, but hopefully things will get better in the future.

  • funancials September 22, 2011, 9:46 am

    I’m really looking forward to this interview series. Hunter – sexy name and sexier story.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 22, 2011, 11:57 am

      Ha! Not sure how to respond.

  • Ashley @ Money Talks September 22, 2011, 10:37 am

    Great interview. I always kinda feel bad for stay at home dad’s because it’s hard enough as a woman, but at least there are lots of other women. Like at the park all the mom’s have their eye on the one guy whose at the park, like hes a kidnapper or something. It definitely adds an extra challenge.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 22, 2011, 12:09 pm

      That’s funny. When our kids were younger, I would often take them out in a jogger stroller. A news report circulated claiming that there were homeless families living around our community at that time. I often sensed the beady-eyed glare of disaproving mothers anyway, as I ran along. After this report, some protective Mothers actually questioned me directly, asking if I was homeless! Clearly I needed to shave closer and wear better clothes to get my exercise in this neighborhood.

    • retirebyforty September 22, 2011, 9:55 pm

      I haven’t had any experience like that yet when I bring baby RB40 out. Everyone is very friendly except a few cases of mentally challenged homeless people. We look alike though so people know I’m his dad. 🙂

  • 20'sFinances September 22, 2011, 10:56 am

    Great interview! It is nice to read more about Hunter. Personalizing things always increases readers’ interest.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 22, 2011, 12:13 pm

      Thanks 20’s Finances. I’ll be eligible to launch 40’s Finances in a year or so. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

  • Buck Inspire September 22, 2011, 11:59 am

    Awesome questions RB40 and terrific interview Hunter! Pretty challenging stuff you went through. I didn’t realize how isolated a stay at home dad can be. Can’t hang out with the other mothers. Way to power through. Great to learn more about the Man, the Myth, and the future Legend! Keep up your great work, both of you!

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 22, 2011, 12:57 pm

      Thanks Buck. You’re the legend!

  • krantcents September 22, 2011, 5:02 pm

    Great interview! There are many people who pursue alternative avocations to the traditional 9-5 job. This is just one of them. My wife worked part time when our children were young. We were fortunate because her profession (RN) works well as a part timer.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 22, 2011, 5:46 pm

      I hope Joe interviews you, KC. I would like to learn more about your rich life and career.

  • Kellen September 22, 2011, 7:01 pm

    I think plenty of women have faced that unexpected isolated feeling when leaving work to raise kids, but for a stay-at-home dad, it brings a whole new set of isolating factors! I expect this will start to change over time, as I really think that my generation of women are getting and staying at better jobs than ever before – there will be more situations where it just makes more sense for the dad to stay home, especially if the couple does not feel the need to stick to traditions.

    Now I want to hear about RB40’s experience at the park, since I imagine Portland to be at the forefront of this trend!

    • retirebyforty September 23, 2011, 10:19 am

      It’s hard to tell if someone is a stay at home dad. Maybe when the little guy is a bit older and we go to the park in the middle of the work day. I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

  • Roshawn @ Watson Inc September 22, 2011, 7:16 pm

    This is very laudable. I have nothing but respect for those who make this decision. I don’t know if this would ever be me. This is very interesting to read about though. Thanks!

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 23, 2011, 1:58 pm

      Thanks Roshawn!

  • youngandthrifty September 22, 2011, 11:39 pm

    Great post- I love the idea of stay at home dads. I would be happy to be a stay at home mom part time (and work part time). To me, that would be the ideal situation.

    I find that the daily grind M-F is so arduous for the soul…
    but I like working too.

    • retirebyforty September 23, 2011, 10:20 am

      You said it sister! The M-F is killing me. Part time work would be great.

  • Khaleef @ KNS Financial September 23, 2011, 7:58 am

    Hey Hunter, it’s great to get to know a little more about you. I always wondered how stay-at-home dads fared in social settings with (mostly) stay-at-home moms.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 23, 2011, 1:59 pm

      It’s fine for me 90% of the time. But circumstances can make thinks awkward at times.

  • Canadian Personal Finance September 23, 2011, 9:45 am

    This was a great interview. Our ideal situation is one of us at home with our children. This is our plan and we are both prepared to make sacrifices (professionally, personally) to make it happen.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 23, 2011, 2:01 pm

      I think having children is all about sacrifices, and well worth it. If you approach the family as a team, you can’t go wrong.

  • Niki September 23, 2011, 12:18 pm

    Nice to learn a little more about Hunter.

    I know I had a hard time socially after having our children, even in a military environment and being a woman. I can’t imagine how it would have been for you.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 23, 2011, 2:02 pm

      Really, it has not been all that bad. I highlighted the down times, but overall life has been very good to me.

  • Financial Success for Young Adults September 23, 2011, 12:50 pm

    What a great interview. I always like to hear stories about guys who aren’t afraid to do what’s best for their family. Kudos for being so supportive. I will also be looking forward to hearing your updates on getting the CFP and going into financial counseling you would be great at that!

  • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 23, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Thanks LaTisha! I’ll get my CFP cranked out very soon, and keep you posted. Are you pursuing the CFP designation?

  • 101 Centavos September 23, 2011, 2:21 pm

    Congratulations on reaching a good balance in life. I have no illusions that working in the home is an easy task. You have to be very disciplined and self-motivated.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 24, 2011, 6:45 pm

      Thanks 101C, I do miss the work environment at times, but this blogging gig has given me a whole new outlook. Read Seth Godins blog, on blogging, Friday September 23, 2011 – Talker’s Block. Great stuff.

  • Briana @ 20 and Engaged September 23, 2011, 7:35 pm

    I think SAHDs are awesome, because it does go against social norms. Your kids will definitely appreciate it. I’m working to become a SAHM when I have children, because child care is so expensive!

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 24, 2011, 6:41 pm

      I’m with you Briana, social norms are tedious. Parenting is the most important job.

  • Aaron Hung September 25, 2011, 7:07 am

    Very insightful read here, a good source for anyone looking to start out working from home, I know I am 😀

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 25, 2011, 8:17 am

      Go for it Aaron!

  • Moneycone September 25, 2011, 7:20 am

    I’m a regular at Hunter’s blog! Excellent interview RB40 and thanks for sharing your story Hunter!

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 25, 2011, 8:17 am

      Thanks MC! I’m looking forward to your interview!

  • Barb Friedberg September 25, 2011, 11:39 am

    This was such an informative article. I’m so pleased to learn more about one of my blogging buddies, Hunter. Great job by both of you. I’m excited to learn more about your progress.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 26, 2011, 8:34 am

      Thanks Blogging Buddy!

  • Untemplater September 25, 2011, 2:05 pm

    What an inspiring interview! I’m so glad to hear things are working out so nicely for you Hunter. That’s good to know from both you and RB40 that the reality of a stay at home parents time is 95% spent on the baby. I’ve always wondered what it’s actually like because some people I know who are parents made it sound like it’s not that hard, which always seemed like they weren’t telling the whole truth. -Sydney

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 26, 2011, 8:36 am

      I know it has been hard at times for me, but I’m sure there’s plenty of people that probably do it easier than I.

  • Doctor Stock September 25, 2011, 9:07 pm

    Great interview… I often think I should have gone that route… but it just wasn’t in the cards. I admire your ability to find balance.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 26, 2011, 8:36 am

      Thanks DS!

  • Denise @ The Single Saver September 27, 2011, 6:05 am

    Great article! I hope to see more like it. I always love reading about why people make the decisions they do – be it stay home, work full time, work part time, etc.

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 28, 2011, 2:59 am

      Thanks Denise. I’m looking forward to more of RB40’s interviews too.

  • Forest September 27, 2011, 1:15 pm

    Hunter, I had no idea. I don’t plan on having kids but I love stay at home Dads. Hopefully one day the choice of which parent stays at home won’t even include mention of gender and other factors will be more important to us.

    I left the rat race for more selfish reasons and am seriously happy that I did!

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 28, 2011, 3:07 am

      Gender is a hot-button topic for many reasons. I have noticed very different levels of social acceptance, depending upon where we live. Washington DC, Monterey CA, Australia, and even Spain, people were very tolerant. Southern Virginia has been a little more challenging, ha! The red-neck factor is alive and well.

  • Forest September 27, 2011, 1:16 pm

    Sorry just leaving this comment so I can check tge Notify Me box 🙂

  • Financial Samurai September 27, 2011, 10:47 pm

    Nice interview guys! Was there a particular reason why you decided to stay at home, despite making more than the wife?

    • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 28, 2011, 3:15 am

      This decision was made immediately following 9/11. My wife was committed to the Navy for at least another 6 years at that point, and there was a national shift away from materialism towards other values like family and community.

      We had the opportunity to live in Spain with our next Navy move, so we chose the life of adventure (less income) and I said goodbye to my mortgage loan officer job. Shortly thereafter the President announced the mortgage lending crisis which put most loan officers out of work anyway, and my employer closed shop a few months later.

      • retirebyforty September 28, 2011, 11:31 am

        I would love to live in Spain for a few years! You guys got help with housing for foreign assignment right?

        • Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 28, 2011, 12:15 pm

          We lived on a Spanish Naval base, in a Southern fishing, tourism, wine grwoing area. Great fun, and our housing was all taken care of.

  • Christa September 28, 2011, 12:59 pm

    What a great interview! I love to hear about work at home parents, and Hunter’s story is great.

  • That Thing Call Money October 1, 2011, 3:42 am

    I get that when people get married and when they have kids, their perspective to life changes. The things that they once thought were important to them may not so important anymore.

    You were so brave that you have stepped out of your comfort zone (if I may say so) into unfamilar terrority giving up your job (losing independence in some way), as a new parent, and as a stay at home dad!!! Well done!

    I consider myself very independent. I hope to be able to stay at home one day when I have kids, but the whole thought of entirely dependent on someone else (albeit you are a team as a couple) scares me.

  • Girlie Blogger November 9, 2012, 6:56 pm

    Hi. This is a WONDERFUL interview. Being a sahm is hard, but being a sahd sounds even harder. Literally, you have no one to connect with. I too started blogging as an outlet, and it has been both emotionally and finally rewarding. However, it has been hard caring for two little ones full time, while creating a new career path. Reading this interview certainly motivated me to work harder as a blogger. Thanks!

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