Monday, November 23, 2020

Baby, Baby

Like so many other Americans, we celebrated a bit these past couple weeks. We felt some relief that a (too-small) majority of Americans made a choice for competence, decency, and democracy. And because of that, we're allowing ourselves to feel a little hope, too.

It's premature. The primary problem with voting an authoritarian into office is that they're hard to get out by the same method. Trump was never going to go quietly. He's already using the office of the presidency to spread outright lies, misinformation, and blatantly trying to incite chaos and violence on behalf of his supporters. By the time we're reading this on Monday, Trump's legal team will file even more baseless lawsuits in the hope that one of the cases might make it to the Supreme Court that he's stacked with unqualified allies.

Which all goes to say, it's not over. When you're facing a political opponent without morals or an allegiance to our country, it never really is.

Still, I believe that our fragile systems are able to withstand the underhanded tactics the current president uses. I am hopeful our democracy can overcome the administration's daily misinformation and attempts to corrupt the courts. I believe that, at least for this election cycle, the will of the people will stand.

Like most of the country, we've been learning the past few years about the kind of country we actually live in - one just barely on the side of democracy - and the kind of world we have brought our children into. 

In a bit of stressful and happy news, we'll be bringing another person into this world this coming April. Mrs. Done by Forty is pregnant, which is the best thing that's happened in our household in 2020.

There are stresses, for sure. Like everyone else with two braincells to rub together, we are taking COVID-19 seriously and this baby sure kicks that worry up a notch. We're trying to figure out how best to handle logistics: like how to deliver a baby in a hospital while also somehow having someone take care of Baby AF at home.

Oh, on that front, the artist formerly known Baby AF shall now be referred to as Toddler AF, since he's two years old now, and reminds us that he is, in fact, a very big boy, not a baby. So the mantle will fall to the tentatively named MC Baby, dropping this April.

The baby news has also brought financial independence into sharper focus, mostly because the first year of life with Baby AF nearly wrecked us. It was by far the most stressful year of our lives, especially the first six months. 

We're trying to do things smarter the second time around. Being willing to just sleep when the baby sleeps rather than, you know, trying to write a PhD dissertation as Mrs. Done by Forty did a couple years ago. Being willing to use disposable diapers instead of constantly washing and folding and sewing new elastic into hand-me-down cloth diapers, like I was doing. And takeout. We're going to get takeout every damn day if we feel like it, instead of insisting that we cook healthy homemade meals.

I'd say we're going to get more sleep this time, but Toddler AF probably has something to say about that.

The main difference is that we don't think either of us will be working this time. Our plan is for Mrs. Done by Forty to take her parental leave, let her contract lapse at the end of June, and then after my month of parental leave in May, I'll put in my two week notice.

Will we be financially independent by then? Well, for a brief moment this past week we became financially independent on paper. (Yay, right?) So long as the market just treads water over the next half year, we should be good to go.

But even if there's a big market correction next year, even in that worst case scenario, the plan right now is just to put in our notices and peace out of work once MC Baby drops her first single. The last time we tried to get through those first few months post baby, while holding down a stressful job and finishing a PhD program, we barely made it. Our marriage was honestly in some trouble. 

This time around, we have Toddler AF in the picture and, thanks to the coronavirus, no daycare to help us out. Sure, there is no PhD dissertation to write, but Mrs. Done by Forty has data showing that a toddler is more work than a doctoral program.

So, come next summer, we're pulling the plug no matter what the numbers say. Probably not the most graceful financial independence plan, but it's the one we have. Here's to hoping the market makes us look smart next year. But even if it doesn't, something tells me I'll have a smile on my face anyway.

As always thanks for reading.

P.S. - We'll dive into more details in future posts but I'm anticipating there may be some basic nuts and bolts questions about how we're going to make this work even if the numbers don't support it.

How will you pay for health insurance?

We'll buy a plan on the ACA exchange. And due to the fact that we'll both be working that first half of the year, we won't qualify for any subsidies: which means saving extra cash for those six months of premiums.

What if the market corrects in 2021 or 2022? Won't you run out of money eventually?

Yes! That seems to be the case. Our very loose, not-to-be-followed plan is that we'll both probably want to work part time or full time when both Toddler AF and MC Baby are in school, at least for some of those years. So if we've veered off course financially, we'll try to get back on track during those years. 

But priority number one is being in a good spot stress-and-family wise these next few years. And, honestly, we just kind of want to spend a lot of time with the kiddos before they head off to kindergarten. Which is only in like two and a half years for Toddler AF! Aaaagh! 

*Photo is from Sandro Ducchesi at Flickr Creative Commons.

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  1. "We're trying to figure out how best to handle logistics: like how to deliver a baby in a hospital while also somehow having someone take care of Baby AF at home." Ooooof yes, that's the one I'm struggling with. And by "struggling with" I mean kicking that can down the road and I guess we'll figure it out a few weeks before the due date đŸ˜…

    1. Hi Stephonee!

      It's oddly peaceful to know that we're not the only ones thinking about this, and congratulations! I think I missed the news on Twitter/blog (so behind on everything in 2020) but I'm so happy for you!

  2. Congratulations on baby #2, and on your financial independence / major break from working while the kids are young.

    I also fully agree with your comments on democracy and how fragile our country is. We (most likely) will get through this coup attempt, but anyone just slightly less of a mess than Trump may have had more success. . . .

    1. Thank you, Penny!

      This year has really brought to light just how much of our democracy relies on the honor system: someone without any honor can really bring it to its knees.

      And like you said, had our opponent been just a bit more competent...

  3. Congrats on your next baby and planning your path forward! An option to hedge against future financial needs (2 kids will only cost more and more money over time!) is to use the time after you are no longer working to work a side hustle that could grow into extra ongoing cash on your own terms, rather than working a traditional job. Good luck with everything!

    1. That's good advice, Costa Rica FIRE. I have a sense that we'll probably make some money...somehow...over the years. But a lot of that is just hanging out in TBD land.

  4. I had a very generous 20 week maternity leave from my company and my husband wasn't working when we had baby number 2, and I kept having to remind myself that I wasn't on vacation. Like you, our first kiddo was a tough transition. With number 2, it was smooth sailing. I think you'll enjoy the time off and it will be very special for your family.

    1. That's so wonderful to hear, Lauraz, as we're fairly worried about how we'll handle another go-round with Toddler AF demanding our attention.

      That's awesome maternity leave. Mrs. Done by Forty gets 12 weeks but, unfortunately, her contract ends midway through that so she'll only really get 8 or 9 weeks paid and then simply stop working. She could renew her contract & get that extra month off, but then she'd have to go back in to work for 30 days or pay the whole 3 months pay back...and that also probably would leave a sour taste with her employer (renewing a contract & breaking it a month into it).

      Anyway, thank you again for the well wishes & sharing your perspective! I'll take all the encouraging words I can.

  5. Congratulations to you all! What a nice shiny spot to the year. Though it's rather fraught thanks to coronavirus, and we certainly felt that no childcare conundrum along with hospital restrictions... Do you have any family or friends who are being equally careful as you are?

    I think it's wonderful that you're both planning to ditch the jobs when MC Baby arrives. Life-wise, that is probably the very best option given the two kids no help scenario and I'm so glad you can swing it financially, at the very least in the near short term. I wish that was where we were too but we're lucky enough in the second best category of being able to take some decent leave time to take care of the Smol Acrobat and survive. Here's hoping a couple of months gets us through the worst of it. I have no clue what we're going to do about childcare in 2021, even if spots open up, either since we're going to be more cautious with a new baby, not less.

    My best wishes to Mrs. DbF that she has a reasonably smooth pregnancy. It can (and has) felt isolating at times.

    1. Sorry for the late reply, friend.

      We do have a family member who is being careful and the plan now is for her to come here and watch Toddler AF while we are in the hospital. So that's a blessing, for sure.

      I'm glad you're able to get good time off for Smol Acrobat (incredible name). I do think a couple months should be a good period to adjust. And like you said, it's hard to figure out child care in 2021. Fingers crossed that vaccine news continues to be good.

      I agree that isolation is a real concern. We'll have to come up with a plan to do better next time than we did the last!

  6. Congratulations! That's exciting news. Best wishes to your family.
    Also, democracy looks like it's working out pretty well. I'm very happy about that. I really think things will get back to mostly normal by next summer. Summer is a great time to FIRE. There are so many things to do so you don't dwell on your old life. Exciting times!

    1. Thank you, Joe! And yes, I think we'll be looking at a much different world by next summer. Fingers crossed.

  7. Wow Awesome news! Congrats on the new addition to the family and on FIRE this coming summer! I'm sure it will be exciting...but also hectic. Hopefully things will be mostly back to normal by then. Take care!

    1. Thank you so much, Andrew and I hope things are going well for you in NYC, friend.

  8. Congrats on pulling the plug and #2 kid. I get it about the 2 year old (our son just turned 2). I hope it all works out well. And by the time Mrs.DBF has the 2nd one daycares and other things should start to open up. Best of luck (luckily our daycare has not shut down....just curtailed its hours).

    1. Fingers crossed for daycare but I don't know if we'll pull the trigger on that anyway: I hear vaccines might take a while for little ones. But, yes, we'll take all the good luck we can, Jason! Thanks for the well wishes.