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Wednesday 28 February 2018

What's New In Stealthville?

New - like Ramaphosa's cabinet
There have been some developments on our ever changing, unpredictable and exciting road to financial freedom. The latest being that a few months back my wife and I took the decision that she should apply for the toughest, but probably most rewarding job known to mankind.

She submitted her application, and since it was obvious that she was the most qualified and, without a doubt, the best person for the job, it came as no surprise that she was accepted.

She put in her notice, and made the switch.

Her new job title – Stay-At-Home Mom.
Reporting directly to the Head Of Terror, Stealthy Junior.

KPI’s include:
  • Protecting the cat from undue torment
  • Not laughing at Stealthy Junior’s attempted handstands
  • Removing toys from the washing machine
On a more serious note, my wife now has the toughest, most exhausting job in the world, and we will be pursuing financial freedom on one income (well at least for the rest of this year anyway…)

We didn’t take this decision lightly, and on the surface it may seem a little drastic - the loss of income from one of us was definitely not planned for.

But digging a little deeper it also makes a lot of sense (well to us anyway.)

First some of the “softer” issues behind our decision.
  • I am of the view that there is no one out there who can look after your child as well as you can. A young child’s two favourite people in the world are their parents (in the same way a teenage child’s two least favourite people in the world are their parents!) My wife is a fantastic mom, and I couldn’t think of anyone better for my son to spend his day’s with, as he navigates the daily challenges of which drawer to unpack next and ponders some of life's tougher questions like exactly how far can a piece of broccoli be thrown?
  • My wife was beginning to miss out on a lot. Her previous job meant that she worked a lot of late nights and often got home after Junior was asleep. The lack of bedtime kisses were starting to get her down.
  • My wife also worked some weekends, and this meant both her and I were missing out on quality family time. In addition she was missing out on a lot of firsts while she was at work - the first time our son crawled and the first time he walked. Those are milestones that no mother should be denied.

But what about the finances?

While pondering the decision of whether my wife could become a stay-at-home mom, we realised a few things. If my wife were to stop working:
  • We could immediately eliminate the cost of our son’s creche
  • We could immediately eliminate my wife’s Gautrain cost (which had been increasing quite quickly over the last 3 years)
Those were two big savings. And then, in addition:
  • My wife had managed to accumulate some leave which would be paid out once she resigned and which could tie us over while we made the transition to one income
  • We could tighten up the budget a little
All of this meant that, yes, we would be worse off, but not by as much as what we first thought.

What also became apparent was that even when you think your budget is pretty tight, it is almost always possible to trim some more – you just need the right motivation and priorities.

We are going to have to live tight for the next few months, and it will affect our tracking towards our 2030 Financial Freedom goal, but I am hopeful we will be able to make it up later once my wife returns to work.

Lower Expenses Gives You More Choice

All of this also got me thinking - if having my wife stay at home seemed like such a logical (and somewhat obvious) choice for us, why is it that in so many well-earning households both parents work? I have yet to come across a mom who would rather go to work than be at home with their baby - especially in the first year. Yet there are babies as young as 3 months who are shipped off to creche every day.

I then realised, that quite simply, even in well-earning households, people cannot afford to have one parent stop working because the household expenses are just too high. In other words, their high expenses take away their choice. They are forced to have both parents work.

In our case, I think I can single out two things which have reduced our monthly expenses significantly enough to make it possible for my wife to be a stay at home mom:
  1. We only have one car, and it is paid off
  2. I live really close to work, making my monthly commuting cost very low (around R300/month)
A lot of households are busy paying off two cars and commuting thousands of kilometres to and from work every month. Two of the best decisions we ever made were to move closer to where I work and to pay off and keep our one car. This has opened up many options for us (like Early Retirement, having only one parent working) which would not have been possible with a car loan and an expesnive commute.

Lowering our expenses has given us choices which would otherwise not have been available to us.

Anyways, going forwards, the plan is to see how this plays out for the rest of 2018 (and maybe beyond). When we think Stealthy Junior is ready for school, my wife will return to work.

Either way, it is going to be interesting, and I am looking forward to the ride!


Those on the mailing list would be aware of the plans to try organise a Stealthy Wealth Reader’s Gathering in Durban and Cape Town (after the good feedback received from the Jo'burg event). Well good news for the KZN readers is that the Durban event is going down this Saturday.

One of the blogs readers, Harold, has been so kind as to make sure he is there a little early to assist everyone in finding each other, so when you arrive ask for his table.

There has been sufficient interest from the Cape Town reader’s for an event in the Mother City - the only thing missing is someone to volunteer with the admin of selecting and booking a suitable restaurant. If you would like to take this on, please get in touch so we can make it happen.

Till next time, Stay Stealthy!
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