Dave Ramsey: How do you prepare financially for having a baby?
Dear Dave: I started my own small bakery from home two years ago, providing wedding and specialty cakes. I just found out I'm pregnant, and while my husband and I are really excited about the baby, we're worried about how we'll handle things after the baby is here. We both work long hours, but we don't make a lot of money. I made about $20,000 last year, and he currently makes $35,000 working 60 to 70 hours per week. Do you have any advice for us now and after the baby arrives? — Lindsay
Dear Lindsay: Congratulations! You're going to be a mom, and you're running your own business.
I think more than anything you just need some good business planning and time management. The good news is that you have a little time on your hands before the baby gets here. You can begin scheduling things now and laying out a plan. If you get into a busy time — say around wedding season — you may want to bring in a baby sitter or some part-time help for your business. I don't think I would do daycare every day. You're probably not that busy 12 months out of the year or even at the height of some seasons yet.
Your husband also needs some relief in the future. Working those kinds of hours, and bringing home just $35,000 per year, is no way to help support a family the way he would like, I'm sure. If his hours are going to back down soon and his income is going to go up, that's one thing. If not, he needs to look into getting some additional education, making modifications to his current career or finding another line of work. With some careful and realistic planning on your end, and him doing something to make things better on his, a lot of the stress will fall off.
Many people do the kind of things we're talking about, and it ends up being an awesome experience. Just sit down together, and talk it through. Help each other out, and decide what it will take to get where you want to be as a family and with your careers.
Dear Dave: I'm going to college next year, and I'm pretty scared. My older brother is smart, but his grades aren't too good. He says he can't find time to study and work. How do people do it? — Justin
Dear Justin: I'm glad you're thinking ahead, and trying to make your college experience a successful one. It's really just a matter of using your time wisely. You know how I always tell people to budget their money? You can do the same kind of thing with your time.
There are 24 hours in a day. Set aside seven for sleep and that leaves 17 hours. Let's say three meals combined takes three hours. You've got 14 hours left. If you're in class for four or five hours a day, that still leaves you with about nine hours. That's plenty of time during the week to study hard, hang out with friends a little and take care of other things. Then, you can work weekends, and have a little down time to relax, study more and run errands.
I worked 40 hours week in college, and I still graduated in four years with good grades. You can do it, Justin!