I Dropped Out of the Workforce for 6 Months When I Had Twins. Here's How We Got By Financially
It wasn't easy losing income for that long, but we made it through thanks to advanced planning.
- Sometimes, parents have no choice but to take a break from work to care for their children.
- By saving and planning ahead of time, we got through a six-month period where we were down an income and didn't wind up in debt.
When I first found out I'd be having twins, I'll admit I was a little panicked. Though I already had a child and was familiar with caring for an infant, the idea of having to manage two tiny babies at once, plus a toddler, was overwhelming. As a freelance writer who wasn't entitled to paid time off, I knew that I'd need to take a break from my work once those babies arrived -- and forgo a bunch of income for months.
In the end, I wound up taking about six months off from writing full-time. To be fair, I managed a little bit of work here and there in between feeding babies, changing diapers, and shuttling my toddler to activities. But for the most part, I was working at maybe 10% capacity -- and earning about 10% of my former income.
Financially speaking, it wasn't the easiest time for my family. Here's how we made it work.
1. We saved in advance
Once I found out I was having twins, I anticipated having to take a lot of time off. I prepared for it by essentially sticking all of my earnings into my savings account during my pregnancy.
Since my pregnancy was extremely difficult (it's not easy carrying multiples), I wasn't motivated to go on vacation or go out much. The temptation to spend a lot of money wasn't there.
Meanwhile, we buckled down and mostly stopped dining out, an easy thing to do when that first trimester nausea you often read about lasts almost your entire pregnancy. That was a big money-saver. Having cash reserves to dip into as needed while I was out of work really helped us absorb the cost of infant supplies, like a seemingly never-ending stream of diapers.
2. We spent very little on baby gear
Not only did we curb our spending in the months leading up to the birth of our twins, but once they were born, we put ourselves on a tight budget. We did, however, factor in the cost of takeout and delivery for those nights when we were too exhausted to cook. But we also spent very little on gear for the twins.
Rather than spring for a fancy $800 double stroller, we bought the cheapest one that worked. We also accepted hand-me-downs from people who no longer needed their own baby gear. Plus, we had the stuff our son had outgrown, which helped.
Was all of our stuff mismatched? Yup. Did that bother us? Nope.
3. We kept reminding ourselves it was temporary
I could've paid for childcare when my twins were born to avoid having to stop working. But because I nursed my babies and they fed every few hours for many months, I didn't see the point in hiring help -- not when I would've needed to stop what I was doing every 50 to 75 minutes for a feeding.
Since I unfortunately didn't have family available to provide free care, I crunched the numbers and decided it wasn't worth it to pay for care. Instead, I decided I would wait until my twins' stomachs grew and feedings spaced out before hiring a babysitter to help out part-time while I ramped back up at work.
One of the things that helped my family during that time was knowing our situation was temporary. It wasn't fun having to stick to a tight budget, but we also reminded ourselves repeatedly that we'd have more flexibility once I got back to working more.
Dropping out of the workforce for six months wasn't easy. And we definitely had our moments of financial stress on top of many, many sleepless nights. But ultimately, we got through it, and I'm grateful for the fact I was able to dedicate that time to my babies without winding up with a pile of debt.
If you're planning time off from work once you have a baby, do your best to pad your savings in advance, and think about the ways you can adjust your spending once your income takes a hit. Doing so could spare you a world of stress once you're thrown into your new but wonderful reality.
Alert: highest cash back card we've seen now has 0% intro APR until 2024
If you're using the wrong credit or debit card, it could be costing you serious money. Our expert loves this top pick, which features a 0% intro APR until 2024, an insane cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee.
In fact, this card is so good that our expert even uses it personally. Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.
Our Research Expert
We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.