Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Debt gives parents pause about expanding family

 

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I want another child, but despite our best efforts to be thrifty, we find ourselves in ever-deepening debt after having our first baby a year ago, buying our first house and buying a (used) car after someone totaled our old one.

We have options for making more money, but we both get so stressed just looking at our budge, we avoid it.

I know this is untenable, and an irresponsible place from which to consider having a second child. Can you help?

H.

Can you help yourselves?

Can you sit down and decide which of those potential new income sources to pursue, how best to pursue them while ensuring good care for your baby, and how quickly you can start? Can you recognize your budget situation is too stressful to face alone, and make an appointment for help through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (www.nfcc.org)? Can you stick to the resulting debt-management plan? Can you recognize that all this is essential, right now, even if you decide not to add to your family?

If one of you doesn’t budge, then will the other one be strong and proceed anyway?

You framed this as a parenting question — to me it’s more of a self-discipline, financial and marriage one — but the strongest parental element has nothing to do with yea-or-nay on a second child. It’s about doing what stresses, scares, royally inconveniences and (no doubt) embarrasses you, because doing it will keep the home stable and the future opportunities intact for the child you already have.

Will you do that? That “yes” unlocks the door to others.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.

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