Hi, I just read your article about financial planning for motherhood (I see it is older but it was new to me). Do you have any tips for those of us who maybe are a little behind your recommended steps? Since I can’t go back in time and pick a new career from high school and I’m a decrepit 31, is there anything I can do to set myself up for parenting or is it too late?
Oh good. Here’s the article, for anyone who wants it: The Ultimate Guide To Preparing Your Career For A Baby.
I have to say, I wrote that for DailyWorth and it was edited a bit so it would be less likely to alienate anyone who already has kids or plans to have them very soon (the original was more like DO ALL THESE THINGS TEN YEARS IN ADVANCE). But that’s an ideal. I think it’s nice to know about an ideal so you can aim high, but few people ever actually achieve that ideal (I could have planned a little better myself).
(My thoughts on this matter are also thoroughly American. Our system (or lack thereof) is BRUTAL to new parents, and to mothers in particular. I often recommend extreme measures as a rational response to an extremely unforgiving strain of capitalism. If you live in a country with good maternity leave and benefits, please go do your thing and enjoy your life.)
That said, this one is a little more “me”: What Lean In Gets Wrong: How I Balance a Career, Marriage, and Parenthood
There’s nothing wrong with being 31, and nothing wrong with being in a dead-end or low-paying career. The only problem you need to worry about is a lack of willingness to make radical changes.
Are you willing to change careers? Are you willing to go get training to do something new, even though it makes you feel dumb or old (older than the other students) at first? Are you willing to ask people to buy your new products or services? Are you willing to let go of things that aren’t serving you, even if it hurts other people’s feelings?
If you don’t have a lot of time, compensate with ballsiness.
Maybe you’ve been in a career you like but has no hope for advancement. Treat it like Marie Kondo treats an old sweater: thank it for its service and let it go. Just because something is good doesn’t mean you have to do it forever.
What is the laziest, easiest, feels-like-cheating way you can think of to make more money in less time? Try that. (It’s probably a lot more work than you’re imagining, so imagining something “easy” and “lazy” will at least make it “possible” when you actually get down to it.)
When you’re used to working for a boss and the boss keeping most of the money, a lot of really good ideas kind of “feel like cheating.” Some of the bestselling products in the Bullish Shop aren’t the ones I designed. Some are, and that’s awesome (people LOVE the Hustle for Justice/Smash the Patriarchy pencils), but I didn’t design those Motherfucking Girl Power socks everyone loves so much. I just buy them wholesale and sell them retail. Just like EVERY OTHER STORE. It’s pretty easy. (I mean, it’s easy given that I spent five years building up an audience and that I’ve tried selling 100+ other products before finding the most popular product ever.) Anyway, it’s not reinventing the wheel.
The key there was willingness to change course and to respond to what people want. The wrong attitude is “Boo hoo, I’m a serious writer, I should get paid more for writing.” The right attitude is, “Isn’t it weird that writing is so hard and pays so poorly, but selling socks is working out incredibly well?”
Make big changes. Don’t be afraid to get rejected, look foolish, ask directly for raises, promotions, and jobs, and straight-up ask people to buy things that you provide.
Finally – of course plenty of people with ordinary careers have kids all the time and it turns out just fine, especially if both partners have stable jobs.
My aggressive approach is focused on building security through multiple levels of redundancy (your income, your partner’s income, your emergency fund, your multiple income streams, your incredible network of people willing to hire you at a moment’s notice, your skill set allowing you to change focus and make money doing other things if needed).
I assumed you wanted a bullish answer, so I gave you one! But that’s an ideal, and even if you only do a little, you’ll probably do just fine!