Why I gave up my retirement goal to save for motherhood
- In early 2021, I planned to save $ 25,000 annually for retirement.
- That changed when I had a miscarriage. I realized that I wanted to prioritize motherhood as a financial goal.
- Now I’m ambitiously saving up for adoption or any medical needs I might have while trying to become a mom.
- Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.
I’m the type of person who struggles to save with no specific goal in mind to keep me on track. I’ve spent over a decade paying off $ 80,000 in debt, and I could because I had a clear goal in mind. The closer I got to debt-free, the more thrifty I became and overjoyed when I reached my goal. For 2021, I have set myself a goal of saving $ 25,000 a year by using strategic credit card rewards to help myself. But that plan was turned on its head when I set my sights on another important goal: motherhood.
In January, I finally went to the emergency room to treat a miscarriage due to a pregnancy that I didn’t even know I was carrying. I had to pay a little over $ 1,000 for my emergency room visit and I was grateful that the cost wasn’t many times higher.
Pouring out this money felt like insulting the injury, but it made me realize that my desire to be a mom outweighs my desire to save for retirement. If pursuing an adoption means spending tens of thousands of dollars, I am ready to do so. If I had the resources I would look into surrogacy too, but the cost is too high and I don’t think I would please my future child by going back into debt to give birth.
I focus on saving up to become a mom
Living through such a traumatic event made me rethink my priorities around money. After all, I have a limited amount of time to either get pregnant or adopt, while I can always add to my retirement plan or choose to retire later.
This year I contributed the maximum of $ 6,000 to my IRA and added $ 10,000 to my brokerage account, which I am grateful to have the money for; that’s more than double what I’ve ever contributed before. But I am fully prepared to use what is in my brokerage account for any expenses related to upbringing.
When I see my account balances rise on a good market day, I don’t think about how I’ll use that money in 20 or 30 years, but how many diapers and other baby items it will buy. This was good motivation for me to be more proactive in finding additional work, staying on my budget, and understanding the real cost of raising children.
I don’t mind pausing my ambitious retirement plan
Reorienting my thoughts on money and realizing that my nest egg may have to fall in order to achieve my lifelong dream has helped me make peace with it. Instead of seeing future cash outlays as a loss, I see it as an investment in the family I want to build.
At the moment there is a lot of waiting and researching and hoping and dreaming. I’m well on my way to meet and exceed that $ 25,000 savings goal, but now I see it as my baby fund rather than my retirement plan. That makes me hopeful and positive, as does the weighing of any major financial decision against the financial consequences of becoming a mother, especially if I have to take unpaid vacation days.
I’d rather find other ways to limit myself, such as not traveling to visit my family this summer, as I normally would, than feeling like I’m further delaying my journey to motherhood because of the money . I have also indulged in the fact that if my future finances suffer temporarily or permanently, it must be okay if I have to make large payments that bring me one step closer to motherhood (like adoption or labor and delivery costs). You will be more than worth it. With that in mind, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to give up travel to save, but like a gift to myself.
As long as I contribute to my IRA with the intention of increasing my retirement savings when I can, and as careful as possible with my expenses, I feel good about my decisions. Even if I go backwards in an area of my life, I am moving forward in one that means everything to me. There is no dollar number associated with my new goal, but it is one that I pursue with the same focus and attention that I did to get out of debt. Hopefully I’m just as successful.