I recently read a blog posting and a book that got me thinking a lot more about family and lifestyle choices. We are currently a two income family with two young kids in day care. We are debt free aside from a home mortgage with roughly 20% equity (not underwater).
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua made me reflect on how much time I spend with my children and whether I am ready to step-up with time and money to ensure that they are (1) in the 90th percentile academically, (2) exposed to a cultural and athletic hobby complete with lessons or coaching, and (3) well rounded in terms of exposure to religion, philosophy and health. Right now I am failing on all fronts as I rarely do homework or read with my 4 year old, she washed out of swim lessons, I rarely take her to religious services and her dietary/sleep habits are worse than mine.
Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes by Sonja Wieck got me thinking about the possibility of not being a two income family and what threshold lifestyle is reasonable. These choices include home ownership, late model cars, frequent dining out and maid service. Another caveat was participation in hobbies for the kids (cheap) and me (expensive). My only truly expensive hobby is casino gambling. My race schedule is pretty light and swimming, bicycling, running is not expensive aside from buying a bike which I already have. Coin collecting is expensive, but only due to carrying costs. Liquidating the pieces I have purchased in the last 5 years would show a return on investment.