Thursday, July 29

I ditched my retirement goal when a pregnancy loss showed me a more important savings priority


  • At the start of 2021, I planned to save $25,000 a year for retirement.
  • That changed when I had a miscarriage. I realized I wanted to prioritize motherhood as a financial goal.
  • Now I’m saving ambitiously for adoption or any medical needs I may have as I try to become a mom.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

I’m the kind of person who has trouble saving without a specific goal to keep me on track. I spent over a decade paying off $80,000 of debt, and I was able to do so in part because I had a clear goal in sight. The closer I got to being debt-free, the more frugal I became, and felt overjoyed when I reached my goal. So for 2021, I made a retirement savings goal to save $25,000 per year, using strategic credit card rewards bonuses to help me . But that plan got turned upside down when I set my sights on another major goal: motherhood.

In January, I wound up going to the emergency room to treat a miscarriage for a pregnancy I didn’t even know I was carrying. I had to pay a little over $1,000 for my ER visit, and was grateful the cost wasn’t several times higher.

Shelling out that money felt like adding insult to injury, but it did make me realize that my desire to be a mom supersedes my desire to save for retirement. If pursuing adoption means spending tens of thousands of dollars, I’m willing to do it . If I had the resources, I would also look into surrogacy, but the cost is too high and I don’t think I’d be doing my future child right by going back into debt to bring them into the world.

I’m focused on saving to become a mom

Going through such a traumatic event made me rethink my priorities when it comes to money. After all, I only have a limited amount of time before I can either get pregnant or adopt, while I can always contribute to my retirement savings, or decide to retire at a later age.

This year, I’ve contributed the $6,000 maximum to my IRA, and added $10,000 to my brokerage account, which I’m grateful to have had the money to do; that’s over twice what I’ve ever contributed before. But I’m fully prepared to use what’s in my brokerage account for any costs associated with parenting.

Now, when I see my account totals rise on a good market day, I’m not thinking about how I’ll use that money in 20 or 30 years, but about how many diapers and other baby supplies it’ll purchase. Doing so has been a good motivator for me to be more proactive about looking for extra work, stick to my budget, and get familiar with the actual costs of raising a child.

I don’t mind putting my ambitious retirement savings goal on pause

Reorienting my mind around money and recognizing that my nest egg may have to drop in order to achieve my life’s dream has helped me make peace with that. Rather than seeing any future outlays of cash as a loss, I see them as an investment in the family I want to build.

Right now there is a lot of waiting and researching and hoping and dreaming. I’m on track to hit that $25,000 savings goal, and even exceed it, only now I’m considering it my baby fund rather than my retirement savings. That makes me feel hopeful and positive, as does weighing every major money decision against what it will mean for my finances if I do become a mom, especially if I have to take unpaid time off work.

I would rather find other ways to cut back, such as not traveling this summer to visit family as I normally would, than feel like I’m further delaying my path toward motherhood because of money. I’ve also let myself embrace the fact that it’s going to have to be OK if my future finances suffer, whether temporarily or permanently, when I have to make large payments that get me one step closer to being a mom (such as adoption or labor and delivery fees). They will be more than worth it. In that light, giving up traveling to save doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, but a gift to myself.

As long as I’m contributing something to my IRA, with the intention of increasing my retirement savings when I’m able to, and being as mindful as possible about my expenditures, I feel good about my choices. Even if I’m going backward in one area of ​​my life, I’m going forward in one that means everything to me. My new goal doesn’t have a dollar figure attached to it, but it’s one I’m pursuing with the same focus and attention as I did getting out of debt. Hopefully I’ll be just as successful.



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