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New baby = new expenses

A month ago, Alex and his wife discovered they were expecting a baby. Adding a new member to the family can be exciting, but also expensive. The average cost of raising a child in the U.S. is $20,813 annually, according to consumer finance site SmartAsset.

Alex said he wasn’t worried about the cost, at least initially. “We’re financially stable,” he told Ramsey. “I don’t have to worry about knowing if we’re going to be able to afford the baby or not because I know that we can.”

However, his confidence was shaken when his wife told him she felt “dissatisfied” and stressed with her current job and wanted to quit. She’s employed as a social worker, earning roughly $2,300 a month, and wants to save up to go back to school. Alex, who makes $4,200 a month, believes their combined income is critical for their financial stability.

“If she’s planning on moving to a different job, that shakes my structure, it shakes my rock,” he said.

To make matters worse, the couple is dealing with a large pile of student loan debt. Alex said they pay $3,000 a month to manage his wife’s total outstanding balance of $57,000. “We thought it was a lot less than that until she graduated and we looked at the numbers, and it was twice [what we expected].”

As of May 2023, the average federal student loan debt was $37,338, according to the Education Data Initiative. Alex’s wife owes considerably more than that, which puts the couple in a particularly difficult position.

Ramsey doesn’t recommend switching jobs in this condition. He believes there are two key reasons why people should work, even if they don’t feel like it.

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Work can't always be fulfilling

According to Ramsey, people need to work for one of two reasons: self-actualization or necessity. People with financial stability can look for work they’re passionate about to add “purpose and meaning” to life, he said.

However, for most people, work is a necessity: “We’re grown-ups and we have to feed our family.”

In his opinion, Alex’s wife needs to start taking responsibility. “She has never once stiffened her backbone and walked through a tough time. Every time the wind blows, she goes out the door, that’s who you’ve described to us,” he said. “She has a baby on the way and $57,000 in debt. This is when you suck it up.”

However, this advice might not resonate with someone in their early 20s.

Almost 70% of Gen Z and millennial Americans surveyed by LinkedIn said they planned to quit their jobs this year. Young workers are dissatisfied, even as they deal with mounting debts and the rising cost of living.

“[Gen Zers are] more passionate about finding a job that aligns with their personal values, and they’re confident that switching jobs will help them get there,” said Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, to CNBC Make It.

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Vishesh Raisinghani Freelance Writer

Vishesh Raisinghani is a freelance contributor at MoneyWise. He has been writing about financial markets and economics since 2014 - having covered family offices, private equity, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and tech stocks over that period. His work has appeared in Seeking Alpha, Motley Fool Canada, Motley Fool UK, Mergers & Acquisitions, National Post, Financial Post, and Yahoo Canada.

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