116 | Adoption, FFLC & the House of FI | Wendy Mays

116 | Adoption, FFLC & the House of FI | Wendy Mays

Wendy Mays, from House of FI, tells the story of growing her family from 4 to 8 through adoption all while moving states and changing careers, and ultimately kickstarting her family’s pursuit of financial independence.

  • Wendy and her family first learned about financial independence about 4 years ago.
  • Wendy was commuting from Phoenix, Az., to San Diego, Ca., as her husband was living in California in pursuit of a new teaching job.
  • Wendy now has a family of six children, four of whom are adopted.
  • During her husband’s job search Wendy’s law practice in Phoenix was the family’s primary income, so she made significant changes to balance keeping her job with the family’s logistical challenges, including a shift in the type of legal work she did.
  • In the midst of this hectic commuting lifestyle, Wendy and her husband finalized the adoption of three of their children, including a 4-day-old baby.
  • Once the adoptions finalized, Wendy finally moved fully to San Diego.
  • In March 2017, Wendy started adjusting their financial lifestyle to begin pursuing financial independence.
  • First step was understanding where their money was really going.
  • Wendy dropped her average food/grocery expenses from about $3,500 to about $1,000.
  • By eliminating a few unnecessary big-ticket items, and optimizing smaller expenses, Wendy cut about $6,000 from their monthly expenses.
  • Beginning in 2018, Wendy’s husband maxed out his savings and retirements accounts, increasing their family savings rate to about 28%.
  • In October 2018, Wendy transitioned from legal work in Phoenix to real estate in San Diego.
  • Having a large family impacts Wendy’s financial commitments:
    • Larger housing expenses
    • Larger vehicles – a Suburban
    • Bigger clothing expenses
  • Financially reasonable family activities require creativity.
  • Currently, Wendy’s family is on a 7-year path to financial independence.
  • Making these changes has been really challenging for Wendy, but tracking progress and looking back is encouraging.
  • There are several different types of adoption
    • Domestic private adoption – using courts, lawyers, very expensive
    • Private international adoption – using courts, lawyers, very expensive
    • Adoption via foster care – usually low cost
  • After adopting through foster care, there are ongoing financial assistance programs that help Wendy and her husband to offset the costs associated with raising adopted children.
  • Wendy is hopeful she might pay off her student loan debt in 5 years.


Links mentioned in this episode:

House of FI

“Our Adoption Story… Part 1” – WendyMays.com

JL Collins


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3 thoughts on “116 | Adoption, FFLC & the House of FI | Wendy Mays”

  1. Interesting interview. I wish there would have been more specific financial information (how much is she making exactly vs “six figures”, how much is she saving–how much would she save from selling the house, etc.).

  2. Good interview today w/ Wendy. As a fellow Suburban driving parent of 4 adopted kids (a sibling group, all at once, no we’re not not nuts, why do you ask?) and CPA, I wanted to expand this detail in the adoption discussion: the adoption tax credit still very much exists, and is $14,080 per child for 2019. It may be used for domestic or foreign adoptions up to actual expenses, or in the case of special needs adoptions (US-only, determined by the state; generally, if you get a subsidy benefit, it qualifies), you may claim the entire credit per child regardless of actual expenses. It is a non-refundable credit, so if you don’t have a large enough tax liability to use it all at once, it may be carried forward up to an additional 5 years. You may also be able to claim the credit for costs of never finalized adoptions. The credit does begin to phase out at approx $208K of MAGI. The credit is reduced by the amount of any adoption assistance received from an employer.

    Adoption tax credit bonus: effective 2018, the adoption credit will be used to reduce your tax liability BEFORE the full child tax credit kicks in, allowing to you receive the up to $1400 per child refundable portion of the latter.

  3. Olaf! Thank you for adding that info. Good stuff. We share a lot in common it sounds like. 3 of our boys are a sibling group. So wonderful to find families willing to keep kids together!

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