This is a post from Make Love, Not Debt staff blogger, Abby.
One of the things that happens when you suddenly realize you will have more money in your twenties than you had previously thought (see: living rent-free) is that you start to consider what kind of adult things you could do with that money. Retirement savings! Maybe one day we can afford a house! Etc. And one of the by-products of living in a community where many people have young children is that you start to think about the cost of children, and whether it might actually be affordable sooner rather than later.
It seems that it’s not just prospective parents in the US worrying about the cost of children pushing them into debt. It’s a similar situation in the UK with the average cost of raising a child until the age of 18 works out at £143,000 ($232,550) which is £150 ($243) per week.
Allow me to clarify – I’m not particularly baby crazy. I will engage with your young child, and babysit when necessary. In our community, the young children are great – well-behaved and articulate. I’m happy to have conversations with the four-year-old, to help out with the toddlers. They’re good kids. But I am not wont to coo over every infant I encounter. Yes, your child is adorable. Now please let me get back to my work/sandwich-eating/staring at nothing. My husband, on the other hand, is a natural with all children. Babies flock to him, adore him, and he in turn wants a ridiculous brood to rival the Duggar family (note: this will not be happening). While I move on to the rest of our walk, or dinner, he will still be talking to the baby, letting it grab his finger, etc. So when we realized that we would be closer to financial goals a lot earlier than anticipated, we thought, are we also closer to having kids?
Naturally, I did what anyone with a borderline obsessive-compulsive personality would do: I put together an Excel chart timeline outlining my husband’s course of study over the next three to four years, my work and study plan, our savings rate, and where a pregnancy would fit in (apparently many people do not have a sliding “Pregnancy” cell on their Excel document life plans, or Excel document life plans).
In the end, it looks like this won’t really be happening for a number of reasons, not all of them financial (I do not, for instance, want to be raising an infant while simultaneously working full-time and pursuing a master’s degree – but bravo to anyone who does). But while I do understand where all of those parents are coming from when they tell me that “the money will work out,” or that “you’re never totally ready for a baby,” I also know that if we’re capable of planning at least a bit in advance — having a nice savings fund for new-baby expenses, paying off my husband’s loan debt so that we can focus on college savings for a child (and not our educational expenses), having some money set aside to at least think about owning a house one day — then I will be doing that planning, whether or not life goes according to the Excel chart plan, and particularly because we’re not in a rush right now.
How do you plan to handle the cost of a baby, or have you planned to handle it? Has the cost of a child deterred you from having children when you wanted them?
image: christina rutz