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Is There A Right Financial Time To Have A Baby?

By Erik Folgate

best time to have a babyMoney Crashers is obviously a blog about personal finance, but because our money is so closely tied to our everyday lives, we often end up talking about a lot of huge life events. Getting married, buying your first house, having children, getting divorced, and looking for a job are all major life events that stir up a plethora of financial decisions and questions among you. The subject of babies and when to have them came up recently with me and a friend because my wife and I recently found out that she is pregnant! This was a major blessing for us, because we had been trying for a while and we’ve been emotionally and financially preparing for this time for about 18 months. The question was raised to me about when I think the “right” time is to have a baby and what your finances should look like before you have one. Here are a few of my thoughts:

Is There A “Right” Time?

If you and your spouse are both emotionally and spiritually ready to have a child, then I really don’t think there’s a wrong time to have one. I know that there are so many statistics out there that scare young people about the yearly costs of a baby being 10 grand, but honestly, who is paying for the research that made that statistic so high? Yes, babies are definitely an added expense, but as long as you have a good support network, you’ll be showered with gifts, and diapers, formula, medical care (assuming you have health insurance), and clothing shouldn’t run you anywhere near $1,000 a month. If you are not going through a “special” financial situation, then I say, “Go for it!” I’ve seen my brother, sister, and close friends have kids, and it seems to be a life changing experience for the good of both spouses! Stop being such a financial nerd trying to calculate the optimal time to have a kid, and go for it if you both feel that you’re ready to take on parenthood.

The Wrong Situations To Have A Child

Again, my opinion is that there’s no “right” or “wrong” time for a married couple to have a child, but there are some tough financial and emotional situations that might cause you to think twice about having a baby until it has been cleared up. Here are a few of those situations:

  • Your first year of marriage. You might argue this is tough because you can never prevent pregnancy 100% unless you just never have sex, and if you’re not having sex in your first year of marriage, then you need to see a counselor quick! Some people conceive on their honeymoon, which is perfectly fine, but my guess is that if you asked them about it, they’d say that they don’t regret having the baby but being able to wait a little longer would have been nice. My two cents is to enjoy your first year of marriage. It’s a time to get to know each other on a much different level, and throwing a pregnant woman into the mix of that could be really tough for both of you! So if you can help it, try waiting a year until you have kids so you can enjoy one another and get your finances in order.
  • Going through foreclosure/bankruptcy. These are two REALLY tough and strenuous financial events for a couple to go through. If there were ever a time that you should put the baby making on hold from a financial perspective, it would be if you were going through a foreclosure or a bankruptcy. You want your children to come into this world with a sense of stability, and you may not be able to provide that if you’re going through one of these situations.
  • Death of a close family member or friend. The emotional stress of an event like this is enough to tell you not to try to have kids during the grieving process, but there may also be some financial ramifications if you help with the funeral or other arrangements.

If you’re just in the middle of getting out of debt, or saving for a retirement/emergency fund and you’re not sure if you should have kids because it might delay you from achieving those goals, I say don’t let those financial goals stop you if you’re both ready. It’s also perfectly fine to wait until you’re debt free (if that’s one of your financial goals) to start having kids, but make sure you and your spouse are BOTH okay with that. There are some extreme cases where some couples are so swamped in debt that any new life event would send them over the edge financially, but for the most part, you can still achieve all of your financial goals even with a little one on your hip.

This was definitely coming all from my personal opinion, but I think it’s a pretty fair one. What are your thoughts on this subject? I’d like to hear from some people who had kids while trying to get out of debt or save for certain things.

(photo credit: Mallu2007)

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • Jenny

    I think about nine months after getting pregnant is just about right :-)

  • http://www.moneyedup.com/ Moneyedup

    I agree in that when you bring a child into the world you want them to have a stable and comfortable environment to live in. If you are going through tough situations like bankruptcy or if you are in extreme debt, you may not be able to provide the stability that a child needs. I can’t speak from personal experience, but a few of my close friends got pregnant while they were in the midst of looking for new jobs and buying their first home. They are overjoyed to have their newborn child in their lives now, but money does cause a bit of a strain for them and they can’t always do the recreational activities they would like to do with their child, such as take him to the zoo because their bills come first.

    • Erik Folgate

      Yeah, It can definitely still be done to have kids while going through financially stressful times, but it’s probably not recommended by people who did, even though they are obviously grateful for the miracle of having babies. Having kids is never something that should be taken for granted, because some women and men aren’t able to have them, so even if you get pregnant during the worst possible time in your life, you should still feel grateful for it.

  • Lana

    Something else to keep in mind, as you age, fertility declines, and pretty rapidly after age 35. I and some of my friends, who waited till the time was “right” (after grad-school, owning a home, etc.) to have a baby, then were only able to have 1 baby due to age/declining fertility.

    • Erik Folgate

      Yeah, that’s definitely something to consider as well Lana. I think the 20something and 30something generation is a little more cautious when it comes to having kids, and then they find it a little harder to have them once they’re all settled down. Thanks for the comment!

  • Karmella

    Congrats! :)

  • FeeFaa

    You make some great points but, when you discuss the costs you left out one huge expense (for many families these days)…the cost of childcare! Add that to all the other expenses and you very well may be over the $1000 per month mark! Also for many of us, health insurance is not free, we pay at least a portion at our jobs so, the cost of that may also increase, at least with the first kid. Great article and it gives me a new feeling of hope….

    • Erik Folgate

      Fee, you’re definitely right the increased cost of childcare. That is a big factor to consider. Usually many people are able to allow one spouse to stay at home or do childcare part-time and one spouse has the flexibility to work from home part-time, or some families have other family members able to do free or low-cost childcare. However, not all families have those luxuries. My rec is to start saving a separate “baby fund” as soon as you find out you’re pregnant and stash away as much cash as possible to cover some added expenses in the first year, so you can ease into the added costs, rather than feel like they come on right away.

      • Maria

        A stay-at-home-parent is a rarity – only a quarter of families have one of the parents at home. It’s still our default image of family, but it’s outdated.

        Great article!

  • http://hotannals.com Derek Allen

    Great article! There are several things we must avoid in order to become financially stable and not retire broke. An interesting article on this subject is:

    Worse Financial Decisions You Can Make To Guarantee Bankruptcy During Retirement!

  • laura m.

    I’m 65, and we chose to be child free. The world is over populated and we were blue collar workers and not rich enough to afford a child anyway. Now my peers (most) have bungled it raising their kid or kids. Now as I look back at friends and relatives (some who had handicapped/sick kids) and some had problems with the drugs, arrests, kids unemployed, etc. and several who had sons killed in car wrecks in college; I didn’t miss a thing. Few people are successful parents or live up to the ideal family/parent , as there are many dysfunctional families.

  • Sarah

    Not sure how old this article is, but I stumbled upon it today. My DH and I are now trying to have a baby. We did wait through our first year of marriage first, and I think that was a good thing for us. Even though we have debt still to pay & other goals to reach, we both feel like we are ready to tackle this one too.

    Good article :)

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