Money 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)