Can You Afford to Have a Baby?

Photo: markgoddard

More and more couples are deciding that having a family is not for them (others yet waiting longer to take the plunge), many citing their finances and a higher cost of living as a reason. While I believe that those who really want kids will always find a way to afford it, there may be some truth to this premise. Don’t "kid" yourself: children are expensive and can financially ruin those who aren’t prepared for all the expenses – both obvious and otherwise. Here are some financial considerations to plan and account for prior to sprouting your own little guys.

Taking Initial Time Off Work

Although I know of some parents who managed to take little more than a long weekend to pop out their progeny before returning to work, the norm (and preference, thank goodness) still is to take some time off to acclimatize baby to their new world, and adjust to the parenthood lifestyle.

But these days mum isn’t the only one with the option of taking time off; many workplaces respect paternity leave. So between the two of you, who will take time off from work, or how will you divide your respective absences? Whose income is higher or occupation requires more attention? Do you have the option of paid leave, or must you take an unpaid leave of absence? How good is your job security and ability to return to work after your leave?

For those who are self-employed, you will be relegated to an unpaid leave and possible loss of business…or else going back to work right away. Don’t fool yourself: you will not be able to bounce your baby on one knee and office work on the other; new parents are always amazed at how completely occupying their baby can be.

Financial Planning Points for Taking Initial Time Off Work

  • Determine who is taking time off, and for how long
  • Save for an unpaid leave of absence, if necessary
  • If you have a reduced paid absence, save up the extra funds required
  • Save for any absence (and prepare your business) if self-employed

Budgeting for Baby and Beyond

In addition to all the wonderful baby expenses like food, diapers, toys, clothing, and so on, you may have to consider paying for all this — and your regular expenses — on one income. Many mums (or dads) choose to stay home with the baby for longer than the prescribed leave calls for, often until the kids start school. And if you plan to have more than one child, this can amount to a lot of years.

Financial Planning Points for Budgeting for Baby and Beyond

  • Save into a contingency fund in case you want to take more time off to be with baby (and yes — this means you!)
  • Budget for the monthly and ongoing expenses of having a new member in the household (once you have an idea of what the budget will be, save the extra money you will be spending on baby stuff, or use it to pay down the mortgage — see below)
  • Ideally take care of all debts before having children so no obligations hang over your head and eat into your budget
  • Ensure your mortgage is manageable even if the interest rates increase at renewal. Consider making extra payments before the baby arrives

Retirement Planning

Planning for retirement tends to take a back seat during initial parenting years, and often doesn’t reappear on the radar until much later — and often too late. Initially you stop saving thinking that just the initial maternity/paternity period will be the toughest, but then childcare costs absorb everything you thought you would save, which is then replaced with schooling expenses, and so on. All of a sudden you have adult children and are standing on retirement’s doorstep without enough funds to stop working.

Especially important to consider are retirement funds for the parent taking time off. Ideally you want to have equal amounts of money in your respective retirement accounts at retirement, so you can draw two taxable incomes and pay less tax overall than if the majority of the retirement funds came from one income. To that end, the parent taking leave can consider maximizing contributions in their last year of work prior to childbirth to make the most of tax deductions and long term growth. Then keep it going with spousal contributions, utilizing the working spouse’s tax deductibility and equally contributing to both retirement plans.

Financial Planning Points for Retirement Planning

  • Don’t assume you will be able to take a short break and resume your retirement savings
  • Maximize contributions for the leave-taking parent in the year or two prior to having the baby
  • Continue making spousal contributions to equalize retirement accounts

Life Insurance

If something happens to either parent, there are deeper consequences once you have kids than there was before. The surviving parent will be saddled with not only grief, but immediately the need to pay for baby’s ongoing care, additional childcare expenses, in addition to the big mortgage and lifestyle you designed for two people to fund. Although you might plan to downsize and adjust your lifestyle accordingly, this won’t be an immediate process, and life insurance can help ease the transition and prevent a total financial meltdown.

Financial Planning Points for Life Insurance

  • Review your existing policies and take out additional insurance if necessary to accommodate the expenses of having a child in tow with one income
  • Review and update your Wills and Estate Plan accordingly

Costs of Pregnancy

Before getting pregnant, it is prudent to figure out exactly what expenses are covered by your health plan and what additional expenses you could face. If there are complications during the pregnancy or childbirth, you could be financially ruined before you are even out of the starting gate. Most disability insurance plans don’t cover pregnancy-related illnesses, even if you are bedridden for months on end.

Some couples choose to have their baby in a country with high-quality but low-cost care (I personally know of a couple who chose to have their baby in Malaysia for this reason among others. Singapore is also a hotspot for “medical vacations”).

Financial Planning Points for Costs of Pregnancy

  • Review your health and disability insurance plans and look for gaps in coverage
  • Budget for additional and contingent pregnancy and childbirth medical expenses
  • If you choose to have the baby elsewhere, budget for the trip, accommodation, medical, and even communication expenses (phone calls to and from family and friends will add up)


Eventually, most parents staying at home with the kids will return to work. However with longer and more varied working hours, this means there will be an additional cost for child care, even if it is just during the hours before and after school.

After discovering the exorbitant cost for full-time childcare (for kids younger than school age), some parents decide that since one entire salary practically goes to childcare, it would be more beneficial for them to simply stay home with the kids until they reach school age. Although this is a sound decision, don’t forget some of the non-salary benefits lost by staying home, such as health care plans, employer-funded retirement contributions, and other government plans and perks funded through taxes (the scope of which vary depending on the country you live in).

Financial Planning Points for Childcare

  • Determine how much childcare will cost, and how it will be funded
  • Save up for childcare in advance of having the child if you can

Planning for Higher Education

This is hard to contemplate as soon as you and baby are home from the hospital, but the clock is already ticking. With the cost of even local post-secondary education being more than a drop in the bucket, it would be best to get cracking on the savings fund. Not only that, but with time on your side, you may be able to save less money overall by using compound growth to your favor.

Financial Planning Points for Planning for Higher Education

  • Prior to having baby, determine how much you need to save to fund your child’s post-secondary education
  • Incorporate higher education savings into the baby budget from day one to ease the overall burden

Having a family is a life-changing emotional decision, with emotional rewards and consequences. But planning for parenthood is a process that must be backed with logic and proper planning to avoid nasty surprises. Tread carefully and tactically, and you will enjoy many happy years of parenthood — and beyond.

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Guest's picture

But if you are already pregnant, don't panic and think your baby is destined for lifetime poverty if you don't have every one of these items checked off your list. If I had read this when I was pregnant, I would have wanted to stick my head in the oven!

It's great to plan, but many(50% of those in the U.S.?) babies are unplanned. I sometimes wish people would take into account that not many people spend years planning for each child, for a variety of reasons.

"Don’t fool yourself: you will not be able to bounce your baby on one knee and office work on the other; new parents are always amazed at how completely occupying their baby can be."

This is not true, if you really need to get things done, you will. I wasted so much more time every day before we had our child last year. I get more done now than I did without her. Yes, sometimes that has meant literally bouncing her on one knee and doing homework simultaneously.

Guest's picture

I find lists of all the costs of having kids depressing. I have kids. I like having them. Yes, it has cost tons of money.

So what?

Having them really does focus your energy on getting done what needs to get done. This includes re-energizing your career to make more money if you need to!

Having them and being a good parent helps you stop being so d*** selfish. They are so vulnerable in so many ways that if you are a caring parent you will do whatever it takes to stop them from feeling pain that you caused. This can even cause you to become a better person, preserve your marriage, create good habits, cause you to take better care of your health, help you reconnect with the good parts of your own childhood and repair the not-so-good parts, and more.

Can you put a dollar value on a pearl beyond price?

Guest's picture

I agree with you completely. Money is not the only consideration.. But, it is important. we need to foresee the extra expenses and plan accordingly.

Kids are a matter of 'heart'. Don't you think we can work hard to make that extra money for our beloved kids? In the process, we will also have other benefits ...


Andrea Karim's picture

I have seen a number of people leap into parenthood that should have seen a list like this beforehand. Many of these people have turned out to be right lousy parents, and a few have succeeded. I'm glad that the above guests have found joy and success as parents.

I'm thinking right now of a particularly young, vulnerable young girl who got pregnant after a one night stand, and was talked into having the baby and raising the child with the father, who is irresponsible and immature. I can't say that she won't be an amazing mother, but the future is definitely not promising given her family and financial situations.

Sometimes I do wonder if people over think things like starting a family - I wonder if I won't be too old in a few years to even get started. These things are always personal decisions, but in any case, I think the above issues are worth considering.

Guest's picture

I wouldn't have had it any other way and wish I'd had more! Our kids were born many years ago and we were dirt poor. Our home was full or love, laughter and kids! All six are successful adults with wonderful families. Among them are a lawyer, doctor, nurse, independent business owner, computer guru, and educator. All have been to college and paid for it. The world is a better place because of them.

Guest's picture

Good story. I do think where there is a will, there is a way. I think people who want children find a way to make it happen. People just need to be organized and prepared...the stress diminishes with each baby smile and giggle. Thanks!

Guest's picture

Plan, plan, plan, think, think, think, save, save, save.....then throw out the wasted pieces of paper and time. Having kids isn't like writing a business plan. Some advance thinking and planning is a good idea but when the kid(s) arrive all of your plans get thrown out the window. Your life changes, your priorities change, your finances change and most importantly you change but somehow most of us make it through the process. We continue altering our plans, priorities and finances as we and our kids get older. For some reason, my business plan 21 years ago did not involve saving money for a 2-week backpacking trip through the Middle East with my son. Like the VISA commercials...some things are priceless and you manage to do whatever it takes to save time and money to enjoy those moments. Plan but don't put off having kids until you have everything checked off.

Guest's picture

I have to put in my two cents as a welfare mom. Not a typical welfare mom, mind you, a college-educated welfare mom with only one child (who plans to return to school when my daughter is in school full-time). I am so grateful to the welfare system that lets me be the mom I want to be! I work part time, take my child with me to work (work in childcare & breastfeeding education), feed her mostly organic food (yaay food stamps!) breastfed her for 2+ years (just like the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics reccommend...). Thanks to the "welfare" system, we have a great apartment that we pay only $150 monthly, are on state-sponsored health care, plenty of food thanks to food stamps etc.
As far as child care items go, we never had a crib, she always just slept with me. Strollers & other "essentials" are so easy to find second hand (yaay craigslist!), we buy our clothes mostly secondhand, & ebay is great for deals on everything from cloth diapers to toys etc.
As for paying for her college, I am blessed to have a family that is very supportive of education and will help financially.
So! Don't let money woes stop you from having a kid! Yes, they are still expensive, but so worth it!

Guest's picture

My wife and I are planning on having kids in the next few years. This article definately gives us some good stuff to talk about, in fact I am going to email her a link now. Thanks

-Dan Malone-

Guest's picture
Mom of 6

I hope the current economic slowdown encourages people to do things for the sheer joy of it rather than focusing on money all the time. Having children, starting or growing a family (aka living) is a wonderful thing. What you invest in time, energy and finances now will reap a reward for yourself and society later. Truly give yourself, don't just stay home "until you can get back to work." Really invest yourself. Teach your kids life skills they will need later and that can benefit others. You might find that by living smaller now you will live larger later.

Children aren't an expense, they are an investment.

Guest's picture

It definitely helps to plan, but sometimes all you can do is prepare yourself to the best of your abilities, then expect that your plans will be turned on their head.

I think one of the most important things in parenting is adaptability. That said, having more financial cushion definitely helps parents to adapt more quickly and easily to various situations.

My planning process is a little less structured, but basically it involves doing as much as I can to learn how to be a good mom, and saving like crazy until my target age of 29-30, at which point I'd like to have kids.

Thanks for raising some important issues!

Guest's picture

I'm glad I am paying taxes so you can have a good lifestyle. I think Welfare should be for those who have no other means of supporting themselves. It is one thing to be frugal and other to be cheap, lazy and take advantage of others (the government in this case) for your own gain.

Guest's picture

This is extremely offensive and ignorant of you to post here. Please save your selfish and uninformed opinions for yourself. Perhaps you should move to another province (or better yet, another Country) where you will not have to pay into the social support system that makes our province one of the safest and healthiest in the world.

Guest's picture

Frankly, sometimes I think kids are better off (all else being equal) in a family where things aren't always smooth financial sailing. They learn that you can't always have what you want, that you can't always have what your friends have, that sometimes you have to buckle down and work longer hours, pitch in, be creative--but that life has a funny way of working itself out in the end.

I think the most important factor that impinges on kids-and-finances is having kids with a partner who is going to stick with you all the way through. If you're just out of college and aren't bringing in a big salary or don't have much saved up yet--that'll work itself out over time. It's a divorce midway through your parenting trajectory that can really throw a family off course financially at a time when they can least afford it. In other words, the who matters more than the when.

Guest's picture

I think the more important question is are you emotionally mature enough to be a parent. Thirty year olds with a bank full of money but are still adolescents emotionally will be worse parents than a 20 year old who is cash poor but emotionally mature and available to raise a child. Children can overcome childhoods raised in poverty or low income, but it is much more difficult to overcome scars left from emotionally immature or unavailable parents.

Andrea Karim's picture

Good point on emotional maturity! That's probably a bigger concern for me when I look at the idea of having kids.

Guest's picture

Wow, it's hard for me to think of my friends who struggle financially. Who work full time to bring home maybe $150 a month take home pay, because they need to pay the bills and the insurance and the mortgage. And these are two-income families.

It's really hard for me to say "yay for the welfare system" to compare my friends with someone who is using it to "be the kind of mom I want to be". Someone who *could* do more and chooses not to.

That's not to say I don't believe in welfare, but I draw the line at a totally different place.

You're welcome.

Guest's picture

With the cost of education so high, dogs are the new babies. They shall inherit the earth.

Guest's picture

I think this article has great advice, but what about single women who are sick of waiting and want to have children? It scares me to think that if I don't find the right man soon, I'll never have kids because I'll never be able to afford them.

Apparently the nuclear family is the only one that works (financially, speaking).

Guest's picture

When we were pregnant with our first child, I really had no concept of how much income I would end up sacrificing. I hoped that I could adjust my schedule to work after my husband got home, and that we would need at most a couple of hours of care a day.

In reality, here I am in my third year of stay-at-home momhood, with our third child on the way. To the person who says she can juggle her baby on one knee and homework on the other, you can get things done to some extent, but mostly before the baby turns one. Wait until it's a 14-month-old into everything or a 2-year-old who wants mommy to play with her at every waking moment, and see how much work gets done from home. Enough to run the household, yes, maybe enough to bring in a modest part-time income, but not full-time work. Not without childcare.

However, I also had no concept of how much less my husband and I could really consume. We moved to a lower-cost area, we stopped going out to restaurants and bars, stopped making multiple plane trips per year, and we spend less or equal as a family of 4 than we used to spend as just 2 people. It's not easy, but even though we are just scraping by, we didn't give finances much thought when we decided to go for child #3. We knew that if necessary, more adjustments could be made.

And by the way, to the welfare mom and her detractors, this is what should be offered to every family with children in America -- the financial help to care for our own children while they are small. Home care should not be available only to the well-off or the poor as it is now, with everyone in between relegated to institutional care.

Guest's picture

I'm so tired of hearing about people who say it's Oh So Simple to afford children, simply Cut Out Those Starbuck Coffees, dinners out, that evening at the bar with friends, and I believe the poster also referred to "multiple plane trips a year" - wow. You are very fortunate people - and I will add because this is not just sour grapes because - you are fortunate people who likely prepared yourselves well for your careers, are talented, and are driven enough to have enjoyed salaries that gave you those luxuries, items that you could give up.
Your sacrifice holds lesser meaning to someone like me, I am less successful, I guess I didn't plan well enough, didn't get the right degree... and have realized over the years that the financial situation is not getting better fast enough the be able to have a child. I can't give up the items you mentioned to make extra money because we can't afford them now! We almost never go out except birthdays, haven't had a vacation in five years. Not even a weekend trip. There is nothing left to cut, not enough small treats to sacrifice that will make a difference in our income to the point that we will be able to afford a child, even though we have good stable jobs, and though I have received several raises. It is such a jump when you are in the lower middle class range. When forty starts to get as close as thirty, there is a point when i just have to realize, it will never ever ever be possible. All of the fun money, all of it, goes to pay child support to a person who says she doesn't even need it.

Guest's picture

Some people can juggle paid work and a baby, work right up to the due date and come back at full salary.

And then there are people like me, who get hit with pregnancy like a severe illness, end up on bed rest, and then have a C-section and a preemie baby. When I ran out of my 12 weeks of FMLA leave, my baby was one week past his due date, still having problems regulating his own body temperature, and needing to be fed every hour or two because eating wore him out. Even if I *wanted* to go back to work full time, what paid child care wants that kind of responsibility?

The better financial shape you are in before you start, the better prepared you are for the things you *can't* plan.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

There are some great comments here - thanks everybody! What a conversation.

To explore further the need to plan financially for children: yes, kids can survive in financially tough times and being raised in poverty is not a death sentence for the kids by any stretch. In many ways it will build character and give the kids great perspective on life.

BUT: what about the parents? Eventually the kids will grow up, get educated, and move on with their lives. How will you, the parent, who put yourself into a position of financial duress to have children, recover? Financially planning for children is as much about covering your own butt as it is providing for your children's butts.

And yes, I do completely agree with those who say you can overplan these things to the extent that you become immobilized. If having children is your dream, then go ahead and infuse your life with that joy. Where there is a will there is a way. Just don't confuse having a will with being irresponsible or fatalistic.

Guest's picture

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Guest's picture

As someone who works hard, follows the rules and pays taxes, I have to throw my two-cents into this discussion. While it sounds like you are a wonderful and loving mother, I can't help asking "who do you think has paid for you to have your baby and stay home to care for her?" Those groceries you eat, that apartment you are renting for $150, and all of the other benefits you are enjoying come with a price. People like me who go to work every day to meet our financial responsibilities are paying for people like YOU, who take advantage of the system. While there are some who truly need welfare assistance, there are those who have the ability to work, but choose not to.

Yes, being a parent is a wonderful and awesome "job". But, it doesn't pay the rent or put food on the table.

I join the previous poster in saying "you're welcome".

Guest's picture

Tis me, the welfare mom again. While I've been derided on here for "taking advantage" of the system, I feel that I'm the kind of person that the welfare system was designed for. I'm educated, intelligent, capable. I did not plan on getting pregnant. I lived with my mother for 3 years through pregnancy, toddlerhood. Now, I live in public housing in a VERY expensive city. There is no way I could support a child in this town and be able to be present for her as a mother. I survive on food stamps and subsidized housing. Could I do better? Well, I worked as a bartender for 15 years before my daughter was born. Once I became a mom, I began to have misgivings about getting people drunk for a living, working the late late hours, plus, my post-baby-figure is not as lucrative as it was in years past. I think I mentioned in my original post that I am planning on going back to school in a few years to secure a job that will allow me to support my daughter and myself without public assistance. I am not taking advantage or abusing the system. As a resident in a public housing apartment complex, I see people who are truly abusing the system. My next door neighbor has 4 of her children living with her, who are from 3 different fathers.
She has several more who seem to come and go, bringing her total number of children to about 7. She is about my age, does not work (that I can tell) nor does her current husband. Those kids are the dirtiest little bundles of tooth decay you've ever seen. They are totally unattended and unparented. She and her family will never be off of welfare. Many of my neighbors are just like her. I, on the other hand, send my child to the best charter school I could find in this city, educate myself, don't let my child watch television (movies sometimes), am attentive to her and what she eats, etc. Yes, I don't want to work full time and have someone else raising my child. For now I am utilizing a system that IS prone to abuse, but I will not go on having children and using the welfare system forever. I am the best choice of welfare participant--I am using welfare for the time being so that I may get myself off of welfare.
But, Hey! Thanks for all the judgement!

Guest's picture

Everyone needs to make tough decisions. I have worked for welfare in a very very expensive city (it is estimated that a person working for minimum wage here needs to work over 175 hours A WEEK just to make the avg. rent here. Worst in the nation.) and let me tell you that I commend you for having a change of heart in your career and I definitely see the kinds of people you describe as your neighbors all the time and would agree that those people are abusing the system however you are still putting the burden on those of us who are trying to "make it" the legitimate way. You list many things that, while ideal, are still wants not needs in order to get the job done. EVERYONE WANTS (or should want)to have their child to go to the best schools, have more time to spend with them , feed the child the best foods even if they are very expensive, etc. all without the worry about having work get in the way, not worrying about making rent, not having to move to a more affordable area and continue living in a nice expensive area that we can not afford to, etc. The question is if the person paying for all these expenses (taxpayers) for you has to work and sacrifice and probably not have the kinds of options you are afforded why should you deserve to get more for doing less? You do understand that if everyone did what you are doing even if for just a few years, just because they felt like they should just be able to provide for their kid without working on the taxpayers dime, all these social programs would fail right? You accept these peoples tax money without working for it, rub it in over the internet, and then get mad when they judge you? If you don't want to be judged get off welfare and earn your keep.

Guest's picture

Why did you waste blog space by asking the question?

The people that need to ask the question and answer it truthfully, are the last people that can and would read your blog. If they decided to live a conscious life, they would have already asked question.

Haven't you noticed the inverse correlation between family size and socioeconomic standing? Haven't you noticed the correlation between a mother's age and her first born, and socioeconomic standing? It's the stupid, ignorant people that are having all the kids they can't afford because the government will give them free housing, free food and free medical care. They don't care what the real cost is to raise a healthy normal child, they just see those dollar bills and a chance to get out of their mother's home. Why else would you have great-grandmothers in their 50's ? The War on Poverty and the Great Society programs are complete failures and nobody will stop them.

Guest's picture

"I think this article has great advice, but what about single women who are sick of waiting and want to have children?"
As a single woman who waited too long and who lost her ability to have children earlier than normal (in my 30s), here is what I think. Don't wait too long. You don't know when the ability to have children is taken away from you.

I don't know what kind of job you have. Mine was good enough that I could have afforded to have a child. It also came with good maternity benefits. But I thought, oh I will definitely meet someone this year. Or next year. And then I lost my fertility.

If your job is not like this - try to find a better job, the one that would allow you to support your kid. It's possible to support a child on one salary. Take some courses. There are professions out there that pay well. Save money. Don't buy a house, buy a two-bedroom co-op. But do it quickly. Don't wait too long. Yes, you'll definitely be poorer as a single mother than if you are just single. Think what you will regret more when you are 50 - not having had children or not having enough money. There is no right or wrong answer here, only the one that is right for you.

Even with women whose ovaries don't fail prematurely as mine did, there is still significant decline in fertility after the age of 35. As one blogger ObGyn put it - "there is still no cure for year 35 bug". Certainly there are some women who can have kids into their 40s, some without help some with fertility treatments, but statistically, a large percentage of women can't, and this percentage goes up every year. Not to mention that the risk of having a child with birth defects goes up exponentially with every year after 30. There are other health issues as well. Having kids earlier is better for both mother's health and the child's. A lot of financial blogs talk about being able to afford kids, but they all forget to mention health issues. But IMHO, health issues should be important part of the decision.

This post is not for teenagers or those who have kids and go on welfare. This post is for professional women in their late 20s and 30s - both single and married - who are deciding on having kids now or waiting when they have "more money". "Not being able to afford" is relative. For some people it means having to go on welfare, for others simply having less savings or having to live in an apartment instead of a house. If you are in the latter category, think what is more important to you - better lifestyle or having kids.

Guest's picture

Thank you for your reply. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

I'm in the "former" category: having a child now would be a financial disaster -- especially in this economy! (Adopting or getting artificial insemination alone would wipe out my savings). I've worked with children from a variety of financial backgrounds, and raising a child poor isn't something I'm willing to enter into. I'm aware of the health risks, and I've made peace with adopting a child if it comes to that.

And I wish people would stop saying "take a few courses and get a better job". (I did that a couple of years ago). It isn't that easy. You still have to start near the bottom of your new career and work your way up. In many cases, it isn't "a couple of courses" that will get you into a higher-paying career -- it's a couple of YEARS of schooling. (Which is worthwhile, but an entirely different matter from a financial point of view).

Guest's picture

You mentioned that you did not plan to have a baby. I'm not at all religious and I think that two consenting adults should get to do whatever they want with each other. However, the fact remains that having sex without using an extremely reliable form of birth control IS planning to have a baby.

Also, the fact is that as judgmental as you are about your fellow welfare moms, at least you are not supporting their lifestyle, and it is really therefore none of your business. However, as a taxpayer, I do play a role in supporting the lifestyle of everyone who does receive public assistance, and as a voting citizen I believe I not only have the right, but the responsibility, to evaluate what people are doing with it. If you don't like it that people who don't receive welfare but do pay taxes feel that they can judge you, then go to work full-time (if you are intelligent and educated, you have options other than bartender), move to a less expensive city, move back in with your mom, whatever it takes, but be self-sufficient.

I think the other thing that is provoking negativity is you talk about "the system" as if it is this money factory out there printing out bills that you are entitled to. You don't seem to recognize that there are people who don't have any choice for survival but to work, and then a certain amount is taken from us to pay for "the system". And you don't sound the least come across as thinking you should be the one getting kudos for your contribution to society, and for your decision to work part-time so you can be with your child 24/7.

Guest's picture

I hate to see the perpetual welfare abusers...generation after generation on the dole (though that's gotten better with some reform). And I don't have a problem with welfare per se - I think it's a very useful tool for families that are down on their luck - sickness, job loss, fire, flood, whatever.

As long as we all realize that the goal is to be off of it.

To bring up another topic on the single women...I can't believe I'm writing this, but I (the working mom feminist atheist) have to agree with Dr. Laura on this one: it's not about you, it's about the child. What does each child deserve more than anything? Two parents.

Now she would say also they the child deserves a parent at home. In that case, the fact that welfaremom moved in with her mom during infanthood and toddlerdom was the right thing to do. But welfare? I dunno. Then again, clearly I don't agree with the Dr. on everything, as mentioned above.

clearly welfaremom is a better use of our dollars than some, but again, it's not where I personally would draw my line.

Maggie Wells's picture

I thought of all these things before having my kids and then realized that I didn't have the sort of jobs or lifestyle that this sort of planning required. But I was 33 and wanting children so I did it anyway.

Having children requires sacrifice. Period. Some sacrifices you don't notice because you aren't as interested in them anymore: the restaurants, the bars, the endless entertainment, and disposable income. Some you do. I wanted to be a stay at home mother, I couldn't do it in my city of choice independently, so I moved. We live far from many friends and family and culturally significant centers. But we have each other, my kids have fresh air, and we have a modest mostly self-sustained lifestyle (grandma lives three miles away).

Don't get bogged down in lists. Kids of smart parents will have many opportunities for learning and higher education by virtue of the values instilled. You can be in the crappiest school in the crappiest district and still excell.

Just do what's in your heart.



Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture

If i had read all of that while i was pregnant with my son it would have sent me into a panic!
Yes having Children does cost and yes you need to be prepared to a certain extent financially but sometimes this is not possible.
I know people who have planned and planned and saved and saved till they supposedly had enough money to start a family, but how much really is enough, will you ever have enough.
I also know people who on the other hand have unplanned pregnancies and end up on low income... i dont see these children suffer...why? because they still have what they need, maybe without the added extras but they have the things that are essentially needed.
I do also agree that the child(who is the important factor in all this lets not forget!) can live in a low budget family and live just as good a life as a child who comes from an enriched background because when it comes to it, maturity... being ready emotionally to be a parent is in many ways the most important thing.
Working from home is not impossible with a child and can be a good idea if you need to earn a little extra cash.
check out if you think you could benefit from some flexible work.

Guest's picture

"Some couples choose to have their baby in a country with high-quality but low-cost care (I personally know of a couple who chose to have their baby in Malaysia for this reason among others. Singapore is also a hotspot for “medical vacations”).

Wow! What a great idea? Perhaps Wise Bread can save money buy hiring writers who live in Malaysia. I am sure the quality would be the same.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@Khurt - You just touched upon the wonderful world of outsourcing, and using currency/cost of living to get more for your money!

(PS - I've written Wise Bread posts from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the US, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia. Does that count?) ;-)

Guest's picture

Welfare is abused. Plain and simple. They need drug tests as a requirement to be on welfare. That would save us lots of money!

My husband and I aren't the richest of people, but we pay the bills. I'm ready for a kid now and he wants to wait a year. So in a year we will start trying. During this coming year we will pay off our credit cards, loans, and vehicles. So that when we start trying we won't have extra debts on top of bills. We will be fine. I know it.

It's different for every couple. There's no "one size fits all" list of things to get done.

Guest's picture

One thing you don't include, and many people seem to forget about, is the cost of summer care for school-aged children of two-income families. This can be many thousands of dollars. I send my kids to a reputable town rec program which cares for the kids for my full work day, is one of the cheapest options around, covers only six weeks of the 9-week summer vacation, and still costs almost $3,000 per child.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@Guest - You make an excellent observation about summer care, and I often wonder how working parents financially and logistically cope with long summer breaks. Thanks for bringing this up!