Smart Reasons to Save, Use and Invest Money

The Best Time To Have Children

After reading UtimateMoneyBlog.com‘s piece on “You can’t afford to have children“, I decided to state my opinion on when to have children.  

When to have kids

   

First, let me state that my initial decision on when to have children was wrong!  I wanted to have children after I was somewhat financially stable and had enough money to do as I please.  This decision on my part was way off, because we would have been past the age bearing years before this truly happened, Doh!  My wife is the one who ripped into me about wanting to have children, now (which was 1999, and so we had our son in 2000).  Looking back, I now see that she was right, and I’m very glad we did.  I love my kids more than anything in this world!!!  

My initial thought process was I’ll have children when I can afford to spend the money on them to do it right.  By doing it right, I meant being able to afford any college, and enable my kids to participate in any sports, horseback riding, motorcycles and excellent vacations.  I wanted them to have the nicest clothes, and the best things in life.  The only problem with this line of thinking was that I would never be able to afford them.  

You see, after we bought our house, and we were pretty sure my job was secure for the next 5 years, my wife was ready!  I wasn’t so sure…  I just took on the largest amount of debt ever (I knew I couldn’t pay this off in a month, a year or even a couple of years!).  So I thought let’s wait a few more years, get some financial security under the old belt so to speak…  

Here is what my wife said that convinced me otherwise: 

  • We are young now, as we age, having children later in life is more risky (birth defect and other problems).
  • We are active now and we want to do things with our children.  Even if we do have money later, we might not have the same activity level as we do now.
  • Since we were both working, we have a great financial base if one of use loses their job.
  • She stated she really had a strong desire to have children now!  The biological clock must have been ticking!
  • The bar and partying scene was getting old.  We were both out of college with careers and all of our friends were having babies around this time.  Given that the bar and partying scene was great and we have many fun and wild memories, that lifestyle has diminishing returns as you age…  There is more to life that getting hangover every weekend or so…  Plus, it’s expensive!

So when would be a bad time to have children? 

 Any time before 22 if you want the best for your child…  IMO, those are the years to fall in love with your spouse!  Have excellent budgeted vacations together!  Create some memories, and do activities together… become a team (or become one), bond to greater depths…  And at the same time, try to save some money for your future!  You’ll have plenty of time to have kids (check with your doctor to make sure there aren’t any problems if you feel insecure about this!).  

 When is the best financial time to have kids? 

 The best time in my opinion is when you have a financial plan in place that makes sense and you are in control of your finances.  This would mean calculate it out via a financial advisor, a knowledgeable friend or family member, or (as was in our case) using a financial health spreadsheet that we created based on our financial situation.  Time are different now though, I’m sure there are more modern software tools out there (maybe www.mint.com)!  Create a financial baseline, and determine where the gyrations occur throughout the year (because they do!), and whether you are saving more than you are spending!  If you are spending more then you are saving, fix it!  Remember that a child will cost you a lot, (average cost to raise a child to age 17 is $221,000).  College will cost another $200,000 (if you want to pay their way, which I do).  You don’t have to be rich, but develop and control your financial reality, don’t go into this naive!  

When is the best overall time to have children in my opinion? 

If you have your financial house in order (or at least an understanding of it), then between the ages of 23 thru 32 for women.  Hopefully, this will give you time to start building financial stability!  I have to say, the earlier side of this equation is better from a biological aspect!  So get your financial life together quickly! 

What do you think? 

-D

26 Responses to The Best Time To Have Children

  1. MoneyReasons says:

    @youngandthrifty
    Late 20′s…

    Ah yes, post-graduate work, the range I put forth was just a recommened range. Although everybody says 40 is the max. limit to be safe…

    Hehe, looks like the 40 limit, you already know about! Cool!

  2. Money Reasons says:

    Very true!

    I remember when I was 18 thru 21. I would have been a horrible father, especially while in college. The following years 22 thru 25 I was way to much into establishing my career. And I admit, I also wanted to have fun first… :)

    When we had our kids, I had settled down and actually enjoyed the experience! This enabled me to focus on them, and make them a top priority!

  3. Ryan @ Planting Dollars says:

    As a 23 year old bachelor, the word children sends a shiver down my spine, lol.

    I think I have a bit of your original mentality and will have to have a wife to knock me out of it… however that’s the trick… finding the wife who wants to backpack around the world and dive with sharks… hmmmm

    I was always one for holding off with children though since my dad worked a lot when I was younger so that my mom could stay at home with us kids. It was kinda fun looking back as I saw them struggle to where they are now and allowed me not to be a spoiled brat. Now I’m just rambling, which means you’ve got a good post… got my wheels spinning…
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last blog ..Why Ideas are Like Sperm =-.

  4. Money Reasons says:

    @Ryan
    I hear you there brother! I honestly couldn’t imagine being a dad at 23, or even at 25!

    Thanks about the post. I was surprised how deep it took me. I guess, I was kind of talking to a younger me (along with Mrs. Money at ultimatemoneyblog.com). To say I was hesitant to make the jump would be an understatement. I’m very happy about the timing now, but back then, I felt like it was going to be like prison!

    I think it’s great that you are living such an exciting life, a lot of us are living vicariously through your adventures!

    Thanks for stopping by and the best of luck and fortune to you!!!

  5. Brian @ bibledebt.com says:

    Some things in life should not be skipped before adding children to the equation. Get the partying out of your system, take some time for you and your spouse to know each other. Travel the world at least a little if that is a desire. Get your graduate work (or any other basic educational work) out of the way.

    But don’t wait to long. Always a balancing act to make so you are not to old and not to broke.

    Thanks for the post!

  6. MoneyReasons says:

    @Brian
    Good summarization, personally kids are one area that I want to do my best at!

    Welcome to my site!

  7. MoneyReasons says:

    @Ted
    Sorry for responding so late!

    If you are ready for kids, then it’s okay… I just wasn’t ready for kids when I was in college. It was to about ME Me me me back then!!!

    My kids are currently the most important components in my life! I’ve learned so much about myself by watching them. I’m trying hard to help them overcome the hurdles I had as a kid.

    I think the key is to spend time quality time with them. Try to waken things in them that typical kids don’t notice! For example thinking games, noticing nature, puzzles… all of these are good things for kids to experience!

    I just wish I could after to take them to see different countries (other than the sections in Epcot at Disney)…

    I checked out your blog, and it sounds like you just had a temporary setback. I’m predicting that you’ll be back to where you were when you were $25,000 to the positive soon enough!

    Time really does heal all wounds, even financial (and housing bubble) ones! ;)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  8. David @ MBA briefs says:

    Great idea for a post, Don. Is there ever a good time to have kids? I probably have a greater age spread than anyone you know, my oldest son is a freshman in college, and my youngest son is two and in preschool. I have an 11 year old daughter in junior high and a five year old daughter in kindergarten. I’ve changed more diapers than I care to remember, but they’re all healthy, good kids and my world pretty much revolves around them.

    As Coach already pointed out, kids are a personal choice, not a financial choice.

    And to quote one of Sam’s snarky book’s sayings “Be nice to your kids – they’ll pick your retirement home some day.”
    .-= David @ MBA briefs´s last blog ..Do mass firings improve performance? =-.

  9. moneyhoneysf says:

    Great post on your thoughts to having children. I plan to have babies soon too since we are now more financially sound.

    I wish I had them a bit earlier in my mid 20s or late 20s. But those times were well spent at bars and clubs.

    I think it’s best to have babies before 35. Because after that, birth defects and the quality of the egg and sperm might not be as strong.
    .-= moneyhoneysf´s last blog ..Company Profit Sharing =-.

  10. Mrs. Money says:

    Love this! Thanks so much for linking my post.

    Now you make me want to go get started baby-making. ;)

    I do think I am over analyzing it a little. I’m very good at that!
    .-= Mrs. Money´s last blog ..How Much Money are we Spending? =-.

  11. admin says:

    @Mrs. Money
    Kids are the closest thing to some magic that we will ever encounter on earth! My daughter is constantly amazing me… My son has the heart made of gold!

    I bet you already have your finances under control! I seriously doubt that you will regret it!

    Great article you wrote, by the way… I was hoping you’d stop over and comment! :)

    @David
    Wow, that is quite a range, but it’s all good!!!

    Yeah, it’s a personal choice, that’s for sure. I was just pointing out the best range to have them in my opinion…

    I try to do the best by my kids as possible. Unfortunately, it’s harder that I thought, but that an entirely different post…

    @MoneyHoney
    Good, you’re in for a treat!!!

    As for the bar and clubs, I know where you are coming from… Now, just a distant memory… Albeit a blurred and mostly forgotten one! Mainly, I remember that I enjoy it and the company of good friends! With kids you’ll make up a new cast of friends… Good times, but different that the good ole times!

    ——–

    Thanks for the comments and sharing! I’ve really enjoyed the comments in this post more than others that I’ve done in the past!

  12. What a FANTASTIC post! Very insightful and very helpful.

    Why 32 as a limit for women, instead of 33, 34, or 35?

    $221,000 is a lot of money! Have you ever thought about adopting kids? Love this topic, and perhaps you can write more about it.

    Thnx!
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Curse Of Making Too Much Money And Not Pursuing Your Dreams =-.

  13. MoneyReasons says:

    @Financial Samurai
    Thanks, I had a lot of fun with it!

    As for why 32 as the end of the optimal range, 33 thru 35 would be okay too. But as @moneyhoneysf identified above, after 35 years old the risks start to increase with having children (especially for the woman).

    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. I think your age range is good if you really want to have biological kids. If you are open to adoption, then there’s no health pressures to have kids before 35 (but I agree it’d be physically much easier to parent young children when you are young).

    By the way, biology might not be as stringent with fathers but children of older fathers also suffer from higher risk of certain developmental problems & illnesses.

    It’s unfortunate that often the best physical time to have children doesn’t mesh with the best financial or emotional maturity-wise time to have children. Physically, I might be at my peak fertility but emotionally & financially? I am NO WHERE near being ready to become a mother. I’m also not set on having biological children or any children, so that makes me feel like I have more breathing room in that regard. :)

  15. The 200K Yakezie Roundup (and some personal note) « 151 Days Off says:

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  16. Monevator says:

    I don’t agree with you, but I’ve linked to your post! ;) I think particularly for men because we can afford to wait a little longer, you can easily put off having children until your 30s.

    There seems to be a mania in America for getting married young. Here in London, stacks of my friends are still single in their 30s and apart from the very religious nobody got married in their early 20s. (Some who got married in their late 20s are no longer married).

    It is harder for woman to be so cavalier, which is unfair but a fact of biology that you’re quite right to raise.

    However I wouldn’t say party through your 20s — well, have fun but try to save. $100,000 in a retirement portfolio by the time your 30 gives you a lot flexibility for your later saving habits once you have kids.

    Good work with this post, made me think. :)
    .-= Monevator´s last blog ..Volatility, inflation, and asset class returns =-.

  17. MoneyReasons says:

    @WellHeeled
    Great points, especially on adopting children! So I guess you could adopt older children if a person is older themselves.

    @Monevator
    It’s kind of ironic overhear with respect to marriage and children. At work I’ve seen some of most beautiful, intelligent career woman stay single and not have kids. I’m always amazed by that. I mean, these are the types of women that you’d want to have beautiful kids…

    You are right about men, we do have a bit of a long timeline (although WellHeeled brings up a good point too).
    I went drinking with friends in college, but we went out on .25 a cup beer night!

    I really comes down to the individual and if they are ready emotionally, financially, etc…

  18. [...] The best time to have children – Money Reasons [...]

  19. If we’re living 10 years longer now, would 45 be the new 35? :)
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Sometimes Saving Money Is About Principle =-.

  20. MoneyReasons says:

    @Financial Samurai
    Very true, but I wanted to raise my kids while I could still move around well. I know a friend that was born when his Dad was in his 50s, and from what I heard, his dad wasn’t active and didn’t really interact with him much. I didn’t want to be like that. I like wrestling with my son, and playing basketball, etc.

    It’s fun, I’m really looking forwards to playing golf this year with him!

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  22. We’d always heard it said that if you waited until you could afford a kid, you’d never have one, because there’s almost always something in the way financially. I think finances are important but there are a lot of other important factors to making this decision. We were blessed with our son about nine months ago, and it has been absolutely wonderful and even though, at the time, I wouldn’t have minded waiting a little longer so that we could have student loans paid off beforehand, but looking at my son every day and the joy he brings, I just look at that as silly thinking.
    .-= Money Beagle´s last blog ..Net Worth Review: March 2010 =-.

  23. MoneyReasons says:

    @Money Beagle
    It’s true, I was one of those lets wait until we are more financial secure people…, but my wife kicked me in the rear and we got on it.

    As long as you have a financial plan, go for it! Just the process of creating a well thoughtout plan will help you develop your financial self! IMHO, kids are more than then just having them be born, at least if you want to do it right. You don’t have to be rich to have kids, but you should at least be financially responsible or at a minimum aware…

    Thanks for stopping by and welcome to my site!

  24. Lana says:

    Agree and disagree with the post at the same time. Yes, waiting too long can become an issue. However, if you feel insecure and pushed into having babies, this is not the right way to do it. If you are struggling financially, why bring a baby into the world where you cannot afford a childcare???

  25. @Lana
    I agree, my post is just a general guidline with respect to what I consider the best biological and financial times in the general population. If you are ready soon that great. But if you aren’t ready later or at all, that’s fine too. :)