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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