Recently, having kids has become a hot topic in the personal finance world. I certainly don’t blame anyone for taking their finances into consideration before deciding to have kids. And, quite frankly, I think we’d be better off as a society if more people took the time to ask a few questions before getting preggers. That isn’t to say that having children is ever a mistake. However, there is a lot that goes into being a parent which seems to get forgotten – financial issues included.
Having Kids: An Exhausting Endeavor
The entire process of having children is insanely expensive in time, effort, and money. Bringing a baby home from the hospital is exciting, stressful, and exhausting, all at the same time. Newborns are completely helpless, and in the beginning they need constant attention and care. And, unless you want a baby hanging off your boob at all hours of the day and night, you have to purchase formula. Then there are bottles, clothes, and diapers to buy. Babies and small children go to the doctor often and need things like teething cream and baby Tylenol. All of those expenses add up.
Once babies start getting bigger, they outgrow their clothes at an unbelievable rate. Or they throw up on them. Or crap their pants and leave them stained beyond recognition. Regardless, you have to buy them a ton of stuff to wear, including those adorable little shoes for their growing feet. Once they become toddlers, they eventually start asking for things. Swingsets, toys, and princess dresses come to mind. If you are like me, you try to tell them “no” as much as you possibly can. But you can’t always say no. Despite my frugality, I have been guilted into things such as bounce houses on birthdays and trips to the ice cream shop. I try, but it’s often hard to always say no to their smiling little faces. I love saving money, but I also love seeing my children surprised or excited. Sometimes those experiences cost money.
Pregnancy is Crazy
As if the financial aspect wasn’t enough, there is so much more to consider before having kids. Being pregnant is basically a one-year commitment. That is a long time to have somebody sitting on your bladder, kicking and elbowing you from the inside. I’ve often told Greg that I wish I could’ve just laid an egg so that we could take turns sitting on it. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.
Yes, kids are expensive. On the other hand, I consider the investment in my children the best money that I have ever spent. There is nothing that has ever made me happier, more fulfilled, or more proud than my two young daughters. This joy is a feeling that you cannot understand until you become a parent yourself, and it’s the reason that people forget how miserable they were when they were pregnant. It is why they forget about how much money their children actually cost. Kids may be hard on your wallet, but there are things on this earth more precious than early retirement, investment accounts, or (even) traveling the world.
Being a parent has completed my life in more ways than I ever thought possible, and I feel lucky that I didn’t question it too much. If I would’ve taken the time to think it through, I could have easily decided that I didn’t want to be tied down. If I would’ve over-analyzed the situation, I could’ve missed out on the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me.
You Didn’t Ask, But…
Here’s my unsolicited advice to anyone wondering if they are financially ready for children:
The fact that you are even asking questions means that you are probably more mature and prepared than most people. You will find a way to make it work. You may have to make sacrifices. You might have to give a few things up. But, it will be worth it. Don’t take my word for it….ask every parent you know. And when you do, be prepared to hear gushing stories like this one and to see tears in the corners of their eyes.
Are kids worth it? Oh yes, they’re worth it.
Every ache and pain. Every sleepless night. Every cent.