When I met up with Modest Money, Outlier Model, Freedom 35, Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses and Add-Vodka in Vancouver last month, an interesting topic came up: many personal finance bloggers, particularly women, choose not to have children. I hadn’t noticed it before — and maybe it’s just because many of us are still in our 20s — but a fair number of PF bloggers are either delaying having children or not planning on having children ever. (Except Daisy, who immediately piped up that children are definitely in her 5-10 year plan).
Before I go too much in one direction, I want to point out that I love children. I freakin’ adore them. I like watching cartoons and building forts and dressing up Barbies. As a part-time nanny through most of my undergraduate degree, I got my share of vomit and poop and tantrums too, and it didn’t make me love them any less. However, over the past few years, I’ve become less and less inclined to have children myself. I don’t know why. It might just be a phase because I’m single and career-focused right now, or I might just be changing my mind. At this point, I’m unsure what the future holds for me family-wise, and I feel no sense of urgency or desire to figure it out yet.
When people point out the financial benefits of not having children, I get it. I’m not sure if I’m quite there yet, but I totally understand the appeal. Children are a lifetime financial commitment. Imagine never having to pay for:
- education costs (especially post-secondary)
- toys & baby supplies
- extra-curricular activities
- health, vision and dental care
- missed work days or career stagnation
- miscellaneous costs (like replacing things your kids have destroyed)
Speaking of replacing things your kids have destroyed, if you want to know just how expensive that can be, you’ll probably enjoy Shit My Kids Ruined.
Not to mention years of stress and worry. Furthermore, you don’t really know what life holds for your child. They could be an athlete or a math whiz that will get a full-scholarship to the college of their choice, or they might be born with a a developmental disability that means expensive long term care. Your child might become a functional independent adult at 20 or they might be hanging out in your basement at 30. I know that the cost of it all is ultimately “worth it”, but I also believe it is possible to be perfectly happy without children.
TeacHer Finance wrote a recent post on the topic titled Would you say no to parenthood for purely financial reasons?
Would you choose not to have children based solely on your finances?
It’s a funny question, because I’m a firm believer that you should NOT have children if you can’t afford them, but it seems weird to make the opposite decision and choose not to have them even when you can afford it, just because you stand more to gain financially. I think the decision to have children is as much about your lifestyle and personal values as it is about money, so the decision cannot hinge on only one of those three aspects. What do you think about the cost of having children and choosing to be childless for financial benefit?