Why Are You Waiting to Have Kids Until You’re Financially Stable?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 11 comments

wait to have kids

I read an article recently that centered around statistics that indicate Millennials (the generation born between roughly 1980 and 2000) are waiting longer to have children.

One of the main reasons they give for waiting is their financial situation. Or more specifically, how much debt they’re in or how much money they want to save.

More than any previous generation, Millennials are ladened with thousands of dollars in student loan debt and less initial wealth when they become independent.

The plan to wait at least a few years after graduating college to pay off loans, and settle into a career before having children. makes sense financially. But does it really make a difference?

Before making the decision to wait to have kids until you can afford them, make sure you understand the entire situation. Here are a few pros and cons.

financially secure kidsPro: More Time to Save Money

The longer you wait to have children, the more money you can save, and the more debt you’ll be able to pay off.

This makes sense because we all know children are expensive! Very little saving or paying off debt is likely to occur (without concerted effort) while raising kids, especially within the first few years.

A two-income household can greatly benefit from trying to live off one income, and stash the other in savings. This is smart not only to prepare for the budgeting constraints of one income, but to create a bigger savings cushion/dent in your debt before kids come along.

Con: Your Age and Health are Factors

On the flip side, having kids within the prime of your life is ideal, and your biological clock might not be in time with your financial goals.

Consider how much debt you have, and how much income you have to work with (in addition to the fact that you’re likely still building your career). You may still not be able to reach your financial goals before worrying whether or not you’ll miss your best window of opportunity for having children.

This is especially true with women, who often complain about feeling their biological clock ticking. The best way to deal with this challenge is to avoid an all-or-nothing approach to your financial preparedness for children.

Do the best you can to become financially stable, but it’s unlikely you’ll be exactly where you want. There’s rarely ever a perfect time to have a child. Accept that this is okay. After all, many other people are in the same situation!

Pro: Investment in Your Field of Work

Women who work on their careers longer, before having kids, have a greater likelihood of retaining their income levels and/or positions when they reenter the workforce.

Being out of the work field for any length of time jeopardizes the relevance and competitiveness of your education and skills. But this is especially true if you haven’t yet worked your way into a secure, well-supported position.

The greater the longevity and work history you’ve created, the more likely you’ll be able to jump right back in after you’ve taken time off to have children.

This is not to say women should sacrifice their biological timeline for career security. It’s just something to consider.

Con: Time Off Will Affect Your Income

Taking any time off at all will affect your competitiveness in the job market, so you’ll need time to re-acclimate, become reeducated, or enter a different field. Knowing this ahead of time can help you prepare; for instance, you might be able to do some freelance work on the side to keep up your skills and credentials, or work part time from home.

Keeping in touch and on good terms with old colleagues and continuing to network while you’re off can give also you the edge on job opportunities more quickly to make up for any disadvantages.

The most important thing to remember when weighing finances into your decision of when to start a family is that you won’t regret having children, but you might regret letting finances dictate how soon, and how many years you get to enjoy them.

Are you putting off having children for financial reasons? What’s your reason for having kids when you did?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • terdralyn says:

    My mom always said if you wait until you can afford it to have kids, you’ll never have any.

  • Paul Dabuco says:

    I couldn’t agree more. As part of Gen Y, there are so many things that hinder not to have a baby, not just financial matters.

    Autonomy and mobility are the main reasons why Gen Y’s don’t marry yet. They want more time to experience other things and travel with no obligations or whatsoever.

  • Tim Seidler says:

    It’s extremely scary to purposely bring a child into the world without a stable financial footing, but I hardly think that’s a good reason to hold off on that life milestone.

    In general I don’t think there are a lot of people, regardless of income level, that would ever say they have enough to feel comfortable.

    I also think it’s beneficial to have kids early on so that you can enjoy more of your mid-life without the challenges of a young family.

  • Taylor Lee says:

    I am putting off kids for a few years (~5) until I have enough money to feel comfortable. I’m doing this for a couple reasons including financial instability in my own childhood which was terribly stressful and I don’t want perpetuated for my kids as well as the knowledge that finances (particularly, strained finances) is the #1 cause of divorce — which would really put a damper on the whole family thing. Worrying about money now is my way of preparing myself to really be able to focus on what’s important to me, my family, in the future.

    • Daniel navarrete says:

      My wife and I married at 20 years old
      First home 21yr
      First kid 22yr
      Second kid 23yr
      Third kid 24yr
      We just purchased our SECOND home at 27
      We live in Northern California and make $250,000 year
      We took a step of faith and won

      • Ondrea says:

        Sounds like you had some help from your parents…

      • Kay says:

        You “won” because you likely had some privilege factors at play to help you out- such as help from parents/family, or you came from a place of wealth. There’s really no other way one can get their first house at 21 (unless you somehow won the lottery, I suppose). Your situation is the exception, not the rule.

  • Brian says:

    The correlation most likely has the most to do with formerly unprecedented levels of student loan debt. Millennials aren’t waiting longer– they simply can’t carry out the same life milestones yet.

    • Kay says:

      You “won” because you likely had some privilege factors at play to help you out- such as help from parents/family, or you came from a place of wealth. There’s really no other way one can get their first house at 21 (unless you somehow won the lottery, I suppose). Your situation is the exception, not the rule.

    • Kay says:

      Whoops- Replied to the wrong comment. Ignore that.

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says:

    I had our Little Miss in my late 20s. For us it was a matter of wanting to have our kids on the younger side of things. I think many millenials are putting off kids because of debt just beacause the debt makes traditional steps along the way tougher to achieve. Getting married a buying a house are both tougher with heavy debt loads. Not to say that those are necessary to have kids, but for a lot of people following the set baby path, it’s going to take longer with student debts.

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