17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Financially Ready for Baby?

On my OTHER BLOG, I had a commenter ask me how I knew it was time to start having children, and she expressed concerns about fearing her financial state after baby came. I responded on my blog, but thought it was a great topic...so I will expand here.

Obviously you want to have your finances in good order ALL the time, but waiting to have a baby until you have reached large financial goals that often do not reach achievement until later in life, is not a good reason to not have kids. If you have a reasonable amount of debt (preferrably no debt), from school loans and a mortgage (not credit cards), you are happy in your present job, and you see your financial goals (owning a home, buying a car), being achieved in the near future, then you are probably ready to have a baby.

That being said, I had my first while my husband was a student, I was the primary bread winner, and we had no job prospects when our baby turned 4 months, so we moved to NYC (the highest cost of living on the planet) with a wink and a prayer...but we did have a financial plan, and a back-up plan, and confirmation (through prayer) that our move was a good decision, and it all worked out. RISKY!

Here are a few thoughts on your finances/baby question:
1. Try living below your means. Take a few months and save one (I am assuming both you and DH work) entire income, and only live on the income of the person who will stay in the workforce after the baby comes. See if you can manage...b/c it would be great if you could stay home (if you want to), or take some significant time off, say a year or two.

2. Also, remember that you don't have to have ALL THE STUFF that every baby mag/company tells you you need. I never owned a changing table, had just a very plain rocker for my first, no rocker for my second, and bought a lot of items second hand or on ebay (snuggle nest, boppy, bumbo, stroller etc.), also got my high chair on a super sale at Target for $9.80...

3. Breastfeeding saves TONS, b/c formula is expensive.

4. It is worth the sacrifice to have a baby. You aren't going to be going out to eat every weekend like you used to, so that money can pay for the diapers!

5. Borrow. I think the Tales girls have swapped maternity clothes many many times. In fact, I don't even know where any of mine are or who has them, and I don't care either. Also, borrow baby clothes from friends or relatives, or trade or shop at second hand stores...especially for play clothes. Buy clothes at GAP or Old Navy b/c they let you return stuff, Motherhood/Pea in a Pod/Mimi Maternity do not let you return for your money back, store credit only. Keep in mind that there are so many REGULAR clothes out right now that are perfect for pregnancy (ie. tunics and low rise jeans)

6. Don't skimp on breast pads (lansinoh hold GALLONS), or the cooling and soothing TUCKS (for your Va-JJ), or on a good nursing bra.

My last piece of advice is to remain Queen of your house. Little baby does not move in and rule the roost, they are just your new accessory, and keep doing everything you used to, starting as soon as you can (3-4 weeks), and that baby will adapt and love life. And DO pay big $$ on your baby carrier, I love my bjorn.


  • I love this post; thank you! *scribbles notes*
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 3/15/2007 01:29:00 PM  

  • I have the exact opposite opinion when it comes to finances and children. The responsible thing to do is to wait until ALL of your finances are in order. Why make parenthood more difficult by compounding it with a financial burden? There is absolutely no rush when it comes to having kids. Finish school, get involved in your career, save some money, travel, and THEN think about starting a family.
    posted by Blogger emily at 3/15/2007 03:15:00 PM  

  • Emily:

    "Absolutely no rush?" No, I suppose not. Unless one wants to have the energy and health not only to bear the little darlings but run around after them (especially while toting their younger siblings.) Not to mention the issues older parents have-- Down's Syndrome for one and autism for another. (A recent study has found that autistic children are more commonly born to fathers who are over 35. Here's one link I found through Google. ) Not unless you want to be helping them through college at the same time you're contemplating retirement.

    There may be no rush (I'm definitely not saying everyone should rush out and get pregnant when they're young just for the sake of timing) but there are certainly factors that make longer waits problematic.

    As for waiting until ALL of your finances are in order (How long does it take to pay off a mortgage? ), we'll I'm reminded of an old poem:

    "The bride with age leaned over her cane;
    Her steps uncertain need guiding.
    While down the church aisle with a toothless smile,
    The groom in a wheelchair gliding.

    "And who is this elderly couple thus wed?
    You'll find when you've closely explored it
    That this is that rare, most conservative pair
    Who waited til they could afford it."
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 3/15/2007 04:10:00 PM  

  • PLEASE. Your finances are NEVER totally in order. Yes, you can be responsible and on top of things but there will never be a day when absolutely everything is perfectly lined up financially. If that day comes, maybe you haven't been living life...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 3/15/2007 04:16:00 PM  

  • Kage - I still remember you giving me the advice, "if you wait to have kids until all of your finances are in order you'll never have kids". (or something like that). Very good advice I think. No matter when you decide to have kids there will be hurdles. I guess that's why it's such a personal decision.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 3/15/2007 05:06:00 PM  

  • Some of my happiest memories are of being pregnant with our first child. They include:

    Our tiny, tiny, one bedroom apartment

    Walking to and from campus everyday to finish my senior year of college (nearly 10 blocks from our apartment).

    Talking, at length, with my husband about our future lives (with the new baby, a new job, being done with college, etc.).

    Anticipating the unknown.

    Now, here I am, 6 years and four children later, and I have to say that waiting for us to have children until we were financially sound would have been the absolutely wrong thing to do.

    Oh, and I'm with Chloe and PDoE, too...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 3/15/2007 05:08:00 PM  

  • "Finish school, get involved in your career, save some money, travel, and THEN think about starting a family."

    I would hope that whoever does this has no fertility issues. I know many people who can't have kids who were told if they had started 10 years earlier they would have been fine. (yes, truly, very insensitive docs)

    When to have kids is a very very personal decision between husband, wife, and God. Yes, finances are important, but they are not the most important thing. If you let that be your deciding factor, you may never have kids, which is OK too. But if you want kids, save what you can, take a deep breath, and pray.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 3/15/2007 05:11:00 PM  

  • And this is why Utah is the number one state for personal bankruptcy. Who cares if we are being at all financially responsible? I feeeeeeel like it. I want it NOW. I'm 23, my ovaries might dry up.

    I think the original post actually strikes a good balance, but some of the comments - wow.

    There is a line between being completely unprepared financially for parenting and waiting till you are old and infertile to have a child. Why set up a false choice like that? Those aren't the only options available to most people. If you want to have a baby when you are in dire financial straits, because you feel comfortable making that decision - wonderful. But don't try to scare people into making the same choice in order to make yourself feel better.
    posted by Anonymous Sara at 3/15/2007 07:44:00 PM  

  • I see the advantage of waiting to have kids until finances are in order, but I wonder if there are people who do not get dream jobs and are able to pay off debt quickly or by the time they're 30. Sure they may be poorer and never be able to take there children on wonderful Disneyworld trips or make 100,000+ a year, but they have a happy home with all that they need but not all that they want.
    I think if you can handle the financial burdens while having children go for it, but don't not have kids because you haven't seen Europe. I think the key is to be responsible if you have financial burdens. Stay out of credit card debt and pay off student loans and mortgages.
    I'm 24. I had my first when I was 20. I think I'll be able to enjoy my golden years and go to wonderful places with my husband when we're old. Sure we may die before we see Europe or even Hawaii but at least I've lived through two glorious births and had the opportunity to see that I have two wonderful daughters.
    posted by Blogger Lacey at 3/15/2007 08:05:00 PM  

  • Great pointers Kage! I would agree with everything you said. I will also say that I think people way over estimate the amount it COSTS to actually care for a baby. There are SOO many things that are unnesesary or just luxuries we have some to accept as needs. A baby does NOT need 50 "rompers", okay?

    I mean, I love my bjorn as much as the next gal, but with my first, she had little more than a crib in our 1 bed apt, and a few rattles. No baby changers,bouncy seats, large playpens, swings, jonny jumpers, etc. I hated the ugly clutter all that stuff made in our already small living room. I specifically didn't want it. And she was FINE! And she didn't care if we wiped her poopies while laying on the floor let alone a specially made peice of furniture for poopie wiping. IMHO, most of the crap we as over indulgent Americans think is "necessary" for baby-having is grossly over-rated.

    And p.s., I think that Utah has more Bankruptcies for 2 reasons:

    1) Huge amounts of scamming multilevel organizations

    2)Major "beat the Jones" complexes. Sorry for the tangent-BUT -TRUE STORY-one good friend who lives out there said her neighbor who ALREADY has a huge, nice house told her they are not having another baby because they wouldn't have room, so they are waiting to build a HUGER, NICER one, and she can't have another because it would mess up seating in the great new car that she wants. That surely is extreme but scary none the less.
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 3/15/2007 11:18:00 PM  

  • I think it's different for every couple. You don't have to have a million dollars in your savings account before you start your family, but I don't think that is what "finances in order" means to most people. It means being responsible and making sure the timing is right for you and your husband.
    Money is a hot spot in a lot of marriages - adding kids to the equation most likely will not make that go away, and more likely make it worse.
    It's important to be responsible and smart about it.

    Kage has listed some great ideas on how to get a lot of bang for your buck once your babe arrives (I am a major benefit-or of the maternity clothes trade). I would add to find some ppl to do babysitting trades with - save a lot of moula there.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 3/15/2007 11:24:00 PM  

  • I agree w. this post and think that Kage strikes a good balance about when you're ready....

    I haven't found kids to be all that expensive if you have good health insurance....at least if they stay healthy! And I didn't miss the fancy nursery for my kids that we couldn't provide them in our small NY apartment. Never mind, when you have to start flying them across country multiple times a year...yeah...it does add up.

    If you let the baby experience be about having all the "things"... you miss out on the really good stuff.

    I have completely discovered garage sales/consignment shops...we live in a pretty well-off area and most of the stuff I find is barely used and in great condition. It's a fun hunt, too.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 3/16/2007 07:20:00 AM  

  • This Post is great. Great ideas, great life lessons... A couple of comments...obsurd. Some of you girls should be ashamed of yourselves. You have no right to judge someone on when they think they should start their own family. You don't know their life situation. You don't know what they are going through at this time. Sure we can all take this post to good use, but when you start bashing someone (Chloe, how do you know that someone doesn't have a plan to be financially set by 30. Is that too old? PDOE, how do you know someone is going to wait until their 72 to start having children?) it's rediculous. Sure, you're probably just suggesting these and giving your lessons learned, but theses "suggestions" I think, went a little too far. Like I said, I love the post, good insight, but keep the comments about the post and not directed to another.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/16/2007 07:26:00 AM  

  • I agree with all of the borrowing and bargain shopping - we got a lot of our baby gear for free at the ward swap meet (maybe organize one of those?), at garage sales, etc. Heaven knows the kid doesn't care if his crib was used or if any of the baby gear matches. In our ward, one woman helped everyone sew slings out of curtains, which are great and cost-effective when the bundle of joy is small.
    And my #1 tip...buy baby clothes when Old Navy has their HUGE sales...you can get some great stuff for much cheaper than consignment prices. (I went nuts when I figured out I'd spend an average of $1 on each item.)
    posted by Blogger VirtualM at 3/16/2007 07:39:00 AM  

  • Anon, your typos make it difficult to see your message...
    posted by Anonymous charlotte at 3/16/2007 07:41:00 AM  

  • Wow, this topic obviously riles people up. And I don't know any other blog that gives "advice" where commentors don't comment on each other's advice. Now if the commentors were bashing on a personal choice made, that is different, but every commentor here seems to be talking about their advice to people who are worried about being financially ready for baby (whether this coincides with their actual experience, I do not know). Discussing why that advice might not be the best for all situations, is definitely appropriate in this conversation. Telling people they should be ashamed of themselves in not.

    That said, what I got most from Kage's post is that you don't have to buy into the consumerism that surrounds having a baby. When financially planning for baby, you do not NEED to factor in an $800 stroller, a beautifully decorated nursery, and every baby gadget out there. There are very few things that a baby actually NEEDS.

    Thanks for sharing your practical ideas. You know I love the maternity clothes sharing! And rachel H - I agree on the baby changing table- I had one for my first and didn't for my second. I just kept a basket full with all the diaper changing needs that could be picked up and moved to wherever I wanted to change the baby.

    I also like the idea of living on less for a few months. What better way of getting a glimpse of how your financial life might change after baby - maybe it would dispell fears for some people.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 3/16/2007 07:49:00 AM  

  • I knew a lot of Mormons in UT that would have babies far before they were "financially ready" and depended on government subsidy to pay for it. That is something I could never do.
    posted by Anonymous anon at 3/16/2007 07:51:00 AM  

  • I agree that there usually needs to be somewhat of a balance, but every family is different.

    I grew up in poverty and was not comfortable bringing my kids into a similar situation. I wasn't waiting till we were millionaires with lots of extravagances, but I felt, personally, that it was important for my husband and I to be finished with school and to be in a situation where I could stop working. I am not advocating waiting or not waiting, but I think that people should wait to be parents until THEY, personally, are ready to be parents. And that can be a different time for each couple.

    I had my first at 29 and my last at 32 (I have three) and you know what? I still have energy and health, and even (gasp) healthy children! Wow!

    Back to the original post -

    Stuff we bought and never used:

    Bjorn (my kids hated it)
    Swing (my kids hated it)
    Pack n Play (my kids hated it)
    Boppy (my kids hated it)

    Stuff we couldn't live without:

    Travel stroller - I loved my Graco stroller and it lasted through all three of my kids and now my sister is using it - the kind where the car carrier pops out of the stroller and into the car and back out again. Saved me because I didn't have to wake the baby up to get her out of the car seat and into the stroller, etc. If baby fell asleep in the car, baby STAYED asleep for a while. Heaven.

    We also didn't bother with a high chair - takes up too much room. We just got one of those adjustable booster seats with a tray - they can slightly recline, etc., and put it on a regular chair. Once baby is old enough, you can use it as a booster seat and scoot them up to the table. Easier to travel with too.
    posted by Anonymous Sue at 3/16/2007 08:17:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 3/16/2007 09:13:00 AM  

  • Utah Mormons must be evil. Wow, I'm glad I moved to California, because I now know I would have ended up going bankrupt, trying to get a nicer house, and then getting the government to pay for it all. Now I can join everyone else in bashing those Utah Mormons who don't know any better and aren't as great and smart as everyone else.

    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 3/16/2007 09:21:00 AM  

  • I think that one simply needs to make an informed and responsible decision. Don't just get pregnant to get pregnant. I think that not only should you feel financially prepared-this has a different meaning for each person-but more importantly you need to feel emotionally prepared. Even all the money in the world can't prepare you for a baby-I think the emotional factor is much more important. Not every woman is ready at 20, 25 or even 30 to start a family. There is nothing wrong with that. The decision should be a prayerful one between you and your husband. I also don’t think that there is a list of accomplishments that one must achieve before it is ok to start a family. Just do what is right for YOUR situation.

    Also, I think we forget about those who get married later in life and have no choice but to have children when they are older. Are you saying to them PDoE that they are doomed to a life of resentment toward their autistic and mentally retarded children? There is no one right answer and we shouldn't force what worked for us onto someone else. Leave people alone as to when they will have kids, how many, etc. It's none of your business.
    posted by Blogger Suzanne at 3/16/2007 09:31:00 AM  

  • Sounds like lots of girls are PMSing this week.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/16/2007 11:43:00 AM  

  • I appreciate all the comments. But what if you are prepared, but can't have any children at the time you desire due to infertity? You never know what God has planned for you. Just have a budget & live within your means. Why is that you have to have things, but can't afford it? That is why the world, not just UT have major problems. I think people are more worldly & prideful.
    posted by Blogger Moesha at 3/16/2007 01:19:00 PM  

  • I agree that babies don't need every gadget they tell you to register for at Babies R Us, but I also think that what works for one family may not work for the next. I love my Boppy but my sister didn't use hers at all. She praises her baby swing and we don't even own one. So one way to save money on baby products may be to borrow from friends until you figure out what your baby likes or dislikes. We did this with a Bumbo, and my little guy hates it, so I'm glad I didn't spend the cash to buy it. Also, I would say to take the purchases one at a time. Buy only the essentials (crib, carseat, stroller and clothes) before you have a baby and then gradually acquire things as your baby grows. This is also a great way to save space.
    posted by Blogger Nanu at 3/16/2007 01:36:00 PM  

  • PMS?
    No, not really. I mean, I did just move 800 miles away with a 2 week old baby (and three older children) which could be stressful, making one think I've got PMS.

    I'm just tired of the Utah Mormon bashing. No matter the subject, no matter the context, Utah Mormons are always looked down on. Now, if the friend that made a decision on when to have children regardless of financial stability happened to live in Colorado, would that have been mentioned? Or if they lived in California? Or Kentucky? Or England? Or Alaska? Ahhh....no. Just Utah. Do you ever hear "Idaho Mormon"?

    Let's just leave "Utah Mormon" out of it, because it's a generalization I'm tired of reading about.

    Perhaps (okay, not perhaps, but definitely) this is not the place to gripe about this, but every post on every blog I've ever read in the years I've blogged always has to have some disclaimer on how "everybody makes their own choices and nobody has the right to judge them". But whenever it comes to Utah Mormons, it's "hey, free game! Let's make fun of Utah Mormons, because if it happened to more than one person, they all must be nuts!" So, don't bash on sexual orientation, or politics, or ethnicities, or religions --wait! Unless they are Mormon! But only Utah Mormons! Can't bash on criminals, or wars, or rumors of wars, but let's make all Utah Mormons feel stupid, because they are!

    So sick of the generalizations and judgements.

    (sorry kage, for the rant. I know this isn't what you wanted on your thread, but I can't stop myself...)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 3/16/2007 01:47:00 PM  

  • i'm only 23. my husband & i are on the 5-year plan. no babies for 5 years. we figured it would take me about that long to get my nursing degree. the decision to wait isn't just for financial reasons though.

    i definitely agree with suzanne that being emotionally ready (well, as much as you actually can be) is probably more important than being financially ready. i don't think i agree with getting pregnant knowing that you are going to depend on the government for help though.

    in my psychology class, we recently looked at the down syndrome statistics and it can be a bit alarming to see the huge difference between having a child at 20 (1/1900) and 30 (1/900).
    posted by Blogger brenbot at 3/16/2007 03:22:00 PM  

  • Actually, that autistic/older parent study (mentioned above by PDoE)was pretty flawed... based in Israel with a very small sample (unless there is another one I'm not aware of). I think there are a lot bigger risks than being older parents to having a child with autism. Antecdotally, I was 26 and my DH was 25 when we had our first son who is autistic. And there are definitely worse things in the world than having to raise a child with Downs or autism. (But at the same time...we are really struggling about whether or not we should have more kids with the higher risk of siblings with autism).

    Sorry, Kage, this is off topic as well.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 3/16/2007 05:20:00 PM  

  • Hello Folks, original post writer here. I am glad that there were not many issues taken with the original post...not even sure what I wrote at this point...but I do have a few responses.

    beth, thanks for the reminder, I do still stand by that advice, although now that I have two, I do desire to reach certain financial/career goals before having more (IF I have more)....but I feel less guilt about that b/c I have my family going pretty good right now.

    Cheryl, I have been guilty in the past of utah mormon generalizations, I don't think ever on this blog though, and I try not to anywhere else at this point. Regarding the specific criticism brought up, I think I can guarentee you that there is a lot more of that government supporting the children issue in the inner cities than in UT. So, it is a universal problem among all races and religions and cities and states. Across the board it is probably considered irresponsible, but there are a lot of reasons this happens...some of it do to lack of education about how one becomes pregnant, and other oops moments, and sometimes people just have faith that their lives will change... I know I didn't make the comment, but I am just responding b/c I believe it is a bigger prob than just UM's.

    nanu, the borrowing of baby stuff is a great idea. I did this with a swing, and my baby didn't love it enough for me to purchase one, so I gave it back to its owner. Just remember when you borrow to treat it extra nicely.

    Thanks everybody....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 3/17/2007 05:53:00 AM  

  • Just chiming in--

    We waited until I had finished my degree and was licensed to practice speech therapy before starting our family. That's was not necessarily a financially motivated decision, but I suppose you could look at it that way. Everybody has her reasons for waiting or not waiting. I think the real tragedy comes when women feel that they don't have the option either way, that they feel pressured to have children when they are not comfortable with it, or feel pressure to wait when they really want to be a mother.

    And i second the idea that kids don't need much. My son got by on a second hand crib we paid $80.00 for, a changing table that doubled as his dresser, and a booster/high chair strapped to another chair for $12. I bought his clothes at thrift stores and Baby Gap, which was within walking distance of us and never went to outlet, so they just marked their stuff down, down, down. A friend and I would check in there every week to see what had gone on sale. We managed just fine, and in some sense, I think our 750 sq. foot apartment was a lot easier with a toddler than living in a big house would be. No need for baby gates or time spent chasing him around. He literally had no place to go!
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 3/17/2007 07:26:00 AM  

  • Hot topic! Thanks to Cheryl for the UM love!

    I had some personal goals before I had children, i.e., I wanted my bachelors degree. I got my diploma and then we decided to have a baby. It took us three years. I don't regret getting my diploma at all, and I don't regret the infertility issues we had either. However, because we are older there is a biological reality that is inescapable.

    We are less financially stable now than when we had our first child. It was his birth that really motivated my spouse to go back to school, so we've been living on just my income since then. It was a big change from dual incomes, but having the children was worth the short term financial instability. Just something to consider.
    posted by Blogger Azúcar at 3/18/2007 02:23:00 PM  

  • I wasn't trying to make anyone feel that they had better have a baby soon or it'll be born with problems. In fact, I specifically said that I wasn't advocating for people to rush children just for the sake of timing. Nor did I intend for it to sound as if I valued Down Syndrome or Autistic children less but the truth is they are a greater drain on parents and I feel that people should take the chances of having one into account as they make their decisions. And by that I mean talk to your doctor, research, be aware of the statistics and such. Again, I'm NOT saying "go out and have babies before they're all doomed, doomed, DOOOMED!" Not saying that. Absolutely and positively.

    Nor was I saying that people who do want to wait and do certain things before having a child shouldn't. That is a choice that is between each couple and God. I just felt that the considerations I mentioned were important and should be considered, along with the things mentioned by the previous comment and the original post.
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 3/18/2007 03:08:00 PM  

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