“When are you going to be sure you’re financially ready to have kids?” That is a question many women uttered, sheepishly, when talking about having children. Babies and finances go hand in hand in many minds.
Some will say this is not the important question. The question you should be asking is: Are you ready emotionally to have kids? Are you ready for the sacrifices you’ll have to do when you have something in your life that is more important than you? If the answer is yes, you can move to the next stage; when to have kids?
There is never a good time to have kids, some will tell you. Every age has its own problems.
If a woman is under 20 – it’s not a good age to have children. The woman needs to find herself first, needs to further her horizons maybe get a secondary education.
In their 20’s, most women are in the workforce. Economic necessities drive many women to the job market, and to have a decent middle class comfort, both partners have to work.
In their 30’s women who work and developed a career are just getting started. The hours are brutal but the pay is good. Just a few more years, just after the next job, the next promotion… Women, who are in a relationship and hope to have kids someday, still find it surprising and alarming to be faced with the discovery that they are pregnant.
But remember, what kids need more than anything else is your love and care.
In their 40’s – Now it’s the time, now that I’ve found my mate, now that I am financially comfortable… And they can’t get pregnant. The biological clock is ticking louder than ever and panic sets in.
So what is the best time to have children? Any time. But you have to make sure you’re financially ready to have kids.
Here are some ways to conduct a ‘stress test’:
There is no magic number you have to have in the bank that will tell you that you are ready to have kids, and there is no time that is 100% the best time to have them.
- You should feel in control of your money. If you are living from paycheck to paycheck, get your finances in order. Do you know your financial situation, how much you earn and how much you spend?
- Are you clear about your financial goals? What is most important to you at this point in your life? Having a bigger house? A new car? Or are you ready to put those purchases on the back burner and devote you time and money to an adventure of another kind.
- Do you have a system in place that you can stick to, like a monthly budget? You should make a budget that includes all your expenses and don’t forget to factor in the cost of baby care. Make sure you can stick to your plan and spend as much as budgeted. In other words, know exactly, not vaguely, where you stand financially.
- No credit card debt. If you have credit card debt, try to pay it off before the baby arrives. That will leave you with some money from your salary that you used to pay the credit cards with. Pay above the monthly payment of credit card which have a high APR, and pay the minimum required on the low APR until you pay off the highest cards. Keep the credit cards as an emergency fund, not as a way to make ends meet. Can you use cash for purchases from now on?
- You should have 3-6 months of living expenses put away in a place you can reach on short notice (i.e. not in real estate). This will be your emergency fund for unexpected expenses.
- What does the work place offer for maternity leave? Find that out, for both parents. This differs from country to country. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia it is 3 years, in Sweden it is 16 months, in the US it is 0-6 weeks.
- Can you live on one salary if the mother chooses to stay home with the baby for longer than her maternity leave? The short maternity leave in the US, forces women who want to keep their jobs, or need the money to go back to work before the baby is 2 months old. If the mother chooses to extend her maternity leave, and the workplace agrees, can you survive on one salary?
- Do you have a permanent residence? It doesn’t have to be a house you own, even though many people recommend it. Many great people where raised in an apartment or a hut. The important thing is to have a place you call home. A cover over your baby’s head, that you know will be there for some time, and if not, you will be able to find another solution in a relatively short period of time.
If your family passes this stress test, you can be sure you are ready to have kids. But remember, what kids need more than anything else is your love and care. You don’t have to provide the best and the most expensive for your child. But as a responsible adult you want to make sure that your child will want nothing and need nothing other than what you are able to provide.