My husband and I are both 27. We have been married for a little over 3 years (dated for 5 years before that). We both are at a place in our lives where we desperately want children (our plan is to start trying in September). We both have decent jobs, but neither of us by any means makes a fortune (although my husband is currently looking for a new job in order to try and make more money). I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom. But I also love my job, love helping the people and kids I get to help in doing my job, so right now I am hoping to find a part time job that will let me work evening hours (that is doable with my job). But I would also be completely content to stay home.
So, by now you're thinking, "SO! WHAT DO YOU NEED OUR HELP WITH!?!? Get to the point already!"
Well, I am FREAKING OUT about the money!!! Currently we are in a very good place. We save a decent amount every month, we like our house the way it is (will obviously need a bigger house when we have more than one kid, but this will do for now), we don't really want for anything currently. We enjoy each other and our friends but we are by no means extravagant. If we weren't about to start having kids we wouldn't have to worry much about finances at all. But adding a kid, and taking away part of a salary makes me panic!
So, am I alone? Am I the only one to freak out like this!?! (I sure am hoping your readers tell me no!!). And if I'm not alone, what did people do about it? How do you get past the money worries and just bite the bullet and have kids? How did it end up working out once you had kids? Is money a constant, constant stress? (That's my biggest fear, I want to enjoy our children without having to stress all the time about money.) I don't need a ton of money for expensive vacations, or designer kids clothes. Just enough to meet our needs, save for our future and theirs, and have fun every now and then at a place that isn't our house (amusement parks, etc).
So, can you help me? Can you ease my fears?? (or at least give your readers a chance to ease my fears???)
Thanks for listening!
Freaking out about money is both good and bad. It's bad because it's uncomfortable to lie awake at night fretting about it, and because sometimes it prevents people from having children they could have afforded if they hadn't gotten freaked out by that silly article that says it costs $300,000 to raise a child to age 18 (news from the front: it doesn't). It's good because the very fact of freaking out can help you keep expenditures reasonable: if you freak out a little over every $5, you're likely to find you don't have to.
With or without kids, financial decisions have to be made constantly. You can buy the $40,000 car or the $20,000 car or the $12,000 car, or you can buy the $4,000 used car, or you can repair your junker again. You can buy the $2,000 camera or the $1,000 camera or the $200 camera, or you can have your dad's old camera when he buys a new one. You can buy the $4 organic avocado or the $1 non-organic one or you can buy no avocado at all. You make the decision that's right for your personal combination of "What we can afford at our income level?" plus "How important is this item to us?"
It is the same when you have children. You can buy the $800 crib or the $200 crib or the $100 crib, or you can get a crib free (handmedown or Freecycle). You can buy the $30 diapers or the $20 diapers or the $10 diapers---and if you use cloth, you can use the $30 ones or the $15 ones or the $3 ones. You can buy the $30 formula or the $20 formula or the $13 formula, or you can see if you can breastfeed. You can buy baby clothes full-price or on sale or at consignment shops or on end-of-season clearance for the year ahead, or you can use your sister's kids' handmedowns.
These are the decisions that add up as you pay the expenses associated with child-rearing. Each decision is made the same way as the other financial decisions you make: "What can we afford at our income level?" plus "How important is this item to us?" Some things you might not have a choice about (perhaps your child will have a digestion issue that will require the use of the $30 formula; perhaps you will try to get a free crib but none will be available), but your general decision-making will still add up in the long run.
Something I find comforting, too, is remembering that I can change my working situation. Right now I sometimes freak a little about money---but the thing is, even if I want to stay at home for now, my youngest (assuming he IS my youngest) will be in school in 5 years, and then I can get a mother's-hours job. If we're strapped before then, I could get an evenings/weekends job. And if, for example, we had to go into Emergency Mode (like, I had to work full-time, so I had to do overnights because we can't pay for three kids in daycare) for a few years, it would be at most 5 years before the kids were in school and we could have a normal life again. I can handle most stuff for just 5 years.
One of the things I think gets people in trouble is that they set up their financial situation without children in the picture: they buy a house on two incomes, and they buy their cars on two incomes, and they buy furniture they can pay off easily with two incomes. And then the kids are born, and they don't have two incomes anymore (either they have one income, or they have two incomes minus childcare expenses) and yet the mortgage payment, the car payments, and the credit payments remain the same. Plus, now they have child-related expenses such as clothes, formula, diapers, and equipment. This is the kind of thing that sends people into a permanent financial crisis. When Paul and I bought our house and our cars, we were already on one income, and I think that's saved us a lot of financial pain. We didn't do it that way on purpose, so I feel lucky about that.
What do the rest of you think? How do you deal with money worries? Have those worries increased since having children? Did you have to overcome financial worrying in order to have children, and if so, how did you do it?