You are in debt, but want to start a family. What is the right thing to do? Is it irresponsible to have a family when you can’t afford it? Oftentimes we will have outside people telling us to pay off the debt before having kids because our lives will be so much easier then.
This topic is near and dear to my heart because I have been in this exact situation. Prior to having children of my own, I had previously judged others from the outside. Now that I have my own kids, I’m sure I have been judged too.
For some reason, in our society, everyone feels like they should have an opinion regarding your reproductive habits. But, here’s the thing, nobody else’s opinion freaking matters! You and your husband get to decide if having children is right for you. Everyone else can just be quiet.
Obviously, there are some realities you will have to consider if you plan to have children while in debt, but they are all things that can be navigated with a little bit of awareness and forethought.
4 Things to Consider If you Plan to Have Kids Before Debt Payoff:
1. Debt Payoff Will Be Delayed
This is obvious, but really take this in. When you decide to have a child instead of paying off debt, your entire debt payoff plan is going to be delayed by at least one year.
The second you find out you’re pregnant (or even when you start trying to conceive), you should put debt payoff on hold and start stashing away cash for the baby. This means you will be saving for at least nine months to pay for maternity leave and hospital expenses.
The last thing you want this baby to do is to add even more debt to your life. Prepare for it financially so you can bring a baby home without debt.
After you have the baby, there will still be a period of time where you are not focusing on debt payoff yet. For my family, we wait until after maternity leave and after the last hospital bill has been processed to make sure we have all of our extra baby expenses covered. If we have leftover money from saving for the baby, then we direct all of that to debt payoff.
This all usually takes one year to complete the whole process. We had two kids in two years so our debt payoff was stalled for TWO YEARS. Man, was that painful, BUT we cash flowed two kids and have no added debt because of them, and that is an awesome feeling.
You need to understand your debt payoff will be delayed, but it is totally okay because you are working on cash flowing your baby. Your priorities just need to temporarily shift. Once you are done with baby expenses, you can turn back to debt payoff.
2. Your Stress Will Increase
When you add children to your life, your stress level will grow exponentially. You are now in charge of another human being…FOREVER. It is such a huge responsibility.
This stress can also impact your marriage if you aren’t proactive about it. At times this stress can also try to derail your debt payoff plan. It is so important to be aware you are going to have more stress in your life, but you will still be focused on debt payoff.
Babies mean more unexpected expenses, well, and expenses, in general. Your budget will be constantly thrown off and you will have to adapt. We love a good challenge though, right?!
Accept the stress, and don’t let it paralyze you from moving forward with debt payoff or feeling like it is impossible. You can still accomplish debt payoff with children.
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3. You Won’t Be Able to Provide Them With as Much “Stuff”
Depending on your personality, this may be a total dealbreaker for you. As for me, I could care less about this. If you have debt that you plan to continue to pay off after you have a baby, your spending on “stuff” is going to be very limited.
This really bothers some people. I have friends who are only having one or two kids because it is super important to them to be able to give them the best of everything. And that’s okay!
I, personally, am not wired that way. I want a bigger family and I am not concerned about being able to put them in all the travel sports they want to do. We will make sure they have a wonderful life and are not deprived, but everyone has different standards of what that means to them. There is no right or wrong here.
You will have to figure out where you land on this spectrum. Find peace with your decision and know that no two families are the same, so what you want for your family will be completely different from someone else. That’s a good thing!
4. A Plan is Required
If you have a baby while you are in debt, you have to have a plan. You need a plan for when you will restart debt payoff, you need a plan for saving up for the baby and you need a plan for potential complications. Without being prepared for these things, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to emergencies you can’t recover from.
Being hypervigilant with your finances is the best practice when you are expecting a baby, ESPECIALLY if you already have a debt load. You do not want this child to be a burden to your family. It should only be a blessing.
Being in debt does not give you permission to just go further in debt. You should do everything in your power to make sure you cashflow each child you have so you can pick up your debt payoff where you left off.
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Should You Pay Off Debt Before Having Kids?
Absolutely not. I feel so strongly about this. Debt should not keep you from having children.
Grow your family!! Have your children!
The biggest reason for having kids, even when you are in debt is:
You won’t always be able to have them. Your childbearing years have an expiration date. Debt payoff has no time limits.
I have yet to meet someone who regrets having the children they have. Don’t put off something you will regret later in life.
I was in 6 figure debt and I had two babies in two years. I don’t regret a thing.
The only thing I would challenge you to do if you plan to have children while in debt is to be prepared as much as possible. It is definitely not a time for you to just “wing it.” Having children is a huge responsibility and that includes financial responsibility too.
Having a baby does not mean you get to ignore your debt forever; it means you take a temporary break to focus on preparing for a baby. Then you actually increase your intensity to pay off your debt as fast as you possibly can after that baby arrives.
If you are struggling with whether you should start a family now or wait until you are out of debt, I strongly encourage you to get your finances in order:
- Start living on a written budget
- Have a debt payoff plan
- Start financially preparing for a baby
- Budget for maternity leave
- Have a plan to resume debt payoff after your child arrives
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Then grow your family!! Don’t let debt stop you. Do not be irresponsible with your money, but do not put off having children until you are debt free. You may just miss your chance to have them at all.
The other thing you should know is your life is going to look different from a family who is debt free. There is no way around this. You need to have a realistic understanding that you will still be hustling to get out of debt while you are growing your family. It won’t be forever, but it will be how you live until you are debt free.
When you know exactly how you are going to be living after your child arrives, you won’t resent your situation. You will be able to find the motivation to continue with your debt payoff plan instead of feeling beaten down that you have this new expense and you are still in debt.
Having children is such an amazing blessing and opportunity. Don’t be afraid to grow your family if you are in debt. If you are responsible with your money, have a plan to continue debt payoff and understand what your life will look like with a child while in debt, you are going to be just fine!
Don’t let fear keep you from creating a new life. You only have so much time to have children of your own. Decide what is best for your family and go for it!
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