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Big Question - Kids and ER
Old 08-05-2007, 10:50 PM   #1
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Big Question - Kids and ER

I don't know if this issue has been discussed. If so, I apologize.

Lately DH and I are having some debates about whether we should have kids or not. I would just like to hear your experiences and thoughts. We both turn 30 this year, and have been married for just over 7 years.

We have both been ambivalent about whether we should children. The decision seems even harder now that we are taking ER more seriously. I am an only child and there's some pressure from my parents about grandkids. Other than that, my desire for children is mostly based on fear: fear that we would miss out on this great experience, fear that I will regret it when I am too old to have children, or fear that when we are too old to think, someone will try to take all our money through some scam. Since we both have longevity in our genes, we might outlive all of our friends, and no one will come to our funerals (maybe a stretch, since I won't really care).

So here's the breakdown:

Pros: (overly practical, probably)
- The joy of having children (silly questions, laughters, milestones, re-living my own childhood, witness to the miracle called maturity)
- Something to look forward to (When will they EVER leave the house??)
- Possibility of grandkids
- (Possibly) someone to look over our finances when we are too old to think
- Satisfied my parents' nagging
- May give children the life I've always wanted to live (lots of traveling, learning different languages and cultures, etc.) although he or she may hate it

Cons:
- Deprivation of free time and mobility
- Big drain on finances
- Will delay ER by 10 - 15 years (25 years from now, vs. 15 years)
- We can't be living like beach bums or live in an RV (my long-term dream), at least until children go to college
- We can't travel around the world and just do odd jobs to barely sustain a living, at least until children go to college (by then I'll be too old to want to do that)

Some people say you just know it when it's time to have children. Is that true? I know I may sound like a very selfish person, but I'm only seriously confused. Any thoughts and insights are appreciated. Also, let me know if I missed anything.
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:56 PM   #2
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Why would kids delay ER 10 years? They aren't that expensive.

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Originally Posted by GoodSense View Post
I don't know if this issue has been discussed. If so, I apologize.

Lately DH and I are having some debates about whether we should have kids or not. I would just like to hear your experiences and thoughts. We both turn 30 this year, and have been married for just over 7 years.

We have both been ambivalent about whether we should children. The decision seems even harder now that we are taking ER more seriously. I am an only child and there's some pressure from my parents about grandkids. Other than that, my desire for children is mostly based on fear: fear that we would miss out on this great experience, fear that I will regret it when I am too old to have children, or fear that when we are too old to think, someone will try to take all our money through some scam. Since we both have longevity in our genes, we might outlive all of our friends, and no one will come to our funerals (maybe a stretch, since I won't really care).

So here's the breakdown:

Pros: (overly practical, probably)
- The joy of having children (silly questions, laughters, milestones, re-living my own childhood, witness to the miracle called maturity)
- Something to look forward to (When will they EVER leave the house??)
- Possibility of grandkids
- (Possibly) someone to look over our finances when we are too old to think
- Satisfied my parents' nagging
- May give children the life I've always wanted to live (lots of traveling, learning different languages and cultures, etc.) although he or she may hate it

Cons:
- Deprivation of free time and mobility
- Big drain on finances
- Will delay ER by 10 - 15 years (25 years from now, vs. 15 years)
- We can't be living like beach bums or live in an RV (my long-term dream), at least until children go to college
- We can't travel around the world and just do odd jobs to barely sustain a living, at least until children go to college (by then I'll be too old to want to do that)

Some people say you just know it when it's time to have children. Is that true? I know I may sound like a very selfish person, but I'm only seriously confused. Any thoughts and insights are appreciated. Also, let me know if I missed anything.
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:57 PM   #3
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Its a huge change in your life. Five times what you think its going to be.

And worth every single digit.

We didnt know it was time. But after a lot of FEAR, we adapted and realized how good it was to have a little destructive entropy machine running around between our knees.

A little one doesnt HAVE to be a financial drain. But dang if I cant stop buying the little guy everything he wants...
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Old 08-05-2007, 11:10 PM   #4
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Macdaddy, the delay in ER is mostly due to anticipated reduction in workforce participation (working part-time for a few years when kid(s) are young), and reduced savings due to increased spending.

CFB, thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds encouraging.
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Old 08-05-2007, 11:47 PM   #5
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I can only echo CFB's thoughts.

I'm 44 and have a 3 1/2 year old and my second is just a week old. I will RE in exactly 22 months.

I don't think it is possible to overstate how miraculous and wonderful it is to be a parent. Had I known, I wouldn't have waited so long.
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Old 08-05-2007, 11:52 PM   #6
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Please cross off "Satisfied my parents' nagging" from your list. Don't have kids for anyone else but yourselves. It is a huge, lifelong commitment. And yes, it impacts your finances for a large block of time.

For us, having kids has been the most fun we've ever had. It's been immensely satisfying. For us, it's been the best decision we could have made. I know many people decide not to have kids and are happy, fulfilled and know they made the right decision for them.

Many directions in your life path can be decided on based on finances. This shouldn't be one of them. Make a family because that's what you want out of life. It will cost you, in money, effort, devotion, wear and tear on your emotions and on your furniture.

If you decide to have a family and are worried about the costs, there are a lot of expenses that can be controlled. Not everything has to be new and the most expensive. People raise wonderful families on limited budgets all the time.

It's smart to consider the financial impact kids will have on you and your spouse, but please don't let the fact that raising a family costs money keep you from doing it if that's what you want... in your heart.
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Old 08-05-2007, 11:56 PM   #7
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My wife and I started saving like mad about 2 years before we had our first kid. We did that not because of FIRE (hadn't really heard of that at the time) but because we wanted some savings for whatever goes wrong when you have kids.

About six months before she got pregnant, I found the FIRE bug. Having two kids now hasn't changed much on the FIRE schedule. We are still about 4-8 years away. Kids added a few years, and more "uncertainty", but in some ways kids made us save more. (Little kids cost almost nothing, actually they can give you money back. You don't eat out as much, you don't travel as much, friends/family will give you lots of stuff.). Diapers are expensive, but everything else is pretty cheap if you already live cheap.

If you decide to have kids, you can take the attitude my wife and I had, we built a big enough savings buffer, and then let whatever happens, happen. I would recommend you not "were trying to have kids", but instead, just let nature happen. You may not have kids, some people can't, you might get pregnant on the next month. "trying to have kids" puts alot of stress on you guys to "perform".

Just my random thoughts. Laters,
-d.

ps. Kids will change your life. There are good and bads like everything else, but they are worth it. I'd do it again in a heart beat. Its amazing to watch our 16 month old girl giggle as she slides down a slide, or our 4 year old master the monkey bars. (which he just did about 2 weeks ago) You just can't beat those experiences.
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:21 AM   #8
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The "kid question" is not a logical one or a financial one. It's not even an emotional one. It's a hormonal one. A genetic one.

You are programmed to have kids and to like kids. You can try to fight your programming, but eventually you must give in.
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:23 AM   #9
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Thanks, Medit8, Sue, dgalbraith100, and twaddle. I do tend to over-plan and over-analyze. It is heart-warming to read your posts.

Maybe my hormones will kick in...
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:41 AM   #10
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do you have friends who have kids? try them out - all ages...the little babies, 2-4 year olds, teens etc. see how you feel. if you don't have some gut, emotional reaction, i would seriously consider not having them. I adore my children and really really really wanted to have kids - and that is the only thing that i rely on when i get frustrated, lose patience etc. if i had been more on the fence, I can imagine the resentment sitting in or spilling over in our worst parenting moments.

remember you're not having a baby, you're having a person - who goes through all those stages! of course some people prefer, are more suited for certain age groups, but you have to at least be able to weather each stage!

if you do decide to have them then, considering your planning personality - all should be well. you can teach them they don't need everything, how to save etc...just watch a few episodes of those people with 12 kids or more - they really know how to save money! food seems their biggest expense...

my sister has decided not to have kids and seems fine with it - she is a wonderful aunt and loves being one. she takes the older girl for sleepovers once in a while and they both enjoy them every bit. there are many ways to experience the joys of parenting. You could also become a mentor for a kid in need, volunteer etc. if you find you still want exposure/time and the good/great parts of having kids in your life.

good luck on the decision!
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:00 AM   #11
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We were like you and waited 5 years before we had our son. DW and I went back and forth trying to decide whether to have kids or not. Finally we decided to have one and it was the greatest decision of my life. I remember watching those "baby being born" videos and thinking that is just plain gross. Fast forward to the delivery room and I thought seeing our son for the first time was....well words can't describe. It changed my outlook and even though he's about to turn 5 I still marvel that I have a son. He learned to swim under water last week and I was so proud. Just can't put a price on those moments.
As far as costs, parents largely dictate what rearing a child will cost. If you want them to have those cute Nikes for 1 year olds then it's going to cost, but if you're content with Walmart specials they barely make a dent. The biggest expense for us while he was a baby and we were working was special baby formula (lactose intollerant) and child care. But we could have saved a lot by buying the formula that you make instead of the ready made. Lots of ways to cut costs.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:23 AM   #12
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I always liked kids but didn't want any until about 38. Then thought that having 1 would be ok and fit my budget. So much for planning - had twins at 39. I joke wtih them that one day I'll figure out which one I'm sending back . but of course I wouldn't trade them for anything.

As long as you have the basic funds to support them -can buy car seats, clothing, beds, etc. without going on the dole, and know you can afford daycare or adjust to reduced wages, the financial considerations are less important. But, yeah, you want to buy them cute stuff and want to give them all the chances to experience age appropriate activities. Depending on where you live, their interests, and your interests, the costs of these things vary.

More importantly, how do you think you will be as a parent? Do you and your wife have similar ideas about discipline practices, how children "should" behave, house rules, etc. Do you want to shift many of your activities to accomodate children?

Hanging out with friends and neighbor's children is not necessarily a good indicator. I can only take their kids in small doses. They are annoying and mine are perfect ! But what you can learn from neighbors/family is to watch the parents to see how they parent. Do you want to be like them or do things differently? Are you are interested in spending your time accordingly?

Yes, ER will be delayed a bit, but I wouldn't change anything. Friday night we spent about 3 hours laughing over nothing. Then the kids spent one hour challenging each other to balance on finger tips one of those balloons you get at the florist (small and on a stick) and seeing who could give me the better back rub. Saturday I spent half the day at a swim meet and Sunday morning we took both kids and the dog to a large brick wall to start learning tennis. Good thing we had extra balls, because the dog thought this was a new game. Great weekend all around.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:38 AM   #13
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do you have friends who have kids? try them out - all ages...the little babies, 2-4 year olds, teens etc. see how you feel. if you don't have some gut, emotional reaction, i would seriously consider not having them...
From my experience, there was a BIG difference between holding someone else's baby or taking someone else's kid out for ice cream, and having my own kid.

There is a chemical reaction that happens in your brain when you first realize you are going to be a parent that changes your mentality, rearranges your priorities, and makes you mature differently.

When you have a child, you are an instant millionaire.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:51 AM   #14
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GoodSense,

Read through this topic about the costs of raising kids -

How much do children cost?
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:30 AM   #15
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Raising a child has been simultaneously the greatest expense and most fulfilling part of my life. I suppose you can spent more or spend less, depending on your means and objectives financially. After private school and college, now out of state college, I wouldn't even want to think how much I've spent on my little girl. I'm about to send her to study abroad next semester with the dollar at its lowest in years. And if yours looks like a model all dressed up like MY little girl, you'll want to fill her closet with things too. Yep, kids ain't cheap. But that's not the point really.

If you've got the money, you spend it on your kid. If you don't, well then you can't, and shouldn't. Your child will still love you either way. Money is irrelevant.

The very idea that you're wondering about it "before being too old" tells me you probably will. I was 40 when DD was born, DW was 33. She went through the same cycle. Some women just love to hold babies, but not DW. But she has been a wonderful mom.

Parenting is a unique and natural part of life. If we'd had no child, I'd be far less happy with a lot more money. I have good friends, though, who are happy and childless. So follow your on heart.
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Old 08-06-2007, 10:04 AM   #16
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It's better to regret not having them than to regret having them.
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Old 08-06-2007, 10:10 AM   #17
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CFB, thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds encouraging.
No charge. This morning he's duct taped five of his toy trucks together and is starting to eye the dog.

Who knew you could get this kind of child pleasing mileage out of a dollar roll of duct tape?

How can you deny yourself these fine pleasures?
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Old 08-06-2007, 10:30 AM   #18
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It's better to regret not having them than to regret having them.
Khan, I think you are right. But I don't know anyone who chose to have children who came to regret that choice. I'm sure they exist, but I've never run into one.

I'm 56 and childless. Regret may not be the right word, but I do sometimes wish my life had worked out such that I had children.

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Old 08-06-2007, 10:42 AM   #19
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After 1 year of marriage in 1978, DH and I decided not to have children. Fast forward 29 years and we still do not have children. Of course "way back when", my MIL pressed us on grandkids and was so hurt when we decided not to have any. My mom said, "what you don't have, you don't miss." I've got a cool mom.

Anywho, since we haven't had children, we've been able to pick up and go when we want and have been able to take advantage of oppurtunities that might not have been possible with children. I think our lives have been less stressful and the fat retirement accounts are nice.

I do wonder from time to time what our child would have looked liked and what he or she would have become in their adult years. It's a comforting thought to have a responsible child to be able to help with financial affairs. However, if we had a child, he/she might not be willing or able to do these things for us. Quite frankly, I wouldn't want to burden my child with the difficulties we may have in our so called golden years.

We find that giving our nephew and niece hugs and bucks suits us just fine.
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Old 08-06-2007, 10:50 AM   #20
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Children are not for everyone and they are not returnable so make sure you want them .I could not imagine my life without my children .The joys and sorrows are worth every penney .One other thing ,this is a lifelong commitment .You do not get a vacation from parenthood .
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