Is There Financially A Right Time To Have Children?

In short, the answer is no. If you are planning a family I’m pretty sure this question will have crossed your mind. It certainly did with me. I’m not saying that having children should be purely based on finances but it is definitely a consideration and a lot of people, myself included, will wonder if there is an ideal time financially for little ones.

Should you have savings? Should you own a house? Should you make sure you are in a good position at work?

Well, yes. It helps but onlyif you can and honestly do not panic if you can’t.

From a personal perspective I had both scenarios. Feeling ready with baby no 1 (initially!) and all kinds of panic with no 2.

With Molly we decided that we wanted to start trying for a baby and felt financially it was a good time. We both held good positions at work, we owned our house and had no debts. We made plans to start saving some money and were confident that we could adjust to my lowered income once on maternity leave. In short we were ready.

As is the way with life things weren’t straightforward and after my early miscarriages we decided to just bite the bullet and move house, possibly rushing in to a house purchase in a fog of emotions. Said house ate up a lot more of our money than we had envisaged and so our ‘baby’ savings started to dwindle. A year later when I was expecting Molly I had only managed to keep a bit of money back to help whilst I was on maternity leave. Low and behold two weeks before she was born we ended up re-wiring the whole house so let’s just say the savings were not that great when she arrived. I could have panicked but we wanted this baby so much that we knew we would just adapt. We were in a better position than a lot of people so I was grateful for this.

We planned ahead and bought things for the baby during the pregnancy allowing ourselves one main purchase a month for the last few months – taking advantage of deals and offers. This is a great way to spread the cost.

I only received statutory maternity leave from my old job so I knew times would have to change but it’s amazing how you adjust. I got 90% pay for 6 weeks followed by the statutory £500 or so (as it was at the time) for the remainder of my 9 months. I was lucky in that I continued to receive my car allowance whilst off which certainly helped top up the nappy fund.

Somehow you make changes and you spend a lot less than you think. Fortunately Edd was able to cover the majority of the house bills and mortgage which helped massively. Yes there are big baby purchases but once baby arrives there aren’t huge costs involved. We went out less, ate out less and met friends at each others houses rather than coffee shops. Plus the extra baby weight meant I had no intention of going out and buying new clothes either!

In the end I took 12 months off on maternity leave and although I didn’t receive anything for those last three months it was ok. It was a personal decision but once again we adjusted.

We always wanted a second baby and my plan was to return to work for a few years and save as best I could with nursery fees.

As some of our long term readers may know that didn’t quite go to plan. As it was I ended up returning to work 12 weeks pregnant! You can read about that fun announcement here. So my best laid plans of saving didn’t exactly work out. Instead I went back to work having had 12 months of maternity leave, three with no pay at all, and was only going to be back at work for six months before baby no 2 arrived. I also knew returning to my old role after Alice was going to be tricky. Let’s just say I panicked slightly. Those six months turned to five with Alice arriving early so the baby fund didn’t really materialise. Luckily we still had everything from Molly so didn’t need to make any big purchases.

Yes having a baby isn’t cheap but it also doesn’t have to be completely scary cost wise. You don’t need to go overboard with the purchases, which is easy to do, and for that first year of their life they actually don’t need much. Most of the cost comes before they arrive on things like pushchairs and car seats so use the time you are working to get these ready. Now mine are older it’s a different story 🙂

If you are wondering about your maternity pay you can read about that here. Get clued up so you know exactly what your company offers.

If you aren’t working at the moment there are options for help and benefits. Don’t forget about child allowance either. It’s not huge sums but it all helps.

Also make a budget. Work out what you can pay for and afford in terms of bills, food, cars etc and begin to make any adjustments before baby arrives. Try not to stretch yourself as no one needs that extra stress at this time.

All I can say is whatever your financial situation you will get by and you will never regret that decision.

Did you make financial plans and feel ready for baby?

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Lottie loves teaching her girls to be cake baking and crafting supremos. It may be messy but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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17 Comments. Leave new

I agree, no perfect time. Professionally or personally or financially. If there is one thing that I’ve learnt is that you have to let go of the control. Start with money and end with sleep. Just go with it.

I don’t see how owning a house makes a difference though but maybe that’s a London thing. For us, we were better with the flexibility to move quickly from a one bed when she was 7 months to a larger two bed then eventually out. Had we owned our own home we could have potentially been stuck in a one bed flat with a one year old. We really needed the second bedroom from about 6-7 months. You really don’t need a nursery or a separate room until 6 months anyway. The extra £700-800 a month rent for that second bedroom is an expensive dumping ground.

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Love the idea of letting go of the control. Definitely where sleep is concerned! Completely agree with the renting thing and probably not just in London. I hadn’t actually thought of the flexibility that gives you in regard to moving and available space. x

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On the subject of finances, a post about the changes to childcare vouchers and the new tax free credits would be useful. Just about to go on my second maternity leave and I can’t decide if it would be better to stay with vouchers or move over to the new scheme.

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There is a calculator on one of the childcare vouchers that works it out for you. We’d be much worse off under the new scheme. Couldn’t work out either who would benefit from swooping

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We’re better off swapping to tax free childcare (both work full time and toddler in nursery full time). I think if you spend over a certain amount on childcare then it’s better to swap, but there are a few caveats…

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Perhaps that what it is then the cost of the actual childcare…we are in same position as you but better to stay

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This is so helpful and reassuring Lottie, thank you. Like you say, no matter what your income, you will get by when baby arrives and your life will just automatically adjust. My husband and I are trying for our first baby and the financial aspect does scare me but this post has definitely eased my mind and given me the confidence boost I need to just go for it! Again, like you say, you will never regret the decision!

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You honestly can’t worry too much about it. It’s a consideration but you make changes and it’s not as big an adjustment as you think it will be. Good luck xx

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I have a 2 year old child and although we would really like to have another I don’t think that financially we could afford it because of the childcare costs. My husband and I both work full time so my mum looks after my son 1 day a week (she works part-time) and then he goes to nursery the other 4 days – I’m very happy with the care that he receives there but it’s just so expensive. Since my son was born I’ve saved each month towards the maternity leave costs (as at the time I assumed we’d just try for another baby when the time felt right) but that’s not really the issue. The problem would be after maternity leave when I would go back to work. We just couldn’t afford to have 2 children in nursery. I appreciate as my son gets older and starts school the cost of his childcare will decrease but there would still be summer holidays to cover. We couldn’t afford for me not to work as I currently earn more than my husband. And we don’t live in England so don’t get 15/30 hours free childcare for 3/4 year olds. It would be great to hear how other parents who work full-time jobs without any flexibility of working from home manage. Sorry for the whinge, I just feel a bit frustrated as I really would love my son to have a wee brother or sister.

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Oh it’s so tough. As my girls are close in age I knew the nursery costs were going to break me. Obviously I was already pregnant so it kind of took the decision out of my hands. Instead I made the tough decision that I couldn’t return to my old job which was hard as I loved it and had worked there for ten years but it was the decision I had to make for us. At the time my husband and I earnt the same but that has changed over time with job role changes etc for him. So things can change in the future. It’s so hard though and I really do understand your worries. I’m a firm believer that things will work out though. xx

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This is so true, there is never a “right time” financially but you make it work. My husband finished his PhD and was only on part time temporary work contracts when we started trying. I fell pregnant very quickly and we figured he would have a permanent full time job by the time the baby came. It just hasn’t happened. He is now working three days a week and I am on SMP. Our little one is now 5 months old. Yes our money situation is stressful but we know that in the long run we will look back on this time as such an amazing opportunity for my husband to spend a huge amount of time with our child. We also rent but it’s just how it’s worked out. One day we’ll buy a house, one day my husband will get a full time permanent job but for now we are enjoying spending loads of time as our new family of three 🙂

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Also, baby clothes on eBay. The best thing ever. I save so much on baby clothes and he has some fabulous stuff from John Lewis, M&S and Polarn O Pyret that are basically new or hardly worn. I even got a Babaa knit for a fraction of the cost.

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I think you have a wonderful attitude to this and one we should all live by. Time is so precious and money will work itself out. We had the opposite situation in that my husband took a new job when Molly was six months old and since then has been away most of the week every week and this didn’t change when Alice came along. You can’t get that time back so enjoy every second. xx

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This is so true. I felt far more prepared ahead of giving birth to my first child than I do now, five weeks from giving birth to my second. The main issue is the childcare costs – putting two through nursery is going to take up most of my salary (even with the 15/30 hours free childcare). But I also know that I’d be unhappy not working and it’s a short-term pain that we just have to get through. It’s not easy though, especially when you’re trying to save for a bigger house/bigger car and still want a comfortable family life.

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We are due no. 2 soon, and like you we made a sensible decision when to start for no.1, and it was a struggle working out how we would cope with 2 (if I’m honest it’s still not completely sorted, eek!!). My husband is looking for a new job to help, as Anon says above the issue isn’t actually maternity leave itself, although that is pretty tight financially, it is more the nursery fees for two, which are astronomical in London at least. I’m quite jealous of those that don’t have to think about how many children they have from a financial perspective, but I know for most people it is a difficult question! As you say though you will make it work, you just have to make certain sacrifices along the way.

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I definitely think that this almost becomes more of a problem, the older you get and the more time you have to get accustomed to a certain standard of living. It’s taken me a long time to buy a house on my own and only met the right man a year ago who I want to have bubbas with! I have great mat pay (full pay for 6 months, SMP for 3 months, 3 unpaid), but the nursery fees are like a second mortgage! For me the finances are more do-able now I’m older, but I don’t have time on my side anymore and will have to get on with it in 3 years time!

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Sorry but like anon sound like another winge. My situation is very similar in terms of the 2 pregnancies as yours Lottie, but bought the big house before we married then popped out a honeymoon baby and one 16 months later, again going to work pregnant. Unfortunately we spilt all our finances down the middle as both had good jobs. A few months before I fell pregnant my company got bought over and my mat leave was halved. I work in a male dominated industry and mat leave was not viewed as a priority! Super annoying. My husband works in the currently struggling oil industry up north and lost his job while I was on mat leave first time round. Cue me back to work earlier than planned. He got a new job pretty quickly but is on a significantly lower wage now and I have 2 full time nursery fees to pay for. We cannot afford to put our children in full time nursery while we both work full time and pay our mortgage and are stuck in negative equity. I earn more than him so was forced to go back to work with a 3 month old baby which breaks my heart. We can’t afford for him to stay at home either. I’m now splitting my family and taking my baby to my mothers in a different city 3 days a week while I leave my 19 month with my husband. While I appreciate there is not a good time, there is certainly a better time. Really on my behalf thinking ahead. Don’t buy that ‘dream’home unless you have some serous cash behind you as you just don’t know what life will throw at you. Also on a more lift hearted note I spent an absolute fortune on mat leave! So much time so many coffees, play dates and pretty things to buy as featured on these fine RMF pages to buy for littles!x

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