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?