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  1. #1
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    Default What part does finances play in your family planning?

    Mods, I wasn't sure what forum in which to put this, so please move where you deem appropriate.

    I'm struggling with my DH over the issue of more children, and his biggest hang-up is financial. We don't come from vastly different backgrounds, but DH's parents did pay for most of his college education, although he did receive scholarships. I had to work through college and am still paying off my student loans. I know his biggest reluctance isn't just college funding but the daily life, including vacations and activities. I still maintain that the gift of a sibling is far greater than various activities, and I know we can balance "zone defense" over “man-to-man coverage”, which is his other huge concern. But since he's a financial planner, he just keeps going to back our finances.

    How much importance do you put on finances when deciding to add to your family? Do you plan to provide for your child's college tuition? Is it enough to have love, food and shelter, or are monies for activities/vacations a necessity in today's world?
    ~Laura~
    Wife in 6/01, Mommy in 8/05 and 8/09
    Former lurker. Shy online but surprisingly outgoing IRL

  2. #2
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    I think money played a huge part in our decision, but dh would disagree that he just wanted to maintain a certain lifestyle and goals for himself which he thought would be impossible with the addition of more children. For him, I think it's more fear based than any reality of our financial situation which is actually very good. He will say it's lifestyle, but if you delve into it deeper, money is always part of his answer as to why we he doesn't want more children.

  3. #3
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    Great question, but honestly there is no one right answer (as you know!). In our family's case, we have decided that we will pay for college up to a certain amount. Right now we have money in college accounts that we saved really aggressively (our kids are 6 and under, and we have 3) and will continue to add to those accounts as the kids get older. We expect to pay tuition in full for a four-year public university, including room and board. That would also likely cover two years at a private college if the kids go that route. (this does NOT include ski vacations in Vermont with their new roommate, however!) Depending on what stripe of kid we have, which is hopefully more apparent when they are in high school, and depending on our own financial situation, we may revisit that scheme as we get closer. How well those college funds do in the longer term will obviously also determine what we can pay for, but I am very, very VERY opposed to having children graduate from undergrad with significant student loans that will take a decade or more to pay off. No problem with smaller loans, say 5-10K, that may help fund that semester abroad. I know it is more common these days, and plenty of people have had that situation, but I think it ends up being an obstacle that limits job choices, living situations, and a reasonable transition to truly independent adulthood. I wouldn't mind if my kids came back to the nest so that they could do, say, Teach for America or go to graduate school or something like that, but I don't want them to feel like that's their only real viable option. Saving for retirement is a higher priority for us, however, as of course there are no "retirement loans."

    We are otherwise careful with our money though, since we - alas! -have yet to win the lottery and do not wish to be in debt. We have one car, and it's more than five years old. We don't have any video games or game systems in the house. Our kids don't have electronic games like Leapsters or such. (this is a separate decision, I admit, which happens to also be the cheaper route. We play a lot of board games when I get home from work.) My six year old does one after-school activity through the school (no additional cost) and two are signed up for baseball, which will cost me 50 dollars per kid and one snack for the team at one game, but no more. (Full disclosure: I am also, however, one of those parents who would rather the kids play with couch cushions and costumes than be in karate or piano, so again my parenting coincidentally meshes with the cheaper options.) DH and I do have ipods, but they are several generations old, and our computer is more than five years old, as is my laptop. But...DH has a iPad that I got him for father's day, since he's way more into the whole tech thing than I am and travels more for work than I do. We did go on vacation to Disney last year, but we rented a house outside of Orlando and rented a car, rather than staying in the park, which saved us about $2000, we think. DH and I (when he's home) have a date night on Saturdays, so we do have a restaurant budget. During the week we tend to stay at home and we cook.

    FWIW - our "second" child ended up being twins, so while we had considered maybe having three, we didn't expect to have three kids so close in age nor to have the "should we have a third?" decision made for us. The third child did make us reconsider some of our spending but we found that the changes (paying attention to grocery bills, which we hadn't done before, and renting houses on vacation through vrbo.com rather than staying in hotels), have not really impacted our lifestyle in a significantly negative way. I guess you could say we are much more cautious, and pay attention to what we consider important, and pay for those things but not others. I will pay "good money" for Clinique moisturizer, as another example, but am perfectly happy with the cheapest drugstore blush I can find. Another example: 90% of my kids' clothes are from Old Navy or Target or equivalent. BUT, I will buy coats and shoes from Lands End, which are more expensive but again, I think the quality is worth it in those items, while I can't see the point in paying 25 or 30 dollars for pjs for a four-year-old. We could easily afford more expensive stuff, but then our savings would be smaller, and that's just the call we made. We are incredibly hugely amazingly fortunate to be able to even have savings after paying our bills, and certainly our little luxuries, and I recognize that in full. IF one of us lost our jobs, we'd be making different decisions, clearly.

    Depending on what your financial situation is currently, and what YOU and YOUR DH think are things you could or couldn't cut from your budget, and how you and your DH feel about college payments, it may be that you can indeed afford a third child without significantly changing your short-term life and long-term goals. But it would almost certainly require some adjustment.

    I do have one comment, and I don't mean it at all to be critical, just my own POV: I get what you are saying about the gift of another sibling, and as I said, DH and I had really thought we'd have three anyway. But I do think the two-kid family children are unlikely to pine for a sibling they haven't met, nor necessarily grow up wishing they had another. Maybe an only would feel differently, but plenty of only-s are happy with being only's too. It's sorta in my view in the arena of "they won't miss what they don' t have," and honestly, it's hard to predict relationships over the long term. In short, if you DO decide to have another child, I recommend you do it only for you and your DH, but not "for" your current children. (This from the middle child of three, who does get along with the sibs.)

  4. #4
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    Money is mostly the limiting factor to why there will not be a #4. We do plan to pay for our kids' undergrad degrees (FIL will help), but grad degrees will be on their own. I think 3 is a good number for us, but we do plan to tighten up fiances in anticipation of #3. With 2, we paid for any activities, vacays every year and big bdays yearly. We're planning to go to a big bday party every 3 years (we'll still so an experience and fun activity with a friend on the off years), but we limit who does what activities a bit more. #3 isn't actually here yet, so not sure what will be the actuality or not.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmyE View Post
    But I do think the two-kid family children are unlikely to pine for a sibling they haven't met, nor necessarily grow up wishing they had another. Maybe an only would feel differently, but plenty of only-s are happy with being only's too. It's sorta in my view in the arena of "they won't miss what they don' t have," and honestly, it's hard to predict relationships over the long term. In short, if you DO decide to have another child, I recommend you do it only for you and your DH, but not "for" your current children. )
    I agree 100% with this. Your kids already have a sibling, so having a third really boils down to YOU and YOUR DH wanting another child, not you giving your children a sibling.

  6. #6
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    For us, finances didn't really enter the equation at all. We live frugally, and don't really have a desire to live extravagantly. (We buy used cars and run them until they die, rarely travel, rarely go out to eat, don't have cable, don't have cell phones, etc.) We're planning for college, and if we don't have enough money when the time comes we'll figure something out.
    Happy & Blessed.

  7. #7
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    It's kind of both for us.

    As far as providing things for our kids goes, money plays almost no role. We would not have a child who we could not provide with the necessities of life - food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. But we would not limit the number of children in our family in order to make sure we could provide college educations, vacations, expensive activities, etc. We don't plan to pay for college for our kids, and if money limited our activities, we would find cheaper or free alternatives before we would say that we couldn't have another child because of our existing kids' activities. I think it's perfectly acceptable parenting to go camping instead of staying in a luxury resort, have your kids play basketball with the neighborhood kids after school instead of signing them up for ballet, etc. The only thing I can think of that would make an impact is that I wouldn't do anything, family planning wise, that would jeopardize my opportunity to be a SAHM. I'm not exactly sure how having another baby would do that, but if having another baby meant I would have to go back to work, I wouldn't be willing to do that. But if I felt led to have another baby and it meant my kids had to quit their private preschool, or stop taking dance and gymnastics, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    As far as actually *having* the kids, though, things are a little different, and finances have played a big role in how our family has come to be. It is difficult for me to conceive on my own, so we had one daughter through IVF and decided that, primarily due to finances, we would not pay for another IVF procedure. We have adopted twice since then, and both times we chose to adopt (for free) from the foster care system - finances kept us from pursuing a private domestic or international adoption.
    Karla, CPST Mom to DS1 5/06 * DD 8/07 * DS2 8/08 * DS3 3/10

  8. #8
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    It plays somewhat of a role, but admittedly, not a whole lot. I can't really explain my reasoning, but we don't feel the necessity to provide a whole lot of (monetary) extras for our kids. We would never jeopardize food, housing, medical care, or education* of course, but eh extras like preschool tuition, sports, classes, vacations, hot toys, I just don't feel the need. And what I mean by education is not college, but the financial ability to live in a good school district or affording good homeschool materials/resources. If homeschooling was not an option for whatever reason, and affording a bigger family meant living in an area with a terrible school, then that would limit the number of kids we have. We don't feel the need to provide a college education. We will help as much as we possibly can, but its likely most of the support will not be financial. They are welcome to live at home for however long they like, we'll help them navigate school loans and scholarships, and anything else we can do but if providing 4 years of college isn't in the budget, we won't feel guilty over that.

    I also would not do anything in my control to jeopardize being a (mostly) SAHM. DH and I both feel it's important for our family goals that I do so, and I think over the years he has realized not only the value to the family unit, and obviously the kids, but to his career. I know lots of families do it, but personally I cannot imagine also working full time with a dh that works 60 hours a week on a good week.

    As far as being willing to sacrifice monetary things for another sibling when you already have one, I have always wanted another sibling. I'm sure it's related to wanting a big family for myself now that I'm an adult so I'm probably biased.

    The question I always ask myself is, when I'm an empty nester, am I going to wish I had the Disney vacation with pricey museum trips, or another child and camping nearby with hiking and swimming as the ententertainemnt. There is no right answer, but for me/us, we have always a chosen another child over luxuries. At what # child that will change, I don't know.
    Last edited by Kanga; 10-06-2011 at 07:49 PM.
    DD8 DD7 DS2.5 DD 10.26.13

  9. #9
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    Finances play some role in our decision to ad to the family. Like a few posters here, we plan on helping as much as we can for college but will not sacrifice retirement goals or certain things in the present to do so. We don't have cable, drive new to us cars and I keep my kids outfitted in second hand designer clothes to cut costs. We do pay for private schools but DH volunteers his marketing expertise in exchange for a scholarship to offset that cost. We are debating #4 right now and have decided that DH needs another jump in salary to make it happen. Not because babies are expensive - ours are practically 'free' until age 3 or so but because tweens/teens are expensive. Vacations are also important to us. We love to travel and want to share that love with our kids. Traveling obviously becomes harder and more expensive with every additional little person. I don't want to wait until I retire to see the world because I can't promise I have a tomorrow. With another child, we feel like we would need more outside help to maintain the level of involvement we want with each child- being able to hire someone to mow the lawn so DH can help with bedtimes for example or a handyman so we don't need to spend our weekends doing DIY projects. Babysitters are another consideration. My parents are our go-to sitters and they can not handle more than 2 at a time. Even now we hire someone to watch the baby while my parents watch our older girls if we want a date night.

    Living in a low cost of living area is probably the biggest factor in our ability to afford a 'larger' family. We wanted to move back to Chicago but there is no way we could afford 3 kids, a 3000 sq ft house with a large yard and private schools so we are staying in Iowa.

  10. #10
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    Finances play a role for us, but time is ultimately the biggest limiting factor. We have two kids; the possibility of a third down the line is still up in the air. Part of my hesitation is admittedly financial. My parents paid for my 4 years of undergrad at an expensive private school, and I loved it and am exceedingly grateful to have had that opportunity and to have graduated without debt. DH's parents paid for his undergrad at the same school. We really want to give our kids what our parents gave us if possible (although we would certainly not sacrifice our retirement or financial stability to do it). We would also like for private school to be an option at some point if we feel like our kids would benefit from it. Things like activities and vacations are very much secondary to education, which is the biggie for us, but I would like our kids to have the opportunity to pursue hobbies and interests and experience new places to the extent possible. (I don't care about the ability to buy expensive clothes, toys, cars, etc.--my financial concerns come down to education and experiences.)

    That said, provided that we could pay for the basics--food, shelter, clothing, etc.--I think we would have had two children regardless. We would not have decided not to have kids or to have an only because of concerns about paying for college. But for me, now that we have two kids and my boys have each other, the analysis shifts. I question whether the gift of another sibling beyond the one they already have would actually benefit my boys more than the gift of more resources--primarily intangible resources, like our time, energy, and attention, but also financial resources and educational opportunity. I don't know the answer. I know that our family will be fine if we don't have any more kids, but I know that we could love and provide for another baby.

    Really, it's all so personal. I don't think for a minute that everyone needs to pay for their kids to go to college, yet I can't seem to shed the compulsion to do so. And I think everyone has a different minimum number of kids they want regardless of finances. For me, that number is two, but for someone who has always desperately wanted at least three kids, it might feel right to have the first three without much concern for finances and then factor finances in more when deciding whether to have a fourth. And obviously for some people finances are never going to be a big issue.

    For us, I think whether we have a third will come down to whether we end up moving back to my hometown. If we do that, our cost of living will be reduced, I would likely work a lot less, and my exceedingly helpful mother would be near by. A less demanding job, with the bonus of lower expenses and family help, would make a third feel possible. But it is the time and family support more than the money that would really make the difference.

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