Is It Financially Irresponsible To Have Another Child – If You’re In Debt?

Personal finance is all about the spending and saving idiosyncrasies that make each of us unique. A lot of people don’t seem to give much thought to their money, earning and then spending their paychecks, over and over again. I think that anyone who has taken the time to really evaluate their priorities and come up with the best way to use their assets to facilitate their dreams, is on the right path. We’re all going to have different plans and goals, but being smart about money goes beyond being frugal or spendy. There is a deeper understanding of the power of conscious spending and saving among most of us in the personal finance community. This knowledge is what gives us the chance to live unique and extraordinary lives.

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Part 1

(make sure that you read all the way to the end  . . . trust me)

In case you’re new around here, Mr. Smith and I have three children – Goofball (6-year-old boy), Tornado (4-year-old girl), and Trey (18-month old boy).  We always intended to have a big family, but were methodical about it, adding one child at a time (as opposed to deciding on a number at the outset).  Our children have provided us with so much happiness and purpose thus far, so we decided to grow our family one last time, by having another baby.

 

I’m pregnant, due at the end of May  😀

 

Yes, we’ve considered the numerous effects of our decision.  I don’t like to call it “making sacrifices.”  To me, it’s more about choice.  In deciding how to live life, people make decisions about how to spend their money, based on knowledge and priorities.  I blame a lot of our financial issues on being uneducated about our options in the past.  Some might call us foolish for adding more responsibility while we’re still repaying our debts.  But we’ve made an informed decision – the best one for us.

 

Career

Although it shouldn’t, I understand that having another child is likely to effect my career.  Employers can’t discriminate against women for having children, but it still comes into play.  You’re not around for few months for maternity leave.  During that time (and likely thereafter), you’re not attending functions, networking, or doing those extra things that will help you earn a promotion.  By the time of my eight-year anniversary next September, I will have gone on four maternity leaves.  It would be ignorant to believe that doesn’t have an effect on my long-term trajectory.  Fortunately, I don’t have plans to stay employed for decades to come.  While the added pay that would come with a promotion would certainly help our situation, I have come to peace with my priorities – family over title/status.

 

Expenses

Kids really don’t need that much stuff.  We’re in especially great shape with having boys and a girl in the past – all set on clothes, toys, furniture, and other miscellany.  I have breastfed my kids in the past, which saves us a lot of money, especially in the pre-food days.  Baby food does not cost that much and you can save on this expense my making your own at home.  Yes, as the new child grows up we will need to cook bigger meals.  However, we hardly ever eat out, so adding one more portion to a homemade meal will not cause any drastic change in our monthly expenses.

 

The medical expenses will be more-than-covered by the amount we’ve invested in a Health Savings Account.  We have a family plan for health insurance, so that will cost the same.  There will be some expenses later on, related to hobbies or sports, but our finances will be much better in a few years time.  Likewise, we might not be able to take them all to Disney for quite a while (although I recently learned of a special trick to save money on admission).  As for college, I don’t believe in parents bankrolling their children’s entire education.  As I’ve said before, I want them to feel invested, so they should have to contribute as well.  I will try to steer them away from taking on loans, by encouraging community colleges and focusing on the classes/training most applicable to their goals.  This post by Freedom Is Groovy provides some great information on how to keep college costs low.  The key to getting ahead in thinking outside the box and finding innovative ways to do things, instead of just following the standard path.  I plan to teach my children how to make smart decisions about money.

 

Family Dynamics

Every time we’ve added a child to our family, I’ve worried about taking attention away from my husband and the other child/children.  And every single time, I’ve learned that my fears were unwarranted.  A new child brings added responsibility (especially at first), but then they start to add to the family dynamics.  They become playmates with each other.  The older children are starting to help out with chores.  Each one adds something uniquely wonderful to tapestry of our family, enriching the doldrums of ordinary days.

 

Debt

We’ve made significant progress on our debt.  It helps that we’re out of the “danger zone” now, reaching a point when we no longer have to rely on the maximum available on our credit cards to get through each month. But, more so, we changed our attitudes about money.  We realized that it can be used for so much more than just buying more stuff.  That fundamental change has allowed us to continue to pay down our debt, even when I took a four-month maternity leave after Trey was born.  The momentum has shifted so much, that I’m not worried about whether we can maintain our forward progress.  If anything, the speed of financial gains may just slow down a little.

 

 

Ultimately, it shouldn’t be about “running the numbers” to see if you can afford having another child or putting things on hold until the financial stars are in perfect alignment.  I understand that there are some families who are really struggling financially.  Obviously, if you can’t feed yourself, adding more mouths would be a bad idea.  For us, we still have debt, but we’ve come a long way in improving our finances to the point where we can handle another child.  We’re being honest about our dreams and making plans to enjoy life on our terms, not simply racing to increase the amount in the bank or investment accounts.  We have faith that this is the right decision for us, so we will continue to work hard and improvise, as necessary, along the way.

 

 

Part 2 (always expect the unexpected)

I drafted this post a few weeks ago and questioned the right time to share it (there’s that rule about waiting until the second trimester, but this is an anonymous blog).  I decided that a personal picture would make this post even better, so I would wait until after my sonogram.

 

Well, that momentous appointment took place last week.  We are still in shock and processing the information that our one, last baby . . . is actually two babies.  Yes, we are having twins.  Here are “Baby A” and “Baby B.”

baby-a

Baby A

baby-b

Baby B

 

Twins do not run on either side of our family.  We did not undergo any type of procedure.  I’m still grappling with my understanding of how this could possibly happen.  Of course, all of that analysis of the costs of having “one more baby” is pretty much out the window.  As frugal as we are, there is no denying the fact that we will need more stuff to handle two infants at the same time.  Hopefully, we can score some freebies or used things to keep the costs down.  But there are always some things that need to be purchased new, like pacifiers and diapers (OMG so many diapers).

 

Everything happens for a reason.  I have friends who struggle with infertility, who have lost babies, and who are dealing with the disappointment of a failed adoption.  I will try my best to remain optimistic about this surprise, this “double blessing.”  I will admit to being worried about the new challenges that lie ahead.  To be honest, I’m pretty scared of what two babies will do to my body and how I can possibly handle two infants and three kids at the same time.  This fourth pregnancy was feeling so routine, me filled with confidence that I didn’t have any questions.  Yep, it’s a whole new ballgame now.  But we’ll be okay . . . we always wanted a great big family.

32 Replies to “Is It Financially Irresponsible To Have Another Child – If You’re In Debt?”

  1. Ms. Montana

    Oh my gosh! Congrats and Congrats again. That is crazy and awesome. Good luck with the pregnancy, I hope it goes really, really smooth. Oh, that will be a fun and busy house. Our two adopted girls are only 9 months apart, and they have such a fun and slightly conspiring dynamic. 😉
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Getting Started with Rental PropertiesMy Profile

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    1. Harmony Post author

      Thank you, and thank you again! It will be pretty neat to learn firsthand about twin relationships. And I’m positive that there will be conspiring, probably in that secret twin language.

      Reply
  2. Mrs Groovy

    Congratulations, Harmony! Twins! Fantastic! Of course anyone would feel a little overwhelmed by the news but you’re going to be absolutely great as a mommy of 5.

    Mr Groovy and I never had children but both of my parents were twins. My mom was an identical twin (my aunt is still alive and here in NC). Their father died when they were 7 and my grandmother raised three children by herself during the depression. They didn’t have much money but you wouldn’t know it from the stories. There was so much love.

    I totally agree that everything happens for a reason. Thanks for sharing the wonderful news.j
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…Will You Outlive Your Money in Retirement?My Profile

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    1. Harmony Post author

      You’re so sweet. Thank you for the very encouraging story – that’s pretty much what we’re going for, a house filled with love instead of expensive stuff. Mommy of five, wow, still sounds crazy!

      Reply
      1. Mrs. Groovy

        I need to read more carefully. How did I totally miss you shouting out Freedom is Groovy.THANK YOU. FYI, the post you refer to was written by Lila Donovan. She’s using some of those techniques currently to get through college without massive debt.
        Mrs. Groovy recently posted…Obamacare Here We ComeMy Profile

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    1. Harmony Post author

      Thank you so much – it is very exciting, scary, but exciting. I will make sure to keep everyone updated. I can’t wait to find out what they are – boy/boy, girl/boy, or girl/girl. But Mr. Smith has already told me that he’s running away if they are both girls.

      Reply
  3. ChooseBetterLife

    Super-congrats to you and your (growing) family!
    Having kids is always a personal decision, and one that no one gets to completely control. My cousin planned on one and got triplets instead, and we have many friends who want kids but can’t have them. I also see many patients who are ‘accidentally’ pregnant…
    So it keeps life interesting, eh?
    Enjoy your new double-bundles-of-joy and keep those stories and photos coming 🙂 It sounds like you and your family are doing great.

    Reply
  4. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe

    A healthy and happy pregnancy to you! Take care.
    The decision to have (or not have) kids, to have multiple kids, to work or stay home, etc. shouldn’t concern anyone but the actual couple. Best of luck to you and yours.

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      Hi Emily! You’re right, we’re trying to make responsible choices, but sometimes you just have to follow your heart 🙂

      Reply
  5. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials

    Congratulations! As the youngest child in the family, I often wished for a twin. I think being the youngest and watching your siblings grow up and move away is one of the loneliest feelings ever BUT your kiddos won’t have to go through that! The best of both worlds 🙂
    Gwen @ Fiery Millennials recently posted…Expand Your BubbleMy Profile

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    1. Harmony Post author

      Thanks! And, I didn’t think about that as one of the pros of our youngest being twins. I know it’s going to be crazy and wonderful at the same time, just still trying to process the big news.

      Reply
  6. Mr. SSC

    Congratulations! The twin occurrence happened to a co-worker when they were trying for their third. Life: Here’s your 3rd, oh and here’s a 4th, for good measure. 🙂

    That sounds exciting and like you’d I’d be a little apprehehnsive too. Good luck, I can’t wait to read more about it!

    As far as having kids or not based on income/debt/work stability/any reason beyond love; I think if you choose to put kids off until the right time, you’ll never have kids. There’s never a “right” time. Not for our 2, or anyone we knew that has had kids. You just have to go with your heart. LIke you said, one more, or well, 2 more won’t really add that much right? 🙂
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Our Flexible Spending Account Rules Suck: Do Yours?My Profile

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    1. Harmony Post author

      Haha – that’s the way it works out I guess!

      Yes, if you’re waiting for a “perfect” time to have kids, you will never have any. This will be a good test of our frugal ways. We’ve reached a point where our living expenses are fairly low, so we’ll just have to challenge ourselves to find ways to keep it as close as possible to current levels.

      Reply
      1. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

        I’m seriously thrilled for you. And my PET PEEVE is people calculating when and how to have children to maximize financial benefit. Screw that. If you want a kid, you want it YESTERDAY (but then you have to wait through the dang getting pregnant and pregnancy months!). If someone wants kids, I really think forgoing or waiting for the sake of money is crazy. Life isn’t FOR money! Money is FOR life!
        Maggie @ Northern Expenditure recently posted…On KindnessMy Profile

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        1. Harmony Post author

          You have such a way with simple sayings!!! Yes, we’re excited about the awesome adventure of raising five kids and will figure out how to make things work financially.

          Reply
  7. Kim from Philadelphia

    Double congrats, Harmony! Best wishes for a healthy pregnancy!

    I think being in debt isn’t the issue, it’s the way people insist on having tons of brand new baby stuff- most of which is largely unnecessary. I don’t agree with people going into further debt just to have the fanciest new baby stuff.

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      Thank you, Kim! You’re so right. There are tons of other options when it comes to baby stuff – no need to buy everything brand new.

      Reply
  8. Laura Vanderkam

    Wow! Congratulations on your double blessing! That’s wonderful. Since you’re all set on clothes and such, maybe ask a friend to throw you a shower and have everyone give you diapers and a coupon for 2 hours taking the babies 🙂

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      Laura, you’re always full of great ideas! We are definitely going to need a lot of diapers. And, people don’t even need to take they babies. I’d be thankful for some free babysitting of the older kids while we’re learning to handle two infants at a time. Thank you for the well wishes!

      Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      Thanks Claudia! The support of this community is so awesome, now if y’all could just stop by for a little bit of babysitting 😉

      Reply
  9. Kate

    Congrats! I definitely view this as a huge blessing 🙂

    I don’t think it’s irresponsible to have more kids while you’re in debt. The window for starting/raising a family is relatively short versus the time you have to pay off debt. I think it’s great that you and your husband will have your dream of a large family.

    I only have one sibling, whom I’m very close to, but wish I had more. My dad came from a family with four kids and my mom from a family with three, and both sides of the family get along great to this day. Kind of makes me sad that it’s only my brother and me.

    Reply
    1. Harmony Post author

      Thank you so much Kate! Good point about the windows of opportunity. We always wanted a big family, AND we wanted them to be close in age. I guess these last two will be REALLY close in age. It’s going to be fun watching them hit milestones together, always having a best friend along for the ride. Mr. Smith only has one brother (with no kids). I have one sister and one brother (both no kids). We have very little extended family. I’m thankful for this opportunity to give my children plenty of siblings. Holidays are going to be so very different once we’re the grandparents!

      Reply
  10. Mr. PIE

    My goodness. That is just awesome news. Thrilled for you!!

    Can’t wait to see some Twitter pics of the little ones when they arrive!

    Both my parents came from families of 7 or 8 siblings. We had so many cousins which made family gatherings an absolute blast as a kid.

    How will the cabin in Maine cope? An extension required or double bunk beds?!
    😁
    Mr. PIE recently posted…So What Will You Do, Mr. PIE? (Part II)My Profile

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  11. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor

    Wow, congrats! I’d be nervous about twins too (especially with three others) but I love your attitude. Children are a blessing and once they’re in your family it seems like it couldn’t have been any other way. I agree also agree that debt itself is not a reason to not have children, especially when you’re aggressively paying it off. Sometimes I feel like my parents would be viewed as irresponsible for having 5 kids on a teacher’s income, but my mom always side hustled and, though they were in debt for a while, they were able to pay it off.
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…The Personal Finance Topic No One Talks AboutMy Profile

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  12. Kim

    I’m so excited for you. If anyone can do this, it’s you! You’ve set your goal, and you’ll meet it with determination and enthusiasm. Congratulations!!

    Reply
  13. Our Next Life

    So many congrats! The only way what you’re doing would be “irresponsible” would be if you were looking for handouts to make it possible. But you’re owning your finances, and so right on! What else is money for but to make possible the life you want? You guys want a big family, so you’re on exactly the right path. So happy for you guys! 😀 <3
    Our Next Life recently posted…Go Beyond Gratitude // With Great Wealth Comes Great ResponsibilityMy Profile

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