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Can we afford to have a baby?!

(18 Posts)
Constantbaker Thu 11-Aug-11 13:11:26

This is my first post on here (sorry not down with the abbreviations yet!) and I'm hoping someone can offer me some words of wisdom. I am about to turn 30 and my DH and I are now thinking about whether to start a family.

We know we would both like kids. We both have good jobs and a house but like everyone else are finding ourselves constantly having to cut back financially at the moment to get by. We have almost exhausted the cut backs we can make to make further savings.

We are both terrified about the risk of having a baby and then finding out we can't afford it as I would have to keep working and nursery costs are crazy. We've done the usual endless sums on the back of envelopes but ultimately whilst we might be able to scrape by we'll be left with hardly anything after bills etc and we're scared about the strain constant financial stress will place us under.

Does/did anyone else feel like this? I am surrounded by people who have had a lot of problems getting pregnant so am weighing up the risk of leaving it too late against holding off until our finances feel stronger. I don't know what to do! Part of me wants to take the plunge as in the grand scheme of things I know it's more important but would it be selfish/foolish to have a baby when we don't have much spare cash in the month!?

Ellypoo Thu 11-Aug-11 13:18:47

Hiya! Babies don't necessarily cost a lot - most of the stuff you need for them you can get cheap locally or off ebay/carboots etc. I don't think you can ever really 'afford' to have kids, and there is never a 'right' time - you make it work because that's what you do! Do you have family close by that could help with childcare? Or could you change your hours - work part-time or do 5 days hours in 4 days or something - if both you and DH did this, on opposite days, it would reduce the amount of time in nursery eg.
I think it's surprising how well you can cope when you have to! Also, there will be things like child benefit etc which will help you.
Good luck with whatever you decide!

Flisspaps Thu 11-Aug-11 13:23:49

I think if anyone sat down and really worked out the cost of having a baby, they'd never ever do it.

We had no spare cash, we now have 18mo DD and still have no spare cash. I think you're better off going for it now, than to wait until you've saved money up and then perhaps struggle to conceive - you never know until you try. I think it would be a bigger strain on your relationship to have the financial cushion but then struggle to conceive because you've waited. Even if you do try straight away, it might not happen immediately so you've still got time to put a little money behind you.

It doesn't have to be expensive, you - or DH - can always find alternative employment if what you're doing now doesn't suit your finances or situation as a family.

Beesok Thu 11-Aug-11 13:26:03

I think child care arrangements and cost should be the main thing you plan / save for - everything else baby related you can buy as cheaply or as expensively as you want (also you have options like ebay, gumtree, NCT sales - where with time and research am sure you can get everything you need cheaply) BUT if you have to go back to work then nursery costs will be a burden - am not saying you shouldn't have children because of that but if you do try and plan in advance as much as possible and maybe start putting aside some money for that - even if it's little sums?
On the other hand waiting too long might have another host of worries attached as you say yourself in terms of health, ttc etc
Good luck smile

Constantbaker Thu 11-Aug-11 13:26:18

Thanks Ellypoo. That's part of the worry for me - my family aren't particularly close by and DH's family are unlikely to help out. I would hopefully be ably to go part-time but I don't think DH could/would. I work in a very inflexible job and my bosses are all men so I doubt they'll be very sympathetic. Hopefully we'll reach a decision on whether to take the plunge soon. I'm starting to think there's never a right time!

Crosshair Thu 11-Aug-11 13:30:02

People just make do with what they have, personally I think if you keep waiting for the 'right' time money wise it never comes. My parents had nothing before I was born and got by fine, you buy what you can afford.

I'm pregnant with my first at 24 mainly because we didnt want to put it off forever, my partner is 11 years older(thinking of grandparents ect) and my mum/her mum hit menopause at around mid 30's. Obviously we thought about money and decided that its something you always worry about, the 'right' time for us is now.

Good luck smile

Ecgwynn Thu 11-Aug-11 13:31:16

I've been worrying about the same thing. The way I look at it, nursery costs are about the same as my earnings so we'll be on a single income for all the other expenditures. Annoying isn't it? Maybe I should get a job I could do whilst having a baby...chocolate tester...companion to rich old lady...

suzikettles Thu 11-Aug-11 13:37:57

The biggest expense is loss of earnings but there are a few things to ameliorate some of this. You can each buy £243 of childcare vouchers a month via salary sacrifice, therefore saving about a third of this portion of your childcare costs if you're a basic rate taxpayer as they come off your salary before tax/NI is paid.

You'll possibly get a small amount in tax credits. You'll get £80 per month child benefit. If you work part time you might save something in commuting costs.

Depending on where you live, your mortgage etc this might be a drop in the ocean but it's all something.

If you decide to wait then what are you going to do to make it affordable in the future? 30 should give you plenty of time (assuming no fertility probs), but it goes fast. Will you start saving to cover mat leave? Look for more family friendly career? Move close to family?

Whatever you decide, it's a good time to start thinking about all this and making a plan.

Lisatheonewhoeatsdrytoast Thu 11-Aug-11 13:41:28

Only one of us works in our house due to me being ill, and we have a lot of bills! However as someone said, there is never a "right" time, and really the expense is only that if you make it so, you can get alot for less by shopping around and on ebay etc smile

pjwilliams Thu 11-Aug-11 13:45:53

I worried about the cost of kids for years before we had our children, and already posted if you worked out the cost you'd never have kids. but i think you just have to go for it, you'll always find a way through it.

Cattleprod Thu 11-Aug-11 13:50:24

I think it's harder if you both have good incomes and have been 'living to your means' - high mortgage, nice car and holidays etc. Then it can be a big drop in income and if your DH is still earning well then you won't get much in the way of tax credits etc.

If, like DP and I, you are used to a household income less than the national average, and have a smaller mortgage, cheaper overheads etc., then ironically it's probably easier to afford a baby because maternity allowance, tax credits, child benefit etc mean your household income doesn't significantly drop, and most of your childcare costs are covered by tax credits.

But, if you want a baby, then that decision is so much more important than just money. Thinking of worst case scenarios, leaving it too late and not being able to have a baby would proably leave you devastated. Having a baby and not being quite able to afford it - sell your car, move to a cheaper house, eat value baked beans - all surmountable problems!

Merinda Thu 11-Aug-11 13:53:03

Agree with all the above posts - there is never the right time, but I would not postpone. We did just that, hoping that it would be easier later. Well, we spent almost 10 years ttc (unexplained, all test results came back fine), and ended up paying through the nose for several IVF treatments. To top all that, my DH got very ill a few years ago, and will probably never work again, so I will remain the sole breadwinner. We have not managed to buy a house because of all these financiall pressures, and god knows for how long we will continue renting.
Nevertherless, I am praying my current pregnancy will get to term and we can welcome the VERY long-awaited baby. Will cope no matter what
I understand that my case maybe extreme, but you never know what surprises life may bring...

Constantbaker Thu 11-Aug-11 13:56:23

Thanks everyone. Realistically I'm not going to switch careers as I'm in (fingers crossed) a pretty secure job. Companion to rich old lady sounds perfect though! LOL Maybe I should become a nanny - I might earn more!

I'm also not going to move closer to my family so apart from earnings going up and credit card debt coming down not much is likely to change in the next few years. We've already seriously cut back on spending with a view to starting to save for mat leave now as my mat benefits at work are not great. I suppose it's just the age old debate of how long to save for before we start TTC. The worry is we cruise along for another few years, nothing changes and then we find out we have problems TTC. Financially, nurseries are the scariest bit - in our area they're around 700-800 per month full time. I'd like to cut back to 4 days a week work (don't think we could afford 3) but it's still really expensive. Build a granny flat.....hee hee

Most of our friends have now had or are thinking of having kids and are doing fine but they hadn't taken the plunge to a house yet so have significantly lower mortgages than us. Ah the life of a grown up!

RedHotPokers Thu 11-Aug-11 14:05:07

I would go for it OP if I were you.
Save everything you can in the run up, to put by for maternity leave.

Would you consider downsizing in any way (smaller house??). We did, so that I could go part time - I know everyone will have you believe you must have a 4 bed house, but it really is possible to manage with 1 or 2 children in a 2 or 3 bed!

Your nursery costs actually seem quite reasonable compared to a lot of areas (certainly cheaper than where I live, and they're not too bad here).

By cutting back on hours you will be paying less tax. I work 50% and am not horrendously poorer as a result as I pay a lot less tax. Plus childcare vouchers help a lot.

If you're not on the absolute breadline, you are bound to be able to find further ways to cut back. Who's to say you will have anymore money in another 5 years.

Beesok Thu 11-Aug-11 14:36:06

Also think about whether you want just one child or more smile I know it's probably going way ahead of yourself but if you want for ex. 2 kids with a reasonable gap between the two then you have to start earlier rather than later smile

Maybe start looking at your friends who have had babies/plan to have babies - you can maybe look at sharing child care arrangements - they could pick your child from nursery if you're at work and you baby sit their kids on 1-2 evenings? I know it sounds random now but I know a lot of people who do that and if the kids are friends it's even more fun for them smile

whizzyrocket Thu 11-Aug-11 17:25:35

I know you'll weigh things up and come to your own conclusion but from my point of view it is better to have your family now rather than wait for the right moment financially. You WILL cope. You have to. You may have to change your lifestyle and maybe even move if it came to it but there may never be a moment when not every penny is accounted for so you could end up waiting so long that in the end you couldn't have children or would be more likely to have a child with health problems.

My mother had a 'surprise' baby at 39, 11 years after her last and says that looking after her was so much harder than looking after any of us (i.e. her older children) was because her body was less able to cope with the tiredness.

It seems to me that no matter your wage, you never have anything spare so it's best just to do something and let the natural progression of things create a new balance in your books. That's certainly the way it will work around here. I certainly won't be taking my DH to the supermarket any more- he manages to put another £50 on the bill every time I take him!

You may also want to calculate what you're entitled to in terms of tax credits and child benefit.

StoneBaby Thu 11-Aug-11 19:23:48

Also in order to save money when your LO is here, I would advise you to look into your health insurance and see if a child can be added to it. You may have too spend an additional £25 / month to cover him/her but you know that if you need to attend A&E or call the outside of hours gp at stupid o'clock on a Sunday, you are covered. I have saved a fortune by having my DS on my health insurance since birth.

Also look into reusable nappies as on the long run they can save you money. I second the ebay/ NCT nearly new sale especially for clothes for the 1st few months.

Constantbaker Fri 12-Aug-11 15:23:05

Thanks for all the great ideas folks. Food for thought!

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