Much has been written about the high cost of having kids. Spending $300,000 – $1,000,000 per kid through high school is a lot of money. However, less has been written about how having kids may make you richer and a better person. Let's change the dialogue with this article now that I've been a stay-at-home-father of two for five years.
If I could rewind time to when I was 25 years old, I'd slap myself silly for focusing so much on my career. The future me would tell my past self to put more effort into my relationship and start a family by age 35 at the latest.
I had my first kid two months before my 40th birthday in 2017. Although I felt like I had snuck in through the backdoor by being able to say I had kids in my 30s, I really started five years too late.
Up to age 32, my main focus was making money and climbing the corporate ladder. For the next two years, my focus was on figuring out how to escape the rate race.
Once I broke out, for the next five years, my main focus was on making sure I survived without a job. The whole idea of adding another human being into my newly free, but precarious life wasn't a priority.
But if you're thinking about having kids, I encourage you to have them sooner, rather than later. There is no greater love than you will have for your children. And it is impossible to know such love until you have them.
How Having Kids Can Change You For The Better
If you don't have kids for whatever reason, all good. I was in the gray zone forever where I could not decide. This article is mainly for those who are considering having children or who are currently parents.
There is no doubt that having children puts a strain on your relationship, finances, and career. The first six months of a baby's life is especially brutal for first-time parents mainly due to a lack of sleep and plenty of worries. Your child may have a health issue or a disability that may make you fear the worst. You just never know.
However, over time, the positives far outweigh the negatives. As a perpetual optimist, let me share with you the reasons why having kids can make you richer and an overall better person.
1) Having kids will increase your WILL to survive and thrive.
During the 4th trimester, mothers turn into superwomen, feeding their babies every 1-3 hours 24/7. Frequent feedings are a must, otherwise, your baby will suffer. Without something so precious to care for, it's impossible to operate on this little sleep for such an extended period of time. But as a parent you will do it out of love.
Fathers can do their best to keep up by providing alternative sleep schedules to ensure the baby is fed, changed, and safe. For example, during the peaceful morning hours while both mother and baby are asleep, fathers can stand guard. Bottles and laundry can be washed. Food can be prepared. And the baby can be soothed and carried to the mother when it's feeding time.
Once a parent gets through the first six months of a baby's life, almost any difficult challenge in the future will no longer seem as daunting. As a result, a parent's work productivity goes way up once their parental leave is over. Going back to work can often feel like a vacation from parenthood.
If you've been finding it harder and harder to get out of bed each morning, having kids will push you to do better. There is no greater motivator than having someone to live for.
Once my daughter was born in 2019, I knew my wife and I would have less free time. Therefore, I started getting up around 4 a.m. regularly to write. At first, it felt painful waking up bleary-eyed. However, it had to be done for the sake of our family and what I wanted to accomplish on Financial Samurai.
When you want to give up, just the thought of disappointing your kids will give you the energy to keep on going.
2) Having kids will likely make you richer.
There's a great saying, “Have children and the money will come.” The reason why is because we are hardwired to do everything possible to take care of our family once we become parents.
Sure, roughly 34% of children grow up in single-parent households. But that doesn't mean the single parent isn't doing everything possible to earn and provide. The best worker might very well be the single parent because there is no other alternative. Further, the data also means 66% of parents stick together.
When you have kids, you will be more motivated to make more money to survive. Therefore, you will be willing to work longer hours and take more calculated risks. Further, you'll spend more time learning about personal finance and investing. As a result, you'll likely save and invest more so you can eventually stop having to work so much.
Unfortunately, all this focus on making more money can often come at the cost of spending less time with our children. As a result, there's this constant battle between work and family. Figuring out how to balance both is the hardest challenge.
Even if we know we have enough money to never starve, having children makes us want to create an even bigger buffer from financial disaster. It's easier to fail and start over when you're single. But failing with kids is terrifying. So we do everything we can to make sure we don't.
Renewed desire to make money
One of the main reasons why I left a high-paying job in 2012 was because I no longer cared about making lots of money. If I did, I'd still be working!
However, once my son was born in 2017, the money dragon within me awoke. I started planning for rising health care costs, future preschool tuition, diapers, clothes, college, etc. As a result, I told myself I needed to make an extra $5,000 a month. I hadn't withdrawn a dollar of retirement funds since 2012 and I wasn't going to start withdrawing given my optimistic economic outlook at the time.
Within a couple of months, I had figured it out rather easily. I switched ad platforms, drove for Uber, entertained more business partnerships, provided 1X1 personal finance consulting, and taught tennis privately and for a high school. I now had a reason to earn more. And you know what? It felt great.
Once you have kids, you will unlock potential money-making endeavors you had never thought of before.
Your nesting instincts will go up
Another way having kids will likely make you more money is due to your increased desire to buy a home. The desire to rent goes down once you have kids given you want more living stability. The last thing you want is for your landlord to hike your rent or ask you to leave during the first years of your child's life.
As a result, you start aggressively saving and investing for a down payment. Even the most anti-homeownership people soften up once they have kids. Once you buy your primary residence responsibly, you are then neutral real estate. Shorting the housing market by renting long-term is a suboptimal financial move.
Five to ten years will go by and you will have more home equity than you anticipated. The combination of rising home prices and paying down principal will sneak up on you because you're too busy raising your children. Forced savings ends up being a great thing for the average homeowner.
You will invest more responsibly
Having kids will also make you care a lot more about your investments. Not only will you stay on top of all your investments you'll frequently review your asset allocation. As a result, you'll invest in a more risk-appropriate manner.
Instead of trading for short-term wins, you'll tend to elongate your investing time horizon. The more you can invest for the long term, the better your returns tend to be.
3) Having kids will eventually get you in better shape.
You may not get in better shape the first year or two of your child's life given all the time and stress that is required to care for young children. However, as your children grow older and you become more confident as a parent, you'll have more time for yourself again. And with more free time back, you will spend more time eating better and exercising more.
As a logical person, you will eventually get in better shape because you want to increase your chances of living as long as possible. Your ultimate goal is to live long enough until your kids become mature and financially independent adults. After that, your job is done!
Therefore, you will find a way to get fit for the first 25 years of your children's lives. After they are independent adults, then you are free to let yourself go. But by then, your habits of healthy eating and exercise will likely be a part of your daily routine forever.
Tough first year for health
During the first year of my son's life, my lower back pain returned. Further, I gained about five pounds. As a first-time father, I spent a lot of time researching and worrying about my son's vision, along with everything else.
But after he turned two, I worried less and became more confident as a father. As a result, my lower back pain went away and I lost the five pounds I had gained.
In addition to reverting back to normal health, I also found a way to get an affordable life insurance policy for the next 20 years. Once my daughter was born at the end of 2019, I had to figure out a solution. Where there's a reason, there's a way!
Today, it's easier to say no to cronuts and key lime pie. OK, just one bite please.
4) You will become a more level-headed person.
Society can be unkind, especially with the internet. People will randomly hate on you for your sex, race, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, you name it. There will be Twitter mobs who try and gang up on you because you said something they don't like. As a result, for your mental health, you should probably spend less time on social media.
But we all get into fights sometimes because we're human. We all have jealousy, envy, and pride. When we are attacked, we either fight back or run away. Sticking up for yourself is the honorable thing to do. But it can also have repercussions.
If you're someone like me who doesn't back down when attacked, having kids will help you let things go more easily.
Often better to walk away
In the 6th grade, a bully randomly grabbed my basketball and kicked it across the court. He had been a troublemaker all school year. When I asked him to get my ball and he refused, I punched him in the right ear. Supposedly I burst his eardrum. He cried and had to go see the nurse.
One popular girl who liked him found out about his injury. When she saw me in the hallway, she kicked my bag and cursed at me. Then she told her friends what a meanie I was and my popularity declined. As a 6th grader, that stunk. But I wasn't going to let anybody pick on me.
Altercations happen with adults all the time too. Online, if you try to fight fire with fire, you may end up getting shunned by the antagonist's online community, even though your antagonist started it. If you try to fight back against a workplace bully, you might get blackballed from getting a promotion because he has powerful friends.
When you have children, you've got more at stake. Since your goal is to live until they become independent adults, you should try to keep altercations to a minimum. Not only is getting into fights exhausting, but it can also be dangerous.
For example, if you flick someone off because they cut you off on the road, you might end up regretting your action because they might have a gun. Instead, you keep your hands on the wheel and mutter obscenities. You also don't want to go to jail because you'll embarrass your family.
5) Having kids will make you more empathetic
As a parent, you see the innocence in people before they're corrupted. Therefore, you believe everyone is precious and deserves respect. As a parent, your empathy for all types of people tends to go up.
When interacting with rough characters, you also realize that something must have gone wrong between the stage of innocence and adulthood. Maybe it was an abusive parent or a father who was never home. Not receiving the love you want as a child is tough. Therefore, you give the people who dislike you more chances. Or you more easily ignore them.
Empathy and understanding also creates positive action. Let's say you don't believe there's equal opportunity for women at your company. If you have a daughter, you will be much more cognizant of the imbalances between men and women. As a result, you may hire more women, mentor more women, or promote more women.
In fact, I just realized the majority of online bullies I've encountered don't have kids. Perhaps it's a coincidence or maybe they're younger and struggling more financially. But the parents I've encountered tend to be more nurturing. We deal with so many temper tantrums at home, the last thing we want to do is argue with others.
6) Having kids will expand your network
Not only will you connect with more parents, you will also make new friends with other parents from your child's school. Your new relationships might get so good that your families might start vacationing together.
If your children end up going to different schools, you will be able to increase your network even further. As a result, you might receive more professional opportunities as well. Further, you might gain more support for your own entrepreneurial or creative endeavors.
Most People Will Become Better After Having Kids
Having kids is both selfish and selfless.
It's selfish because there are already so many kids in the world who need a loving home. We have kids for our own desires. Why not adopt or foster them instead of having so many kids ourselves?
Having kids is also selfless because parents give up so much time, energy, and money with little expectations. Being a parent is a thankless job that needs no thanking because most of the time, it was our decision.
Everybody knows raising kids can cost a fortune. Kids will sometimes strain your marriage and drive you bonkers. Kids will also do bad things that will bring dishonor to your family. But you'll love them anyway.
Overall, I say having kids will make you a better person. You'll develop a lot more patience and endurance. You'll also be kinder to others. In the end, you will probably make a lot more money as well. When you have the best reason to earn, you will.
Readers, how has having kids changed you? What are some other positives from having kids? What are some negatives?
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