What’s The Best Age To Have A Baby? 20s? 30s? 40s+?

If you're wondering what's the best age to have a baby, I've got some very important thoughts for you. Having children is one of the best things you'll ever do.

Children make like more meaningful. Their love will fill the household. But children are also hard work and your happiness will likely plummet in the initial years due to a lack of freedom and much more stress.

Took A While To Be Comfortable Having Kids In An Expensive City

As a 46-year-old dad of a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, I'm reminded of my old age every time I bend over to pick up my little one. My lower back aches and my knees sometimes dangerously buckle if they bend too far. Oh to be 25 again!

But then I realize that because we are older parents, we don't have the same stresses as younger first-time parents. We're not stressed about going over a baby budget because we don't have to strictly follow one. Further, older parents may be able to spend a lot more time with their children.

Both of us don't have traditional jobs to commute to. And we've built our cozy little dream home in San Francisco. Having more time to spend with our little ones is priceless, especially the first five years before kindergarten.

We therefore have two variables to discuss to come up with the best age to have a baby: The Biological Best Age To Have A Baby and The Economical Best Age To Have A Baby. Then I'll come up with the ultimate combination.

Given money is the root of all pain and suffering, it's important to dig deeper into the Economical Best Age. Most articles you read on the subject only address the Biological Best Age.

The Biological Best Age To Have A Baby

We can first approach the best age to have a baby through biology. After all, biology is the most important factor in being able to have a baby.

It wasn't until about age 35 that I started seriously considering having a baby. My wife was 32 years old at the time, and they say a woman's oocytes are best before age 35. We were shown a series of graphs like the ones below regarding decreasing fertility rates and increasing miscarriage rates as a woman ages.

Fertility And Spontaneous Abortion Chart

Aafter the age range of 35 – 39, the rate of spontaneous abortion doubles from ~25% to 51%. Meanwhile, the fertility rate slumps from roughly 340 to 170 per 1000 married women.

Declining fertility rate chart for woman - the best age to have a baby

I don't have to explain that going through a spontaneous abortion is a psychologically traumatizing event, especially if you've been trying for years.

According to one study by Dunson, David B. PhD; Baird, Donna D. PhD; Colombo, Bernardo PhD, the percentage infertility was estimated at 8% for women aged 19–26 years, 13–14% for women aged 27–34 years, 18% for women aged 35–39 years. 

Infertility is defined as the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year.

Related: The Difficulties Of Pregnancy

Getting Pregnant And Staying Pregnant

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman's uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.

The cost for each IUI is roughly $1,000 – $1,600. The success rate for a 30-year old woman with infertility issues is only about 20% a month. For a 43-year old woman with infertility issues, the success rate drops to only 1% a month according to the Advanced Fertility Center in Chicago.

IVF Is Expensive, Painful, And Stressful

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body. Below is a chart of miscarriage rates by age after a IVF cycle. Starting around the age of 37, you can see the slope steepen. At around 44 years old, you only have a 50% chance of conceiving through IVF.

IVF is much more difficult on a woman due to the drugs, hormonal changes, and number of doctors visits required. Further, the cost of IVF is roughly $12,000 – $17,000 per cycle. Can you imagine the stress and sadness of not only losing $17,000, but also failing to conceive after each attempt? Devastating.

Miscarriage rates by age - the best age to have a baby
Source: CDC

Based on the data, the biological ideal age to have a baby is in your early 20s, and no later than 40. Of course, having a baby after age 40 can be done, as Halle Berry showed us when she gave birth at age 47.

Just know the chances of complications are much higher, as are the chances of spending tens of thousands of dollars with no success.

The Economical Best Age To Have A Baby

Now that we've gone through the best age to have a baby by biology, we should look at the financial aspect of having a baby.

Some will disagree, but I believe it's best not to have a baby if you are unable to take care of yourself. In other words, if you are drowning in debt, can't hold a stable job, aren't saving any money for a rainy day, are hooking up with multiple partners, don't truly love your partner, and love to snort cocaine every time you go out, it's best not to be a parent.

Babies are an incredible joy, but require a tremendous amount of time for proper care. For the first several months, my wife and I each spent 20 – 24 hours a day with our little one. In order to do so, we purposefully engineered our lifestyles to live off passive income so we wouldn't have to work for someone else, ever.

When our baby started sleeping more than four hours straight a night, we finally felt like we could breathe again. Now that both of our kids can sleep through the night most of the time, we have a more balanced life.

Despite the importance of feeling financially secure enough to have a baby, I think you'll regret sacrificing love for money. So please spend as much time finding a romantic partner as you do on your career and building wealth.

trend in US birth rates

Money Stress Kills Happiness And Relationships

If we had experienced money stress on top of baby care stress and sleep deprivation, there's no doubt we would have a strained relationship. But because our finances were taken care of, we never fought and only went through occassional mood swings when the postpartum hormones on both sides randomly kicked in for no reason.

If you have a baby, I promise you will experience more stress and anxiety. Being a parent to a baby is the toughest job in the world. Post-pandemic, I've discussed some top financial moves we can all make to reduce stress and anxiety.

Now let me suggest some financial guidelines you should consider before having a baby. Please note I'm assuming you've already found the right stable partner.

1) A Net Worth Target Before Having Kids

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child is roughly $233,000 from 0 – 17 starting in 2015. If you add in expected inflation, the cost rises to roughly $284,000. And if you add on college tuition, room, and board, the figure easily jumps to roughly $500,000. However, if you have a baby in 2023+, it might cost you over a million dollars to raise him or her through college.

The cost of raising a child

Most of us want to send our kids to college. Therefore, have a net worth target goal of between $233,000 – $500,000 before having kids. This way, you will have a net worth equal to at least the cost of raising one kid through college. Yes, of course you can have kids with much less wealth and be fine. I'm just providing some guidelines for those who enjoy analyzing for the future

Related: Target Net Worth Goals By Age, Income, Or Work Experience

Greater Net Worth Targets In Expensive Cities

Because I started my career in NYC and ended my career in San Francisco, the cost of living was much higher than average. As a result, my colleagues and I punted around the idea of shooting for a $1 million net worth before starting a family.

We definitely didn't need a $1 million net worth, it was just a fun target to shoot for in order to make sure we could properly take care of our spouse and little one in case we were the only income earners.

With the median home price at over $1.6 million in San Francisco in 2023, a $1 million net worth doesn't seem that unreasonable. Luckily, expensive cities are expensive due to stronger income opportunities.

Net Worth Targets By Age and Income

2) A Career Milestone Target Before Having A Baby

Having a baby may or may not derail your career progression due to workplace discrimination and necessary time off to take care of your little one. I'm completely for each parent taking a minimum of three months parental leave, and working from home a couple more months if possible. Understandably, some employers don't see it this way given how competitive business is today.

For any aspiring ladder climber, your 20s is a time to earn your stripes. You're generally a cost center to the company, which means you don't come from a position of strength. Only after you start generating more benefits than you cost will you gain negotiating power. And only after your company has promoted you to a certain level will they believe in your value.

Third Promotion To Ensure Your Career Isn't A Fluke

Given this logic, you might consider having a baby only after achieving a third promotion or greater. The first promotion doesn't count for much since you're going from junior bottom feeder to senior bottom feeder. But by promotion number three, it's clear you're actually creating a lot of value for your organization.

Three or more promotions is not a fluke, which means you should feel confident knowing that you've actually got good enough skills other companies want too.

My career milestone goal was to make Vice President (Analyst, Associate, VP, Director, Managing Director) before seriously thinking about family. After getting promoted to VP, I felt a tremendous sense of relief because I knew that if I was ever laid off, I had a high chance of getting hired as a VP at a different investment bank.

Related: How To Get Paid And Promoted Faster

3) An Income Target Before Having A Baby

According to Princeton economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, $75,000 is the income level researchers have deemed where happiness no longer increases the more you make. They partnered with Gallup to survey 450,000 Americans in 2008 and 2009. Thanks to inflation, I believe that income level is closer to $100,000 a year in 2023.

I argue the ideal income level for maximum happiness is closer to $250,000 per couple, especially if you live in an expensive coastal city like San Francisco.

According to the US Department of Housing and Development in 2020, a San Francisco family of four with an income of $105,350 per year is considered “low income.” In San Francisco, you can actually qualify for subsidized housing if you make only $100,000 a year.

Therefore, I recommend making $100,000 or more as a household if you live in the heartland of America, or $250,000 if you live in a coastal city before having children. With such income, you'll be able to ideally afford to buy a home, comfortably pay for children expenses, and save at least 20% of your salary for retirement.

$200,000 Income And Still Not Feeling Rich

Related: How To Make Six Figures At Almost Any Age

The Best Age To Have A Baby

At what age range can you come up with a $233,000 – $500,000 minimum net worth, get your third promotion, and earn $88,000 – $250,000 a year? The answer is somewhere between 30 – 35 for focused couples.

Combine the biological factors found in the first part of this post, and the age range of 30 – 35 seems like the best age to have a baby.

If I were to choose a specific age, I'd choose 32 as the best age to have a baby for a woman or man because the parent will have roughly 10 years of post college life experience. It takes time to mature as a working adult.

10 years of doing anything should give you enough confidence to take the next step if you so choose. You're still in a biologically low risk zone and have had plenty of time to get your finances in order.

Whatever age you feel is ideal, start one or two years before that ideal age because it takes on average 7 to 8 months to conceive if you have no issues.

Divorce Minimization

It's also important to think about minimizing divorce/breakups after having a baby. Getting a divorce is a net negative for children.

One would think that the older you are, the more you know what you want and don't want in a partner. The more relationships you go through, the higher the chance you'll find one that sticks, although not always the case.

The cost of having many children isn't just the money. It is also the stress of raising children and what might happen to children if neglected.

However, there are some unexpected financial benefits of having children as well. Overall, we are “saving” about $100,000 in expenses we thought we'd have to spend by now. Further, we bought two properties to house our growing family in 2019 and 2020. As a result, the real estate equity has increased tremendously.

You Want Children To Be Part Of Your Life For Longer

Here's another important insight on the best time to have a baby.

When you have your baby, you will love him or her like you've never loved anyone before. Therefore, you will wish you had your baby sooner, so you could have spent a greater portion of your remaining life together.

One of my biggest regrets is not having my children five years sooner. But I can't go back into the past. I can only help those of you who are thinking of having a baby to consider all the variables.

Once your baby is around 9-10-months old, you mind find yourself wanting to have another baby. This is because everyone is sleeping a little better and a mother's body has healed or almost fully healed. Evolution, I tell yah!

Therefore, if you want to have multiple babies, you must plan ahead and best start before age 35.

Having A Baby During A Pandemic

Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, I've found that having a baby during a pandemic is actually pretty good. We had our daughter right before the pandemic started. Given we were going to stay at home anyway, a pandemic didn't change our plans.

First of all, hospitals take extra safety precautions now due to COVID. Therefore, you may actually feel safer during your hospital stay.

Second of all, going for your baby checkups also feels safe due to all the precautions. You'll likely get more space and fewer crowds.

Third, you likely won't be traveling much for the first 3-6 months of your baby's life. Therefore, not leaving your house is not a big deal since you weren't going to leave much anyway.

Finally, a greater percentage of both parents get to spend more time with the baby. This is probably the biggest benefit of having a baby during a pandemic. If you can work from home and take care of your baby, you are double winning.

What is the best age range to have a baby?

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Recommendations For All Parents

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Stay on top of your finances.

College tuition is now prohibitively expensive if your child doesn’t get any grants or scholarships. Therefore, it’s important to save and plan for your child’s future.

Check out Empower’s new Planning feature, a free financial tool that allows you to run various financial scenarios to make sure your retirement and child’s college savings is on track. They use your real income and expenses to help ensure the scenarios are as realistic as possible.

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There’s no rewind button in life. Therefore, it’s best to plan for your financial future as meticulously as possible. It’s better to end up with a little too much, than too little!

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When To Have More Children

The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Married Couple

How To Survive The Pressure As The Sole Income Providing Parent

Readers, what do you think is the best age to have a baby or best age range to have a baby? At what age did you have a baby? Note: If you plan on having more than two children, then I think the ideal age goes down about two or three years per extra child e.g. three children = 29-30. Consider adoption as well.

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153 thoughts on “What’s The Best Age To Have A Baby? 20s? 30s? 40s+?”

  1. I got married at 26 and didn’t waste time trying for a baby. We used temperature charts and did all we could to achieve pregnancy. I read books on becoming pregnant, hung upside down after the act–anything I could to conceive. Apparently at 26 and 35 we were too old to have babies. It depends on how big a priority having a baby is. For me, 26 was too old.

  2. How backward that your graph talks about the fertility of ‘married’ women. You don’t have to be married to have a baby with someone you love. And it’s not a variable that impacts your fertility. Also, you should distinguish between the best age for a man to have a baby and a women as it’s rarely the same.

  3. Interesting post. It calmed me down a bit.

    I turned 30 last week. I have no kids at this point. My partner is 22 and still studying.

    She wants to wait until we live alone, which might be 3 years from now.

    It’s easy for her to say, she is only 22 right. I respect her wishes though I rather had a child when I was 20-22.

    That last section of your post is most important to me. I want to spend as much year as possible with our children. When our kids are 30, I will most likely be 63-65. Probably have dementia by then…

    So best to have when your 20. When they are 30, you are 50. Get my point?

    Also financially? My sister had her son at age 14. Best age ever. My parents helped raised so no problem there.

    Ahhh to be only 14 years older than your child …

    I feel absolutely terrible since I turned 30. I can’t seem to get rid of this feeling.

    Best to start as early as possible

  4. We had our first when I was 25 and my husband was 31. We’re pregnant with our second now and they will be almost exactly 2 years apart. I think it’s nice that my husband is older because he’s mature, knows how to “adult” well, and has achieved a certain status at work. I think it’s nice that I’m younger because we had no issues conceiving (2 months each time), I would hate going through pregnancy any older, and I don’t feel so overburdened by my work as a mid-level engineer. I can be a little flexible with my schedule and I don’t have to bring my work home with me for the most part. I finished my masters degree and worked for almost two years at my career job before having my first. I was in a good spot where I had proved myself and I had flexibility/options if going back to that job didn’t work out. We live in the Midwest and make well over that $85k threshold (my husband does on his own actually) and we have the further comfort of family that can support us if something happened and we were suddenly both unemployed. We both have a 401k and savings that are equivalent to over a year of one salary after taxes as well as a good amount of equity in our home. So. Having a baby at 25 worked for me. With the caveat that my husband is older, my parents have been extremely supportive (including paying for my college), and I was on the younger side when I finished school. I’m happy we will have more time with our kids (hopefully) and I didn’t want to wait any longer because I didn’t want my husband to be any older than early 30s when we’re chasing the toddler(s). I hope to give my kids the financial support I received so that they can have flexibility in planning their lives and I’m sad that more and more people are overburdened by debt in their early adult lives.

    1. Congrats! And that’s the beauty of life. A lot of women would “hate” to have a child at 25 because they want to travel more, work on their hobbies, or focus on their careers. Some would hate to have a baby and not be able to take care of their precious one by sending them to daycare.

      Everybody has their own way of doing things.

      1. Again, I’m lucky that I had a chance to travel in my late teens and early 20s, but I totally get that. I miss it, but look forward to one day traveling with the kids (we have several vacations planned already for when they are old enough :P).

        Daycare was hard for the first few months, but now my almost 2 year old loves it and I love that we get some time apart honestly. I personally need adult/work time. He’s also across the street from my office (that helps a lot). And if we hadn’t been able to afford a nice daycare, then I probably would have stayed home. It is so hard to find people you can trust with your baby for sure.

  5. My wife and I had our first when I was 23 and she was 20. Our second one came 13 months to the day after the first. We still want more, as I am 25 now and my wife is 23. We will probably end up with 2 more. I would like to be done having kids by 29. That way my wife and I will be able to lead active lives with them. I cant imagine starting to have kids in your 30’s but I always wanted to have a larger family so it only makes sense to start younger.

      1. How old was your wife when she had the first one. I had my first at 37.5 yrs. My husband was also of same age.
        My son is 2.4 yr now. I am thinking when to have the second one. A bit confused.

    1. Let’s not forget everyone has different genetics, some people develop much sooner than others mentally and physically and are therefore able to bear children earlier….although earlier puberty has now been linked with a shorter lifespan and being more prone to disease.


      It seems like common sense to me that delayed puberty and sexual maturity is linked with longer lifespans but they are now starting to identify specific genes for it. I couldn’t imagine having a child at 23 years old as a man, but then again I also had a very delayed puberty so I’m thinking I may live much longer than Jacob and be less prone to disease etc.

    2. Why would you have 4 kids?! The population is already booming already! 7 BILLION… just adopt if you want more.

      1. actually, the rate of growth if the population is declining dangerously and is on chart to continually do so, putting us at risk of extinction. Google is great.

  6. I have my first child at age 31 my husband 38 now I am almost 34 expecting another boy my second is a little more difficult but thanks god and me I am going just fine, now I just entered in my second trimester my doctor said my baby is doing fine. I don’t think I can have more babies I am getting old I will be ok with two boys. I wish I could have at least 3 but I am ok with two healthy boys. I think the best age to start having your first baby will be at age 25 before 35 it gets harder if you past 35. There are some women out there planning for first time mother at their 40s, for all these mothers I wish them a good luck and healthy babies.

  7. I had mine at 33 & partner was 30. (I conceived at 32 first try! im sure I could have had more but one is fun!) We had one income then & it worked out well. I was able to stay at home for 3 1/2 years which was nice! Now i’m early 40’s with a school age child & it seems to be working out well. We just went to a birthday party yesterday & the parents were ALL my age & some I even graduated with. We all have 6-8 yr olds. I don’t really know anyone with a 7 year old who is 27 or 28. All the 27 yr olds I know (women mostly) are single or just have a boyfriend. I think it is the new norm to start families later, just don’t wait too long! Gosh I cannot even imagine being pregnant now at 41 but people do it.

    1. Not everyone is lucky enough to meet the right partner at a younger age. I am 41 and still single so my chances of having kids is next to nothing. I have been rejected by men cause of my age. Your comment about being pregnant at 41 is very insensitive to older mothers.

    2. It is sadly the norm to start families later. I now have 4 kids at age 35 and I’m almost dead, but even 2 was exhausting. Whereas a decade ago I was super fit and energetic. I would absolutely advice people to have kids sooner rather than later just because of health reasons and fitness. And don’t forget that those also affect your stamina and performance at work. Kids do not cost as much as you imagine. There is no reason to wait if you have a stable relationship.

      I know this blog is for Americans mostly, but for the rest of the world, the normal world, it is a no-brainer to have kids early. In my European country, we have paid leave, sick leave and of course parental leave. We also have big tax cuts for families with kids and a child allowance. If I put it all in a spreadsheet, then having kids does not cost me more than not having them. Except for my energy levels. I know a lot of people want to grow in their career first and see the world but believe me there is time for that also with kids.

  8. My mind definitely works on a similar track. It’s stressful enough, I imagine, to have a baby, but to have one where your financial situation isn’t on a good track to begin with would really stretch anyone thin. Arbitrary, but I think I would have to be post-30 and in a strong spot to consider kids.

  9. MarginSaving

    I agree with a lot of commeneters – the sooner the better. Most couples don’t know they need IVF until they’ve tried for at least a year, so that sets them back timewise. Besides, kids do a phenomenal job of resetting priorities, including budgets. You may not be good saver before, but you will be.

  10. The Solid Investor

    Biologically, 20 or even less. Economically, no age. Having children is not an economic decision, as kids will be responsible for spending a large amount of your income. A power couple with good careers and no children can retire at relatively young age with a considerably high accumulated wealth and even live only from the yields on their money.

    Obviously, from the economic perspective of the society, a decision like this is harmful. This is yet another situation where if everyone would personally choose the best economic alternative, the greater good will be hurt.

      1. Not yet. I’m in my early 30’s (my wife in her late 20’s) and my wife and I are planning to start a family in the next few years. The decision, of course, will be made not for an economic purpose, but for a lot of other reasons people are doing kids for.

        Coincidentally (or not), our first baby will be in the range you analyzed as the best. I think this is indeed a good age as you’re not too old to start a family but also already started a career.

  11. Congratulations on your baby son! I just had my baby girl earlier this year at the age of 42! I conceived naturally after 3 months of trying. I know I am very lucky. I was never 100% sure whether I wanted a baby because I am a single Asian female. In the last few years, I felt my career and salary weren’t going anywhere, so I decided to have a baby. After 17 years in Tech, I also really wanted a break, but I didn’t want to quit my job. I was hoping for a layoff but it never happened. Luckily, my boyfriend/partner also wanted a baby and my wish came true, I had my 6 month break. With a new newborn, it wasn’t exactly the break I was dreaming of, but it was still a break. lol.

    I am glad I waited until I am financially secure to have this baby, I feel I can truly enjoy her, and not have to worry about my next paycheck. My net worth alone is inline with people in my age group and income level. My boyfriend/partner and I don’t share finances, so I actually have no idea how much he is worth, and vice versa. His salary is higher than my and our combined income is more than the ideal income to reach maximum happiness in the SF Bay Area, but I feel we are just middle class. With my income alone, I actually feel kind of poor sometimes.

    1. Wow! Three months of trying and then becoming pregnant is lucky for any couple, let alone one over 40. Congratulations!

      I still wish I had my son eight years earlier in my early 30s. That would give me the option of perhaps having another one and having my grandparents be more involved without too much trouble.

      But as in everything in life, we must except our situation and make the best of things. We feel so blessed. :-)

    2. I have so many questions for you. I’m new to this forum. Would love your insight as I’m in/ was in the same situation

  12. I think it varies for everyone. I was the anomaly in my high school and family because I was not pregnant at 17. I’m in my 30s now and my girlfriend is kind enough to not get me pregnant. I’m still dealing with school loans and have two jobs to make things work. My financial situation will change dramatically in the next two years. Then I will begin preparing to see if adoption is for me. I don’t have the urge to pay for IVF etc, and there are so many children alive already who need love. That’s what I would target once my money is more in order. I’ll be late 30s, but won’t have to worry about fertility because my womb will stay out of it.

  13. Hey Sam,

    Is that your baby in the little kiddie pool picture at the top, if so how adorable. My husband and I are first time parents too at 29 and 30 and I often wonder if this was too young as well. I mean financially its doable for us since we make over 6 figures combined but the freedom of having more time to spend with our 7 month old is probably the biggest annoyance. I agree, I think when you have the most time to spend with them its priceless. If we do have other kids, it will be well into my 30’s before I consider, because financially it can be draining and taxing and it would be nice to not have a budget.

  14. I never got the: “here we go again…” feeling because after each baby was born, I knew right away that our family wasn’t complete. I just also knew that I didn’t want to have a baby and a toddler at the same time.

    Grandparents help would have been nice but we live away from all of them. Having said that, we noticed a fairly big difference in their involvement (when we do get to see them) between when they were in their mid-fifties and now, when some are in their mid-late sixties. I feel they will never have the same relationship with my youngest ones that they were able to build with the oldest. They just don’t have the patience anymore for kids it seems. That’s too bad and I know it’s not rational but I can’t help but feel they’re unfair to the younger ones. It’s not their fault, they’re just aging, if not all of them in the most graceful manner…

  15. We had our kids at 22, 27 and 32. We’re now 40, the oldest is heading to university and I’m so glad to be out of the little kid years!

    The long spacing between kids was intentional, so they each got to be the baby and it was alot more humane for the parents. In retrospect, it worked so well we have 3 only children forced to live together. I’m still on the fence as to whether I would trade my sanity (one young kid at a time) for more sibling closeness. And really, being close in age is no guarantee that they will be close in the long run, once adults.

    Having them young with young grandparents has allowed me to do cool stuff like have three generations (of women) backpacking trip with my mom and eldest daughter.

    On the other hand, kids have driven most of the choices we’ve made and sucked most of our spare money over the years but mostly on fun stuff. As a Canadian, paying for school and healthcare is not something I need to budget for and I had year long leaves at full salary after giving birth to the youngest 2. So for us, I’m glad we had them while we were young! But hey, I’ll never be rich…

    1. Wow, that 10 year spacing is impressive. Did you ever feel with your youngest, “oh gosh, here we go again?” Bringing up not having to worry about paying for school and healthcare is HUGE.

      Having grandparents help is also huge. It’s much easier helping out at 60 than 70, that’s for sure!

  16. Sam, thank you for this post. This is what I’ve been thinking about on and off for about 4 years now since having my first child. My son was born a little bit after my 36th birthday. Deep in my heart I know that this is the best age for me to have a child as I am more financially secure and emotionally mature. But I can’t get over the fact that I may have been a little bit too old physically to be a first time parent at 36. I am often too tired to keep up with the physical demands of parenthood. So if I am going to choose the right age, I would choose 30. At this age my husband and I were not doing too bad financially and were already emotionally mature.

    Thank you so much for sharing to us your knowledge and experiences. Financial Samurai is the very first blog that I’ve subscribed to. I have been reading your blog for about a year now. You and your blog piqued my interest in personal finance and also inspired me to start my own blog. I look forward to reading more of your blog and your future posts!

    1. Hi Sigrid,

      Thanks for sharing, and congrats on your child and starting your site!

      I consistently hear from parents over 35 that they wish they had kids sooner, and had more than 1.

      Everything is a leap of faith!


  17. As a mother of 8 (one at a time, all biological) children, I think the best time to have children is as soon as you are married and are being financially responsible. My children were born when I was 24, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, and 35. Pregnancy and parenting is definitely easier when you are younger. Patience is gained not just from getting older, but from time spent with your children.

    I don’t think financial independence should be a primary determining factor, especially if one is financially responsible. Once my first child was born, my husband and I always lived well below our means and worked to become debt-free. This was more important to us since we were living on his teacher’s salary. I did tutor on the side and it all went toward paying down our school loans and mortgage.

    In 2008, after my last child was born, I launched a business. Our children (now aged 10-20) all work in the business (and get salaries and pay taxes and invest in IRAs). It has been our full source of income since 2009. The children have learned so much by watching us struggle to become debt free, grow the business, invest for the future, and live well below our means.

    My husband and I are on track to fully retire from our business and let the children take over when my youngest child turns 18 (we will be 53 and 54). We could retire earlier, but we told the children we would wait that long.

    While become FI and even RE before having children may give you more time with your children, having your children join you in you FIRE journey is a wonderful addition to helping them internalize the sound principles that are involved in the journey so they can live them out. This gives them a huge jump start in life.

    Nothing is certain in this life. Putting off children to achieve specific goals doesn’t always work out the way people plan.

    1. Great advice, and I am IMPRESSED you were able to start a business and make things work. ARe you sure your master plan wasn’t to create trustworthy employees at a low price? :)

      How was the cost of raising so many kids? What about health worries for your kids? ARe they all fine? Also, did your body just get used to giving birth? I’m struggling not worrying about one. I cannot imagine worrying about 8. Maybe, there comes a point where you just stop worrying b/c it’s hard to keep track!

      1. LOL Definitely wasn’t my plan – but in hindsight if I’d known about the business I would have had 12! (not really, 8 was perfect)

        As for cost of raising them – we started out living in New Jersey with a very high cost of living. My husband never made more than $40k, but I could earn $50 per hour tutoring evenings. When I was pregnant with number 6 we moved to Indiana for the lower cost of living. Costs dropped, but so did the salary ($30 – $35k) and tutoring at $20 per hour wasn’t worth my time. But our property taxes dropped from $5k per year for a postage stamp lot to $1200 per year for 3 acres.

        We lived very cheaply – cooked all our own meals, raised dairy goats for milk (which turned into our business), chickens for eggs, rabbits for meat, and had a huge garden. All of our food costs (including animal feed) was under $1 per person per day. During this time we had a savings rate of about 50% – yep, we raised a family of 10 very happily for about $15-$18k per year. None of us ever felt deprived and the children love how they’ve grown up!

        Plus, when you have a large family, everybody knows where to drop off their hand-me downs or anything they no longer needed. I rarely had to buy anything and if I needed something I put the word out and it usually showed up within a few weeks.

        My children are all very healthy (thanks, farm living and playing in the dirt!). We’ve had a few minor scares, but nothing serious, and only 1 broken bone. I think as a parent, we always worry at some level. It doesn’t matter how “healthy” we live, there are certain things we can’t protect our children from, and the unknown is always scary. But honestly? I’ve always been more concerned about their lives once I am gone and it’s nice to know they have the safety net of lots of siblings.

        As far as continuing to get pregnant and having more children, quite honestly, child number 3 is the hardest. After that it gets easier (sounds strange, I know, but it’s true). Especially if you teach your children to work hard and be responsible. My children always loved taking care of their younger siblings and it wasn’t anything I ever required them to do. I still remember the 2 year old changing the 1 year old’s diaper every morning. That was her initiative and I’ll never forget the first time she told me she did it, how proud she was to be the big sister.

        By the time number child #8 was here, I knew I was done. The family finally felt “complete” if that makes any sense. Plus, I always said I wanted an even number of children so nobody ever felt left out.

        There are lots of reasons not to have children, but in my opinion, money should never be one of those reasons. You will always find a way to pay for what is important. The reports of what it costs to raise a child are absolutely ridiculous. Sure you can spend that much, but for those of use who would never buy a brand new vehicle or live in a mcmansion, there are plenty of ways to raise happy, healthy, educated, hardworking children for a lot less if you just put some effort into it.


        1. Let’s not forget this greatly depends on where you live….making that little money with that many children would be very tough in a state like Massachusetts for example. I have 4 children and couldn’t imagine raising them on such a small income, it just wouldn’t work.

  18. This is a very relevant post. I’m saving this post to re-read again – we don’t have kids and don’t really feel a need to have one. Our only fear is what’ll become of us when we’re old. Any suggestions? We think we’ll adopt if its too late.

  19. In today’s day and age where many of us need more than just a collage degree to succeed and run dual career house-holds (read more years in grad school, later start of work and stable married life, etc.), it is really hard to comprehend having kids earlier than early 30s. This is exactly what I have observed in my personal and professional circle.

    Our situation was similar. Both of us did our PhDs, then worked in a different city for 1.5 yrs, so finally started our family at the ages of 33 / 35. We were luckily endowed with twins the first time. We (rather courageously) had another child 3 years later at ages 36 / 38.

    If I were to reverse the clock though, I can only wish we had them sooner. We are slowly and steadily working towards financial independence. Kids require money, but the single biggest cost is child-care (early in life) and collage (late in life). The middle of the road is not that expensive, and arguably, one is spending similar amount of money going and hanging out as a single or a child-less adult as on raising one’s kids. We simply do not have the time/energy/interest to go to theatres, fancy dinners, or our international adventures anymore.

    So if you have secured a reasonable future in your early/mid 20s, are with the right person, you should consider starting a family in your late 20, and no later than early 30s. You can start raising kids earlier and get done earlier. Keep building your nest egg, pace yourself. Financial independence will come later rather than sooner in life, but independence (or freedom) is a fake word when kids are involved anyway.

  20. I’m sure this has been said, but great, thought-provoking post! Basically the same math my husband and I have done, and we came to 31 as the ideal age for me to have a kid (he’s 2 years older). We’re thinking fertility + income + ability to chase after the kid = how we got to 31.

    My Dad had me when he was 43. He was glad he waited, on one hand, because they were obviously financially stable by then. On the other hand, he’s bummed he won’t get to see his grandchild because, although his health is ok, he’s 73 and odds are not good his grandchild will even remember him. But I was well taken care of and exposed to tons of great opportunities thanks to his wise investments, things I wouldn’t have had when my Dad was in his 30s.

    Personally, I had a friend who had her first son at age 15 (yes!) and another friend who had her son at 19. Back then, I was horrified, but seeing their sons over the years make me think having kids way early maybe isn’t so bad… if you can get it together. Both of my friends married their children’s respective fathers, got an education, and have stable jobs now. Their kids are awesome, they have tons of energy and time to spend with them.

    Basically, no “perfect” time to have a kid – if you’re lucky enough to even have one. Many of my friends have struggled with even becoming pregnant and we’re all in the “okay zone” of mid-20s/very early 30s.

  21. I’m 33 and already think I’m too old for kids, not physically but financially. I’m single now so I’d like to get to know somebody for a couple years before having a kid(s) with them…so realistically if I met someone tomorrow, there probably wouldn’t be a kid entering this world until I’m 36, and add at least a year for each kid past the first…which should that relationship not work out that forces me into child support payments until I’m 54+, which effectively ruins my plans to retire around 40.

    It kind of stinks that I’ve come to look at it this way, but I know way too many guys who have gotten crushed in divorce and/or who have gotten the crappy end of the custody/child support stick for me to think rolling the dice is going to work out well in my favor. Rotating shifts + working lots of overtime is like a double whammy in family court…apparently all the judges see here is high income so you can pay a lot of child support and that you have a weird work schedule so the amount of time you get your kids ends up super limited. Should you want to cut back on overtime to spend more time with the kids its a whole new expensive, time consuming court battle to get things adjusted to your reduced hours/income.

    If I end up having kids it probably won’t be til around 40. I’ll just retire and move abroad and have kids in a foreign country where its much cheaper to live(which is my early retirement plan even if kids aren’t in the picture)…that will allow me the best of both worlds…I get kids and an early retirement. Luckily for guys we have time on our side. Its a lot easier for a 40 year old guy to have a kid than a 40 year old woman.

  22. We didn’t get married until we were both 30 and had our kids at 32 and 34. The financial stability was not there when they were first born but it was by the time our oldest was 7 or 8. We love the fact that we can afford to travel with our kids to places like Europe and Austrailia and have no problems paying for their private college tuition which starting soon will run six figures per year for at least a couple years. If we would have had kids 5-10 years younger there would have been much financial stress I’m sure but we would have made it work. We are actually a bit worried about becoming empty nesters next year in our early 50’s!

    1. Hi Eric,

      IMHO, Parenting is NOT a 2 generations issue. But between 3 generations.

      You, your kids or would be kids, and your parents.

      After all, your own parents to you is same as you being parents to your kids.

      In your case, how are your own parents?

      Personally, I wish I could take care of my kids earlier so I could have time for my own parents. Right now, its a tussle because kids are in critical stage of their education, and so are parents with their health.

      If I had kids earlier, I and my parents could have enjoyed their growth much better, and my kids would have been independent adults by the time my parents needed me.


      1. That’s a good point. How about go Hawaiian style, with three generations looking out for each other under one roof or on a compound? That’s what I’m hoping to do, but not sure if my parents are willing.

      2. I’m the youngest of 3 kids and my parents are not alive – my mom died 10 years ago when I was 41 and my father passed 2 years ago. My dad did get to enjoy his grandkids. He made it just about every one of my 2 nephews sporting events all the way through high school.

        1. You are lucky. To each personal situation, it can be different. For e.g. I have seen cases where the youngest in family is 10 years younger than the oldest kid. Imagine, you were 41 but your oldest sibling could be 51 with kids in college. Completely different situations. Sam asked for the ideal age, but its really dependent on too many factors. I have also seen folks not having kids because they are perfectionists! They want to have perfection in life, ask any parent – and they’d laugh at you. Anyways, I dont want to judge, because everyone is unique and so are their circumstances.

          I’d end this topic by saying – I salute the ones who adopt.


  23. IMHO, the best age to get married is 25, and the best age to have a baby is 27, assuming both are college graduates.

    One is NEVER ready, economically or mentally. The reason why older wisdom pushes their next to have one.

      1. I resisted marriage. I think its because it was going to be arranged, and a logical mind fights it. Its more of a decision of brain, than of heart. I wanted at least 5 kids. I was worn and torn, after our first. We decided on the second child ONLY because to give company to our first, after we are gone.

        Now, my 15 year old daughter is convinced that she does not want to marry at all.

        If you notice the pattern around the world, folks are following their bucket list in their 20s, have live-in relationships, most of my friends stop at 1 kid, and the next generation has started questioning if marriage is even needed.

        Thats the reason I said – one is NEVER ready mentally, given there are no other medical issues.

        But everything being normal – I’d say that 25 is for marriage (if you want to at all get married), and 27 is ideal for 1st kid (if you at all want to have one). Down the road, when you are in mid 40s-50s – and your parents start dying, you’d thank yourself to have done the hard emotional work earlier in your life.

        Of course, there are no thumb rules.

        As for you Sam, you were financially ready after you got your job at Goldman, at least as per conventional wisdom of many previous generations! :-)

        Anyways, its all in the mind. When the doctors asked us to take our daughter back home within 36 hours of her birth – we were like – are you serious? How are we going to take care of this baby if not in hospital?

        Parenting is NOT a science, finance, or logic.

        Its like throwing new parents in a lake, who do not know how to swim. But they survive.

        They have no choice.

        It is ONLY before parent-hood that folks analyze it – am I ready? Or am I not? What will happen when A happens? What if B happens?

        All meaningless.

  24. I like the concept of a safety net.
    The one thing I would tell you in your “getting by on 200k” analysis is to get a better tax accountant. With the expenses you listed, your marginal tax rate maybe 35% (fed and state) but your effective rate should be about 20%. Frees up 20k a year….

      1. sure, in your expenses you had the following itemized deductions:
        35k mortgage interest (700k house, 5%, meshes nicely with the 36k you listed)
        8k RE tax on above house
        2k charity
        7.5k state income tax (based on 5%, no idea what state you live in)

        Basic Itemized Deductions Approx 52.5

        So 182 – 52.5k = 129.5k
        Less 12k Exemptions (4k * 3, you, the mrs., the little one)
        117.5 TI

        Using IRS tables, fed tax on that is about 21k.

        You probably wont get any credits due to income, so leave the 21k fed. + 7.5k state + 8k payroll tax = apprx 36.5 in total tax.

        Over 182k you get an effective rate that is basically 20%. This is WAG math but the point is the tax rate is a lot lower.

        So in your example, you free up an additional 20k to save/invest/blow on beer.

        That said, love the concept of the article. Personally, the wife and I had kids in mid 20s. Need to be relatively young to crack heads, if necessary, when daughter starts dating :)

        1. Good stuff. Who needs an accountant right?

          They pay about 10% California state tax and then they have Social Security and Medicare tax of about 6.4% on the first $128,000 in income.

  25. I was 28, 30, and 32 with my three. We definitely didn’t plan financially the way we should have, but thanks to the economy, we invested SOMETHING and that has grown nicely. I have heard of people doing side gigs with newborns to put 1-3K in a 529 right off the bat to grow itself to almost a full college cost. I wish we would have been thinking about a 529 right at birth as their ages have snuck up! I think you are in a great place, Sam! Not many parents have the stability and time that you two do.

  26. Congratulations on your new addition. I’ve been a reader of yours for a few years now, and I have been hoping for an article just like this. My wife and I fall into the late 20’s-early 30’s group and are now 8 weeks pregnant. It’s a truly exciting time.

    When my significant other shared the news I was overcome with joy, then immediately struck by a moment of realization. I recognized that though we were already well organized and situated, there was still so much to do from a financial side. I had to start writing a financial to-do list of things like: setting up a will (to establish custody in the event of both our passing-it happens); increasing life insurance; updating medical insurance; researching 529 plans; and revisiting our budget to include new baby related recurring expenses for after their arrival.

    Over the last few years, we realized that it is always easier to delay having children. However, we both wanted to enjoy spending time with our child without being restrained by our own physical limitations. For us, this is the perfect time from a financial and biological perspective, and we are getting quite excited to embrace the joy and chaos of our new addition.

    Thanks for all your contributions and efforts.

  27. We are having issues conceiving. I really want a child and have wanted a child or two of my own for as long as I can remember. My husband however, wanted to wait, wait, wait, and wait some more. We are finally on the same page about 2 years ago but then ran into conceiving issues (that is more than just ‘keep trying’). I’m 32, and with no cure / end in sight, I currently am of the opinion that the best age to have a baby is whenever the biology happens.

    You can plan, save, be FI and be finally ready for that baby. And never get that child. All that planning in the world will not allow you to make a biological phenomenon happen if it doesn’t want to.

  28. I know I’m in the minority, at least for this audience, but I had my first child at 18. She is now 12 and I am 31. Of course it was not the ideal time to start a family with my then 20 year old girlfriend but things have a funny way of working out when you keep faith and and put your whole heart into something.

    My daughter brought so much value to my life at age 18. Instead of heading off to my $50k/yr school to party, I went to the local community college and worked 2 jobs part time. I was able to write a check after earning my bachelors and paid off the 25k in student loans I had at the time.

    We also had a lot of help. Since we were so young, so were our parents and they were up to the challenge of helping out so that we were able to get and education. My girlfriend and I both learned so much about ourselves and we grew together and became very motivated as a team.

    My then girlfriend is now my wife of 5 years and we have a 4 and 2 year old at home as well. We both have master’s degrees and a net worth together of about 500k. There are many pros and cons to our situation which have been discussed already. Life wasn’t and still isn’t perfect but anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves.

    My point is, there is no perfect time or situation – so make the best of it!

  29. We had our first when I was 27 and second when I was 30. The reasoning behind it is that both my husband and I wanted to be finished raising our kids before we are 50. We understand that they will be in college, but for the most part, we will be done. We are hoping to enjoy the last few years of working and then retire around 55 if possible. That being said, we didn’t have a massive amount of net worth then, but 11 years later we are close to $1 million. Consistent savings is the key and even with kids we knew we would never stop saving.

  30. I had my kids at age 24 and 27. I’m 33 now and I’m so glad to be done with late night feedings and diapers. I’m currently a full-time grad student, and I accomplish my schoolwork during the kids’ school day.

    Another thing to consider is that if you have children younger, you are more likely to spend less on raising them. Not necessarily a bad thing! : )

  31. A lot of people talk about women’s decreasing fertility with age but ignores the biological problems with older dads. I think one commenter talked about the problems with passing on defective genes. As we get older, our gene replication process becomes more and more statistically likely to produce errors, and more likely to propagate errors.
    Older moms are likelier to have spontaneous abortions and hard time conceiving, in addition, they are also likelier to give birth to a baby with Down Syndrome.
    Older dads are likelier to have children with psychological and/or mental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. This is because women have finite number of eggs that are all created at once while women are still in utero, whereas men produce sperm throughout their lives. Every time a sperm stem cell begins the process of spawning new sperm, it has to divide, creating opportunity for mutations to form. The sperm produced by older sperm stem cells will have greater load of mutations.
    The cost of fertility treatments, adoptions, and raising a child with special needs can quickly outweigh/erase wealth and stability that a couple has preciously generated.
    In short, every couple (and individual) will have to evaluate their own wants and needs, and their risk tolerance when it comes to planning a family.
    My mother raised five children alone (not by choice) on government academia income, her children today are successful engineers, accountant and physician with no debt. Growing up frugally taught me the value of money and how to save more aggressively than my American peers. I’m not saying I would prefer to raise my own family that way as I do not have as generous a pension scheme my mom is on, so I need more cushion. I think it would be ideal for women to have children between 26-32. We all had this magical ability to stay up all night and work all day in our 20s, and most of my friends and I wasted it on going out. I think in my 20s I had the energy to raise 3 kids and run 2 companies – Basically half Elon-Musk. I’m in my mid 30s and would like to have children some day, but honestly I’m so very very tired.

    1. Thanks for bringing up the point about father’s sperm becoming more defective as well as men age. What do you think is the ideal range for men to be fathers?

      My specific age of 32 is for both women and men.

    2. I’m 43 and surprised with an unexpected pregnancy.

      My male partner is going to be 50.

      Reading comments like yours that are extremely pessimistic and focused on all that can go wrong with the developing fetus makes me sad. Yes I’ve read all that fine and time again, but thee are a lot of healthy babies born to women over the age of 40 who conceive naturally. Some of us have taken good care of ourselves and it’s best not to focus on all that could go wrong. FYI there is a semi new blood test that detects traces of abnormalities with the embryo/fetus within the mothers blood. It’s 99 percent accurate and if it comes back as positive then you can decide if you want to do the aminocentesis.

      I don’t mean to be harsh here with my tone, I just think if you focus your energy in that direction in all that can go wrong then you might just manifest it.

      I’m staying positive and am scared as hell quite frankly. My boyfriend is a bartender and I’m a skin care professional. Our work is physical and he already has three kids from a previous marriage. They are older teens. Our work is physical and I read Sams blog in hopes to learn a few tricks so I can figure out a way to retire one day. I just st started my own business this passed year and I’m making slow but steady steps to secure a better financial future.

      I’m going to have all genetic tests done and if something isn’t right and it doesn’t abort itself as I’m approaching only 8 weeks then Im going to welcome and enjoy this new addition to my works and hope that it makes me an even better version of myself than I imagine myself to become.

      Sam a good friend of mine just had a new baby at 43 and we have been discussing his feelings of being an older parent. He said he just doesn’t want to become decrepit on him.

      I have been compiling a long list of people who have become parents later on male and female, some gave birth and some adopted……George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Sharon Stone, Adam Jones (guitarist of Tool), Maynard James Keenan ( lead singer of Tool), Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Fallon, the list is long, but inspiring. I think ultimately if your happy and keep your stress levels low and stay active and don’t smoke, and wear your seatbelt you’ve got the odds in your favor to enjoy your new babies for at least a few decades.

      Staying Positive

  32. We had a baby when we were 37. That’s a bit late, but it was about perfect for us. Most parents in our kid’s class are a bit younger than us. We’re still in the same age range, though. This is a relatively wealthy area and I don’t see any teenage/early 20s parents. Most educated couple wait a bit to have kids. A baby is much easier to handle when you’re comfortable financially.

    Needing $500k income to have a kid is ridiculous, though. Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying being a dad. It’s an awesome feeling.

  33. “I argue the ideal income level for maximum happiness is closer to $250,000 per couple, especially if you live in an expensive coastal city like San Francisco.”

    My wife(26) and I(27) are expecting and we decided to start our family after we hit the $250k income. I would say $250k was our entry into happiness for the two of us. With $250k income, we make enough to cover our bills (mortgage, property insurance, etc), save $30k a year for retirement, and $35k a year to start saving for our suburb house when we move out of the SF.

    I would argue that we would need to make at least $500k a year to enter our happiness level for a family. I say $500k since we would like to buy a house in the Penninsula which goes for around $2m for a 2,000 sqft house. There’s no way we can afford that mortgage or down payment with our current income of around $260k.

    1. Hmmm, that is kinda sad isn’t it? It’s one of the reason why I want to diversify AWAY from SF Bay Area real estate and into the heartland. Requiring a $500,000 income to afford a normal 2,000 sqft house is ABSURD IMO. There are plenty of great places in the country to live with decent salaries that are so much cheaper.

      I was just in Moraga, East Bay this weekend. Lots of nice homes for “only” $1.4M if you’re interested!


      Scraping By On $500,000 A Year

      Why I’m Investing In The Heartland Of America

  34. I am grateful to parents and grandparents for many generations that had my ancestors when they had no money! I’m glad that we started our boisterous family when we had no money in our 20s, too. Babies are blessings and God provides! While a plan is awesome (we weren’t without degrees) many people don’t have the motivation to have a plan in our selfish society until they get a very powerful motivator: a next generation that they are responsible for. We weren’t thinking about much of any of that before babies ourselves and while you probably have a very responsible and reflective readership, I don’t think that holds true for society at large. I know I don’t speak for everyone, but I’ve known many people that didn’t take the future seriously at all before procreating.

  35. Wife and I had our two kids in our late 30’s. We had already been married for 7 years and had built a great life. We were already financially set, mortgage almost paid off, household income at that time was around $350-400k. We had done a ton of travelling and enjoying selfish DINK life. Finally got pregnant, woohoo! From day one we had lots of time for our kids, neither of us having to race off to work in the morning as we were both in sales related careers and top performers with our firms so zero micromanagement from our bosses. We had zero family nearby for help or babysitting so it was good to have lots of flexibility. Wife took long maternity leaves, both over a year. Fast forward 9 years and wife is retired early, I’m running my own business making more than double what I was in my mid 30’s. We take a lot of great family trips, spend countless hours relaxing as a family in our insanely nice backyard with a pool, have more patience for our kids than we ever would have in our 20’s. Money is never an issue which eliminates any stress around paying for trips, sports, camps, activities.

    Only downside to waiting longer is we will be getting long in the tooth by the time we ever become grandparents. I also plan on retiring in less than 5 years with a 12 and 14 year old at home. Looking forward to it. Might pull them out of school for a semester and take an extended trip somewhere. Good to have options. Will be spending winters in Florida by the time my kids are late teens headed off to college.

  36. My wife told me that she wanted a puppy or a baby about 3 years ago. We picked up Col. Stars and Stripes from the shelter 2 weeks later.

  37. We started trying for a baby when I was 35 and my wife was 30. We felt it was the right age / stage of life, both biologically and financially. BOOM, twin boys, done and done. We toyed with having a third, but twins are pretty intense and as you said, much more difficult than expected. A third kid would require major lifestyle changes, bigger car, etc. But mostly, we just feel that to have another baby, we should be certain that we want another baby, and we were honest with our reservations. Twin boys it is. I’m only 41 now but their energy is astounding.

    I have a buddy who just turned 46. He and his wife had one boy, and wanted a 2nd. Took them a while, so they got IUI, and … BOOM BOOM BOOM, triplets. Triplets. So now he’s 46 years old, has 4 kids, and lives with his in-laws so they can help with feedings and so on. Just unreal. His life just took a big turn. He’s happy, but tired.

    What I’ve learned about having a family is that any decision before having a baby pales in comparison to actually having a baby. As Jim Gaffigan describes it: “Imagine you are treading water in the ocean, trying to keep from drowning, and then someone throws you a baby.”

    I’m not sure there’s a “right” way to go about starting a family, as in age, finances, etc. But I do think there’s a suboptimal way. If one doesn’t feel good about relationships, career, educations, and so on, adding a baby to the mix is probably not the best plan. Just my opinion of course.

  38. My wife and I were in our mid thirties when we had our first kid and 17 months later we can say that for us being around your early to mid 30s is the best time to have kids. That along with being in a stable financial situation really helps. For me, when I was in my 20s i never had the thought of having a baby just because i wasn’t financially ready yet and didn’t meet my wife until i was 29.
    Being a SF resident as well we had to save more and be a smart spender go get a pretty good net worth. It was a long road for us financially and now we are ready to buy a home and hope to find one the in Bay Area so we can build memories with our baby.

  39. Paper Tiger

    I’m definitely the outlier in this group. I got married at 35 and we had our one and only daughter a month short of my 41st birthday. My wife was 37. This next week we send her to the East Coast for her Freshman year in college and in October I turn 60. Where in the world did that time go?

    I think early to mid-30’s probably is the optimum age. For me, I’m glad I didn’t marry sooner because I don’t think I had the maturity to be a good husband and father much earlier. I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer. My daughter and I have been very close so I don’t think to have her later in life impacted our relationship that much. The downside is I probably won’t get to see my future grandkids grow up to adulthood and that will be a bummer.

  40. Passive Investor

    I’ve had many conversations about this lately with my wife. I’m probably overly anxious about wanting to have my future kids college, daycare, braces, healthcare, etc all paid for before their born. I’m probably a bit unhealthy in that regard.

    Since we want 3 kids and also to be involved grandparents who are healthy enough to shoot hoops or go on a hike with our grankids, we plan to space kids out at age 27, 30, and 33 (assuming our bodies allow us to).

    We are 26/25 now, and have $3,000+/month in passive income that we have built specifically with the goal of paying for added child costs, so our savings does not stagnate when we have kids. NW is about $450k, but I focus very little on net worth, more on passive income.

    1. Hello,

      30 and 33? You might be 60-65 when your kids have kids. Then
      With luck you see them get to 15-20 years old. So ..

  41. Great post. Love how analytical you are on these kinds of decisions! The data / charts are terrific as well.

    We are parents are 4 kids that we had from ages 27 – 35 (26 – 34 for my wife). We had only 5-figure net worth when we had our first child (long graduate school programs, unfortunately), and definitely feel like young parents relative to a high-education peer group.

    For most people, there’s *no perfect time* to have kids. I’ve observed so many friends waiting and waiting and waiting for that time to come, only to realize by mid-30s that you have to just pull the trigger at some point. Thus, if you know you want to have kids and you’ve found the right person, just go for it. Having kids in late 20s has been such a blessing for us, despite the weaker financial ability at the time (which did cause stress from time to time, but we made it just fine!).

    All things considered, I think Sam is right on target with the trade-off considerations, but I lean slightly younger for the final answer. I would say 27-34 being the optimal age range for females and 30-37 being the optimal age range for males. When to get started also depends a lot on how many you want to have (since you’re constrained by age).

    Super post – hang in there new dad!

  42. I’m glad you mentioned infertility and treatment, just consider that it might delay the timeline significantly – and most people never expect it can happen to them.

    We were trying for a year without success, then underwent 9 more months of testing and failed IUIs before conceiving via IVF, so that’s a delay of nearly 2 years just to have our first child – I’ll be 33. (And for some couples it takes multiple rounds of IVF, or have multiple miscarriages, etc., prolonging the process).

    The upside is we now have extra embryos in storage, so hopefully #2 will be easier.

    I think yes, be financially stable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “upper middle class comfort.” Due to disciplined financial habits, we were stable and ready at far below your recommended income range.

    The woman’s job situation is pretty important to consider – does she get any leave? Paid or unpaid? If she stops working, can you survive on one income? If she goes back to work, will your budget cover day care, which can be expensive?

    Planning is key, as is having a decent cushion of savings… So start preparing long before you actually want to have a kid!

  43. ummm…regarding last comment that ‘I’ll regret not having my baby sooner because I will wish i spent more time with him/her’ or something to that effect: NO way! I loved having my 20’s to build my career and friends and have fun. had my first baby at 32 and was so happy I had an established career and marriage by then. I suspect you added that quote at the end Sam because you had a baby in your 40’s.

    1. Well of course. I did start the post saying I’m an old new parent at 40, and ended the post saying 32 years old is the ideal age and in my opinion.

      Is having your first child at 32 years old and being happy different from the ideal age of having your first child at 32 years old as indicated in my post?

      You don’t wish you had your child when you’re earlier at 31 years old or 30 years old?

  44. Steve Adams

    Talk about over thinking it. If you are reasonably responsible have kids after marriage and at least one job. Have them sooner rather then later, because the job can be exhausting.

    They don’t have to cost ten million dollars each. If you remind them (and yourselves) that they could be poor and alive or rich and unborn what do you think they will choose?

    P.S. Low income/low wealth doesn’t have to equal ‘poor’.

    1. What do you think are the downsides of planning given the cost and time required to raise the child? When did you start your family and how was your financial situation at the time? Thanks

  45. I don’t think one needs $1 million to give birth to a child. I had much less, but I was doing well in my career and we’ve had money to provide and then some. She’s almost 6 now. We have another on the way in a week or so. This one was IVF; we did multiple IUIs when we lived in Florida but didn’t work, one IVF that didn’t work, they tied her tubes and cleaned scar tissue (probably why the IUIs didn’t work), and second IVF worked. The cost was covered by employer’s health insurance (hence a good reason why I moved, even though they forced me to leave FL).

    1. Forgot to add, I’m almost 42. I do wish I had children sooner, however, for #1, wife had a lot of health issues before that, and before that, I couldn’t find a girl. For #2, we had been trying for 3 years, and with 5 IUIs and 1 failed IVF, this is how long it took.

  46. Working Optional

    I think the age could be somewhat different for everyone, it all depends on where you are; you need to be mentally and financially stable (enough), and ready for it.

    I had my first kid when I was 32, which kinda worked out for me.

    On the flip side, if you’re mature enough but don’t have the finances completely figured out, then that’s still ok. If you’re ready to have a baby, you’ll figure out a way to make it work. Priorities shift once you’re a parent and $5 lattes and avocado toasts go out the door (had to throw than in there :)).

    I guess what I’m saying is that different strokes for different folks, and you gotta do what works for you.

  47. I think the best time to start having kids is at about age 28 and on. This allows enough time to enjoy adulthood and start earning money at work. It’s not necessary to have a very high net worth at this point since there are many years left to let it grow.

  48. I love how gangsta the kid in the feature image looks. She’s just chillin’ in the pool like, “sup?”

    I think your decision to have children after financial independence/retirement is ideal. You kind of hit a sweet spot of money and fertility. It’s not something that everyone has the option for, but for those that have it, it’s smart.

    In older/traditional societies, grandparents typically played a large role in raising children, and homes weren’t so “nuclear”, and instead were multi-generational. This allows for younger, less experienced parents to have kids, with more people around to provide guidance and assistance.

    In today’s developed society, where household size keeps diminishing, where it’s hard to support a household with one income, and where student debt is a 10x larger issue than it was even 10-20 years ago, I couldn’t imagine the financial burden and stress of having a child in my 20’s, especially since I’m already supporting a parent while in my 20’s. Supporting two different generations at this point would be tough. Even now with a high income, while doable, wouldn’t leave a hefty savings rate after all that.

    I’m infertile unfortunately, but my partner and I have considered the idea of adoption when we’re maybe in our early forties. My finances are really solid right now but I would not want to be responsible for children until I’m like 200% financially independent. Neither of us seem to have a very strong maternal/paternal instinct right now.

    And this article totally reminds me of this:

    1. Hilarious! I had never heard of the movie.

      I think the ideal age is 32, therefore eight years late. But now that I have him, maybe it’s just the right time. I’m just hoping to live long enough so that he become an independent man. So only in the end will we know what the right time was.

  49. I became a first time father at 36. Now in my 40’s I somewhat wish I had them younger. Physically I feel the body breaking down already and wonder what it would’ve been like to have them 10 years earlier.

  50. Sarah (Smile & Conquer)

    It’s funny, I had old parents (they were both in their 40’s when they had me), and as a teenager/early20’s I always swore I would be a young parent because it used to bother me that I always had the oldest parents (stupid right). Now I’m 31, don’t have kids, and they really aren’t even in the short-term plans. I’m actually still undecided about having kids at all, but if I do, I’ll also be an older parent.

    I think it’s a lot more normal now to have kids later, compared to when I was a kid. And you are so right about being in a better place financially before deciding to have children.

  51. Make your kids’ study habits a priority, limit them to in state public universities and insist they get a vocational major (engineering, business, accounting) and they should get nearly free rides from scholarships, and if not, cash flowing it should be doable. We raised two engineers and a business major that way, basically for zero college cost to us and zero loans. All well employed and completely self sufficient. Investments you make in raising disciplined kids pay off when they go to college.

  52. I’m in my 30’s and my husband is in his 40’s, I asked my husband if he would have preferred to have our child earlier and he said no, lol. I didn’t even get married in my 20’s so I think early to mid thirties is a good option to get married and raise children. In my late 20’s I was still figuring out who I was, getting another post secondary degree to further advance my career, so I wasn’t ready for children then. It’s hard to go back to school once you have children, and then you might always wonder ‘what if’. If I had my child 10 years earlier I would be worried about money and that added stress isn’t great for raising children. That being said, everyone has different life paths so what works for one might not work for another.

  53. Ms. Conviviality

    Age 33 for me. This would have allowed for the two desired kids before age 35. Not that this plan worked out at all. My thought was that since science shows that the health of the baby and conception goes downhill after age 35 I would hold off on having children as long as I could. Heck, if science said 40 was the new 35 then my target age would have been 38.

    1. I think it’s pretty tough to have two kids in two years or three years for that matter. The amount of energy required in the first year is brutal if you really want to spend a lot of time with your kid. And then the body takes at least four months to heal, and nine months to get back to where it was fully.

      So to expand on this article, I need to put in a addendum for how many kids you want as a key variable for age as well.

  54. I find this post both interesting and funny. No offense meant at all. I have just been thinking about this exact stuff recently.
    We are both 28 and are done having kids. We got married at 21, had our kids at 22,24,&26. We were in debt when our daughter came along, barely out of college. She’s actually what triggered our debt free journey and that led to our FI journey.
    We have figured out that if we had waited, we would have put it off waiting for the “right time”. We are and have always been a one-income family. So if we had had two incomes, it would have been much harder to drop to one income, possibly lowering the number of kids we would have had in the end. So, statistics and finances aside, if you are with the right person, you should be ready to have kids. Maybe not as soon as you get married, but waiting for the right time means you will be waiting for a long time.
    This isn’t the rule, of course. We could very well be the exception. But we have paid off debt, moved multiple times, are working toward FI, all while having 3 kids and living off one income.

    1. Congratulations for starting your family so early and feeling comfortable with that decision.

      As you mentioned, there is a trade-off. Some people really want to focus on their careers after high school or college. The more education they have, usually the more they want to get a return out of that education since it cost so much time and money. And given education is slowly getting diluted, people are getting even more education to run in place.

      Time and time again I have witnessed people make it work with barely any money. So I definitely don’t think a couple needs to have their finances in order before having kids. I just think it’s nice to spend some time seeing what you can do it in your career and getting a solid financial footing before raising children. There might be less stress and more intact homes as a result. This is a good thing for society I would think.

      25 years ago, I would’ve chosen 28 years old is the ideal age to have a kid. Hopefully were now all living longer, so I’m going with 32 years old instead.

  55. My wife and I are expecting our first child in October. I am 30 and she is 31; we have been together for 10 years. It took nearly 2 years for us to become pregnant (one miscarriage). We are comfortable with our income and feel we are financially ready. I think we are at a perfect age to expand our family.

    1. Congratulations! I hope the pregnancy goes well. I’d love for you to come back to me six months after the birth of your child, and then a year and let me know whether the age was appropriate for you guys.

      In my experience, no amount of thinking could’ve prepared me for the realities of parenthood.

  56. I would argue that the ideal age is different for men and women; I don’t think this is controversial – in the average hetero couple the man is 2-3 years older. I think it’s also realistic (thought maybe somewhat more controversial) to say that the income number matters a bit more for the man since during late pregnancy and soon after childbirth most women don’t/shouldn’t work full time and the partner will probably be doing most of the financial providing except in cases of rare cushy jobs with good maternity benefits. So I would say maybe early 30s for a man and late 20s for a woman would be a good balance. Of course, if you want to have multiple children the first child should probably come earlier.

    That said, family planning is not about ideal ages! If you are a relatively frugal and devoted couple, you can have children much younger and end up just fine. I know families with 4 or 5 children who started as young as 22 and ended up extremely happy and successful. I think it’s more about whether you feel you can provide a basic roof overhead and enough time and love to a child, more than any age or income target. There’s surely more to life than career and money, and family is one of the things that takes precedence.

  57. My mom has been pestering me everyday: “when are you going to have a baby? Who’s going to take you to the hospital when you are old?” That’s the traditionally Chinese mentality lol.

    I am in my late 20s, but really haven’t being thinking much about kids. It’s interesting that a couple in their 40s that I look up to, double income ($200k/couple) and no kids. All they do is travel and having a blast. The funny thing is that the guy looks way younger than his younger brother. He always joke is because he has no kids. But it may really be the case.

    1. Raising a kid is more difficult than I could’ve ever imagined. People say it’s difficult, but the true difficult it is probably 2X whatever you can imagine, at least from my experience.

      My last paragraph in this article rings true. If you end up having a kid, you’ll wish you had him or her years earlier. But then would you be where you are today if you had your kid years earlier? That is the conundrum.

      1. What’s causing it to be difficult? Health of the baby related issues? I could imagine if you don’t have a healthy baby that raising a kid can be very difficult, but if they’re healthy, there’s not much to it. (I’m speaking from having only one healthy child, dual income house-hold, with no relatives within driving distance).

        1. The fear of uncertainty for his health and his future. I’m slowing beginning to let go, as this is new to me.

          Were you a full time dad? I’ve found it difficult to always be on 24/7, along with my wife because we have enjoyed so much freedom these past few years. I think raising a child would be much easier if you could disappear for 12 hours a day, but that’s not what I want.

          1. Wife and I both work full time jobs, so we send the kid to daycare. I would definitely consider some daycare, even if part time. It gives the kid some structure and interaction with other kids each day. I can’t see how this would be a negative. Heck even exposing the kid to getting sick can be seen as a benefit (building up immunity!).

  58. Hi Sam,

    I was 28 and my wife was 26 when we had our daughter. The only negative we saw at that age was we still wanted to party a little bit. Now she’s 17 and were 46 and 44 and we can go to eat whenever we want or go on a overnight trip. The difference now is that instead of going out we’d rather get takeout and watch Netflix.

    In hindsight I think 30 years old would have been the perfect age.

    Thanks, Bill

    1. Thanks Bill. I think your situation is pretty good. Now that I’m 40, mid 40s doesn’t seem far away at all. I think it would be great to experience adulthood together for as long as possible. The longer we are around to help, maybe the better our children’s lives will be.

      I think I was done with partying by the time I was 26. But that might’ve been because I started going out when I was 13 years old.

  59. It probably depends how many children you want as to when you should start having them. We have three kids and the first was at 29 and the last one at 35. I was a lot more tired for our third but luckily she was an easy baby. I “retired” last year at 38 to stay home with the kids when our youngest was almost 3, but we definitely weren’t in a position for me to do that until then. I was lucky in that I had daycare in my building when I was working and very flexible bosses.

  60. Jack Catchem

    I fell into the 30s range for my two. However we ran according to a different metric: PERSONAL SAFETY. I didn’t want children until I was 1) no longer a Marine Corps Infantryman {Bullet-Sponge} 2) had a steady job & 3) a house.

    I did not know if this would ever occur, but thanks to the weird gyrations of life, the magic metric was hit. You certainly aren’t overplaying the stress children place on relationships. I’m glad my wife & I had 13 years to get our relationship straight before adding the minions to the squad.

  61. This is a tough question. From a physical standpoint it is much better to have kids in your 20’s. I run around chasing our two little ones and by the end of the day I am exhausted.

    If you wait until your 30’s you have a better shot at financial independence. This is what we did, but ended up with some issues getting pregnant. We ended up on the IVF track and were successful. That was a complete roller coaster ride.

  62. Numbers that can be added to the consideration is, 1. # of kids the family wants, 2. the age gap between kids. For example, for a 2-3 kids family size, the optimal window may be stretched to something like 25-35. If people can manage to hit the milestones perfectly (having some savings, stable lifestyle, etc. before kids), 27-30-33 for 3 kids or 28-31 for 2 kids, looks optimal, lol.

    1. You make a very good point and I will make this point in the post. I am biased because I don’t think about having more than two kids due to our bandwidth and the amount of orphans and foster children that need a home.

  63. I say the earlier the better, mid to late 20s. Risk of miscarriage is not the only biological issue with increasing age. Parents’ genes also develop defects with each passing year that have some chance of being passed on to offspring. This increases the risk of autism and other health issues from birth to adulthood and beyond.

    While finances are very important, I think the biological factors outweigh the financial factors. One can always make money but we can’t improve the genes we pass on (unless we genetically screen our sperm and eggs, I suppose).

      1. Early 40s. Eight figure net worth.

        Should have had kids in 20s, but tough to do because I wasn’t married, still girl-chasing. ;-)

        As a side benefit, if I had started a family in my 20s, I’d probably be sitting on a nine figure net worth now. For me, single life was way more expensive (time-wise and money-wise) than a family life.

  64. The statement I find to be most true in this post is “you will love him or her like you’ve never loved anyone before.” I never knew how much my parents loved me until I had a child.

    My wife and I got married just out of college enjoyed a few years as newly weds. Then in our late 20’s we had 2 children. Any later would have not worked for my strategy to be a GrandDad.

    We were working to be financially successful while the kids were growing up and it gave us a great opportunity to teach good financial practices to our children as they grew up. My grown daughter said to us one day, “When we were growing up you were fake poor”. We taught them to live within your means and always save and invest rather than spend on things that had no value.

    1. Mr. Freaky Frugal

      Yep, having a child drastically alters your life and worldview. I think I was pretty selfish before I had children, but afterwards I always put them first. I would have sacrificed my life for them without hesitation. It was a strange feeling for me.

      I remember asking my Dad after I and my siblings were adults whether he still worried about us. He said “I always worry a little”. That is so true for me now with our own adult sons. Not that I have any real reason to worry.

      Mrs. Freaky Frugal and I had our first son at 30 and our second son about 2.5 years later.

  65. I was just over 30 when we had our first (my wife is 28) and I am so glad we were financially stable/comfortable before having a kid. Our Net Worth is only about 160k right now and we save 40% of our income, make 145k combined in MN.

    While the costs add a bit of stress (mostly trying to maintain the savings rate) I couldn’t imagine wondering how we were going to pay for everything on top of adjusting to being parents.

    There is an emotional maturity piece to this as well, if you aren’t ready to give up “doing whatever the hell you want whenever you want” don’t have kids yet

  66. My son was born 2 months before I turned 26. At the time my husband was 31. I loved our timing – I had just made VP at my firm a few months before his birth, I had a 4 month paid maternity leave policy, we had no debt, and we had an income/net worth level that allowed my husband to be a stay-at-home dad. So far, having kids at a younger age has been amazing. It made pregnancy and recovery easier, we have tons of energy to spend with him, and I know I’ll still be relatively young when he (& his future sibling) are out of the house. If you are financially prepared, I always argue for having kids sooner rather than later!

    1. Question. How do you balance work, child raising, and the feelings of doing both? Every time I work, I feel guilty not spending time with my son when he is awake. Therefore, I work less. I don’t think I’d be able to function well at a full-time job because all I wanted do is spend time with my son when he’s growing so quickly. I asked my wife this as well, and she said she would absolutely not want to ever go back to FT work now.

      It almost seems like every day, and at least every week there is some new milestone or growth in features. I just can’t imagine missing any of them. I also have a tough time sending him to day care before preschool. I’ve got to work through some of these issues because letting go is difficult.

      1. Ha, um, it sucks! It helps a little that my husband is home and that he sends me tons of pictures and videos (we always video chat for lunch), but on really busy days I actually have to ask him not to. It makes me feel way too guilty and distracted.

        I truly enjoyed my job before having kids, now it kind of rips me to shreds. The little man went through a phase about a month ago (~17 months) where he would scream and cry, “Mommy no go!” when I tried to leave for work in the morning. That was fantastic.

        I don’t want to miss a minute of these early years when they are changing so fast, but I try to comfort myself that with luck they’ll never remember me not being home and that I’ll get more time with them than the vast majority of parents. Yes, it would be great to have known about FIRE before having kids and having the ability to be more prepared, but I’m glad I found out about it as early as I did.

  67. Yay! I love this post Sam. It’s exactly what my husband and I are doing! I like the way you phrased it: engineering parenthood. I just called it: I wanna be rich so I don’t have to deal with half the things my poor parents and I had to deal with. Financially it makes sense to wait until your later 30s.

    I feel guilty sometimes, it seems everyone is expecting a baby from us for some reason. My moms probably seeking a voodoo priest ATM for fertility medicine.

    Recently he made it clear he would like children some day. And I’m on board (IF it’s a boy haha, I got a 50/50 shot! :P)

    I’ve also discussed with him about getting an egg donor/surrogate before and he’s very resistant but I’m probably going to get my way. My husband is smart and handsome whereas I’m none of the above. How much does a pretty supermodel’s egg cost? We’ll save up for that! xD

    1. If you want one, have one earlier rather than later. Nothing in life ever goes 100% like we planned, and sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we have everything under control. But nature and life have their own way. Trying for a baby earlier means higher chance of conceiving and higher chance of a healthy child.

  68. People are definitely waiting longer overall to have a baby. But I’m wondering if later on they regret not having kids a bit earlier. It’s never really the “perfect” time to have kids because there’s always something going on in life. But because of health risks, abortion, etc. like you mentioned sooner is better, all things being equal. Plus there’s some things money can’t buy like being able to run around a soccer field kicking a ball with your kid while you still have the stamina and health to do so :-)

  69. We underwent IVF and it was expensive (I even wrote a few posts about it). As for baby raising, get your financial house in order before bringing another stressor into your lives. Having a child is amazing. Absolutely amazing, but it is hard work. If you are not mentally, financially, and emotionally ready then it is going to be a harder road. Not impossible, just harder.

    We are fortunate to have had a strong marriage before having a child and made a deliberate decision to have our son. I think family planning is huge and one that should not be under appreciated.

    That being said, I have friends who had kids in their late 20s (they were financially stable by then) and I see the benefits of being young when you have children. They will be in better health throughout their kids lives and able to see them grow and participate more fully in their lives for longer.

  70. Ms. Raggedly Rich

    I really want kids, but I know that I don’t want them with my current situation. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would be able to make it work, but I would have to sacrifice my career (in the arts, currently not really a money-maker even though I am advancing) in order to provide for them. I’m also really grateful that I didn’t have kids with my past relationship, since we’d be living in two separate provinces, and we didn’t see eye-to-eye on money matters.

    I’m willing to wait until the time is right! And 32 actually seems like a really appropriate age for me, as things currently are. Then again, you can plan all you want, but you never know what’s actually going to happen.

    That being said, my parents had my brother when they were in their early/late twenties, and immigrated to Canada when he was 4. I was born the first year they were here, and while they were able to provide us with all the necessities and extras (sports, school, vacations, etc), they came here with a pile of luggage and a handful of money. Their story turned out to be one of the good ones, but I know not everyone has the capacity, ability, personality, or luck to be able to make that happen.

    1. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met people who have said they dodged a bullet not having kids with their previous relationship. In a relationship, everything they feel perfect. But we know that most relationships in, and many times people ask themselves what they were thinking.

      I need to add another point to my post. If the ideal age to have a child is 32 years old, then you should start trying one or two years earlier since your average time it takes to conceive is about 7 to 8 months if you have no issues.

  71. I just had my first in April and I am 37, wife is 36. I would agree the best age is early 30s. I had a decent nest egg saved up, entering prime for career, etc. I had to admit, I do feel old sometimes picking him up.

    1. I would agree, had our first at 33, last at 38. I’m 51 now…feeling old to stay up for teenagers. But financially we are good so I do agree with waiting until our 30’s. Unfortunately though lots of infertility issues on our part. That’s the problem if you wait too long.

      1. I am going for number 2 pretty soon, don’t want to wait in case we have any problems. Wife will be 37 in 2 weeks!

  72. I typically argue that it’s best to have babies as early as possible. Most people are pretty bad with saving money whether they have kids or not, but most people only go into as much debt as they can reasonably handle. So if you have you’re done having kids by 30, then your kid related costs are done by 50ish. At that point you’ve got two full incomes, and up to 2 decades to build wealth or at least pay down debt.

    Not to say I’ve done a great job following my own advice. We want a few more kids and I’m already 29 :/

    1. Now that is some interesting logic! Start sooner get done sooner and have more time to work!

      I guess because I’m so focused on financial independence sooner rather than later, children slow down financial independence. Therefore, I wrote this post to figure out a better balance.

  73. While I agree with your post in general, and though it is very important to be financially responsible before having a child, it is not necessary to have $200,000 – $500,000 saved to before having a child. Just be responsible and start to have excess that can be directed toward savings that will result in enough to pay for a child’s needs and education before having a child.

    Know your own personality’s risk tolerance. Some may not want to have a child until their finances are completely under control and their current savings exceed all possible future expenses. Others are able to stomach the risk and hope that the direction of their current finances is good enough that they will have suffucient assets to cover future expense by the time those expenses arise.

    Also, the best age to have a child might not be the best age to have your first child if you choose to have more than one. If you plan to have two children, then you should adjust your plan accordingly.

    1. At what age did you have your first child? and what was your net worth? The post attemps to analyze the ideal biological and economical age to minimize potential trauma to the child during their upbringing. Thx

      1. I had my first child when I was 27 and just graduating from law school. I had been married about 4 years. My net worth was negative because I had student loan debt from law school. I think personally I was in a bad financial position to have a child.

        However, grandparents on both sides wanted grandchildren around and were willing and able to help out should we need it. So while I could barely provide everything for my first child when we had him, the generation above would ensure that he would never suffer should I for some reason not be able to provide. However, Inever needed financial help from either side of the family.

        Ten years later I now have four children. Zero debt. About $300,000 net worth. My net worth is growing faster each year thanks to reading financial blogs like yours and making the smart choice to save what we could and invest intelligently. By the time my first goes to college, I expect to hit a net worth target of a couple million dollars.

        My original post about risk tolerance and future net worth is baded on my own life. I have a high risk tolerance I had a bright future (hedging my bet with grandparents). I took a big risk having four children while I was in my late twenties and early thirties. Things could have ruined our plans. But they haven’t. Do I recommend my choices to others? I don’t know.

        At this point as you surely feel about your child, the love I have for my children is indescribable. I would not exchange a year of my life with my children for a million dollars extra today. But I don’t wish I had my kids any sooner. I think I had them at just the right time.

        1. Very interesting point you bring up about having a financial safety net through your parents or grandparents. I didn’t think about that point as a reason for why having children earlier could be OK.

          In a way, it’s kind of like doing whatever you want with your career if you have a trust fund. If you know you cannot fail financially, then you’re more willing to take a lot of risks to do whatever you want.

  74. Charles Sarahan II

    You are correct that a person should not be raising a baby if they can’t afford them. Both mom and dad need to be around. Unpopular but correct stance. One thing you didn’t mention was adoption. We were 35 when we took on some preteens (willingness to take any kid over 5 puts you in front of line – a sad statement indeed). They put us through the ringer but we would do it all over again. That does not mean I consider them successes. Some of their choices were totally stupid. However, we love them like biological kids. They do not consider themselves adopted and in that, we have been totally successful.

    1. Adoption is great, and I went through a three hour adoption seminar. Adoption will be the subject of a new post. If you would like to write a guest post about your experience I would welcome it.I have a post about fostering children in the pipeline. Thanks

  75. I’m considered an older parent because my girls were born when I was 35 and 39 respectively. We didn’t have a choice in the matter. My wife has had six miscarriages so we’re extremely grateful to have even two children.

    We’re definitely in a better financial situation but it sure would be nice to still be around when my grandchildren are adults. If my daughters decide to wait, too, for children, I’ll be in my late 60’s or early 70’s.

    1. Oh man, sorry for the rough situation. May be the ideal age it is closer to 28 or 29 then. People just don’t realize how often miscarriages happen.

      At least now you guys are super motivated to eat healthy, exercise and live as long as possible! I know I am. I really want to live for the next 30 years to see my son grow up to be a man and find his own family one day.

  76. Is that your adorable baby in the photo? Congratulations on fatherhood. Your last line is so very well expressed! I wish your family much joy in and with each other.

    1. It’s not. But I thought it was an adorable photo. Thanks for the well wishes. I think my son is much cuter, but I don’t have his permission to post his picture :-)

  77. I believe you should only have a baby when you and your partner have their financial situation under control.

    As you said Sam, babies are an added expense. If you are struggling to stay afloat yourself how could you expect to raise a child?

    The thing is some people don’t plan to get a baby but it happens unexpectedly and sometimes when they aren’t entirely ready to be a parent.

  78. The Luxe Strategist

    I don’t have a baby, but I agree with you economically: late 20s-early 30s. I think it’s important to have fun when you’re in your 20s and you still have time to get your financial act together.

    However, recently on social media I saw my high school classmate’s kid. She had him when we were seniors in high school and the kid is now a teenager. I thought, hmm, wouldn’t it be nice to be in your lower 30s and basically be DONE raising your kid?

    1. Oh yeah I’ve seen this approach. I knew a teen mom who counted that by the time she’s 36, her eldest kid will be out of the house.

      This makes me questioned though…why become a parent is you’re treating it like this is something you want to get over with? Its about savouring the moment right? Not so overworked on two jobs to barely see the kids…

      It shouldn’t be pump and dump (make sure they don’t starve and get them to 18). I think parenthood should have an art to it, a purpose and a better reason than just creation for the sake of creation.

      1. Working Optional

        Parenthood does have a purpose to it (more than pump and dump) and it’s very fulfilling.
        But its also hard – some days more than others – especially if you’re trying to do it right. You can’t take a vacation from it (except for a fingers-crossed date night). Hence, you tend to put parts of your life on hold, and the ‘dump’ is more about getting back to the things you want to do…before you croak :)

      2. The Luxe Strategist

        Hmm, I didn’t say anything about “pumping and dumping.” I think it’s pretty obvious that kids are more dependent when they are young, and get less so as they get older. You shouldn’t interpret my comment to mean you should treat kids like crap while you’re raising them. What I’m saying is that it is natural for a parent to feel a sense of relief at the conclusion of years and years of massive outlays of time, resources, and energy. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

        1. I had my son when I was 28, and I was NOT ready to be a mom. I wanted to wait until my husband finished his graduate degree and got a job so that at least we could be together and financially secure.

          Now that my husband graduated and has a job, we’re thinking about having a 2nd baby. But due to his job prospects, we may have to do long-distance again, so we’re not ready to have another baby yet. Even when we can finally be together after a 2nd phase of long-distance, there’s so much we want to figure out before popping out another kid.

          That just goes to show that at least for us, there’s no perfect time to have a baby. However, since I’m already 30, I feel like we just can’t wait forever, women over 30 tend to have more pregnancy complications than those who are younger.

    2. I think it would be great to be done raising a child before you turn 40. Being more similar in age might be able to produce a better friendship and relationship overall with your children.

      But it’s because I’m feeling good at 40 that I feel this way. If I had a kid or two in my early 20s or in college or in high school, I’m not sure whether I would’ve been able to happily survive until this age with my partner or feel financially secure.

      It’s worth living a little for yourself after high school or college and seeing what you can do before having kids. Then you’ll never wonder what you could’ve done and then be willing to give more of yourself to your children.

      My time is over now. I’m happy with what I accomplished in the first 40 years of my life. The transition is still difficult, but I am anxiously looking for to helping out my son for the next 20 years.

      1. I’m SO glad I didn’t attempt motherhood before my 30’s. I’m not a parent yet, but I’m seriously contemplating it for after I pay off my student loans.

        Had I attempted being a parent in my 20’s, I know for sure I would have been shortchanging the poor kid. I would have been far too immature, financially insecure and stretched for time to handle that amount of responsibility.

        I LOVE that you chose 32 as the best time to have a kid. I’m thinking 32 – 33 myself :o)

      2. Part of the timing is also tied to when you meet your mate. I met my husband at 31 and he was 36 at the time. Short of getting pregnant right after we met (no!), timing and life put us at having our son at 35 and 40. We tried for many years for a second one but it just didn’t happen and I am now 43. I don’t ever think there is a perfect age or time, just better. Better financial resources, better stage of your career. Thanks for putting together an article that managed to highlight the financially realities of being a parent. All 20 somethings should read this…

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