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.
As a 45-year-old dad of a 5-year-old and a 3-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 in mid-December 2019. 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.
Recommendations For All Parents
1) Get term life insurance.
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us is that tomorrow is not guaranteed. All parents need to get a term life insurance policy to cover all liabilities and expenses until their children are independent adults. The easiest way to compare quotes is by checking rates for free on Policygenius.
My wife was able to double her life insurance coverage (to match mine) and pay less with Policygenius. Policygenius gets qualified life insurance carriers to compete for your business.
As a result, you can see multiple customized quotes all in one place. The pandemic has hammered home the importance of having life insurance to protect our families. I felt huge stress relief after both my wife and I were able to get new 20-year term life insurance policies.
2) 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 Personal Capital’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.
Once you’re done inputting your planned saving and timeline, Personal Capital with run thousands of algorithms to suggest what’s the best financial path for you. You can then compare two financial scenarios (old one vs. new one) to get a clearer picture. Just link up your accounts.
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!
I’ve been using their free tools since 2012 to analyze my investments and I’ve seen my net worth skyrocket since.
3) Read The Best Personal Finance Book
If you want to start a family, you need to get your finances in order. Pick up a copy of my instant Wall Street bestseller, Buy This, Not That: How To Spend Your Way To Wealth And Freedom. The book will help you make better decisions and build more wealth for your family.
You can buy a hard copy of BTNT on Amazon right here. I’m positive the book will provide you at least 100X more value than it costs! The book is based off 25+ years of experience working in finance and writing about finance.
Related posts on family and babies:
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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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.
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.
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
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.
Financial Samurai says
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.
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.
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.
Financial Samurai says
Congrats! You don’t have to imagine. I had my first at 39. Because we no longer need to work, we are both able to take care of our children full-time before they go off to kindergarten.
Having kids early is great. Having kids later can also be great!
Related: Reflections On Being A Stay-At-Home Dad For Two Years
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.
Joe C says
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.
Why would you have 4 kids?! The population is already booming already! 7 BILLION… just adopt if you want more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Solid Investor says
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.
Financial Samurai says
Thanks for your thoughts. Do you have children? If so, what age did you have them?
The Solid Investor says
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.
Lady Butterfly says
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.
Financial Samurai says
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. :-)
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
ZJ Thorne says
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.
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.
Financial Samurai says
It’s not, but I’d like to think my little one is even cuter :)
I haven’t gotten his permission to publish his face online yet, so I’ll just wait.
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…
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…
Financial Samurai says
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!
Sigrid Chu says
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!
Financial Samurai says
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!
Sigrid Chu says
Thank you Sam. Congratulations to you too on your baby! It is true what they say that it goes so fast. Enjoy every moment!
PJ Jonas says
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.
Financial Samurai says
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!
PJ Jonas says
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.
Joe c says
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.
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.
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.
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.