I read a social media post about how people with no kids are constantly asked when they plan on starting a family. The original poster’s answer to the question was simple but poignant: “When I’m financially stable years old.”
The post was meant to be humorous, but there is truth to it. It resonated with me, because I’ve been on the receiving end of this question since getting married in 2016. Years before I got engaged, the question was, “When are you going to settle down?” I thought getting married was enough of a milestone to last a few years, but I was wrong. Just weeks after our wedding, the inquiries started on when there would be a baby Wright.
My reaction has always been a stare of disbelief. The question I ask in response is: “What magical funds are going to support this newborn?” Ok, I’m too passive-aggressive to actually say this to anyone, but the question is still valid. We’re doing well enough that we can afford basic living expenses, but we’re definitely not bringing in the big bucks. Most of the time we’re breaking even. Plus, we still have $50k worth of student loans between us that we have yet to put a dent in. Having a child right now would only be more of a financial strain.
I shared the post about being “financially stable years old” on my newsfeed. One of the responses I got was that you are never really financially prepared for a child. This is somewhat true, but like all things personal finance, the definition of financial preparedness is just that—personal. As I mentioned, my husband and I are fortunate to be able to cover living expenses with a low income. If we had a child now, I believe that we could provide our child with shelter, food, and clothing.
But I want to provide more than the basics for our child. I want to have money saved if they decide to go to college, rather than resorting to student loans. Introduce them to travel, and show them how much there is to experience outside of our hometown. Help them with the funds to start a business, or buy a rental property to pass down to their children. All of my grandparents have passed away, and none of them had a family-owned business, land, or property to leave to their kids. I fear the same thing will happen with my parents because building generational wealth isn’t something that they’ve made a priority.
I think it’s important to break the cycle of families living paycheck-to-paycheck, and leaving the next generation with nothing but memories and photographs. Money can’t buy happiness or make up for the loss of loved ones, but it can certainly make life less stressful to navigate for those that come after us. I would rather be honest with myself, than cave into the pressure of having a child because it’s the next arbitrary step on society’s ladder of life choices. While my husband and I work to make these dreams a reality for our future child, the baby factory is closed until further notice.