If you are a long time reader, you know that we are aiming to become financially independent in about 9 years. I have validated this timeline a few times using the financial independence / early retirement spreadsheet calculator that I created. Although we have a target, Mrs. T and I know that 9 years is a long time and a lot of things can change. This is especially true considering that we have two growing kids that may require us setting more money aside in our monthly budget as they get older. This is why we are not too fixated on an exactly FI date. We are simply executing our FI strategy so our passive income will exceed our expenses one day in the near future. So, given what I know today about having kids and the negative impact to saving money, would I forgo kids just to expedite our financial independence timeline? Can I have kids and still become financially independent in 9 years?
These questions arose when I had a conversation with a co-worker of mine the other day. He and his wife have been trying to conceive for the last half year or so. When I talked to him, he happily announced that they are expecting their first kid. Since being a parent is a complete new territory for my co-worker, he asked me a bunch of questions. It was rather interesting to be in such position, because not too long ago, I was doing the exactly same thing as my co-worker, asking other co-workers about their parental experience.
One of the interesting topics that came up during our conversation was how expensive it is to raise a kid. My co-worker quoted a recent study by Moneysence.ca that the average cost of raising a child to age 18 is $243,660. That equates to $12,825 per child per year, or $1,070 per month. He was completely blown away by these numbers. To add to his surprise, he recently had a sticker shock moment when he started looking at baby items like car seats, cribs, and strollers. He began questioning if they have the financial means to raise a kid.
There is no doubt in my mind that our household expenses have increased since the births of Baby T1.0 and Baby T2.0. I do not believe for a minute that our expenses have increased by 2x $1,070 per month though. Rather, our monthly household expenses have only increased by a small amount since the births of our kids. Perhaps it will increase as they grow up, but I am pretty certain it will never come anywhere close to $2,000 per month.
Which household expenses have increased since the births of our kids?
- We moved from an apartment to a house to have bigger living area
- Property tax
- Building upkeep
- Garden and yard
- Children’s gym
- Swimming classes
In addition to the increasing monthly expenses, there are other factors that can reduce our overall savings rate. For examples:
- We put money aside for RRSP every month. That money could have gone toward adding more stocks in our dividend portfolio.
- It costs more money to travel anywhere with children. Lap infants under 2 cost 10% of the airfare for international travels, kids costs 80% of the regular adult fare.
- It is harder to find time to side hustle and earn extra income.
But having kids may also provide some minor monetary advantages as well…
- We get money via Canada Child Benefit from the Canadian government each month for having kids.
- Our schedules are tied up, hence spontaneous adventures or outings are a thing of the past. Say goodbye to late night beer drinking with friends, or last minute get-together with friends.
- Sleep deprived parents may just decide to go to bed instead of spending money on activities in their spare time [end sarcasm].
Regardless how frugal we are and have been, having kids will have a negative impact on our FI timeline. If we didn’t have kids, I truly believe that we would be able to reduce the 9 year FI timeline to something like 5 or 6 years.
Is having kids worth the extra 4, 5, 6, or whatever extra years it would take us to become financially independent?
Would I trade a faster FI timeline by not having kids if I had the choice, given what I know today?
Two months ago, we started having family meetings every Sunday. Our whole family would sit down Sunday afternoon to discuss the upcoming week. We felt it was important to get Baby T1.0 involved in some of the household planning (Baby T2.0 will get involved once she’s two or so). One of the things that we do during the family meeting is called acknowledgements. This is when each family member says thanks to other family members and acknowledges for something they did the past week.
Since we started our family meetings, Baby T1.0 has been saying “thank you mommy/daddy for playing with me” whenever it was his turn to give acknowledgements.
This past Sunday when it was Baby T1.0’s turn to say thank you to Mrs. T, he paused for a while. It was obvious that he was thinking very hard in that little brain of his.
“Thank you mommy for looking after the kids.”
Both Mrs. T and I got a bit emotional and shed a few tears.
Would I trade a faster timeline to financial independence by not having kids?
It has been truly amazing to be a dad and seeing two wonderful kids grow up in front of my eyes. It is fascinating to see two small individuals that reassemble so much of me. Both kids are learning and doing more and more things each day, and as a dad, I can’t be more proud. It melts my heart to see Baby T1.0 running toward me to greet me every day when I get home from work. Just the other day Baby T2.0 started saying dada. No words can describe the rewards of being a parent.
Sure there are sacrifices both monetary, time, and sleep wise.
But the rewards outweigh all the sacrifices.
Therefore, given the choice today, I will happily take a slightly longer timeline to reach financial independence and have kids than not have kids at all and reach financial independence a few years earlier.
Can I have kids and still become financially independent in less than 10 years?
Dear readers, do you agree with me? If you are a parent, would you forgo kids to become financially independent earlier? If you are not a parent, would you consider having kids knowing that your timeline to become financially independent will be longer?
65 thoughts on “Would I forgo kids to become financially independent earlier?”
It’s nice to read this post from the archives. I’m fully on board with team kids – we have 4. Some additional costs of a larger family include needing a bigger car and a bigger house.
Ever since I read the idea of this article has been on my mind. I don’t have any children of my own. I have 2 nephews who I moved to help with after my sister became ill. Cost me money to leave a good job, sell my place etc, and I spend a tidy sum attending their activities, hauling them to appointments, etc. I would move again to be with them no matter the cost. It was the best investment I’ve ever made. I also sponsor 3 children in developing countries. That is $1500 per year not including extra gifts. Sure I could stop my sponsorships, but I don’t ever want to think one of them went without food or school because I wanted to pad my lifestyle. I’ll probably only know them through their letters and pictures, but they are worth every penny. Children are a blessing and I am grateful the Lord has allowed me to return a portion of my blessing to them.
With someone at home you are really saving a boatload on daycare. Which would be close to 2k a month alone for two kids.
I’ve struggled with the same decision of if we could make it work but both of us make the same amount.
How have you managed to still invest the equivalent of 18k for a 401k for her as well as her 5.5k roth? I thought they have to have “earned income” (what thr gov labels it as) to be able to invest in a retirement account for the spouse? (Solo 401k,ira,roth)
That’s one of the reasons why Mrs. T stays at home.
We are Canadian so we don’t have things like 401k and Roth. We maximize our TFSA (11k worth) each year and maximize RRSP (mine and the spousal one). The rest of the money then go toward taxable accounts for investing purposes.
Love this Tawcan. I didn’t really start our FI journey until my daughter was born but knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t trade her for achieving FI a couple of years earlier. Some of the best moments in my life have involved her and I couldn’t pass those up. That being said, kids are such an individual decision so I would never judge anyone for their decision but for me, my daughter is worth it
I agree with you, some of the best moments in my life have involved my kids as well. Can’t imagine passing them up for something else.
Great article. While I don’t have kids, we are planning to have them and we know that our FI would be delayed. However, I know that the kids would bring joy to our lives. That was particularly driven by my recent visit to my nieces and enjoying my time with them.
In the meantime, we’re pushing hard on our savings (50%) to get a good jumpstart on our retirement and savings to help mitigate the loss of income when I stay home with the kids.
I think parents and parent-to-be have the same general agreement in terms of having kids and FI. Great for you to pushing hard on your savings. 🙂
Great article Tawcan. I also have two kids and I would DEFINITELY not trade earlier FI for my two boys. They are (and will be) much more rewarding than some number in some account. Glad to see your focus is where it should be!
Good call, having kids is much more rewarding than some numbers in some accounts.
Yeah we could reach FI faster, but I wouldn’t put off having kids for that. I’d love to be FI and have both my wife and I home with our kids everyday but the reality is that getting to that “promised land” is hard and even if you’re at that point financially the “one more year” syndrome is likely to kick in because what’s a little bit more cushion or think of the better vacations that you can take. So you’d defeat the purpose anyways. As long as you’re still able to save/invest then you’ll still reach FI just later.
Plus you never know what can happen when you start trying to have kids. My wife and I have been lucky that she’s gotten pregnant really easily so far. But there’s plenty of stories where people struggle for years to get pregnant or even go the in vitro route and it doesn’t take for whatever reason. One last thing regarding having kids is that I’m much happier that we’re building our family while I’m 32, and my wife is around that, than wait for FI which would likely be another 10 years and then start building our family at 42. There’s a huge difference in how your own body feels/reacts to things at 42 compared to 32.
For those that don’t have kids yet or are just out of college and contemplating this I think it just reiterates the importance of starting early. The earlier you start the earlier you can reach FI and in the right situation you might be able to get there before you’re even ready to have kids.
Going to the promised land is tough and you’re correct it’s hard to avoid the one more year syndrome. But you have to pick between having more time or working another year for that extra margin of safety. I definitely know people that have struggled for years to get pregnant. Miscarriage can also happen too, which do make things harder. I definitely agree with you on building the family first then working on FI rather than the other way around. I think it’s harder to have kids when you’re older.
Starting early is very important, you want time to be your ally rather than your enemy.
THANK YOU TAWCAN! As someone who has never worked full time because we had our first kid before I even graduated from graduate school, I can give you a full resounding NO to your question as well. Obviously I have given up some good earnings for the past 8 years by choosing to not work full time, but the priority has always been the kids for us. And that’s why our plans are so loosey goosey as well. We want to have the means to ditch work and travel the world with the kids in a few years… but if they don’t want to do that, we won’t. I want them to dictate a lot of what happens before they leave the house. And in all reality, we won’t be able to hit full FI for another ten years as well, but my oldest will be leaving for school then. I want to leave the options open to quit work earlier and do something crazy!
Mr. T is staying home to look after the kids. I really appreciate her for doing that, especially considering she has a masters degree. But when we look at the cost of daycare, it made sense for her to stay home. Now that we have two kids, our priorities are definitely the kids. Hence for the desire to become financially independent soon so we can spend more time with them.
Yep, no way we’d forgo kids just for hitting FI sooner or at all. Actually, for us the bigger driver to hit FI WAS the kid(s) and having more free time to spend with them. As far as costs, it’s definitely variable based on your situation. Not having a SAH parent means daycare/preschool which is roughly equivalent to our mortgage every month. Those numbers are dropping because our oldest just started kindergarten, but it was a pretty big bill for a while.
If you can avoid that, and are okay with not having every single thing you buy for them be brand new, then I agree that the costs seem inflated.
I think we are on the same page. Having kids definitely made us wanting to achieve FI earlier so we can spend more time with them.
Most of our kids items are 2nd handed. The kids don’t care so why should we care? 🙂
What an excellent topic. My wife and I would definitely NOT forgo financial independence in order to have kids. We don’t see kids in our future and, quite honestly, I don’t see that changing. We don’t want them bad enough, and it’s definitely not fair to the kids to bring them into this world if their parents aren’t 100% on-board with the responsibilities of raising a child.
So for us, there’s no way we’d consider a child – with or without the goal of financial independence.
That totally makes sense. If you don’t have any plans to have kids then it makes no sense to forgo financial independence in order to have kids. Some people are perfectly happy having pets instead of having kids.
Well said. Kids are a lot of work…but our life would not be what it is without them. Before we had them, I had my doubts…but can’t imagine my life now without them 🙂
The biggest expense and impediment to financial independence from a kid cost perspective is childcare until the kid starts school. Assuming an average of $15K to $20K per year, the first 5 years ends up costing $100K. Two kids and you do the math….This is a killer expense…the rest of the costs are manageable. College funding can happen over 16 years and I do not even notice the tiny amounts that go into a college fund each month. If you can manage the first 5 years by getting family help or a stay-at-home spouse, one can get to financial independence a few years early for sure.
Yeah I can’t imagine my life without my kids now. As cliché as it sounds, my kids have completed my life. 🙂
I guess we’re luck when it comes to childcare. Mrs. T is staying home with the kids so we don’t have to pay for childcare. My parents live close by so they can look after Baby T1.0 here and there when necessary. This gives Mrs. T a bit of a break (looking after one kid rather than two). College can be expensive but you have a bit of time to save up for it. It also depends on much you’re helping out for college. While we do plan to pay for post secondary education fully for the kids, things can change. I think it’s good for kids to have a job during college/university to gain better life perspective.
Love the weekly family meetings and very sweet what your son said. It really is the greatest feeling…love it when I come home and my son runs up to me excitedly. Becoming FI is an awesome dream but what would it be if you don’t have loved ones to share it with. Obviously having kids is a personal choice and it’s perfectly fine for those who choose not to have kids, but I don’t think FI should really be much of a factor. Definitely true that kids don’t cost THAT much…but they do come with expenses. For us, it is mainly childcare, having to find bigger housing, bigger vehicle…and not having time to work on side hustles.
We thought the family meeting is great. It’s a great way to plan the upcoming week and making sure everyone is on the same page. Great point, if you don’t have loved ones to share FI with, achieving FI is kind of pointless. I think childcare is probably the biggest child expense for most families but that cost drops down significantly once they start school.
I agree with Mr. Tako above. One of the biggest reasons that I want to reach financial independence is to spend most of my time with my kids. None of that “I can’t go to see your play because I have a late meeting at work” nonsense! Seeing people that already have children recomend the experience just reinforces my decision.
That’s one of the biggest motivators I have for achieving FI. My dad is an early retiree himself and I definitely appreciated him able to attend many of my school activities when I was younger.
Obviously, kids are priceless. But even just looking at the raw consumption numbers I don’t see a noticeable increase after our daughter was born. True, there are some designated kid expenses: diapers, food, even my health insurance premium at work goes up when you go from insuring a couple to a couple + kid(s). But then there’s also less wasteful consumption. Playing with my daughter is great “zero-cost entertainment,” while before our daughter was born we wasted more money on shopping, dining, etc. Now we don’t have the time or energy for that. Or maybe we just became more motivated+frugal thanks to our growing family, as someone as pointed out above. So, all you married couples without kids out there: It’s totally worth it to have kids!!! 🙂
Very true that there are less wasteful consumption. We haven’t eaten out as much for example. There are many things you can do with kids that are free, like spending time on the playground. Before kids I probably wouldn’t be doing that.
We are currently on target to blow past that $243.660…. :-(. Our daycare cost per month are currently about €1100 (that is about CAD1550 per month) this already includes government benefits (and using one of the most economical options for daycare in our area)! We even have one of our parents baby site one day per week. The fortunate thing is that once she goes to school the costs will drop somewhat, but since we both work 40hrs per week, some form of daycare will still be required. However, in the long term we certainly hope that costs will be limited to well below the $243.660.
Yucks. Daycare is expensive. I’m glad that Mrs. T is staying at home with the kids. Baby T1.0 just started preschool but the cost seems to be much lower than your typical daycare…. maybe we’re just sending him to a cheapo preschool ha!
I think the biggest impact is from housing. We have been in the same 2 bedroom condo since before our kid was born. The place is starting to get more cramped now, though. Especially since my mom stays with us about half of the year. We’ll probably move to our bigger place in 2 years or so.
Sure, having a kid could push out FI for a few years, but I think it is worth it.
Yes housing is a big impact, we definitely see that. If we didn’t have any kids we’d probably be still living in the apartment in Vancouver.
I’ve always said that kids are one of the best reasons *for* financial independence…and so far it’s proven true.
In fact, I think we reached financial independence faster after we had kids. Suddenly everything got *focused*. No more eating out, no more expensive weekends. With kids I’m certain our savings rate actually increased.
Totally agree that kids are one of the best reasons for financial independence. Interesting point about becoming more focused once you had kids. I can definitely see that.
I would say that in addition to preferring kids over money, kids are actually a great motivation to reach FI. It’s not just about us anymore, it’s about them.
But I agree that if you put daycare, college, health costs and maybe a car in the mix for junior to go to college, costs can go up very quickly. Day care is already 1000+ a month, so the first few years would be right on your estimate.
That’s a very good point. Now I have kids I want to spend more time with them and show them things. It’s a shame that work takes up so my of my time each day. It’s amazing how much we get done on weekends and long weekends. Part of the reasons to reach FI is definitely to spend more time with them.
Really cool post, Tawcan. I suspect we may not be “done by forty” once we see the impact of a couple kids on our plans. That’s okay.
I suspect most parents agree with you: the benefits far outweigh the costs.
I don’t think any parents would outright say they’d not have kids just so they can retire earlier. The benefits definitely outweigh the costs. Needing a few extra years to become financially independent because you have kids? That’s OK in my book.
In America, we have child income credit, and tax deductions for paying for daycare and tuition. If your wife is a homemaker, then the cost of daycare is negligible, after all the joy that the children brought to you is priceless.
There are many places that I wish I could have gone as a child, but I didn’t get to go. Now that I have my nieces and nephews, I’d go to those places… great excuse. LOL:)
We get a lot of tax deductions for having kids too here in Canada, so yes maybe the net impact isn’t as big as what moneysense.ca stated.
The joy that the kids bring to us is indeed priceless.
Have kids, and no wouldn’t forego them to become financially independent earlier. Honestly that seems like a bit of an easy question though; I really have my doubts that any parents will respond with a “Oh YES I’d totally forego them to reach FI sooner!”. Perhaps a more interesting question would be would you have *delayed* children (assuming no negative repercussions, exact same children, etc…) in order to get further along in the quest for FI?
I suppose no parents will respond saying yes they’d forgo kids. 🙂
I guess delaying having kids make some sense but I wouldn’t want to have my first kid when I’m in my mid-40s.
Hi Tawcan, I agree with Tristan that the figure of $250k to raise a child is rather inflated. And having two doesn’t double the cost unless you start buying everything new again. I reckon a smart new parent’s best friend are sites like Gumtree (here in oz) and Craigslist in North America, and other similar trading sites. You can get pretty much everything you need from new-born (think cots, strollers etc) up until they won’t accept used stuff any more like bikes and other toys. You would save a heap of that $250k by buying quality used.
Things definitely do not double with two kids. We have been re-using a lot of things like crib, cloth diaper, and clothes for Baby T2.0. Craigslist and Facebook moms groups are great places to get 2nd hand stuff. Once our kids are older we plan to start selling these baby items to recoup some of the money back. I definitely not buying the numbers from moneysense.ca.
Hey Tawcan, this is a really good topic and question. I think that cost of children figure is rather inflated compared to us as frugal FI people. Like you said, the costs have not gone up anywhere near as much. I’d be interested to know how they calculated that figure.
For us (Jasmin and I) the choice between kids and FI is even more stark. Not only do we have all the normal (expensive) costs of children, but we have to put in many thousands for IVF too. To have over $15K just sitting in cash, not invested, over the last 2 years is a missed opportunity. To spend it all to *try* to have children is even more financially painful. But that’s what we want to do and that’s what we want to do. That $15k, starting at our young age would have compounded into a large amount just by itself.
That’s true, I think the numbers are inflated and probably for average people that aren’t very frugal to begin with.
Jeremy & Winnie at Go Curry Cracker had similar treatments (IVF or some sort) to have their first kid. From all the travels and pictures I see, they are happy with their decision, despite the extra healthcare cost. The joy you get from being a parent will be worth that $15k + compound interest.
As a parent, there is no way I would trade in my child for a faster path to FI. Even as irritating as my job is at times, it is all worth it when I hear an “I love you daddy” once in awhile. I do agree with the others about the crazy high average cost for raising a child number. No chance that is accurate for most situations.
Those sentences are pretty powerful aren’t they? It gets more and more rewarding as they learn to express their feelings.
I think any parent (myself included) would agree with you on this. On the flip side, it doesn’t make the desire to hit FI earlier any less! 🙂
The irony of it for me is that my desire to reach FI stemmed from having my daughter and not being able to spend as much time with her as I wanted. Unfortunately, she’ll be a teenager when I do reach the milestone and then, of course, she probably won’t want to spend any time with me anymore anyway! 🙂
I guess hopefully your daughter will be one of those teenagers that want to spend time with her family. 🙂
I totally agree with you Tawcan but having said that I don’t begrudge families that decide not to start a family. They can be a pain and they are expensive but in the end in my opinion the benefits of having kids far outweigh the costs.
i still regret spending all that time at work trying to get ahead instead of spending more quality time with my family. i can’t change the past but now because I’ve achieved FI i’m very focused on improving my relationship with the kids and things are going pretty well.Luckily I i had time to get things back on track after exiting the corporate world. .
I hope I won’t be on the corporate train for too much longer. I do try to spend as much time with my kids as possible but on weekdays when I’m getting home at 6 or later and kids’ bedtimes are like 7 or 8, we don’t end up spending all that much time together. That’s where FI comes in.
Agreed with you… Some things can not be expressed in money! It does make the timeline longer. It also makes it different.
Just one thing: privacy in the little room would be really nice.
Hahaha that’s certainly a downside of having kids, you don’t get much privacy. 🙂
Actually Privacy is a distant goal. The family goal after kids is much more modest – a good night’s sleep first and an uneventful day (no injury, illness or doctor visit for your child).
Indeed, that are the short term goals. We are past those with kids 4 and 6. After that many years, privacy is big thing. Or have uninterrupted discussions with my wife.
Haha I would love to get a few nights of undisturbed sleeps. 🙂
With you completely. We don’t have kids yet, but are planning on it. I also haven’t set a particular target date for FI because I know that my current savings rate will likely drop once a little one enters into the picture. I am 100% okay with that. I would rather take longer to reach FI and have a family around me than get there quicker on my own.
Savings rate will change, that’s just the reality of life – things happen in life, we need to learn to adapt. It’s great to have a family of your own for sure.
I’m not a parent yet. But I would consider having kids even though that would extend my journey to FI. Although a certain amount of money is required to raise children, I wouldn’t make my decision to have kids or not based on financial reasons. 🙂 No amount of money can provide authentic loving relationships like a well raised family can.
Very true about the authentic loving relationship with your kids. It’s not something money can ever buy.
Agreed 100%. As a dad of three I would not trade fatherhood for an advanced FI timeline. I like to think I have three additional opportunities to help others reach FI goals if they choose that path.
I wouldn’t trade fatherhood for an advanced FI timeline either. Being a father is simply too rewarding.
Yes, easy choice! My first is about 2.5 years old and it has been a great blessing. Or second is on the way and we look forward to another addition. Life without kids would be tough to imagine. Extending FI by a few years is nothing!
Great post and I too have found that kids don’t need to be super expensive or anywhere near $245k. It’s been a very manageable first couple years for us.
I think it’s an easy choice for people that already have kids. Maybe not as easy if you don’t have kids and you’re starting your FI journey.
Agree with you 100%, Tawcan. For reassurance, see here: http://tenfactorialrocks.com/raise-a-child-not-a-fortune/
Good to know I’m not alone. 🙂