Would I forgo kids to become financially independent earlier?

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
    • Mortgage
    • Property tax
    • Building upkeep
    • Utilities
    • Garden and yard
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Preschool
  • 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:

  1. We put money aside for RRSP every month. That money could have gone toward adding more stocks in our dividend portfolio.
  2. 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.
  3. 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…

  1. We get money via Canada Child Benefit from the Canadian government each month for having kids.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

NO!!!

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?

Absolutely!!!

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?

 

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65 thoughts on “Would I forgo kids to become financially independent earlier?”

  1. 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.

    Reply
    • Hi JC,

      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.

      Reply
  2. 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!

    Reply
  3. 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.

    Reply
  4. 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

    Reply
  5. 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)

    Reply
    • Hi Jason,

      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.

      Reply
  6. 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.

    Reply
  7. 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.

    Reply

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