I’m Planning on Saving Over $230,000 in My Lifetime—By Not Having Kids
In my early twenties, I had a realization that would undoubtedly shape the rest of my life: I didn’t want children.
I had always admired the mothers I saw hauling their children’s strollers up and down subway stairs, but I’d simultaneously wondered, Is it worth it?
Is the price of motherhood—financially, physically, emotionally—really eclipsed by the sheer joy it supposedly creates? I chalked my initial hesitancy up to my age and lack of maternal instincts.
But it wasn’t instincts I was missing—it was desire. I’m turning 30 this year, and my list of reasons why I don’t want to procreate has grown. At the top of that list is money.
Kids are really F-ing expensive.
A 2014 USDA report estimated that the national average cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 17 was $233,610, not including college (#America). That number more than doubles if you live in New York. And realistically, child-related expenses don’t disappear as soon as your teenager turns 18, either.
Those statistics are based on middle-class households with two incomes. Yet, the average millennial probably can’t imagine comfortably parting with over $7,000 of their yearly salaries. Between the price of education, activities, and basic necessities, it’s no surprise we’re waiting longer to have children, if at all.
Avoiding the motherhood penalty.
For the first time, women over the age of 30 are having more babies than women in their early twenties. The primary reasons for holding off: education and careers.
Not only do we fear that putting our professions on hold will risk growth opportunities, but because of the wage gap, we feel the burden of student loans more strongly than men. On average, it takes two additional years for women to pay off student debt.
There’s also the “motherhood penalty.” Research proves that women with children earn anywhere from nine to 20 percent less than childless women, even when the number of hours worked is equal.
In spite of legal boundaries, mothers are repeatedly overlooked for promotions and raises because of maternity leave. To make matters worse, paid parental leave isn’t mandated in the States, and childbirth here is more expensive than in any other country in the world. To top it all off, after the child is born, childcare is unsubsidized.
There’s a child-free butterfly effect.
Regardless of what the decision is rooted in, electing to live a childless life has instantaneous and residual ripple effects on your life.
For example, when my partner and I were house hunting last year, our realtor remarked that not having to be consciences of school districts made it easier to work within our budget.
I also don’t feel tension in terms of my career trajectory. Mothers have to consider how a new job or career shift would impact their families. But if I decide to change career paths or go back to school, I won’t have to worry about how it could affect saving for my kid’s education.
Feeling free to be “selfish.”
Discretionary income is a major advantage of planning for a childless future. But I’m also looking forward to having more time and energy to spend on my soon-to-be husband.
Without kids, we’ll have roughly $14,000 more a year at our disposal. With that money, we can take weekend trips and long vacations, make upgrades to our home and pay off our mortgage sooner, and can spare no expense for our dogs (*happy woof*). We can invest in our futures, and each other, more freely.
There are downsides, of course. Since we won’t have children to look after us when we’re older, we’ll have to be especially diligent about planning for retirement and making sure we have life and long-term care insurance, but those are small prices to pay in the bigger scheme of things.