Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Counting the Cost Before Starting a Family

By Valencia Higuera

Couples who want babies often times do not sit and count the cost. The truth is babies are expensive. Unfortunately, many couples who do not plan on becoming pregnancy must realize the harsh reality. It amazes me when I hear of a young person anticipating starting a family, especially if I am aware of their financial situation. How do these people intend on feeding this baby? Babies cannot live on water. What about diapers? Unless you plan on using disposable ones which can be messy, diapers must be purchased weekly. Do you know how much formula cost? Believe me, its not cheap.

These are all essential items that babies need each week of the month. The sad part is that this is only part of the list. I understand that babies come into this world without warning. We are then forced to make the best of a situation. However, when someone deliberately has a baby when they are not ready, it seems a little selfish and irresponsible. An old co-worker of mine often complained how she did not have money to grocery shop or pay her utilities, yet she was trying to have a baby. I have learned to keep my mouth closed, thus I did not question her decision. I felt like shaking her. Wake up! If both you and your spouse have fulltime jobs, and you still cannot afford to put gas in your car, how are you supposed to raise a child and pay for childcare?

Having a family is a natural inclination. Understandably the baby bug will attack us all. However prior to making the decision to start a family couples should really count the cost. A baby is not going to miraculously make your money problems disappear. If anything, a baby may add to the problems. I am not saying you have to be rich or have a lot of disposable income to have a baby, but you do need some disposable income. If you have $20 left over after paying all your bills, maybe it is not the best time to consider a baby. Keep this in mind, daycare costs are roughly $100 per week. If you are fortunate to have a job that offers childcare reimbursements, you may be okay. Other expenses such as diapers, formula, and clothing may only run an extra $150 to $200 a month depending on the child. If your job does not offer reimbursement, this means that you will need at least an extra $400 a month, per child.

Again, children are a blessing. I can understand when a couple is anxiously waiting to start a family. I also recognize that we are never fully ready for a baby. Some plan their children perfectly. They purposely wait until their late twenties or early thirties. This way they can adequately care for their children. I am not suggesting that young couples wait too long before starting a family. There is a joy that comes with being a young parent. Nonetheless I am suggesting that couples be sensible. Babies have needs, and these needs require money. If you cannot take care of your own financial needs, how will you be able to care for a baby’s needs?

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