This coming New Year's was supposed to start with a bang for me -- literally. It was going to be the year my husband and I were finally going to make that baby. When we first discussed the time line a couple of years ago, my clock wasn't ticking that fast and 2009 seemed like an ideal year to start. But then 2008 didn't turn out to be the ideal year for our finances. My income as a freelance writer came in at a slower pace, and even though my husband had graduated from school, job interviews are few and far between. So for New Year's, we'll open up a bottle of (cheap) champagne, but that will probably be the only cork that pops.
Our situation is far from unique. I found this Los Angeles Times story profiling couples who say the recession is forcing them to put off baby-making for the time being. It's nothing new to put off having having kids during hard financial times, but it was hard to determine how to come up with the money to raise a kid properly even before Wall Street and the housing market tanked. College tuition is the ultimate balloon payment, of course, but more and more parents I knew are only focused on private school for K-16.
I started sweating when I pulled out the "Cost of Raising a Child" calcultors from Bankrate and BabyCenter. The latter told me that if I had a kid next year, I should expect to pay $356,000 for age 0-18, including the first year at a public university, and $426,000 if we decided on private school. Through my glazed-over eyes, I thought even these figures seemed a little outdated. Bankrate quoted the annual cost for childcare at $4,300, but that sounds more like the cost for six months. Right now when I've switched from Nordstrom to Wal-Mart and am deciding whether basic cable is worth the cost, coming up with money for childcare and 529 college plans sounds like the straw that will break my hump.
My Boomer parents and their friends all keep telling me, "Just have them now! There will never be a 'good' time to have them! Don't time babymaking like the stock market!" They've got a point. There is always some reason, financial or otherwise, not to have a baby right now. But the past 30 years seemed like the financial heyday to have kids and not panic about how to afford them. I don't think Boomers had to stare into a financial abyss as deep as this one before debating whether to have kids. RIght now, they're focused on earning retirement money that will be spent mostly on themselves. I have to focus on earning enough to support another person for 18 years or more.
Don't get me wrong -- I don't look at babies as just mouths to feed. I want a bundle of joy. However, two years ago, the husband and I wanted two to three bundles of joy. Now, one sounds like just the right amount -- in a few months or so....or a year....maybe two....Hopefully my clock will be ticking when the economy starts ticking again, too.
More victims of the recession: prospective parents