Tag Archives: parenting

Financially Planning for Parenthood

Given that I’m going to be an older mother — turning 31 next month and not married yet let alone pregnant — I’ve done a bit of spreadsheeting around how I can afford to have a child. This puts me a little more at ease given that I can live frugally while earning a reasonably high income, save a lot, and put myself in a much better position to have children.

In my chart I noted how much I plan to save each month and have a column for lower average annual interest rates (5%) and higher ones (10%) from age 31 to 40. The chart otherwise includes the following expectations:

1) I will save $5000 per month between now and the time I have my first child (3/1/2017, give or take)

2) I will take 3 months of unpaid leave after having my first child and save $0 per month over those 3 months.

3) I will return to work full time and continue saving $5000 per month (buying less stuff for myself to offset stuff for baby) until baby #2

4) baby #2 will be born 1/1/2020. At this time I have reduced my monthly savings to $0 per month. I may want to work at this time but I want to plan to allow myself to not work and have enough money in our family to afford this. I want to be able to then afford to live off of my husband’s salary while my savings can grow for our retirement nest egg. We’ll probably have to move to a cheaper state at this point.

Based on these 4 constants and the compound interest variable, the range of my networth at age 40 would be $856,634 to 1,271,596 (*not counting my partner’s savings.) And baby #1 will just be turning age 7 or so, which is when babies become kids and start to get expensive… just in time for me to go back to work.

So this all seems rather do-able as long as I keep my head down and focus on the 58 months of saving $5k a month — so 4.8 years, give or take, or $280,000 of savings over that time period (which is a lot… but seems at least somewhat possible.) Given my potential annual bonus is anywhere from $0k to $40k after tax, I could actually get to that amount much quicker if I do my job well. Let’s just say I obtain a quarter of my annual bonus for those four years — $30k per year — that actually gets me to the $24.1k $280k goal much quicker.

That said – I’m not accounting for IVF costs which will likely be needed and will likely be very expensive (I should account for $100k for two kids and it might not even work…)

Thus in order for me to comfortably have children, I must focus on my job — really over the next two years — and attempt to obtain at least 50% of my annual bonus.

Inputting my networth growth with 50% bonus (~20k extra per year) by the time I have baby #1 (3/1/2017) I will have reached my goal of $500k network — with $507k networth with the 5% interest and $560k with 10%. Clearly I have my work cut out for me. But I can do this so the rest of my life can provide what I really want — not “no work” — but choice and flexibility.

Here is my Mint.com goals which I’ve adjusted for January 2016 target dates. I will focus on tracking to these numbers hitting the maximum possible bonus possible to achieve my desired results.

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 2.32.19 AM

Focus, Time, and the Brevity of Life

There isn’t a day that goes by when I lack a sense of overwhelm and impending doom. That’s just my style. A lot of this is knotted up in a series of paranoid internal monologues that repeat ad nausem echoing off the corners of my mind.  Yet there’s some reality to the panic. Time isn’t a fake out. It’s this real, visceral, constantly moving stream of invisible life force which makes our bodies wither as the clock of the world ticks on with or without us. Time is the most real of all – because you can’t make more of it, once it’s gone it’s gone.

Today I visited two of my good friends who are both now parents and either my age or younger. A few friends back on the east coast have had their second children already. And I’m turning 31 in a smidgen over a month. The reality is that given my PCOS issues it’s going to be challenging to have kids of my own. Yet today I want them more than ever. The longer I wait the harder it will likely be. But when is the right time? My career is finally starting to take off. If I were to have a child now I don’t have the foggiest how I could also work my job. Well, it would surely be impossible to commute four hours a day and fly at a moment’s notice as a new mother. But would I even want that as my toddler grows from 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and enters his or her own childhood without a mother around?

Clearly I’ll have to work if/when I have kids. I never though I wouldn’t have to and it’s fine to be a working mother and all. I’m fortunate that my boyfriend is more than willing to be a stay-at-home dad. Still… I just worry about waiting too long. I know, I know, it’s not the end of the world if I can’t have kids, or if I only have one child… but I just want two or three children. Probably two though I feel like three is a good large enough family without being too large. And while that’s a nice thought the likelihood of it happening is shrinking by the day.

So my boyfriend and I should be getting married in spring 2016 when I’ll be 32 and a half. I mean… that’s getting old. Let’s just say I have trouble getting pregnant because I probably will. IVF clinics won’t even seriously consider you for treatment until you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a year with no luck. So that gets me to 33-and-a-half. And who knows if I can get pregnant or how fast – even with the best treatment out there. And that treatment is expensive and can quickly burn through the savings that I’m working so hard to build up so I can afford what happens after I have kids.

With this scenario I’ll be lucky if I’m pregnant by 34 and have my first kid at 35. I really would like at least two kids if I’m going to have one. But then that leaves me at being a new mother at 35 going on 36 and knowing that I need to try immediately to have my second kid… all while being the breadwinner of the household and attempting to not only keep my job but grow in my career and move into a serious management position. I just can’t make sense of it. It all makes me think that if I actually do want kids – the logical thing to do would be to say screw “marriage” (which I’m not sure makes sense anyway due to the tax penalties) and just start trying to have my first kid now. I mean, that would suck in terms of work, but it’s not like I’d get pregnant tomorrow. But if I start trying at 31… that leaves me eligible for IVF at 32… and that timeframe just looks a whole lot better. If I have my first kid at 33 I can have my second at 35 or 36 and if I decide I do want a third then I have time for it, or at least I can just have two without feeling incredibly rushed.

I just think it’s so crazy how fast time goes by… and how judgmental I’ve been of all the girls who got married young and had kids in their 20s. That’s what the uneducated people do, I thought, brushing off their happiness with a reminder to myself that I’m getting my shit together first, saving up a good amount of money, preparing myself to be ready for kids. Well, it might not be too late yet but time is definitely running out. My 20s disappeared in the blink of an eye and my 30s will surely be equally as fast paced. With the amount I plan to work and focus on my career it will be easier to forget to focus on the things that matter in life and just running ahead blinded to the truth.

The whole marriage and wedding thing is just for show, what really matters is family… a family that I maybe already have waited too long to have, or at least one that is going to take a whole lot of headache and heartache to make possible. And I’m terrified of that journey that is to come.

Biological Clock, is That You?

Time for another post about babies. Babies are everywhere in my life, it seems. Well, not my work life. But my friends back home are having babies (actually, they’re on #2) and my friends out here are on number one. Yesterday I visited a friend’s nine-month old and today I visited another friend’s newborn. Now I see a whole host of them infesting my Facebook wall. They. Are. Everywhere.

Now that I’m 30.5, I’m really seriously thinking about having children. I’ve spent my 20s saving somewhat wisely and at this point life feels all but meaningless without a family. I could definitely see spending the rest of my life barren of children (easier to picture that then it is me as a mother) and it makes me terribly sad. Continue reading Biological Clock, is That You?

Top Countries to Be a Mother? USA Ranks #31

As I approach the years when — if it’s going to happen — I will become a mother, I’m thinking a lot about what that means, logistically speaking. Growing up in America we’re taught to think that we live in the world’s greatest nation, or at least one at the top of the chain — powerful, successful, prosperous. But in terms of places where it’s best to be a mother (at least according to an annual Save the Children report) the US is dropping fast in rankings, from top 10 in 2000 to above 30 in 2014.

This report largely focuses on the health, educational, economic and political status of mothers. While the goal of the report is to remind us that there are many countries where being a mother is terribly grim, it isn’t looking so great for America either.

For a country that’s so gung-ho about making abortion illegal, and pundits noting that hell is freezing over (or something like that) now that women earning the majority of income for their families, you would think that at least our conservative nation would support the family values of making it possible to afford being a mother. Not so. In fact, the U.S. is the ONLY western country that doesn’t require paid maternity leave.

Continue reading Top Countries to Be a Mother? USA Ranks #31

Motherhood Costs Women $250,000

This post is about being a modern working woman and the challenges that go into motherhood versus deciding not to have children. It was inspired by a dinner I had tonight with four women in their 40s and 50s who had decided to (or were unable to) have their own children. At the same time, my boyfriend was at our good friend’s house for the first viewing of their new child, which I missed out on. To top it off, of course today is the first mother’s day of my 30s, inspiring some soul seeking of my own.

Did you know that women who chose to have children give up $250,000 in lifetime income? According to a new report by The National Bureau of Economic Research, while the costs to raise children continue to grow, the income opportunities for working women who have them suffer immensely, especially for those of us in the higher income brackets.

“Our findings strongly indicate that the wage costs of childbearing are vastly higher for high-skill women, that these wage penalties persist over time, and that having children later may reduce, but will not eliminate the significant lifetime costs of childbearing for higher skill women,” write researchers Elizabeth Ty Wilde, Lily Batchelder and David T. Ellwood. Continue reading Motherhood Costs Women $250,000

Behind or Ahead, Does it Matter?

Seventeen or so ladies crammed together in a tiny San Francisco space drinking tea and crumpets, celebrating an upcoming birth. At the adorable baby shower I arrived late, and sat in the back with the older friends of my friend’s mother, who commented on how their group of daughter’s were not yet procreating despite being over 30. This woman was the first. They seem stunned when I noted many of my friends and acquaintances from back east were already on their second child.

I sat and ate my crumpets with organic jam, sipped my Darjeeling tea, and soothed a panic attack from claustrophobia and life-o-phobia with pastries and ice water. I texted my boyfriend: let’s have a baby, now, soon, I’m ready. I am ready. And I do want a kid. I really want to have kids. Continue reading Behind or Ahead, Does it Matter?

Distressed Babies, Penelope Trunk, and Being a Woman in Business

Penelope Trunk isn’t afraid to say what she thinks, or maybe — a self-proclaimed aspie – she can’t help herself. While a lot of what she writes is quite controversial (often, seemingly, for the sake of being controversial and getting site traffic), sometimes she raises a good point.  If there’s honesty in her crazy then at least I can respect that, and her bravery for being public about it and not letting that hold her back as an entrepreneur. So she says.

In a still-relevant post from 2012 she writes “Get Pregnant at 25 if You Still Want a High-Powered Career” — she argues that women still want to work part-time or flexible hours while they have kids (esp young kids) and if they wait until they are 30 to have children (like I have) then this also comes at the time in one’s career when the top-level jobs often require frequent travel, long hours, and anything but the time any good parent would or should want with their children. Continue reading Distressed Babies, Penelope Trunk, and Being a Woman in Business

Forget Marriage, She Wants a Baby… or Two… or Three

In 18 months, less than two years away, I’ll be turning 30. While 30 doesn’t feel old, it does send stabbing pangs into my head regarding my biological clock. With PCOS, it’s already ticking faster than most other women, and it may very well be too late to have my own children. Even though I don’t necessarily want to be a mom today, I don’t not want to be a mom ever.

Yes, there are plenty of ways, such as adoption, to have children if you cannot reproduce because you’re too old or infertile, but a tiny, fast-growing part of me wants my own kids. I guess ultimately I feel like the purpose of life — if you choose to believe in a purpose — is to reproduce. Not everyone can do it and it’s not good for everyone to do it because of overcrowding. If I really wanted to not be selfish (unless you ask my mother) I’d avoid childbearing and help reduce the taxing on the environment of yet another human being.

Forgetting logic, though, I really do want to be a mother. Still, I’m terrified for so many reasons…

  • Will I be a good mother?
  • Am I just attracted to the idea of children because I feel like life has no purpose?
  • Can someone like myself actually be a mom? I can barely mange myself!
  • Will I regret having children because I’m terrible at commitments and this is something that clearly you can’t go back on…???
  • What about money? How are you going to afford kids? Yes, you’ve managed to save up $180k in investments and savings, and have a stock package that has a small tiny chance of being worth enough to put you over the $1M networth mark by 40, but raising kids is extremely expensive, and with small houses costing $1.2M, can you really ever give your children the life you want to give them, instead of one that leads you to debt?
  • Wouldn’t you just be better off continuing to work throughout your life and saving money?

Then, I remind myself that there are plenty of people who make much less than I do, and heck, are probably less responsible than I am, who have a child, or a few of them. That’s not to say they should or that gives me a right to go off and reproduce, but it gives me courage that I’m probably not going to be the worst mother on earth. I already know that I have so much love to give and have been waiting my own life to have someone or someones to give that love to.

I’ve been reading a lot of posts online about mothers who regret having children. Most complain about having no time in their lives to do the things they enjoyed — travel, go to galleries, hang out with friends, read a book — and it so happens I don’t have the time for that now with my work schedule, so I can’t imagine I’d miss too much. I’m sure it would be extremely hard for the first few years of having children and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like, but at the very least I feel pretty confident that I’m tired of freedom in my life and want something to life for.

It doesn’t help matters that so many of my friends are posting photos of their adorable first or second children — just born — with big eyes staring out at the world, so innocent and pure. I feel so confused looking at these images — part jealously, part awe, part horrified of what that means. Life is going by so quickly — I return home to my family a few times a year and each time I’m there everyone looks like they’ve aged another decade. My father is ill with termial cancer, my mother is neurotic as always yet turning into an old woman, her skin finally wrinkling as she approaches 60. My cousins and aunts and uncles aren’t who I remember them to be anymore. My family has grown up without me — which is my fault, having made the choice to move away — but I’m ready for a family to grow up with me.

My boyfriend certainly wants children. Half the time all we talk about is our future together with our kids. Other than his inability to obtain a full time job for the entirety of his 20s, he’ll be an absolutely wonderful father. I know that he’s the one — sure he’s not perfect, but he’s loving, smart, and wise, as well as more idealistic than I’ll ever be. I could (somewhat) easily find someone who has a more settled life, but ultimately I’d be too scared to live up to that person’s expectations of a wife. With my bf, I know he loves me for who I am, with all my many imperfections. And I love him in return, and despite being freaked out by the financial story of our relationship, I will always be with him.

It could be worse. He could be in debt, or have terrible credit. The good news is that he’s very smart with money, with the exception of making it. He lives in a free-standing structure behind his grandparents house and doesn’t have to pay rent, just basic electricity and internet. He’s received help for his car and covers gas and food with a part-time job, for which he gets paid to little for his role and experience. But he isn’t in debt. His parents aren’t wealthy, but they’re extremely frugal, and when the time comes both of us theoretically will have an inheritance of some sort from both sides. Today, he doesn’t have savings or a retirement account, which is concerning. Then again, deep down I feel like I’m the one who has to be the breadwinner and I’ve put all my chips on this startup where I was an early employee and – though odds are I won’t get rich from it — where I may just be able to eek out some life security without being a slave to work throughout my children’s lives.

The trouble is — what if that fantasy doesn’t work out? What is my stock ends up being worthless? Yes, I’m still being wise with my saving to some extent (I could be saving more, I bought myself a nice TV last month for $500 and managed to spend another $500 on Amazon odds and ends) but until I hit $1M in the bank excluding housing I won’t feel like I can have children. That cushion would not ensure that I can stop working, but it would make me confident that I could have the life I’ve dreamed of, and to somewhat — as a spoiled middle class person — expected. My bf doesn’t require any of the finer things in life, he’d be happy living in a tent somewhere, but I’d like an average upper middle class life for my family, and one where I don’t need to work 60 hours a week to obtain it.

But how long do I wait until I feel like this life is a real possibility before having kids? I know it is going to be extremely hard for me to have children no matter when I do it, and with 1.5 years left until 30, I’m panicing a bit. I don’t need to have children the day I turn 30, but I can easily see 30 turning into 32 turning into 40. I know I have about two years left until all of my stock is vested, so I’m commited to my current life for at least that long, assuming the company keeps doing well and I keep liking my job. After that — if all is going well — I’m sure I’ll have great professional options where my salary could increase, but I’ll be confronted with the dilemma of deciding on leaving the professional world to have a child or staying and putting off children for another few years, and likely never having them.

Ideal world, 2015 rolls around, I’ve just turned 31, I’ve been married for a year, and I am ready to take a break from the professional world to have children. And at this time, I’ve also at least saved $300k – $400k, which isn’t enough to put me at ease, but is enough where I could maybe have a child and not feel so scared about commiting myself and my family to a life of living paycheck to paycheck, or worse.

Living in the Shadow of my Narcissistic Parents – Part 2

I’m not sure how many people actually read my blog these days, but if you’ve been following along you likely read my long rant yesterday about the dinner I had with my father, and how his narcissistic personality disorder tendencies gnaw at me every time I see him, or talk to him.

One commenter posed the question “are you sure he is the one who is a narcissist?” and I wanted to respond to that. Clearly, my post yesterday — and many of my posts — sound self absorbed and ungrateful. Shouldn’t I just be so thankful that my father (and mother) gave me lots of “stuff” in my life — clothes, nice furniture, a college education — beyond stuff, what does a girl really need?

How about love? I’d never argue that I had or have a hard life. I’m way more fortunate than a large percentage of people who live in this world. But I grew up in a love-less house. No one knew how to love themselves let alone anyone else. And, yes, I became a narcissist because it’s the only way to survive when both of your parents are narcissists. It’s a never-ending cycle. The only value I had to my parents was how my existence benefited them. And, as any kid, a big part of me wanted to make my parents happy. It was pretty clear that I couldn’t – that I’d never be the perfect kid they wanted – and I hated myself for it more and more as the years went by.

Continue reading Living in the Shadow of my Narcissistic Parents – Part 2

Should I Have Children?

During my therapy session today, it occurred to me that this question alone is one that, of all the questions and confusions on life I have, is the one that freaks me out the most. I’m not going to have kids tomorrow or the next day, but at 26 I have to face reality that if I am going to have children (I’d like at least 2, at most 3) I should have kids within approximately the next 10 years. That’s a lot of time and not much time at all.

10 years ago, I was 16.5. I was a junior in high school, trying to figure out where to go to college, taking the PSATs, and really just starting on my journey of adulthood. It kind of feels like a long time ago. Will 30 or 35 feel that long from now? I hear time speeds up the older you get.
My therapist and I briefly discussed today whether or not I want kids. To be honest, I don’t know. She said that people don’t have to have children, and you have to really have a physical urge to have kids and a desire to appreciate the joy they’ll bring (along with all the sacrifice and stress.) Do I have that urge? Will I ever?
Surely, my life without children might feel a bit meaningless. It already feels meaningless. But it’s not good to put that much responsibility on my yet-to-be-conceived offspring — “bring my life meaning or else.” I can’t really see myself being a mother. Then again, there are plenty of other people in this world who should not be mothers who are, so why should I be so hard on myself? (Ie — see WhytheFuckDoYouHaveaKid.com) I’m not THAT bad, right?

I mean, I have my shit together. Sort of. I have $50k in savings/retirement, a job (that isn’t stable, but I at least have a career that can lead to more jobs), I’m probably doing a lot better than many people my age who already have children. Why do I feel like I need a million dollars in the bank before I can procreate?
Some days, I think reading all these personal finance blogs and listening to Ray Lucia and tracking my Net Worth hurts me a bit. It just makes me freak out about money. It’s important to be responsible with money, to save a certain percentage of your income, etc, etc, but I’m paralyzed by my fear of never having enough. This whole “should I have kids” question goes beyond just having the finances to afford them (heck, am I really the type of person who can be responsible for infants or deal when my teenagers talk back to me?) but the money is a big part of it.
The days I dream of grad school, I have to remind myself how much debt I’ll be in at 30, versus the non grad school route where I can possibly reach a networth of $100k or more by 30. If I end up having kids and wanting to stay home with them, why even bother with grad school?
Meanwhile, my boyfriend has barely any savings, no Roth IRA, no retirement accounts, and is planning to go to grad school — at least for his masters, probably for his PhD. So we’ll likely have his debts to deal with. Why bother adding mine? We can’t do that if we want to have children. I really need to have kids in my early 30s… I will have to go through in vitro and all that fun due to my PCOS, and having children will probably cost $20k+ a pop. I’m not just making these money concerns up.
What do you think? Do you have children? When did you have your kids? How much did you have in net worth when you had children? Do you think it’s silly for me to be this concerned about money before having kids?