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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: OnMon on May 10, 2013, 09:23:38 PM

Title: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: OnMon on May 10, 2013, 09:23:38 PM
Hello! Newbie & first time poster; not sure if this should go here or under mini-mustaches: (Q for parents)

I'm 30, married, renting in Chicago, working as an RN for 2 years (love!), a natural miser though too flighty to really watch my pennies (could never get past the first step of charting my purchases in Your Money or Your Life). I've had the itch to have kids for oh, about 7 years now, and part of my scheme to have a kid when I was 25 was to find a career that I could work part-time and feel rewarded by (and make a decent income, and break into the field in not much time). Now that I've been making a tolerable income and actually LIKE my job, husband and I are past the wedding (which we saved for ourselves - parents paid about 20% and there was no debt at the end) and we've since saved $36K in an ING account for a down payment on a house or condo...we're at that point where I feel we're kinda sorta nearly ready. Except.

I'm cheap but I still end up spending money on stupid stuff, though I never let my credit cards go without paying down the balance each month (personal spending averages $400-$500/month, between cash & credit card - includes my commute to work, uniforms, frozen food from Trader Joe's for lunch...and the dreaded misc. category, which was probably a mix of stuff from the thrift store, birthday gifts for friends, a necessity like new glasses or an indulgence like a massage or my Android phone). My husband is more of a middle-class spender - he doesn't have the visceral hatred of loans I feel, and he doesn't have a problem with spending money on things I think we should DIY, like haircuts or coffee, though to be fair he also pays down his credit card balances every month (about $600) and contributes his fair share to living within our means (We've invented a complicated algorithm to keep us from fighting about the "personal allowance" stuff, and we do save more than many of our friends and peers, though we're still only at about a 16%-20% savings rate). We still have about $60K in student loans (it was closer to $80K when we got engaged; I've since paid down my highest interest rate loan using grit and some low-interest-earning savings bonds and I am doubling my payments on my 6%, 15 year private loan, which is down to $21K). I sold my car before we moved back to Chicago 3 years ago (where we both have family) and we've since been doing well on one-car, though not having a parking space can be a little annoying at times and he still (!) doesn't have a bike. I love the idea of having more financial independence, but I feel at the rate we're going that might be closer to that when we're what, age 50? My husband is currently taking advantage of his position as an IT employee at a university to get some free/cheap schooling: he's aiming to have a post-bacc. programming certificate by next April, and hopefully a 20K+ salary increase at a new job to go with it. (He earns the smaller salary between us both - he's at $44K to my $58K, and though he's had loads of schooling, including a master's, he has no formal training in IT, only experience and smarts).

My question is really about whether my various get-debt-free schemes are playing with fire when it comes to having a kid. I'm thinking about the choice of a cheap condo in our 'hood (1bed under $100K) versus the whole shebang of a house or 3bed condo (the middle-class path, which would likely leave us in debt for longer - even if the housing market improves I still don't see this as a win to have bigger debts plus our student loans, and we might soon end up with new uglies like a car loan, to boot). See, I figure if we postpone conception for a few more years, we can end my debts (which have the highest interest rate) and maybe even ALL our debts, while paying a fixed rate lower than our current rent for a nicer place, albeit one that might be a bit too small for a three-person family, or at least our ideal three-person family. Husband also wants a new car, and we WILL eventually need one for a family with a kid (ours is a 2003 Tiburon) - I'm done with car loans but I have a feeling we will eventually settle on a Prius, which even used comes to $15K-$18K. Still, we could at this point more-or-less start throwing the bulk of our previous "house savings" at our debt, and then saving toward the down payment for "the big house" after this, while building some equity with low mortgage interest rates. Hopefully, too, my husband will also find his (programming) job more rewarding and also be rewarded in kind with the kind of salary increases I think he deserves - we both want him to be the primary breadwinner when we have a kid, and I'd switch to part-time or even stop working for a year or two. All this can probably be accomplished in 2-4 years with my current number crunching, and then we'd have our kid debt-free on our own terms. However, I'm worried that putting off conception until I'm 32, 33, or even older, means running the risk of a potential heartache in terms of infertility (not to mention my impatience since age 25). I know there are those on these boards who have paid off debts while raising families on just ONE income, but I hate debt so much that I think ending it before we have our own little one will just make me a much better mom, as well as make us both feel more free in our career/life choices. But I worry so much that we might have undiagnosed infertility that I don't want to be cursing myself out for waiting two more years until we start trying. I suppose, if at that point we were super-savers we'd be even more ready to save for the big guns like IVF, but it does make me think "what if?" The worries seem so great on both ends; I'm not sure which goal to shoot for. Is there really that big of a gulf between 30 and 33 to start trying for a kid? To those who saved before kids, and those who didn't - was it worth it? What choices would you make?

And yeah, I know babies don't cost that much money. The biggest expense I've crunched out for us is probably daycare, which we'd still need to pay for sometimes even with family in the area and me on a part-time schedule. Going one-income doesn't feel right to me - even a year away from my career seems too long, and I do earn more than enough hourly to justify contributing to the family pot with the daycare expense added in (though who knows how I'll feel if I'm pregnant and debt-free with a high-earning spouse in three years?). I'm thinking that our spending pre-kid and post-kid will not be dramatically different, and that we'd still be on a good path toward'd just be way easier if there were NO MORE STUDENT LOANS.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: MountainFlower on May 10, 2013, 10:05:36 PM
I had kids at 39 and 41.  That is too late in my opinion, but we needed to finish a neverending homebuilding project.  Stupid reason, really. 

No, it isn't a big deal to wait 3 years at your age at all.  I'm sorry but I didn't read all the details of your post.  However, there is virtually no difference between 30 and 33 in my opinion, but there is a gigantic world of difference in what you can save before kids versus after.  Get on firm financial footing...but don't wait until you're 39.  :-)
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: OnMon on May 10, 2013, 10:54:13 PM
Thank you Mountain Flower! That's quite alright that you didn't read all the deets; I've clearly been storing this up for a while and contemplating next steps. And I'm not very patient. :)

My brother, who is turning 40 on Sunday, just had his first child this year, and he and his fiancee (35) have both been pressuring us "not to wait"; that waiting was their only regret. And of course all the coworkers comments since I've now been married two years with no twinkles in the eyes...when it seems no one understands how hypocritical it feels to have student loans and try and save for a kid's college fund! I think the societal pressure, my baby daydreams, and my personal paranoia just get to me sometimes...when honestly, I should just enjoy the good things we do have going right now (decent incomes, a fun life for relatively low-cost in a great city, and the means to pay off our debts and improve our incomes). Having posted I already feel more at peace with the idea of waiting & saving...hopefully my patience won't wear thin before 3 years!
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: gooki on May 11, 2013, 03:32:46 AM
There is no perfect time to have children.

My wife and I waited until we were 30. At the birth of my daughter I owed $10,000 on my student loan and we had $90,000 left from our $210,000 mortgage. I had approx $40,000 in company stock and $10,000 in retirement accounts (which I can not touch). Personally I wanted to wait 2 more years until we were debt free.

At the time my wife earned a good $15,000 more per year than I did.

After just 8 months we'd wiped out the mortgage through disciplined savings, and selling all my company stock (which had rebounded nicely post the crash).

After 12 months my wife decided not to return to work. Financially we would be richer if she did (discounted day care, higher salary). But she loved being a mum and we were on a good track.

After 18 months my student loans were repaid in full.

2 years later we now have our second child. We are entirely debt free. We have low annual costs. And a growing level of savings and investments. We are exceedingly glad to be in a position were money is not an issue. No arguments. No extra stress. And you know what, having children is the best thing I have ever done.

Now your probably thinking we were high income earners - we were not. About 15% more than your current level, but in a country with 25% income tax, and 15% sales tax.

The main drivers of our success were.
Buying a modest home ($270,000 house was about $30,000 below the city average when we purchased).
Aggressively repaying debt.
Spend significantly less than you earn.
No consumer debt.

So if you want to have children now, can survive on one income. I say do it, just don't over commit yourself on the housing front. You can raise a family with very little space.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: mm1970 on May 11, 2013, 09:23:50 AM
I had kids at 39 and 41.  That is too late in my opinion, but we needed to finish a neverending homebuilding project.  Stupid reason, really. 

No, it isn't a big deal to wait 3 years at your age at all.  I'm sorry but I didn't read all the details of your post.  However, there is virtually no difference between 30 and 33 in my opinion, but there is a gigantic world of difference in what you can save before kids versus after.  Get on firm financial footing...but don't wait until you're 39.  :-)

This.  I had my kids at 36 and 42.  That was kinda late.  You just never know if you are going to have fertility issues.  Some have them in their 20's, some don't have them in their 40's.  I was set to start at 30 but needed to delay.  Started at 33, took 1.5 years to get pregnant and had started infertility testing.

But then we tried for #2 starting at age 39, didn't happen, gave up, got pregnant at 41 (whoops), baby at 42.  I mean, it's awesome, but I do realize why people have children in their 20's and early 30's. 

From 30 to 33, probably not a big difference, but definitely save money while you can, now.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: psychomoustache on May 11, 2013, 01:14:03 PM
I was living in the States when I had my first at age 28. I had him because I really, really wanted him more than wanting to wait for ANYthing. We had already been married six years at that point, and together for 8.

It's NOT so crazy-expensive to have a baby, if your insurance is decent and you can find a way to deal with child care issues (or not work outside the home). Child care in the States is what makes having a baby so freaking expensive (not an issue in our Socialist land). At least that was my experience. I breast-fed, and if I had to do it again, I'd use reusable diapers. Baby clothes and toys are very cheap and plentiful at any yard sale or Goodwill. All a baby wants is to be with you (or its Dad) so it's really not that complicated.

Here of course, I had two more babies but we actually get PAID by the government to have kids. Not that that's a great thing, but it helps, if you want kids  ; )... and daycare is nice and cheap.

It can take awhile to get pregnant - it did for me all three times - so that's why I'd say just DO it, if that's what you want. Overthinking it just makes you crazy. That - and as someone else said before - there really is no "good" time to stop everything and have a child. No matter when you decide to jump in, it's going to be a sacrifice.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: galaxie on May 11, 2013, 05:04:15 PM
Our plan is to have them when our mortgage is the only debt we have.  We've got one other loan left - repaying family for their help with our down payment.  That should be done in 2 or 3 years.

Once that's done, we'll have more flexibility in case of emergencies.  We could free up money by refinancing the house and paying it off slower if one of us loses a job, or a kid needs something expensive and recurrent.  We're in the 2nd year of a 15 year mortgage right now.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: happy on May 11, 2013, 05:53:57 PM

Like MM1970,  I started trying to get pregnant at 33, but although everything tested normal,  I did not have mine until age 36 and age 39.  Personally I think that was too late, but after years of waiting each time, I am just grateful to have had them at all.

The problem is, not everyone conceives the moment they start trying, and you really don't know if you are going to take time or have problems.  We can more or less control NOT having children, but the opposite is not true.  From 30 your fertility starts to decline and the risks of having a first child start to increase....not much but after 35 they really increase. If you start late, have issues, and need IVF, then the chances of IVF working also declines after 35.  If you leave it to 33 to start trying, there is not much wriggle room if things don't go to plan.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: OnMon on May 12, 2013, 10:21:38 AM
Wow, thanks everyone! All good food for thought.

I'd certainly agree with those that say there is no perfect time, but eliminating my debt load seems to be priority, as I've got the most expensive loans. Looking at my plans and areas I know we can cut costs, I'm thinking that we could probably shave 5-7 months off my timeline to eliminate all debts outside of a low-interest rate mortgage if we really buckled down. And if we accustomed ourselves to greater frugality, hopefully the freedoms offered to us by saving so much money would seem like something worth striving for, whether or not we decide to have a baby now or later. I feel a baby could be the great divider between the frugality-strivers and the middle-class settlers: it's one of those life-changing events that just takes over, and I'm worried that beyond choices I know I'd make that could save us money (e.g. cloth diapers; hopefully breastfeeding; pots, pans and cardboard boxes for toys), we'd be even worse at things like eating out all the time (which we do more than I like, because I'm the primary chef/dishwasher/launderer since he's devoting 20hrs a week to school - and I get tired of cooking AND cleaning up). I did the math recently on breastfeeding a newborn and at 12 40 minute feeds a day, it's an 8hr job! Probably even more if you have to mix formula and/or pump!!! We already both feel stressed by time-sucks in work and at home, and the thought of adding more sleeplessness and anxiety and LESS time...well, to be perfectly frank we're not yet ready. If we can enforce frugality and efficiency more BEFORE a baby, I think we'll be flying high on the cheapskate train by the time the baby long as infertility doesn't rear its ugly head. And that is its own gamble. :(

I'd definitely agree with those that say a baby or toddler in a small space is no big deal, though my husband wants acres of privacy (he's worried about moving his office into the bedroom, for example). Well, to be perfectly frank he wants it all, but a SFH in our neighborhood costs upwards of $500K! So yeah, we were first looking at 3 bedrooms so that he could have a separate office and thinking the costs seemed reasonable. But now that everything that's a deal is disappearing from the market before we have a chance to look, and everything that's left is just awful, well....I'd rather move to a place that's just like our current apartment (5 rooms, including a teeny sunroom that I daydreamed could be a nursery when we moved in). Except with a washer/dryer.

psychomustache: we've only been married 1.5 years now though together for 6.5...I guess that's why our second anniversary made sense to me at first. I'll put the 8 year mark in my head. Age 32 seems pretty good to start trying...especially if those dratted loans are gone!
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: Tami1982 on May 12, 2013, 10:51:57 AM
(e.g. cloth diapers; hopefully breastfeeding; pots, pans and cardboard boxes for toys),

If you can, I'd look into the 2nd hand market for cloth diapers.  It's extensive.  My friend plays it like a game.  They swap, trade, upsell.  It's crazy!  But it's hard to know until you have a child which brand will fit them properly.  Not all brands fit quite the same.  Do budget for formula just in case.  My best friend tried really hard to breast feed, and altered every aspect of her life (exercise, diet, supplements) just everything, and could not produce enough milk.  She was heartbroken and felt like a failure:(  So, just in case, I'd make sure it's in the budget because, dang!, it's ridiculously expensive.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: travelbug on May 12, 2013, 09:59:09 PM
I would try to wait another couple of years and really, really knuckle down and save.

All our friends were having children and we were sooooo clucky but we waited until we hit a certain point financially that we had decided on. I am glad we did. It was difficult at the time, but so worth it. I had our DD when I was 32 and DS when I was almost 34.

Wanting a child is a great incentive to save as you can weigh up all of your "wanted" purchases against the freedom of having a family.

Another great way to see if you can cope financially is to save your income and live off your husband's, as if you were a SAHM. Dump it off debt and get into the practise of living with less.

Good luck.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: savingtofreedom on May 12, 2013, 11:00:56 PM
You are an RN so may already know this kind of stuff but if not go out and buy the book "Taking Charge of of Your Fertility."  If you want to wait I would suggest tracking your cycle and confirming that you ovulate on your own without issues - you can do this by taking your temperature.  You should also confirm that your luteal phase is about 14 days.

I waited for all kinds of reasons, stressful job, would like to save more, etc.  Then I discovered I had a fertility issue which I believe is now addressed.  But took at least 1.5 years to address. Now I am 33 and hoping that we can get this baby thing to work out.

In hindsight I wish I had started earlier. 

Good luck!!
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: MsSindy on May 13, 2013, 07:26:41 AM
One thing that stuck out about your post is that you say you are a "natural miser", although in the same paragraph you state that you spend $400 - $500 per month on miscellaneous, and your husband spends around $600 - that's $1000 per month on "stuff"!  That's not very miserly.

You say you hate debt, but you have $60k in student loans!  You are in DEBT EMERGENCY!  You need to start planning for that baby now by getting yourself in a better place financially, or you're going to end up like most people - new baby, student loans, new house, new baby stuff, new car, saving for college, etc.  -- you'll wake up and say what the hell happen!  I saw this coming....but yet I didn't do anything about it while I still could.

If you're asking for advice, get your Financial House in order before you have kids.  Being that your bio clock is in fact ticking, you should be treating this like "you're being chased by lions" emergency!
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: Kaytee on May 13, 2013, 08:34:26 AM
I second Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Excellent book. Waiting to have kids until 33 really depends on how many kids you think you want to have. If you want to have 3, that may be waiting a tad late, as you'll be pushing 40 depending on how close together you want them - and how long it takes your fertility to return. I'm 15 months postpartum and still waiting (though we don't plan to have more children) for things to start back up again.  We co-sleep and practice ecological breastfeeding, which is why things are delayed. I won't get too technical in that department as I'm sure most forum readers don't want to read about that.

Take some time with seriously discuss with your husbad what you want and what is truly necessary for starting a family. We live in a <700 sf apartment with a toddler because it means that DH can be a SAHD, for example. While deciding what you want, save money, pay debt off and see if you can live on one income. What if you have twins and can't afford to go back to work? Starting tracking your cycles in the meantime, to optimize strategy. Good luck, and uhm, have fun.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: kdms on May 13, 2013, 11:09:37 AM
Only a couple of comments here - a third recommendation for Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  We started trying at 30 and only managed the first one at 34, and it probably would have taken a lot longer without the knowledge gained from that book.  (Managed to cut through all of the typical general doctor advice of 'wait it out' and found the appropriate specialists in a much shorter time frame because we had the empirical evidence ahead of time that usually takes months to collect.)

On the money side - as the primary breadwinner, and a govt employee, we waited until a) my mat leave pay would be enough to cover the expenses while on leave, and b) my return to work pay would be enough to pay the expenses and the daycare costs.  I was able to calculate these costs ahead of time, and plan accordingly.  We had debt, but those costs were figured into the expenses.

We don't like debt either, but debt can be paid back at any time in any number of ways.  That's not necessarily the case with fertility - it's a probability game, and only your personal biological clock can tell you what the odds are.  We weren't willing to bet against time.  :)
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: chatsc on May 13, 2013, 11:28:29 AM
I only learned to really manage my money and get serious about debt after I had kids.  I needed that push to become more fiscally responsible.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: Christiana on May 13, 2013, 03:18:56 PM
Even with good fertility, it can take months to conceive, and then there are all the months of gestation.  We paid off a large chunk of our student loans while going through all that with our first child.  (And also the fact that we were starting a family helped motivate my husband to get off his rear and start earning more.)

I'd say to work very hard at knocking out debt for the next couple of years, whether you start trying for a baby or not.  Staying in cheaper and smaller rentals should help you free up money for that; defer buying until it is cheaper than renting.  Infants aren't at all picky about where they live.  Then, with little or no debt, you have so many more options.

Another place to save big money is to learn how to make fast, simple, nutritious meals:  soups, stews, skillet meals, stir-fries, roasts, casseroles, crockpot meals.  (Notice that these are nearly all one-dish meals, much of the prep work can be done ahead of time, and they don't require much cleanup.)  It's a good skill to have when you have a kid to care for while you're cooking, and when you are living on less income.

I'd also recommend working out the kinks in the household routine so that chores and things aren't such a burden.  None of that gets easier when you have a child.  Simplify, streamline, and make a schedule for the essential tasks.

You're right that your individual fertility is a wild card, but it's probably not going to take a sudden nosedive from good to rotten in the next couple of years.

As a nurse, will you be able to take regular breaks for pumping?  I hear that many nurses have a hard time even finding time for bathroom breaks, during the busy times.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: shelfins on May 14, 2013, 12:04:37 AM
I read a study recently that looked at how fertility rates decrease with age. From the summary: "Under natural conditions, 75% of women starting to try to conceive at age 30 years will have a conception ending in a live birth within 1 year, 66% at age 35 years and 44% at age 40 years. Within 4 years the success rates will be respectively 91, 84 and 64%."

That should give you some hard numbers to help you decide how long you can 'safely' wait.

I attached the paper, too, if you're interested in all the nitty-gritty details.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: Purple on May 14, 2013, 12:59:08 AM
Great comments but I would definitely urge you to get on with it. As people above have said, it takes months to get pregnant and months to gestate - you will achieve more financially if you think your baby-free days are numbered.

Furthermore, if you wait 3 years, then start trying, you could easily be 35 by the time you have your first and if you wanted a second (or more) you would likely be 37 / 38 or more. It is amazing how time flies.

Apart from anything - it is so brilliant having a family - if you are lucky enough to have found your husband and you're both keen, you should go for it.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: happy on May 14, 2013, 01:05:55 AM
I may be nitpicking but I think you have misquoted the study. It says "estimated proportion of women who start a pregnancy ending in a live birth". It doesn't mean that 75% of women at age thirty will have a live birth within a year ie conceive in 3 months or less, it means 75% will conceive within 12 months ie start a pregnancy that will end in a live birth, excluding conceptions that end in abortion or stillbirth.

Secondly the study is based on data derived from the 17th and 18th centuries"pre contraception".... as far as I'm aware its generally considered that in Western society our fertility is declining in recent times, so I would not count on data on fertility of women from so long ago being accurate.

Thirdly methodologically its not good to apply study data from one population to an individual or second population unless one is satisfied that the populations/individuals are reasonably similar....I'm not sure we could say  a population of French women from the 17th-18th centuries are similar to the average  American woman in 2013 with regard to variables that might affect fertility.

Interesting paper tho, :)
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: shelfins on May 14, 2013, 02:07:55 AM
Well, the quote I posted was copied directly from the authors' summary of the paper, so really they were misquoting themselves. ;-) But, yes, you're absolutely right: those percentages are for how many conceive within 12 months, and then go on to give birth to that conceived child, not how many have actually birthed a child within a year of whenever they started trying to conceive.

And of course these are just population statistics and no guarantee of how things will turn out for the OP. I just thought it might be helpful to have some rough numbers on about how easy/hard it was in general for women to conceive at different ages.

I'd never heard that people think that women's fertility has been declining since the 18th century, though. If that's true, you're right that that would make these numbers higher than what's likely for a modern woman.
Title: Re: Fertility and financial goals
Post by: Kaytee on May 14, 2013, 08:18:24 AM
I'd also recommend working out the kinks in the household routine so that chores and things aren't such a burden.  None of that gets easier when you have a child.  Simplify, streamline, and make a schedule for the essential tasks.

This is so true! For realistic conditions, do it with cuddling a milk jug or 10 lb bag of flour.

As a nurse, will you be able to take regular breaks for pumping?  I hear that many nurses have a hard time even finding time for bathroom breaks, during the busy times.

Check the laws in your area. Pumping breaks are protected by law, but if it's an issue you could also look into donor milk. Although, regular bathroom breaks should be protected by law too.