It occurred to me when an acquaintance of mine posted the great news of her third pregnancy that too many people still have too many children and this keeps some of us in a vicious cycle of barely meeting basic needs.
Now, whilst money isn’t everything, being broke is no fun either. Having children and family is very fulfilling but from the moment they’re born we have to reconcile that joy with the fact that they will one day leave, to live their own life. You can’t make a career out of having babies; you need to make it a part of your life without making it all of your life.
Okay, I’m talking in darned parables again, what is it I’m talking about? The cost of having children. Each child costs money and of course, time. In my case I am very keen to give my children as much as possible in this jungle of life by providing the best education I can afford and a small lump sum at 18 or 21 just to help them along.
It would have been great if upon graduating from university my parents had said Heather, here is £20,000, we’ve been saving some money for you since the day you were born. We’d love you to invest in a property. That lump sum would not have taken away my personal ambitions to achieve but it would mean I was ahead of the curve.
I had this one Nigerian friend who’s dad had bought a flat in London ages ago so he was earning a huge salary in investment banking and didn’t even have to use any of it on rent. He was saving all his income to buy his own property – trust me, when you don’t have to pay rent you can save a whole lot faster, especially in London where the rents are super crazy. His father had taught him how to handle money with care and that lesson had been taken to heart.
Anyhow, I digress. There are a two points I want to cover:
It is one of my deepest desires to send my children to private school or to at least have the option of sending them to one. If I choose the state education route I want it to be because it was the best option at the time not the only option.
We actually timed pregnancy such that when our son is ready for school the funds are most likely to be there. If not, he won’t be able to go but this very desire means we had to plan things very well.
Firstly, we can’t have children too close together as getting the funds together will take time and it will be too stressful if we’re trying to fund two children at the same time. Secondly, it means we definitely cannot have more than two children. I used to want 3 but I’ve had to be realistic about how affordable it is and in fact, having one child only so far I’ve also realized you don’t need lots of children to be fulfilled; one is plenty and well, a second because everyone loves to have a brother or a sister, right?
It’s fine if we realize that despite our best efforts private school is not affordable but if that happens we will compensate by keeping much more up to date with our kids’ progress and educating them ourselves where we feel the system is falling short.
Perhaps if a private primary school can’t happen then certainly in the 11 years it takes to get to secondary we’ll have managed it.
I said to a friend that I need a 3 year gap so we don’t have two kids going through university at the same time and he was like, “Gosh, you’re thinking far ahead!” I said, “I have to.”
I feel that if I don’t manage to send my kids to good schools I’ll be underachieving compared to my own parents who sent us to the best schools they could afford in Malawi. When I needed extra help I’d tell my dad and he paid for a private tutor at home. This happened at a time when we were falling behind on the maths curriculum at school.
How many of us think about the affordability of children in terms of funding a private education or subsidizing a state one?We in the West have become so accustomed to the fact that the state pays that we take it as a given.
In Malawi where I was born and in Africa in general we don’t think like that because for the most part a state education doesn’t take you very far. Even here in Britain and in the US key jobs in government and in blue chip corporations are run by privately educated men and women; the majority of these people don’t send their own kids to state schools.
The Establishment has pulled a number on the masses: the state funds a basic education but the children of statesmen (including CEO of corporates) don’t go there. Hmmmm?
SAVING FOR KIDS
A good education is the minimum we should want to afford for our kids. Another thing that is ideal, is to save for your children. Even small savings add up massively over time.
Instead of rattling on, I’ll just show you the numbers. If, starting from birth, you save some money for your child every single month until their 18th birthday how much will they have?
Assume a flat interest rate of just 3% compounded monthly:
What about if you save until the 21st birthday at the same interest rate:
Note that the currency doesn’t matter here, the sums still work out the same. If you’re not a single parent and the other parent also earns then you can share the cost of saving for your kids, it doesn’t have to be a 50-50 split, just whatever works for you.
We started saving for our son from the month after he was born. The money goes into an account that will not allow us to withdraw a penny until he is 18. Literally, what goes in CANNOT come out.
Good on you if you’ve found this insight before making babies! What are your thoughts on giving your children the best chance in life?
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7/4/2015 12:28:54 pm
Hello Heather. I have become obsessed with you, your family and your blogs and vlogs. We are so alike in our thinking about money, education and wealth building. Please keep the vlogs and the blogs coming. I am learning so much from you.
7/4/2015 03:17:01 pm
Wow - Thanks Denise. I thought this blog might annoy some people. lol Please keep reading. Your kind words encourage me.
I'm not annoyed, Heather. But thank you for bringing this issue up. I am open to discussion and speak as one who comes from a large family and who also has a large family. We often feel the negativity that comes from others whether it's from the looks they give or broad-based comments. I have written an article in response to this post on my blog. https://jpcollings.wordpress.com/
8/4/2015 02:39:29 am
It may annoy some Heather, but us 'freaks' must speak out :) Have a lovely and productive day.
8/4/2015 02:21:54 pm
The topic is so on point, I didn't even need to read everything. I cannot understand why, especially these days so many of us females are "pushing" out little ones so often, unprepared and unable to cope with the expense that comes with it!
9/4/2015 07:19:57 am
I can feel how strongly you see this topic topic too. Children are not a pension indeed, if anything we as the parent may need to take care of them all our lives for reasons out of our control e.g. disability
9/4/2015 07:35:41 am
Yes Heather, I am very pumped up about this mainly because the children are the ones who hurt...unless someone else take responsibility for them (spirutually, financially, physically, emotionally, etc), they are faces with such an unpleasant, difficult life! I can speak from experience, that some children spend most of their youthful days, trying to provide for themselves (acting as adults) and may even continue to fight hard to make a life into adulthood, it can be very difficult and only the strong will make it....unfortunately.
9/4/2015 02:16:27 am
Very well researched article. I have one son and so far in my attempt to give him the best in life is quite costly. My feeling is that in this day and age whether one is filthy rich or just an average earner having many children is a hinderance to both personal and economic development, not only to the the parents but also to the children.
9/4/2015 02:49:55 am
Brilliant article. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
9/4/2015 09:53:44 am
Nice article. However, real life dictates whether you can save and put something aside for your children. Look at the job market it is not good, kids graduating from college with students loans unable to find a job. Laid off workers with college education cannot find a job or either find a job with a salary for much less than they were making. Look at the foreclosures, banks are unwilling to lend money like they use too. People are having to come up with larger down payments for house purchases. For those who are paying rent, rent payments are now what people paid for home mortgages. Lets talk about unforeseen illnesses which can seriously affect income. How about the death of a spouse that affects life styles and income and how much if any can be put as savings for a child. Your article is well written however, it does not take into consideration the whole spectrum of life.
9/4/2015 08:57:28 pm
I agree with your Godly foundation advise but the article is mainly geared towards those who may not have started a family or has only.one child. It is just a piece of advice to say "hey before you go filling up that nest you may want to take a few things into consideration"... wish I had this mindset. Here we're encouraged to get them all out of the way one time so that they can grow up together; which isn't a bad idea but the majority of Bahamians make minimum wage and that isn't enough to take care of one adult, let alone a family. Also with a Godly foundation must come WISDOM. We can pray all we want but God says He has given us the power to CREATE wealth, not pray for it. You can have all the Godly principles and still be in debt with 5 kids and excuses. After all... Wisdom is the key!
Thank you for posting this article. The title woke me out of my semi-sleepy state, as it was very thought-provoking. Yet, while I appreciate your opinion and the numbers you shared, I think that there are other variables that can contribute to poverty than having a large family. Unfortunately, many people never look at those variables, but automatically judge large families for their choice to exist.
Grace D.Y. Odonkor
9/4/2015 07:13:37 pm
Thanks heather......I love this blog on savings. Not married yet but will be thing through till the babies start coming.
11/4/2015 09:35:24 am
Interesting article, this topic often crosses my mind, but for slightly different reasons. Personally I and my husband settled for a small family as we want to give our children the best and feel a large number of children may not enable us to do that.
11/4/2015 06:29:21 pm
Ethel, you raised a very important point, that I think a number of us overlook....helping others (especially children - give them a start).
13/4/2015 06:49:57 am
I've always said more than two kids will be way too much! Uni is expensive! Heck, formula is expensive yo! I like this post and I stand by it.
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Heather on Wealth
I enjoy helping people think through their personal finances and blog about that here. Join my personal finance community at The Money Spot™.