It can be tough making the call as to whether or not to have another child. Especially when the first turns out so well and the baby bills are all paid for, making the call to “chance” another isn’t always an easy one.
According to CNBC, “The weak economy of the past five years could end up exacerbating a long-term trend toward more one-child families, as the cloud of financial uncertainty causes some parents to fret about the burden of taking on everything from daycare costs to college tuition for more than one child.”
It went on to say, “The percentage of women who reach ages 40 to 44 and have given birth to just one child has risen sharply over the past few decades, from nearly 10 percent in 1976 to nearly 19 percent in 2010, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data available.”
Personally, we took our time deciding to have our second child, and considered a variety of issues and aspects in our decision-making process, not the least of which were the financial factors.
Tracking child costs
I’m a big fan of cost tracking, and I’ve found it an integral part to discovering all kinds of ways to reduce costs, helping to create a budget, and making a variety of financial decisions. From home maintenance and repair costs, to utility consumption, and yes, baby costs, I track all our expenses, breaking some categories down even further.
One such category was baby costs. From how much we spent on diapers and formula to medical costs, furniture, and other supplies, knowing just how expensive it can be — even in just the first year — is a real eye-opener and helps to make the determination of whether to have another. Before the first year was even up with our second child, we’d already spent nearly $3,600 — and this is on the low side compared to many, since we were able to repurpose certain items from our first child and did a lot of resale shopping.
Career choices and childcare
A recent MSN Money article noted that, “According to Childcare Aware of America, a childcare advocacy nonprofit, the average cost of full-time daycare for a four-year old ranges from $3,900 to $11,700 per year….” Infant and toddler costs can be higher though, and where we live in the Chicagoland area, quality childcare costs for this age group can run closer to $12,000 a year.
This can take a hefty chunk out of a family income, and can really put a strain on a family having another child shortly after the first. In certain locations, the cost of having two kids who are both in the infant/toddler age range attending daycare can almost be the equivalent of a full-time job. This was one reason why I decided to change careers to something I could do from home while also watching the kids. This made the decision to have a second child somewhat easier since I was earning an income — albeit a lower one than in my previous career — from home while also handling the childcare duties.
Doing a “back to work” analysis
I put a lot of thought into whether I should go back to work outside the home full-time after having our first child. And doing a “back to work” analysis was certainly helpful in this decision-making process. When it comes to some of the pros of staying at home, I can list:
- Work-at-home income
- Better healthcare offered through a spouse’s employer
- Savings on childcare costs
- Savings on transportation costs
- Savings on work-related expenses such as clothing, food, etc.
- Lower income taxes due to lower earnings
When I list out some of the cons, they include:
- Lost income
- Lost benefits such as employer-sponsored retirement and higher Social Security contributions
- Lost career advancement opportunities
- Lost networking
- Diminished career potential
Weighing the pros and cons of returning to work or staying at home can help better define the situation and assess what decision is best when it comes to having a second child. However, it’s often about more than just the finances. Sure, I could be making more money working outside the home, but is that amount worth not being at home with our children? It’s a conversation we’ve had more than once, and we always tend to come back with the same answer: “No, it isn’t.”
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The author is not a licensed financial or family planning professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.