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how much would you be comfortable with in savings for a baby?

September 21st, 2009 at 11:54 pm

I ask this because as of this moment, 7 couples that are our friends have all had children in 2009. Because we're all, to a point, open about our finances, I have a good idea where everyone is financially.
A lot of them are actually not doing that great, and all for different reasons.
The economy is partly to blame as one couple lost BOTH their jobs when the wife was 5 months pregnant.
Another couple's bundle of joy was rather unplanned, and until the time of the discovery (that would be in the form of morning sickness) had lived a complete and utter party life. Think big boozefests, weeklong holidays on tropical islands, attending every single music festival under the sun and generally wasting every cent they made. Oh, the father made ridiculous money owning a spa business, but was ridiculously matched in the way he and his partner could spend it.
The next couple you are probably familiar with, DF's sister and BIL. The sister doesn't like work that much (cough cough) and the father, while a hard worker, liked to up until recently, spend a good amount of money on his car. Coupled with the fact that the BIL is self employed, things aren't exactly great at the moment.
Another couple had a boy in high school, and now 10 years later are the parents of a set of twins. Double trouble.
And one of our closest couples have had a lot to deal with in the past year have virtually zero dollars in the bank and are living with the wifes father. This is the only couple who could not control their situation and I feel for them greatly, they are a couple who given the chance would manage their money well and put thought into their financial moves.
I've already mentioned the gambling addict in a previous entry, and the other couple I don't know particularly much about except that they bought a house in the peak of the housing boom in an apparent 'up and coming' suburb, which now has possibly bottomed out because it's right next to an airport.

Naturally having so many children born in our circle has sparked talks about children with DF and I. We've talked many times before about it and before everyone started popping out kids we'd both agreed that children were on the cards before DF turned 33 or 34 (He's 29 now) and I would be 26 or 27 (22 now). If circumstances allow, obviously. Why that age? I am one of those people that believe you should still have energy to throw a ball around with your kid after work - I'm not saying in your late thirties or early forties you can't do that, however I do think you'd have just the teeniest bit more energy comapred. And I guess I just like the idea of having kids around that age. Having experienced life a bit but still have life to give.

There are things that we'd both like to have achieved before this though. They aren't the typical things though.
I have friends that have had children while attending uni part time, so that is not a problem for me, I know it can be done.
Personally I'd like to get to a stage where I am physically fit and what I consider to be healthy. While I have friends who think I am the healthiest person they know, I guess I have a high personal standard or something. I am lax at some things, and not terribly fit. I'd like to lose a few kilograms before I have a baby, so that I know I can do it afterwards. Is that a weird thing to do? I'm fine maintaining my weight, I have for several years, but while I am at a fairly healthy weight I could stand to lose a bit.
The number one thing DF wants to do is stop drinking. At the moment he has a beer or two after work every night, and probably a few more on the weekends. I don't mind, he pays for it out of his portion of money, and it doesn't render him unable to drive each night during the week. But I think he wants to do it because it has become a habit for him, and he doesn't want to have a habit like that when raising kids.
We'd like to build a fence around the property. We have quite a busy road near our house, plus a fence was on the top of our list when we got Jed, so with a baby it would be even more. Luckily the only money we'd have to pay out would be for the materials, and the hard part would be finding the time for DF to do it.
And lastly, I guess the most important, is money. I can work from home for one of my jobs - and if we tried we could trim quite a bit of fat from our budget. So the question is, how much would we want to have saved?
We've tossed around numbers for a few months now, actually probably over a year, and have settled on 30k. Why? It's a little less than my annual wage ($38k) and for some reason that amount just feels safe. This would be on top of mortgage savings and our emergency fund.
So I realise children cost a lot and all that. We will be probably not buying a great deal of items for the baby in the first two years of it's life (yay for hand-me-downs!) I would want to stay home for atleast a year, if not more.

So my question is, how much would you want to have in savings before you decided to try for a baby?

or, how much DID you have in savings?
Did you have a lot? Did it make things easier?

Did you have nothing? How did you make things work?

What else would you want to have done?
Is there anything you will have wanted to achieve? Is there anythign you wished you'd done differently? Why?

I realise there are two extreme points of view out there in the world on the subject of having children. One group thinks children are a gift and that things like that can't be planned, and the other thinks you should have all your ducks in a row before you consider bringing another human being into the world. I think it'd be safe to say the majority of people on this site think the last option is the safest! Big Grin

9 Responses to “how much would you be comfortable with in savings for a baby?”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I'm guessing we didn't have even $2,000 when we were pregnant with our first. We had only been married 3 months and it wasn't exactly planned...but not prevented either. We had debt of $10K from DH's failed business venture, we rented, we had full time jobs, but made less than $36K per year. I still had some student loan debt. I have to say it would have been nice to have things in a better place, but I wouldn't change things at all. We've progressed in many ways because we have kids and responsibilities. I don't know it we would have been as motivated, my husband especially. He's grown up alot since we've had kids!!

  2. monkeymama Says:

    I wrote a long post that didn't go through - Bah!

    We had $30k. YEs, it made it a million times easier!!!! (Our goal was $50k but dh got laid off during my pregnancy). But keep in mind, I Was preparing as sole-breadwinner. Known unpaid time off and preparing for the unexpected (like bed rest, etc.).

    Things I wish we had done differently - dh would have kept temp or night/weekend work for his resume. I don't know any women who had the same problems, but when we felt we needed more income, employers were very blunt. Dh would never get hired with the gap in his resume. Just FYI - since you have mentioned your spouse wanting to be home. The States might be different. (& this was when the economy was good and people were hiring everywhere).

    Beyond that - expect the unexpected. Nothing will go as planned. Wink
    Of our friends, many were of the young/broke/unprepared variety. A LOT were of the "waited a long time to have kids" and struggled with the backwards slide in career and income. I always felt we kind of hit the sweet spot in the middle. We never lived up to dh's income, but because of this we had far more cushion than most people our age. My best advice is if you plan to stay home one year, practice saving your income before you have a child. Because of the ease of the financial transition for us, it is always assumed my spouse had a smaller paycheck. Not true! It was the practice of not relying on his income that made it easy. We both had equal wages when we both worked.

  3. monkeymama Says:

    P.S. I think balance is good. You can definitely wait too long. But having kids is not something I would do without care and preparation, either. Some people just don't have that luxury though. I appreciate I met my spouse young and had a LONG time to prepare, while still having kids quite young. Phew!

  4. homebody Says:

    Oh brother, we did both, young and broke.... had two daughters 20 months apart, then were very much on our feet financially, about ready to pay off a piece of property and build, when I got pregnant with #3 6 years after #2. Mmm.... I don't know if it really matters. It all works out somehow. No I am not in lala land. If you have the money, you spend more on the kids. That is what I experienced anyway. Of course I think it is irresponsible to have no job and no prospects. Actually now that I think about it, DH had just started his first "real" job when I found out I was pregnant, I think it was about a month after. We were both 20. Aaahhh those were the days.....

  5. ceejay74 Says:

    Well, I guess you know all my thoughts pretty well since I'm always blogging about it, so this might be a bit repetitive. Smile
    My feeling was that $10K would be a comfortable cushion. Looks like we'll have about $8K. But that was partially to help cover unpaid leave, and at this point it seems like none of us may take unpaid time off, and that even if we do a bit, we'll still have a budget surplus.

    Of course your calculations would be totally different if you were planning on one person staying home full time. For us the main thing was having enough of a budget surplus to be able to take on a staggering new monthly expense (childcare), and I feel pretty confident we'll be able to. I don't think any of us would be happy staying home long-term, so that was never a serious consideration. Plus, we still have to think about accelerated debt repayment if we're ever going to get out from under it.

    That brings up an interesting point too. Ideally I would have paid off a LOT more debt before trying, but I felt I had to get started sooner because of my age. It's not the energy thing you bring up that concerned me (I've always been a physically lazy person, and NT will always be a crazy ball of energy), it's the statistics about birth defects and miscarriages. As it is I'm a year older than I'd like to be, but last year our financial burden was too great to consider it. It was a delicate balancing act.

  6. whitestripe Says:

    ceejay: birth defects is also a major consideration of mine too. (not sure why i didn't bring it up in my post, must have forgotten...) seeing as we aim to have kids well before i am 30, it isn't technically an issue for me, BUT I have read that they are doing new studies into men and their, erm, contribution, and it seems the quality of sperm declines in men after the age of 35 which leads to defects too.

  7. monkeymama Says:

    On the weight - it is hard to say. I think more women are affected negatively with weight, but a lot of the time it is just for a short time (it's not just the pregnancy - it's while breastfeeding, and sometimes years later. I once read it takes something like a decade for your body to return to "normal."). Maybe "short time" isn't the right phrase! But temporary, yes.

    With my first the weight dropped off in like a week, and I could eat everything in sight while breastfeeding. The token 5 pounds I ended up probably would have come off easily if I didn't jump into pregnancy again, immediately. My second was a whole other story. Pregnancy weight came off in a flash, but then my hormones got extremely whacked and I started gaining weight like mad. I had equated breastfeeding to weight loss, and suddenly I had to diet WHILE breastfeeding, to slow the extremely rapid weight gain. I actually gained about 20 pounds after that pregancy, in just a few weeks. After easily losing the baby weight. ANyway -the body is weird! 4 years later my old metabolism has returned, and maintaining weight is as easy as it ever was, for me. The extra pounds are probably here to stay. I don't have much experience with dieting, and not much patience for it. Big Grin

  8. lilmama Says:

    With our first we only had about $3000 saved up and we were living in an apartment. After we had our son, we didn't go out as often and we were actually able to start saving more because of it. By the time we had our second two years later, we were able to buy a house, a one year old SUV, and save almost $15,000 in the bank. Now that we have a 2 yr. old and a 3 month old it seems more time is spent at home, and we save by not going to restaurants as often, casinos, movies, or nights out, which to us cost a lot more than the diapers and baby food. We were even able to cut my working 25 hrs. a week down to only 8. As for the weight, I also lost all my baby weight like monkey mama in the first month by breastfeeding, though with the 2nd it is harder and I still have 5-10 pds. to go.

  9. fruitbowlk Says:

    I really don't think babies are all that expensive. I didn't have anything saved when I had my daughter and I'm living just fine. It's all in how you choose to spend your money when they get here. I go to alot of consignment sales and I have her wear a lot of hand me down. I buy clothes out of season and I stay at the clearance rack for 80%. I don't go toy crazy. I don't have huge birthday parties. I go to free events and when they are under 2 most of the fun events at theme parks are free.

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