Kids, Money and High School Graduation Day
In a few hours, my firstborn child will walk across a stage
and receive her high school diploma. It’s been 18 years in the making and now
we are here. One of the milestone days any parent looks forward to.
It seems like only yesterday.
You hear people say this phrase all the time, “It seems like
only yesterday.” Well, it’s true. Mom and dad are really feeling that today. I
was just talking with a friend this morning about how quickly time passes. And
I can vividly remember the day my daughter Kelly came into this world.
What a joy it’s been to raise this child. She’s been
obedient…kind to her siblings…dependable and reliable…driven…generous…sweet.
And I’ll tell you something else she has been…costly. (Hey,
this is a personal finance blog…what did you expect me to talk about.)
OMG, as the kids say, has she been costly. From diapers, to
piano and taekwondo lessons, to basketball camps, to doctor visits and stitches,
to car accidents and insurance bills, to private school education and senior graduation
expenses…ahhhhh! Kids cost so much money!
And it isn’t stopping any time soon…in August she heads to college.
Should You Wait to Have Kids?
I don’t know how much money I’ve spent on my daughter. If I
wanted to, I could probably get a rough estimate by analyzing my Quicken files
for the last 15 years. I’m sure the number would shock me. Some
estimates I’ve seen say the average family spends close to $250,000 from
birth to age 17.
But here’s the thing – I really don’t care.
I’ve never cared about spending money on my children. It’s just something you sign up for when you decide to start a family. And you do whatever you can within the confines of your monthly budget to make sure they have access to things that will help them thrive spiritually, emotionally and physically.
I hear some newly married couples say they are going to wait
and start a family until they are “ready.” There is nothing wrong with that. My
wife and I were married for four years before we had our first child. Those
were precious years of building and strengthening our own relationship.
But we didn’t wait because of or over money. We did pay off
some school debt in those early years before kids, but our minds were never
fixated on that. If we had wanted to start a family sooner, we wouldn’t have
let our lack of money stand in the way.
Here is the thing – who IS really ever ready for kids? It’s not like they come with a manual.
And you can’t really be ready to deal with the kind of financial numbers we are talking about. I’m pretty confident in saying nobody saves $250,000 before they have their first child. Maybe they save enough for an emergency fund but not $250K.
So, if you want to start a family, then start. With the right tools, wise decision making and proper financial discipline along the way, you can figure it out as you go. It’s not as hard as you think.
And you will want to make the financial sacrifices because you love your child.
Don’t Let It Pass You By
Your years here on this earth are going to go by so quickly.
The Bible tells us our lives are like a vapor, here one day and gone the next.
We don’t have much time in the grand scheme of things.
Your kid’s lives will go by even quicker. It’s hard for me
to imagine that Kelly may have her own family within a decade, and I’ll be a…gulp…grandfather.
It seems like only yesterday that she arrived.
So, to all parents – cherish the time you have with your kids.
You’ll never get them back, not like you have them now.
To would-be parents – don’t let finances be the reason you
put off having children. Money shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether you
start a family.
And to Kelly – words cannot describe how proud I am of you.
What a blessing you have been to us. I can’t wait to see how the next chapter
of your life unfolds.
And don’t ever worry about how much you’ve cost us. You are absolutely worth every penny.
Questions for Discussion: How did you decide to start a family? Were your finances a consideration?