33 Responses to A Life Without Debt: The Decision to Remain Childless

  1. fruitbowlk says:

    I can’t image my life without my dd. She is such a blessing and she is the reason I’m staying so sane in the midst of the hardest times in my life. But it’s good to know yourself and what you like and don’t like and want and don’t want.

  2. Shane says:

    Good point..

    but on the other hand…

    when you are 75 you will have to rely totally on your financial resources and pay for Everything…

    In Irish culture, it is common for an elderly parent to move in with one of their children for the rest of their days, thereby saving 100,000s in nursing home fees, care assistant fees, taxis, eating out etc etc

  3. justme says:

    as a little girl i alaways knew i would have kids,it would have been devestating for me had I been unable

    we have many friends who decided not to have kids and changed their minds at 40 I am convinced they spend way more on their kids than we ever did ;-)

  4. getfo says:

    I think, not having any kids saves you a lot of money, but if you have at least two, 2-3 more will not cost you much extra. If you have to stay home for 2 kids, you may as well take care of 4 at the time.
    The main expence these days for any family is housing, not food or clothes. Lots of things cost you the same, whether you have 2 or 10 kids in the house: garbage and sewer bill, health insurance, lawn care expences, pet care expences. House payment would be the same in my case, because I would not live in an appartment even if I would be just by myself.
    I think, the extra money we spend on every kid’s food, clothes, and extra utilities costs, is mostly compensated by kid tax credit.

  5. Princessperky says:

    I think it is wonderful that you choose not to have children and are happy with your decision. Not everyone wants the same things, I wish more folk would respect the childless lifestyle.

    And yes I have kids, I just don’t think everyone should.

  6. Good for you!

    I think in this day and age, considering environmental and population issues, only people who REALLY REALLY want a child and can give it all the care, love and resources should have one. I wish people would just stop having kids casually.

    Shane, having kids as a social security system is a horrible view. In the times where these traditions originated there was no choice for most people – if you are too old to work in the field you starve without family. Plus, people often did not have a choice on how many to have as bc was not widespread or very effective. So they had to expand their resources to support so many kids. These days the situation is not the same, having children is a CHOICE. Children should not be planned as a back-up “pension fund” it is an unreasonable and selfish view.

    Responsibilities are connected to choices. You chose to have a child, therefore you must support it for at least 18 years. The child did not choose anything, so he does not “owe” you for supporting him until adulthood.

    I am not saying that I would let my mom be homeless if dire situation happened. I love her and we have a relationship, and she was a very good mom and I would not want her to suffer. But I do not see this as “debt”.

    And I would certainly not have my children because of consideration of support in old age. Brrr

  7. Velvet Jones says:

    I was going to say something, but Brooklyn Girl beat me to it. I can’t think of anything more selfish than creating human beings to be in your service when you get old.

    Kids as pension fund is not only lousy for the reason above, you also have no guarantee that your kids would be in a position to take care of you. As BG mentioned, times have changed. Gen X, for example is stuck caring for kids, older parents, college debt that no generation previous had to deal with, and little to no funds saved for retirement.

    Whether or not you have children, you MUST save for retirement. Even if you have family/friends that can take care of you physically, it’s unfair to expect them to accept the financial burden as well. I’d even err on the side of funding for retirement over college. Your kids can get a loan for school, you can’t get one for retirement.

  8. M E 2 says:

    I think it is Suze Orman (if not, someone of her ilk) who has coined a/the phrase: “A man is NOT a plan”
    (this is in reference to women who think getting married IS a/the way to pay for retirement)

    The same thing could/should/would be applied to having children. Having them so they can support you in your old age is INSANE. Seriously.

  9. ThiNg says:

    I don’t understand where the last couple of posters are coming from. The author of the post is converting children into an economic equation. Why aren’t you complaining about that? Shane’s comment doesn’t say that he had kids because he wanted retirement support, he is saying that a benefit to having kids is that you may get retirement support. You don’t know his reasons for having children!! He doesn’t state them. If you are offended by the thought that he had an economic reason to have children, then you should be concerned about the article which offers economic reasons NOT to have children.

    Have kids because you want them. The money stuff can be sorted out, but the one thing this author missed, and the one thing that most “DINKs” miss, is that you can’t put monetary values on LOVE, FAMILY, and GIVING. There is no amount in my retirement fund worth the hug I get from my son at the end of a long day of work.

  10. Robin@ILoveAGoodBargain.com says:

    So many of us are childless today by choice or that’s just how it happened. I did not have children as I did not want to be a young single mother without enough money to give them the best, and I used to get mad when I saw young girls with kids and no jobs, mates, etc. Now, I think, we will have to plan with our other childless friends how we will take care of each other in our old age. We’re planning to buy a big house for a bunch of us, with live-in help and on-call medical care, which will definitely cost us less than an old-age home, and will be much more fun!

  11. Shane says:

    Shane here again.

    Some background info… I’m a single man. I have no kids and they’re not on the horizon for me at the moment. I may or may not have them depending on whether I meet a life partner I want to start a family with…

    I agree 100% with OP in that people should only have kids if they really want them for the right reasons…

    OP takes the view that a side effect of not having kids is that it’s been easier to stay out of debt.

    My point is that in old age, a side effect of having kids is that they could hclp look after you if they wanted to.

    I know I would. I would feed my parents before I feed myself. Because I love them. Not because I “owe” them financially.

    My parents actually hit financial hard times 3 years agp. I was happy to help by buying a car for my Dad’s use and paying all associated costs – tax, insurance, servicing etc on an ongoing basis… because I want to….

    You’re assumed the worst about my character.

    But that’s ok… I understand it’s an emotive topic.

    Rest assured I’m motivated by love – not financial selfishness.

  12. ThiNg says:

    I think I should also add a ‘calm’ posting. The topic is very emotional and personal and I definitely took issue with the author’s tone in the article. I am married and have two small children and my parents and one brother live in my house. My parents supported me and it is my privilege to be able to take care of them. I also support my younger brother and I owe him nothing.

    I guess what I am getting at is that it worries me to see people placing subjective material values on emotions, faith, and society. I see it way too often these days, whether it’s complaining about taxes, or taking care of older parents, or having children.

    I don’t think everyone should have kids, in fact our planet can’t support that. But, I do think that the reason should never be financial. I know lots of people with ‘money’ and their nanny/maid knows their children better than they do.

    Love the people in your life (spouse, parents, siblings, kids). When you are gone, or your money is gone, you will still have had a lasting affect on their lives. Think of it as ‘banking love’ if you need to make it financial.

  13. Texas Girl says:

    I DO agree that all children should be wanted…. but that whole issue has NO place in a finance website, because children are a joy and a treasure, and you can’t put a price on that.

    AND its possible to have children and remain debt-free and financially stable.

    Before I had children I was a therapist and counseled with depressed elderly, and one thing I noticed was that the sickest, most depressed, suicidal people were the ones who had never had any children…..they were the most self-absorbed people I have ever met, and completely disgusted everyone else in the room with their self-centeredness. My guess is that they never had anything more important than themselves to think about in life, never had to make sacrifices for the well-being of another human, and as you get older and all you have to think about is YOU and your own declining health and wrinkled body and failing abilities, well, that IS depressing.

    So good luck to YOU as you get older and have nothing other than yourself and your declining health to occupy your thoughts…. hope your fat bank account keeps you happy. :)

    I have a feeling in your later years that you’ll realize financial success is way overrated.

  14. You are acting like having children automatically makes you a better human being. I don’t think it does.
    Someone who was disonest and entitled, will not suddenly stop being this way after giving birth. More likely they’ll just have more justifications for unethical behavior like “my child comes first, I’m not going to take away from them to pay back some bank”, etc.

    Marginal human beings seem to have more children than the responsible ones.
    And yes, I do think money should be a factror in this decision. I resent my taxpayer dollars going to subsidise someone else’s decision to have kids they can’t afford but want anyway.

    Love and giving…. parent is just following a biological imperative to take care of “hers” or “his”. Is this really fully “selfless”. Maybe when it comes to adoption…

    I know a childless couple in their 70s. They are amazing to each other and their life is quite nice.
    They are active, kind, adventurous, supportive, informed continuosly learning. They are fun to spend time with, even though we are in our late 20s.

    They care about social issues, environment, their students… many things.
    Even drive a hybrid and recycle everything – though they personally don’t have to worry what kind of world they are passing down to their kids.

    As for LOVE, I can’t believe how low the standards of some women are. How many families have distrustful, resentful, adversarial relationships and have kids. Maybe for them kids is the only way to know love.

    I already have love and family. My husband is kind, smart, helpful, thoughtful, problem-solving, supportive, I could go on forever. I can trust him completely. It is a rare and amaizing kind of relationship. I smile every time I hear his footsteps nearing the door….
    I know he would make amazing father and that is the main reason I personally concider having a child. a part of him, of us, all the support system and love I can have… (even with all this in place, going off bc was not a decision made lightly or casually).

    But is it a selfless act? I think not. We want OUR child, part of 2 of us. If we were to be selfless we would take one of so many who need a good family and all it can give.

  15. Alex says:

    I will remark that studies (which I am too lazy to link to) show that on average (certainly not all the time or even close to it) people with children are LESS happy than people without children. Curiously, this same study shows that people are generally happier when they think abstractly about their children than when they are actually with their children.

    I’m not saying that lots of people with children aren’t happier for it, but I do think there is a great deal of cognitive dissonance out there on this subject. Raising children is hard, grueling work. Though no one wants to admit it, kids can be obnoxious pains in the you-know-where. Having kids is an enormous financial burden and raising kids can alter or destroy parent’s life goals (hard to retire early and move to the Carribean with little Jimmy to care for). No one wants to admit that they would have been happier but for little Jimmy, but at least one study suggests that this is often the case.

  16. dawn says:

    I give you credit for taking the minority position on this topic (I prefer “child-free,” not “childless”).

    I don’t see how anyone can you are being selfish for depriving a child of a home, since until the child is born, they don’t exist, so you really aren’t depriving anyone of anything.

    You could just as easily say that parents are selfish because they and their children will consume a disproportionate share of the earth’s limited natural resources, unlike a DINK couple who, when they die, will actually cause the world population to shrink, not expand.

  17. Paula says:

    This was a very interesting article! I have one child, a five year old son, and agree that having a child does make it harder to be debt-free, especially because my son has special needs (autism). But, I wouldn’t trade all the money in the world for his beautiful face and loving personality.

    DH and I made the decision to have a child after being together for nine years (three of them married), so I know how easy it was in those earlier years to save money and basically do and go wherever we wanted to. At one point, we didn’t think we would have children because we were so comfortable with how we lived and the freedom that came with a childless lifestyle. However, my biological clock was ticking and we went for it.

    Now, DH and I are in our late 30’s and have decided not to have another child. Admittedly, this is due in part to financial reasons, but also because of our son’s disability. We both work full time and devote all of our down time to our son and our marriage. Family and friends/coworkers pushed for a while about us having more kids, but have since given up. We are happy to have a small family!

  18. Stacy Adcock says:

    I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU M E 2. I cannot belive the number of people who ask me “who’ll take care of you when you’re old if you don’t have kids?”. That is the most insane/selfish question I’ve ever heard! My mother took care of her mom and now her father and although she’d do it again 100 times over, it’s a crule thing to do to your children! My husband’s parents have secured their futures so that they will be well cared for without our help or sacrifice. With that said, we plan to remain child-free. I think this will help us remain debt-free but I know we could also do that while raising children; I see people do it everyday! As a couple (without kids) we accrued and paid off $40,000 dollars debt; it’s all about priorities. Love this article by the way.

  19. Stacy Adcock says:

    Need to make on comment to Texas Girl: I have to agree that those child-less, self absorbed people you counseled were missing something very important in their lives…and that is GOD, not children! The happiest people I’ve met/known in my life are saturated with the love of Christ but had no children.

  20. Stacy Adcock says:

    Sorry about that, totally got off topic, you’re right Shane, very emotional topic. I so proud of this site and the freedom to share financial (and other) opinions. I’m learning a lot.

  21. Here we go again, shoving religion into every opening.

    People on hallucinogenic mushrooms are even happier with absolute bliss and believe they understand the universe, so can we use that happiness as a merit as well?

    One chosen unproven belief that makes you happy is as good as the another…

    I should start posting about mushrooms as an answer to everything from now on. :)

  22. Paula says:

    One thing I didn’t mention before: some people had suggested to me the reason for having another child, so that younger child could care for my disabled son in his adult life. I think this is just as bad as parents having children because they want to be taken care of in their old age! I wouldn’t do that to a child, especially because my mother was the second eldest of seven children and was expected to “mother” her five younger siblings (and my grandmother was a SAHM!)

  23. deegee says:

    I think the article is right on. I am 45, single, male, and knew when I was 20 years old that I never wanted to have kids. That is the main reason why I have been debt-free since I was 35 years old. I paid off the mortgage on my apartment that year and was able to retire last November at the age of 45. I never have to work again and I can live off my dividend income indefinitely.

    And Stacy Adcock, I am an atheist, so your “children are from god” is totally irrelevant to me.

    With my added free time, I can do more of my volunteer work at some local area schools, so I am not totally without interaction with kids. I just don’t want any around 24/7 (along with the huge expense and daily annoyance they bring with them).

    I cannot imagine screwing up my finances by having kids and having to work until I am 55, 60, or 65 (or longer).

    And if you think I am some lonely man who can’t find a woman, think again. I have been in a steady relationship with a woman for the last 5 years. She has an adult child who lives out of state, and she is not interested in having more kids (and she can’t have any more, anyway).

    Whenever someone asks me how I was able to retire at the age of 45, my short, simple answer is this: “No kids. No debts.” In that order.

  24. Diane says:

    Don’t forget that children expect inheritances, so don’t count on spending your retirement money on yourself!! I am so glad I am not having kids. I would totally resent someone taking over my freedom, cash, free time, my love of animals. I am donating my money to a Veteranarian teaching hospital, and I am a proud fur mother.

  25. Pingback: A Life Without Debt: Whatever Will I Do In My Old Age? - SavingAdvice.com Blog

  26. Breton Wench says:

    Interesting reading.
    But spare a thought for those of us who did NOT plan for these little surprises. We knew from the start of our marriage that kids were not on the cards due to infertility, but husband and I were unperturbed and not worried about being childless.
    Finding that I was suddenly pregnant – with twins! – was infinitely more worrying.

    Nine years later and we love them to bits, for richer or poorer.

  27. Stephanie says:

    I respect your decision and don’t think in any way that you are being selfish. I have a “live and let live” about other people’s lifestyles.

    So I am not being critical when I say this, I am just amazed, much like a child would be to find out there are people in the world who don’t like ice cream. I have a STRONG maternal instinct and all my goals and plans through my entire life centered around one fact: One day I will be a mother. That’s not to say that I don’t have other identities, but being a mother is as central to who I am as being a woman, or even being a human being.

    All the hardship and stress that kids may bring is a drop in the bucket. So many of the most beautiful wonderful things in life are hard. Getting out of bed is hard, but it’s hardly living if you don’t.

  28. deegee says:

    Stephanie, you totally miss the point when you say, “All the hardship and stress that kids may bring is a drop in the bucket.”

    That may be true for YOU, for childfree people like ME, the hardship and stress we would add to our lives if we had them is not only insurmountable and intolerable but also has ZERO upside, starting with screwing up my finances and ending my early retirement.

    And why do you try to equate liking ice cream to wanting to have kids? You have drunk too much of the Kool-Aid with the so-called “Life Script” of having kids. (By the way, I can’t eat ice cream any more because it freezes my teeth and causes me lots of pain.)

  29. Joy says:

    This is a powerfully emotional topic because once you make the decision one way or the other, it’s so profoundly life-determining. And we are made to “justify” our decisions. Either we are called “childless and selfish,” or we are called “breeders” contemptuously.

    We are all people, some making new humans, some not. I’m a single mother of a little girl. She was my heart’s desire my whole life. But I know my life can be so freaking hard because I have to work a stressful job I hate because I need that good money. Life is messy and hard for most, and bless us all for trying to make the best choices we can with whatever we know about ourselves and the world.

  30. Vi says:

    All of the comments are very interesting, but I have to agree with Joy the most. Whether or not to have children is a very difficult decision, whichever way you decide. We are all just trying to make the best decisions for ourselves with what limited knowledge we have, especially of the future. It is true – bless us all for trying, & wish the best for all of us to make our own right decisions for ourselves, even if it is not the right decision for someone else. And if it turns out to be not the best decision for us, help us to be able to live with that.

  31. saundra says:

    I don’t want to snorkel in the Galapagos, I don

  32. shellsounds1 says:

    To Texas girl: I am horrified and disgusted that YOU were a therapist and counselor. Now I am as concerned with your choice to be a mother. Yes, please stay home with your brood.And never apply your lack of skills to any one but your own again.

  33. Prescott Hill says:

    Wow, an atheist. That is very interesting!

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