Having a Kid While in Debt

I am of the opinion that there is no perfect time to have kids. There will always be something on your list. A trip. A renovation. Sleeping past 6:30am. Even people who are in financially ideal situations for kids, will have some reason why they may not be ready.

We haven’t always been the most responsible with our money. Not that we were irresponsible, ย but we certainly didn’t have a clear picture where our money was going once all the bills were paid. We did what we we thought we were supposed to do. Get educated. Get job. Get married. Get house. I knew one thing though, our debt was big enough that I didn’t know how we would ever have kids. At least have them before we’re 40 (not that there is anything wrong with having children into your 40’s, just not for us). There was simply NO way we could have kids before 35 without debt. We made the decision to just go for it, debt be damned, we’d make it work.

We all hear stories about couples wanting children and it just not working out for them for whatever reason. I didn’t know how easy or difficult it may be to have a child so we simply decided one day to stop ”not, not, trying”.ultrasound

Apparently we’re fertile. The goalie was pulled in August, I was pregnant three weeks later. I certainly didn’t think it would be that easy. Now I was really freaking out. My goal with deciding we’d get serious about having a family was to finally spend a few months getting our finances in order. With the gestational period as well I thought for sure I would have oh, 1-1.5 years to get our ducks in a row before a kid came. Not nine freaking months! Apparently that’s the gamble you take…

I live my life believing everything happens for a reason. I have to in order to keep me sane. I’ve said it before but getting pregnant, having a difficult(ish) pregnancy (being put off work early as a consequence), and finally having a child, is exactly the fire under our asses that we needed. I really don’t know if we’d be on the track we are if we didn’t have a kid.

People who are in debt often have a thing, or moment, that finally makes them realize something needs to be done and for us, it was having a child.

Having a kid while in debt isn’t easy. Actually it’s significantly harder. While we pay for daycare, without this added cost, we could put the money towards debt. Me staying home to offset daycare costs doesn’t make sense for us. One, I make too much money to not work even with daycare costs and, two, I have no desire to stay home. I love my daughter more than anything in the world but I also love my career. I didn’t go to university for six years to not work. I want both.

My husband and I have to make the decision to put her first. While this is fairly common place with all parent/children relationships when you’re in debt ever single decision is important. She will always get fresh fruits and veggies, clothes, and all needs met before our wants and needs are met, no matter how basic. If we run out of something (like this week I have no salad for my lunches), I’ll deal with it. If she doesn’t have the required fruits and veggies for her meals, we will always find a way to make it work. She needs new shoes more than I need a replacement pair of scrubs for work. You get my drift.

Travel is limited with kids and being in debt. We have big plans for future travel (think desires to attend the Olympics in eight years) but for now, and until the debt is gone, our travel plans are limited. Every two to three years we plan to go to a family reunion, last year it being in Boston, and another one in the works for next year (location TBD). These trips will trump any other travel plans (like FinCon) for now.

I won’t lie, having a child while in debt isn’t easy. She didn’t ask to be born so it’s our responsibility to provide the best life we can. Every decision you make affects you and your financial situation but know what? I still wouldn’t trade it for anything. We’re making the best of it and making it work. Sure I could live in the ”what if’s” (like what if we didn’t buy a house when we did and reallocated our money) but what’s the point. This is our life, debt and all. All we can do is try our hardest to improve it.


  1. We have specifically put off marriage and kids for financial reasons. First it was because I was in grad school, and money just wasn’t there for a 5k wedding. Now it’s debt repayment time, and I can’t fathom diverting that for the backyard wedding we want. Also, honestly… we’ve been living common-law for over three years now. I don’t see the rush anymore ๐Ÿ™‚ But I need a few years of experience before I decide to think about kids. That will put me in my early-30’s. Hopefully we’ll have the same luck as you ๐Ÿ™‚
    Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted..Volunteering For A Cause.My Profile

    • Catherine says:

      Everyone has a plan. If we were more serious about our money pre-kids maybe we would have waited too…maybe ๐Ÿ˜‰ I ant imagine my life without her!

  2. There’s no perfect time to have kids. If you wait for that perfect time, you’ll end up just waiting a lot longer and probably not even remember why.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Mobile Friendly Sites Are Often Anything ButMy Profile

  3. We also had a kid while in debt and that was the motivator to get our financial lives cleaned up. That whole do as I say not as I do thing does not work at all with kids. I also didn’t want her to have to take care of us when we’re old because we were broke.
    Kim recently posted..“Smart” Ideas That Can Keep You From Paying Off DebtMy Profile

  4. You’re right, there is never a “right” time to have a kid – whether it’s your first or fourth. We were in debt when our daughter was born, and that’s the way life worked out, now we work with what we’ve got.
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted..Housing ChoicesMy Profile

  5. I think every family does the best with what they have. And you certainly wouldn’t be the first people on the planet to have a child while in debt. I am grateful that we were able to pay off our debt before children, and now it’s all just a question of when to actually have them, because yeah, still don’t feel ready!

  6. My parents had me when they were poor. My dad enlisted and I was born on an army base for $5.25. Kids happen when they happen and parents make it work. That’s the way it is the world around. You two are doing a wonderful job and should be proud of yourselves.
    Michelle@ShopMyClosetProject recently posted..My Goal To Make $5640 by May 31, 2014My Profile

  7. You have a great attitude toward it, which I am sure is helpful and really good for your daughter, too. She will grow up seeing her parents work really hard, being financially responsible and putting her first, and that’s really important. You’re right when you say nobody is ever ready for kids. Timing is really difficult, even for the debt-free!
    Daisy recently posted..Dear Nora: How Do I Manage Finances While Travelling Long-Term?My Profile

  8. Congratulations on the baby! Everything happens in its perfect time. I’m sure your family will figure it all out financially!
    Maria recently posted..Love until it hurtsMy Profile

  9. Like others have said, there is no real “right” time to have kids. We waited until we could get into a house and looking back now I wish we wouldn’t have waited, but you live and you learn I guess. That said, it was the same way timing wise for us. We were free and clear to get started and it literally 2-3 weeks later my wife was pregnant. ๐Ÿ™‚
    John @ Sprout Wealth recently posted..3 Simple Ways to Start Making Extra Money NowMy Profile

  10. You’re so right that there is no perfect time to have kids! If you waited until the money was lined up, it might never happen. That isn’t fair to anyone.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..I’ve Got Spring Fever, Do You?My Profile

    • Catherine says:

      It’s true, we could have waited a little longer (maybe waited a year or two to buy a house) but we didn’t and we’re making it work.

  11. You’re absolutely right – there is no perfect time to have a baby. ๐Ÿ™‚ There is always something standing in the way. The right time is when you feel ready to become a parent. We originally did not plan to have kids and for many years we are happy with our decision. Obviously, we eventually changed our minds ,so I did not have Lauren until I was in my upper 30s and I was closing in on the big 4-0 when I had Taylor. Like you, I got pregnant right away with Lauren which is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time! I think you’re doing an amazing job raising your baby girl while you’re getting out of debt at the same time. It absolutely can be done and you’re creating a beautiful, financially secure life for her. You should be incredibly proud!
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Conquering The Keeping Up with Joneses MindsetMy Profile

    • Catherine says:

      And there is NOTHING wrong with that. I just knew I wanted to be done having kids by the time I was like 35 is possible. Exhilarating and terrifying is a great description!

  12. My wife and I became pregnant when I was still in college. No real job yet. Not even a degree. Not everything happens at the best of times. But things do happen and we make the best of what we’ve got.
    My Money Design recently posted..Managing Financial Difficulties after a Job LossMy Profile

  13. I got pregnant before I got married to my husband who was a widower with three kids. I had four kids in less than a year of marriage. I didn’t have time to think about debt, which is why I’m paying the price now. At least your recognize your position and are working through it while raising your family. Good for you!
    DEBt DEBs recently posted..The Evil and Grace of Low Rate Cash Advance Credit CardsMy Profile

  14. There is no right time to have a kid — I also think that for any big decisions in life. My parents had me when they were broke, but I turned out ok. You guys are doing great and it’s wonderful she has motivated you to get your financial life in order. I hope you all can have a family vacation together at some point soon!
    Melanie@Dear Debt recently posted..In Defense of Expensive CitiesMy Profile

  15. I’m always amazed at ultrasound pictures. What a miracle! I enjoyed the five years I spent with my wife post marriage vows before we started having kids. That gave us time to grow together and mature before bringing a life into the world.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..My Fight Against Bandwagon Consumer SyndromeMy Profile

  16. I both love and am totally freaked out by your “not, not, trying” result, as I figured that would always be the path I’d wind up taking eventually too. Dang. 3 weeks, huh? I may need to rethink that as a valid family planning plan. ๐Ÿ˜›


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