SPINOFF: How much $$$ do you need before planning a baby?

posted 1 year ago in Babies
Post # 2
4060 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

And don’t forget things like paying for medical bills, potentially for conception and then birth!

We’re in Canada, and our city has a relatively low COL. However, we also like to go on a few trips a year, eat out, buy new clothes, I get my hair done, etc. So in order to do all those things plus afford the kind of life we want for our kids (we plan to pay for their college, my son is in extra curriculars plus FT daycare) I’d say you’d want to be in the three figures as a household easily.

We have a second on the way, and considering daycare alone will cost us about 24k per year, I’d say closer to 150-200 for me personally to be comfortable.

Now that’s not to say people can’t do it with far less and be comfortable and happy, it’s just where I prefer to be.

Post # 3
5409 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

I don’t have a specific salary in mind but we currently own a flat in a very expensive city and our number one goal is to own a house.  We plan to sell in around 2/3 years and buy a house, once we renovate it we will be financially ready to have kids as we won’t have any major outgoings.  We earn okay salaries for our age but we want to own a decent home before having kids as it would just be impossible to save the amount we need once we factor in childcare. 

Post # 4
9391 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I don’t think a flat number is really applicable due to so many variables.

Personally I’d like close to 6 months of salary in savings, plus enough to cover my lost wages during maternity leave. Oh and enough to cover my insurance deductible too (mine is only $500 but I know many people’s is into the thousands).

I don’t think it’s realistic to say anyone can afford a child at any time.

Post # 5
1638 posts
Bumble bee

I would like our combined income to be about 300K, but I live in a very high COL area where childcare costs are also very high. 

Post # 6
166 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

I think it depends on a lot of factors and just coming up with one number for any given area is not reasonable.

For instance, my husband and I have a nice house and we have to afford the mortgage. Our annual salary has to cover that, plus all the other variables like car insurance, health insurance, our food, clothing, what type of vacations we like, etc. That’s not to say though that we could have a smaller house or a house further from the city center that costs less, but we like being close to the city.

I think that for anyone to have a child they have to think through the reasonable child expenses and think about can they afford that on top of their current lifestyle, whatever it may be. For instance, consider daycare costs OR the lost salary of one parent if someone will be staying home. Think about cost of formula if you can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, diapers, what items you might be able to get handed down to you from friends and family and what you will purchase new. And then think about 5 years from then – are the schools good in your area or will you need to pay for private school? How expensive are extracurriculars like camps, sports, dance, etc? Do you want to start a college fund? There are so many questions and the answers are different to each person.

If you can reasonably afford the things that you think you’ll need for your kid without sacrificing your current lifestyle and savings plan, then I’d say you’re good to go.

Post # 7
2029 posts
Buzzing bee

There’s so many variables like COL and debt to income here, that what might work for one person in terms of a set # won’t work for someone else.


What we considered more than anything is how badly to we want our current lifestyle to be impacted? We already pay child support for DH’s first child, so we’re not exactly DINK’s, so we just had to calculate what the cost of adding a 2<sup>nd</sup> child to the mix would be, and how we’d handle childcare and which job offers the most flexibility between ours and which one has the better commute, etc.


We decided that I would be leaving my job to stay at home while baby is a NB (I’m 17wks pregnant right now) and go back to work PT and local (I commute 2+ hours a day) when he is about 6 months old. This will definitely impact our lifestyle some, since right now I’m working FT with a decent salary. That means no eating out as much, not having a big vacation for a little while, cutting back on our cable/internet/cell phone plans and  really living lean for a little while. I think the pros outweigh the cons here, because the majority of my income would’ve been going to daycare, extended care costs, gas for commuting and some of the conveniences that are associated with long commutes (eating out more than we would just being at home, for example)

Post # 8
359 posts
Helper bee

I wouldn’t want to have kids unless I knew I could maintain my current style of living so I’d say my salary and my partner’s both would need to more than double. I like to take a yearly vacation abroad as a language teacher, so that’s not really a negotiable. If I’d have to put aside not only for myself & my partner but also a child in addition to the other normal needs for a kid, it’d be way too much.

Post # 9
1385 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: February 2011

We’re not interested the US but we can live on approx $80k (this includes saving for retirement) but our lifestyle is much more comfortable and we are able to get ahead on $100k.

Post # 10
1229 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

The largest sources of cost for children are:

– Child care

– Education/extra-curriculars (later)

– Medical expensives (both at birth and ongoing through the child’s life)

– Food & clothing (and other material goods)

Depending on where your priorities lie these buckets can be as large as you want them to be and you can always throw more money into them. However some of them are quite difficult to do for little unless you have a great support network.

E.g. Child care – hard to get around unless one spouse can be supported by the income of the other or family members can be relied on to provide care on a regular or even full-time basis.

Medical is another one where if your child actually has medical problems, you’re pretty limited in how to lower costs but you never know if your child will have medical issues/high costs or not. You can prepare with purchasing good insurance, but that’s about it.

Education, material goods, extra-curriculars — this is where I think posters on the Bee have way higher target costs/spending than the average family. Is it desireable to be in a neighborhood with good education system? Of course. Is it an absolute MUST to meet the needs of the child? No. Is it desirable to be able to provide your child with ample clothes, travel experience, enrichment activities, etc? Yes. Is your child guaranteed to be a failure in life forever without them? Obviously not.

For me, the bare minimum to have a child would be:

1. Income to afford child care until the child(ren) goes to school

2. Income to afford a generous health insurance policy

3. Income to maintain a modest standard of living while still saving for retirement and having an emergency fund to cover loss of income for 6 Mos minimum (pref a year)

I woud love to pay for my children’s college/university education but I’m not going to forego children entirely if I cannot. However I wouldn’t want to raise a child in an environemnt where I was worrying about losing my house/affording food/meeting basic material needs. 

FYI – Husband and I are fortunate to be able to afford a high standard of living and so we do thnk about buying houses in the ‘right’ neighborhood and affording luxury extras of summer camp and travel BUT I fully recognize that they are luxuries and not requirements for having children.

Post # 11
749 posts
Busy bee

FH has very expensive taste. We like to take multiple vacations a year, he loves his cars, and his “toys” (as he calls them, skis, four by four, etc). Luckily I don’t have expensive tastes. I don’t like expensive jewelry or cars, and I like cooking so we don’t eat out as often as we used to. Still, we need at least 500k a year to keep this up and have two kids. I’m grateful that he works hard to keep up with his expensive tastes because he can make more than enough by himself to provide for us. We’re planning on TTC next year. The downside is that, because my FH is a wonderful provider, he is gone a lot. Surgeons are so busy and even when he’s not operating, he has papers to edit and conferences to travel to. I used to go to all these conferences with him but with our pups and me going back to school for two years, it just doesn’t seem likely I can go on them anymore. We end up having to spend a lot of time apart and he doesn’t get to rest. I swear he’s aged so much faster than our friends because he works so hard. 

All this said, my parents and his parents raised 2 and 3 children with less than 60k a year. We just never took vacations but we always had food and a roof over our heads. Public school was fine for us. I think our two sets of parents did wonderful. There’s no need to be rich to have children but they did sacrifice a lot. On the upper hand we definitely learned the value of a dollar and hard work. 

Post # 12
9163 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

we had a comfortable amount in savings.  then that all went to pay for IVF.  so we essentially had zero savings (as a couple) when i finally got pregnant. but we made it work until we were able to save up again.



Post # 13
9812 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

There is really a lot that goes into this. Where you live (COL) is a big one, if you have family around to help (for better or worse one of my good friends mothers watches both of her kids and her siblings child so no daycare), lifestyle choices, etc all go into the equation.  You should sit down and make sure you have a line item budget now to see where you spend your money.  Then do some research on daycare (if needed) and increases for health insurance premiums and expenses (in the US) and see if you can fit that in and if not, how much more money you need. 

Healthcare expenses and childcare (or losing one income if one parent is going to stay home) are the largest expenses.  Everything is more or less variable. Also making sure you are contributing to a retirement.  You don’t want to have kids and then have to rely on them later. 

Activities will most likely come up later on that most people want to do like $50/mo for swim lessons or gymnastics or soccer or whatever.  Vacations are a personal preference.  When I grew up we weren’t nearby to our grandparents so my parents had to spend a lot of their own leave time taking us to visit them which makes for cheap vacations even though we did have “real” vacations sometimes. I have bought $3 dresses from consignment for my daughter and $45 ones, all of that is just a personal preference.  Food cost increases (especially eating out) but I don’t find it as substantial as childcare and health costs.  Those are your big ones.  Also at least some in a savings account would be preferable to me so you’re not going into debt for unexpected expenses.  Maybe $2-3K minimum.  You do not need $100k in your savings account to have kids but if possible you should at least have a buffer and steady incomes.

I live in the midwest in a lower COL area and you could have 2 kids and afford most of the things you would want with $80-$100k yearly income (healthcare, childcare, maybe cheaper vacations, good public schools, more modest lifestyle but still able to provide extras like swim lessons, etc).  If you have free or extremely cheap childcare (like a relative) then that amount would be even lower.  We both work fulltime and I spend $26k a year for a 1 year old and 4 year old at a fairly nice center (but still not the priciest around).  But we have a small house still currently and my mortgage is only ~$1k/mo for 3 bedrooms.  We got in at a good time as housing has increased quite a bit since we bought it.  Obviously there are people around here that make it work for much less but that is what I imagine a good amount of income to live modest but comfortably without worrying every week about bills or anything.  

Post # 14
491 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

azf0019 :  depends entirely on where you live. I’m in the UK so I don’t have to consider medical / insurance costs, and I have nine months of maternity leave fully paid. I’m 6 months pregnant and we will have around £2k in savings. But we can make this work because I’ll give birth for free and I’ll be paid for the time off work, so our lifestyle essentially won’t change. Once I go back to work I hope to return part-time and most of that salary will go on childcare, so we’ll just need to live more frugally. We live in London, a very expensive city, and neither of us are highly paid. Our joint salary at the moment is the equivalent of US$86k but when I work part-time this will be around US$70K. We’re considered average in terms of salary I think, and most people with kids manage fine on this.

In the UK, from the age of 3 you get 15 hours per week free childcare so by the time we have two kids we’re hoping one will be over 3, keeping our situation the same!


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