How can we afford to have children?
March 28, 2012 10:35 AM Subscribe
Please help me understand how to make our home economics work: we want to have children, but I don't see how we can afford to.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My spouse and I currently live in Europe. We have relatively safe and well-paying jobs, putting us just slightly above the median for households where we live, and european maternity leave policies. We live as cheaply as we can already, in a small city apartment, no car, etc., but this is a very expensive country and we feel a little stretched already.
With the exhorbitant cost of housing, even higher cost of daycare, and family financial obligations, it seems like we may not be able to ever have kids. Short version of the question: should we try to have kids even if it seems financially impossible, or should we give up on the idea? Do you have a story of having kids when it seemed impossible? How did you make it work?
We both work full time and will need to continue to do so, me because I am the primary breadwinner by far, and her because she loves her job and would never give it up (and I wouldn't ask her to). Because we don't have family nearby, that means daycare.
However, I can't figure out how daycare is financially possible. There seem to be two options: subsidized daycare at a high, but maybe doable rate and private daycare at a rate that about equals US private college tuition (no, I'm not kidding). Private daycare is simply impossible financially. The subsidized daycare seems like maybe a good idea (even though it still would cost almost $2000 a month), but there is a 3-4 year wait list. Nannies cost somewhere inbetween the two, but much closer to the out of reach end of the range. We would pay a nanny more than my spouse earns, by a good margin.
So if we don't have family to watch a potential kid, can't have one person stay home, probably can't get subsidized daycare in time, and definitely can't afford private daycare, what do we do? We could just say to hell with it and try and then see what happens, but it seems like what will happen is everything coming to a screetching halt as we realize we have no money, have to move, but have no jobs to move to. I don't want that.
There has to be a way out of this, but I don't see it. The culture where we live is for the woman to stay home at least half time once children are born, and the tax and schooling systems are set up to facilitate (or require?) this model. But if this traditional set up won't work for us, what do we do?
I'm afraid the answer is that we choose between having my spouse work her beloved job and having children. I don't want this to be the answer. What am I missing?
(Extra bonus complication: right now much of my spouse's salary goes to her family, who are in need. We might be able to afford kids if we didn't support the family, but then they would be homeless. This would also be going back on our promise to support them. For various reasons including mental illness, this family cannot participate in any child care. So having children feels extra selfish knowing that it might mean disrupting or ending the much needed help we give.)