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Want to know what it’s like having a baby if you have debt? “Imagine you are drowning, and then someone hands you a baby.” (Jim Gaffigan)

We had our sweet baby M my last semester of law school. When I was pregnant and people found out that I was also in law school, I received reactions all across the board. “What are you going to do??” “How can you afford it?” But a question I’ve gotten a lot since we started documenting our journey paying off $650k of student loan debt is “how did you decide to have a baby when you have debt?”

In his book 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss talks about posing this question to his mom, not in the context of being in debt, but how she knew the timing was right to have him. Her answer surprised him.

The timing wasn’t right. She just wanted a baby. “For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”

That is essentially the approach I took to having a baby while, (1) still in school, and (2) in six figures of student loan debt. My husband and I wanted a baby. We had good health insurance at the time. I was in my last year of law school which meant I was taking less credits and had less stress generally speaking. The years that I will be able to bear children are literally numbered. So we went for it and figured that we would deal with the details as they presented themselves.

Here are some factors you could consider to determine whether you should have a baby if you have debt:

Reasons to have a baby if you have debt:
– You do not have forever to have a baby– your child bearing years are literally numbered
– Babies are cool
– Babies give life renewed meaning and purpose
– You simply want a baby
– You hate sleep 😉
– You have a plan in place to pay off debt AND pay for the upcoming costs of a baby.
Reasons to not have a baby if you have debt:
– You don’t want to have a baby
– The thought of having another mouth to feed while you are in debt is absolutely crushing to you
– You don’t cope with stress very well generally
– You are still young and have plenty of time to have children later when your debt is repaid.

These aren’t all the things that you should consider, but hopefully this is a good starting place for you. Obviously, the timing of when to have kids is a very personal decision. I know lots of couples who are delaying having kids until they get their student loans and other debts are repaid. It is scary bringing in another mouth to feed when so much of your income is going to debt repayment. I personally decided to go for it even though it frankly didn’t make any rational sense/cents. We had our little guy my last semester of law school before I knew where I would be working and it was scary. But I’m happy to report that everything has worked out GREAT and his arrival really motivated me to get on a budget and get going with debt repayment so we can provide a good life for him.

What do you think? Should you have a baby if you have debt? I’d love to hear from you!


  1. From a religious perspective, sometimes God tells you to have a baby (even if you don’t want to have one due to crushing debt or other reasons). I like how you brought up that there may never be a “perfect time” to have a baby. I feel like God has let me know when he would like me to have my babies. Neither time has been convenient and we’re still in debt. But as we put our faith in God and stick to a budget, it has been possible.

  2. The limited number of childbearing years is what did it for us. We got married when I was 29, if we were really aggressive/lucky we were still looking at 10 to 15 years of paying down debt. That would put me, at the youngest, at 39 before we’d even start trying. It just didn’t add up.

    It turns out that it’s good we didn’t wait as my eggs are apparently not great. I ended up getting pregnant despite pessimism from the doctor, but I expect a second child to be even harder, and may involve IVF or adoption.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing. Perfect example! Every situation is different. Time is more valuable than money and we don’t get these child bearing years forever!

  3. We were extremely lucky to have married young / have a “smaller” amount of student loan debt (husband was in the military so used the GI bill), but even if I had a lot of debt and had it over again to have our son, I wouldn’t have waited longer than we did. It’s one thing if you absolutely cannot cover costs with a baby involved, it’s another if payoff / financial goals just get pushed down the line because of it. I’m so glad we had our son when we did because it means he will also get so much more time with older family members, who won’t be around forever.

    1. Love this! Having a baby is one of the only things that I’m TOTALLY ok with not having debt paid off first. Definitely a bigger decision with more factors involved than just money. Thanks for sharing!

  4. We are trying to have a baby. I have already started planning for kids by allocating some $ to and index fund. But, we would like to have our first baby as soon as possible.

  5. We were debt free when we had our daughter. We divorced when she was two. Still debt free. Then, I went back to school- it’s what a single mom does to “better herself” and give her child a better life, right? It ended up ruining everything for my daughter and I. I have two regrets:
    I regret going back to school.
    I regret that I didn’t have *more* kids.
    Opposite of how it’s supposed to go, right? I’m an anomaly.

  6. There was no “thinking” for me when it came to having babies. They happened before I thought I was ready and definitely was not planning it. But having my first child was what caused me to actually get serious about life and to get an education. Thankfully because I was a single mother, it also afforded me many forms of assistance that helped reduce the amount of debt I took on for my undergraduate degree. Now my masters degree is a whole different story, and knew even then I should do things differently, BUT we can’t change the past so looking into the future just means being smart about paying the debt off as quickly as possible. I’m inspired by the fact that you have paid off so much debt in such a short amount of time. Thanks for sharing your story. I have talked to my kids about taking advantage of as much free education as they can, so if it means going to TCC for 2 years because they went to a Tulsa County school all 4 years of high school… do it. If you get scholarships and it covers your tuition, etc. Take it. If it means working while in college so you can pay for whatever is left, work hard. If I did it with a baby on my hip starting college, TWO babies on my hip from when I graduated with my bachelors, and now 3 biological, 2 kids we are providing with a home, plus my husband (yes, 7 people live in my home currently)… well I could finish that but it would be an opinion. I know that for ME, things have worked out and believe God has directed my path since the day I found out I was pregnant and I turned back to Him and asked for help.

    1. Love this!! And yes taking advantage of FREE college is the best decision ever. So excited for your accomplishments and raising those kids while your doing it!

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