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:
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!