I’ve spent a lot of time with kids over the years. I babysat in high school, I was a nanny in college, I look after my friends’ children on a regular basis, and I’m the proud auntie of the World’s Cutest and Smartest Nephew (he blew the competition out of the water). In fact, I have so much childcare XP that babies magically stop crying the second I pick them up and I can prevent small children from smearing spaghetti sauce on the wall with barely a glance.
All of this time spent with other people’s children has made me absolutely certain of one thing: I don’t want to have kids.
Fortunately for me, I don’t have to. And neither do you.
My purpose here is not to convince you not to have kids. That would be pointless, obtuse, and more than a little mean-spirited. Besides: I don’t fucking care whether or not you choose to reproduce. It ain’t my business. But sooner or later here on Bitches Get Riches I’m going to be talking about all the ways kids cost you money, along with some of the ways you can save money raising them.
So before we delve into all that, it’s important to establish that raising children is an entirely optional lifestyle, with many variations, none of which are qualitatively better than any other lifestyle option. Capisce?
Kids are hella expensive
Personal choice aside, the fact remains: kids are hella expensive.
“Oh, they’re not THAT expensive,” the super-mommies will claim, using a clever combination of condescension and lack of specificity to convince us all that finances aren’t a valid reason not to reproduce. Setting aside for a moment the fact that “expensive” is a completely subjective term depending on your personal economic status, kids do cost something. It’s just math: feeding, clothing, housing, medicating, and educating another human being costs exponentially more money than only doing that stuff for yourself.
You can mitigate those costs to a degree (using hand-me-down clothes and toys, for example), but you can never completely erase them (hand-me-down diapers are… not a thing). And I haven’t even mentioned the medical costs associated with creating a whole entire person using nothing but your body and some outside nutrients!*
So no matter how you slice it, bringing another human into this world will affect your finances. Probably dramatically, but fine, sure, for some people it’s “not THAT expensive.” It’s totally relevant to factor kids or an absence of kids into your financial future.
So if you decide not to have kids, you can just cross that line item off your long-term life budget. Conveniently, you just saved yourself a lot of money and time. Proceed to the next stage of life optimization!
If you want kids, you should have kids
I firmly believe that anyone who wants to be a parent should find a way to make it happen. If that’s something that’s important to you, then by the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly appendage, you must not rest until it’s a reality. I don’t totally understand the mindset of those who feel mysteriously driven to reproduce, but again: that’s nunna my bidness. So you do you, parents of the world!
Some people find ridiculous amounts of joy and fulfillment in raising children, even though they’d probably be richer or retire earlier if they didn’t have them. For these people, kids are the point. They’re worth it. Kid-having should not be reduced to a foolish and wasteful financial decision. And those who choose to parent deserve the respect of those of us who have chosen not to populate the Earth with future generations.
If you don’t want kids, YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE KIDS
Unless you’ve been living in a blissfully ignorant feminist utopia for the duration of your life, then you might have noticed that society at large seems to make a strangely big deal about the question of whether or not women will have kids. Everyone from nagging in-laws to inappropriately familiar party guests thinks it’s entirely normal to interrogate non-parents about when/if they’re going to breed. And the question itself would be almost fine if it wasn’t for the infuriating follow-up comments. You know, these ones:
- Oh, I’m sure you’ll change your mind.
- Well you better hurry up. You’re going to be too old soon!
- Aren’t you worried you’ll regret not having them?
- You’re too young to make such a big decision.
- Oh, you just haven’t found the right man yet!
- Kids are life’s greatest joy! Why would you deprive yourself?
- Don’t you want to give your parents grandchildren?
- What’s wrong with you?
The most succinct answer to all of which is a swift but firm “Fuck off.” Though I hear society frowns on this sort of uncouth response, so I usually just excuse myself with:
If you’ve decided kids aren’t for you, then you should ignore these rude motherfuckers without guilt. Just as no one else should choose your career, where you live, or your life partner, so no one should try to guilt or pressure you into using your body to sustain the life of another human being. For real: I can imagine no more miserable existence than spending the rest of your life regretting something as enormous, permanent, and long-lasting as parenthood. And it happens.
Your feelings are valid, your reasons reasonable, your logic infallible where this important life decision is concerned. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to be a parent because you really like sleeping in on the weekends, because you’d rather dedicate your life to public service, or because you find children’s toys antithetical to your mid-century modern décor. Whatever the reason, if you don’t want them, you don’t have to have them.
Choosing not to have children is both perfectly normal and rewarding. Nothing is more fulfilling than living the life you’ve chosen for yourself, the life you want, even if it doesn’t include kids of your own.
You can’t entirely opt out of kid-related expenses
Having children (or not!) is a decision of monumental, dizzying importance to your lifestyle and finances, but it is a decision. An important one. Too important, in fact, to make under outside pressure, or because everyone else is doing it. This one decision will significantly impact every aspect of your life until you’re dead, from your finances to your physical and emotional health.
And yet, whether you’ve decided parenthood is for you or if you’d just rather not, you’re not entirely exempt from custody over the next generation.
As a childfree adult, I’m not completely of the hook when it comes to the costs of raising kids. I pay taxes for schools and playgrounds for the children of my neighbors. Though I don’t benefit directly from these public services, I still pay for them, and happily!
I wish I could just say, “You’re fucking welcome.” But the truth is, supporting children with my taxes is in my best interest. When I’m old enough to simultaneously get away with ridiculous hats and brutal honesty bordering on rudeness, I want to be surrounded by doctors, social workers, and caregivers who have been exposed to the best education and early childhood care my tax dollars could afford.
So you see, we’re all in this together.
*Pregnancy is both awe-inspiring and terrible. Let no one convince you otherwise.