You Don’t Have To Have Kids

I’ve spent a lot of time with kids over the years. I babysat in high school. I was a nanny in college. Now 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. 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. They use 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 off 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.

Here’s more of our feminist killjoy advice for disappointing your parents in every aspect of your life:

*Pregnancy is both awe-inspiring and terrible. Let no one convince you otherwise.

15 thoughts to “You Don’t Have To Have Kids”

  1. +1000 for the use of that Anya gif. Even though I just squatted out my own poop-and-snot monster (and paid the hefty medical bills for the pleasure), I can so get behind this. Everyone should be free to make their own choices about reproduction without weird, pressuring comments.

    P.S. I did buy used cloth diapers off the Internet. So hand-me-down diapers actually are a thing! If you can stomach the idea…

    1. I have literally waited my whole life to use that gif. 😀
      And I applaud your bravery for getting used cloth diapers for your (definitely adorable) poop-and-snot monster. Is there a service that recycles them and passes them on, or did you use something like Craigslist? I have so many questions!

      1. Facebook marketplace! You can “strip” used diapers (clean them real good with lots of chemicals) before using them. It’s a little weird conceptually to buy used diapers from someone in a mall parking lot (that’s where I chose to meet up for the exchange of cash and diapers), but the kid’s just gonna poop and pee in them anyway, right?

        1. I had no idea this shady, mall-parking lot, black market of reusable diapers existed! I’ve never stood more corrected in my life!
          Seriously though, this is awesome from both an environmental and financial perspective.

          1. I also have 2 drawers full of used diapers! All were gifts from two mom friends who blazed the cloth trail before me, one of which is the world famous Tread Lightly Retire Early. They have held dozen of loads of baby grossness, and I fully intend to pass them on for more landfill-space-and-money-savings to similar minded friends who are not easily grossed out. Or in a shady mall parking lot to a stranger, whatever.

  2. I’ve often wondered if the parents/ grandparents etc. badgering you is because you, as a former child, are mostly in contact with older people who have had kids (you/ your friends/ your cousins) and therefore probably be pretty biased on the whole “yay kids!” thing.

    1. I bet that’s certainly a contributing factor. Most older childfree people I know don’t badger anyone about it. But occasionally I get young people who haven’t had kids being rude about the choice because… well, I have no idea. But I’m open to suggestions.

    1. I am the exact same way with my friends’ kids. I bought a bunch of plastic dinosaurs for the garden so they would have something to hunt while the grown ups talked!

  3. I feel so related to this post. I am the second child of 6. I took care of my siblings, cousins, and family friends’ kids all my life. I was au pair in another country and I still babysit as a side job. People often tell me, “you don’t know what its to have kids becausr you dont havr ypur own ones”, but I always think, “Oh he’ll, yes I know what it is like ad that is exactly the reason I don’t want to have them.
    I am spending $500 USD this week on my hair and I am only able to do that because I am childfree and I deserve to spoil myself and feel great.

    Great article!

  4. Thank you for this post! We are all fortunate to live in the historically tiny sliver of time when we have the ability to CHOOSE whether or not to procreate. This is an amazing thing, and I’m not just saying that because my mother ran our local Planned Parenthood. But being exposed from an early age to the concept of parenthood being a choice was really liberating.

    Society — hell, the entire planet — will be better off if only those people who really WANT to be parents, become parents. The misery of being unwanted, unloved, abused, neglected…frankly it boggles my mind that there are pro-birth factions out there trying to force people to have babies they do not want to have. WHO benefits from this, economically? Why is this stance good public policy? A sane nation would support the children who ARE born, and do everything in its power to make it easy for people to choose what is right for them.

    But I digress. This is a personal finance blog so I will close by saying that choosing to be childfree has certainly been an important factor on our road to early retirement.

  5. Not for one second have I ever felt the urge to reproduce. When mommy blogs became a thing way back when, I would read them and think “fuck that”. But I’m happy to pay taxes too for schools, etc. The more taxes those kids pay in a few years, the more secure my social security is (I hope).

    So, yeah. Breed, people, breed! But excuse me while I sip my wine and save my money!

  6. Mom of 3 kids chiming in! I love them dearly, but I recognize all too well the financial costs of having/raising children. For me personally, I had my first child at 18 (graduated high school at 17), so there was an enormous opportunity cost for me.

    At the time, my parents watched him while I worked evenings cuz I couldn’t afford childcare. What jobs did I miss out on because I wasn’t available to work daytime hours? What education opportunities did I give up because of my responsibilities as a parent? What about the ability to relocate to areas with better jobs?

    Like I said, I love my kids dearly, but I’m now almost 35 years old and only reached a modicum of financial stability a few years ago. My kids have seen the struggle I’ve had to pay the bills, put food on the table, and provide them with the necessities of life (clothing, birthdays, a modicum of entertainment such as toys and stuff). I can’t count the number of times they’ve asked me for something while shopping (drinks and/or candy, usually) and I was forced to tell them no because I didn’t have the money for even the small extras.

    This is why I’ve told my kids repeatedly over the years that if ANY of them comes to me before the age of 20 and tells me I’m gonna be a grandmother, I’m kicking their asses. They’ve seen firsthand how difficult it is to be a parent at such a young age (and a single parent for much of that time), and with the laws in place now, it would be difficult to impossible to have an abortion (if that was their choice) considering where we live.

    So yeah…from my personal experiences, I would NEVER talk shit to someone who said they didn’t want kids. Personally, I wish I had been older and somewhat on stable financial footing before my oldest was born, because the past 16 years have been a real struggle financially, mentally, and emotionally. And yes, that’s taken a toll on my physical health as well.

    1. I am SO glad you shared your story!!! And holy shit, you are a strong Amazonian warrior of a mother, not only for struggling through that experience, but for having the compassion and self-awareness to come to this conclusion about having kids.

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