Christmas is a time for children â but when is the best time of life to start having them? Raising a family in your twenties may seem financially impossible â but doing so later on can bring financial pressures of its own. Should you seize the present, or wait for the future?
Having a child is just about the biggest life decision you can make â itâs a new life, after all. And this new life comes with a whole sleigh-full of financial baggage. Youâre not just looking at childcare costs, but at an earnings gap as you take time off work, a potential drop in earning power if you return work part-time (or a bigger drop if youâre a full-time mum), and the long-term costs of raising kids to school age and beyond. Plus of course youâll also need somewhere for all of you to live.
To raise a family requires money â but do you make the money first and then get round to the babies, or do it the other way round?
Any time can be the best time if you follow these 10 financial tips
- Start saving as early as you can
Unless youâre sure you will never want children, assume you will! Itâs a good idea to start setting aside a âfamily fundâ as soon as you start earning. Regular savings accounts, stocks & shares ISAs and bonds are a great way to build up a medium-term reserve for a set point in the future. Even if you change your plans when the fund matures, the money will still come in useful.
- Beware the earnings gap
There is some evidence to suggest that women who have children under the age of 25 fall further behind in their careers, though the reasons for this arenât clear.
- Donât let buying a house delay you
Many people end up having kids later than they planned because of the wait to get on the property ladder. Be realistic about this, as you donât need to own a home to start a family. Admittedly itâs harder to get a mortgage the older you get, but the time limits on having children are even tougher.
- Get the best mortgage while you can
If you do think youâll delay having children, then get on the property ladder as early as you can, because youâll have more flexibility from mortgage lenders when youâre young, and the repayments may cost you less. If youâre trying to buy a home when older, youâll find it hard to get a loan that takes you past the age of 70, and the amount of money you can borrow may shrink too.
- Remember your pension
Try not to neglect your pension contributions even if money is tight. Contributions made while you are younger have more overall effect on the pension pot (because of compound interest), meaning you could (if necessary) reduce them later when the children are grown up and need more financial support from you. If youâre an older parent, you may find you still have dependent children when nearing retirement age.
- Set up savings accounts for your children at birth
Childhood lasts a long time, and you know the end of it is going to bring extra costs like higher education. Use that time to build up some compound interest and youâll have more to spend on yourself when they fly the coop (and youâre still young).
- Note that life insurance gets costlier with age
The cost of life cover roughly doubles from the age of 25 to 45, so factor that into your calculations.
- Bear any âother familiesâ in mind
Starting a family later in life increases the chances that one of the partners may already have children from another relationship, with all the associated financial pressures to take into account.
- Donât let money be the boss
If you want to start a family, and can afford the basics, then treat other financial concerns as secondary. Once you have children your priorities will rearrange themselves, and expenses that once seemed essential may become trivial to you. Put the most important goals first and fit the rest of your finances around them.
- Talk to a financial adviser
It might seem odd to consult a financial adviser about starting a family, but at any age this can make a huge difference. Your adviser can map out all the financial milestone associated with raising children and help you prepare for each one. Find an adviser near you today.