With the legalization of same-sex marriage, queer couples have been solidifying relationships as fast as they can say “I do.” However, queer couples have familial considerations that, until June 2015, were like AstroTurf to grass.
Having children is not easy, financially or emotionally, and for older couples, the financial and emotional burden may be hard to overcome. That’s why we decided not to have children. We made this choice not because we don’t like kids but because of the time and place in which we were born.
In part, because our relationship experiences were five to 10 years behind our straight peers, we settled down about 10 years later. When our relationship evolved to a point where we could think about supporting kids, we felt it was too late.
At the time, we already had $51,000 in credit card debt. We knew we needed to pay that off as quickly as possible and then focus on saving for retirement. We couldn’t do that to the degree we felt necessary while giving our kids the life we felt they deserved.
The Financial Costs of Kids
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost to raise a kid until 18 as of 2013, the most recent year for which data was available, was $245,340. When we considered these costs in addition to our credit card debt and retirement needs, we were overwhelmed.
And when we considered the Human Rights Campaign’s estimate that the cost for a gay couple to have a domestic adoption ranges between $5,000 and $40,000, the prospects of having kids seemed downright impossible — and even selfish. We didn’t feel we could give our kids the life they deserved without sacrificing our retirement. If we did the latter, we feared we’d be a burden if we got to a point where we could no longer care for ourselves.
The Emotional Costs of Kids
Had we been more emotionally and financially mature when we were younger, having kids may have been more viable. Having suffered our financial insecurity, we didn’t want to put ourselves in a precarious position again.
We’ve shared many times that one of our best financial decisions was figuring out what we most want in life. This gave us the focus to pay off our credit card debt and helped us stay out of it. One of those two wants is being prepared for retirement.
Knowing what we do now, we would be on an emotional roller coaster, stressed about our retirement, while raising our kids. The expectations (read: costs) for children are high in dwindling middle-class America. Our relatives once told us they spent $2,000 each on their two kids for six weeks of soccer camp. That doesn’t even factor in costs for the rest of that season or the fact that neither of those kids will ever become professional soccer players. Still very young, those kids will be lucky if they’re able to stay interested in soccer, much less good enough to receive a college scholarship.
Cynics will say we shouldn’t get caught up in the superficiality of raising kids today, but we know that’s easier said than done. It’s not socially acceptable to advise people to not have kids, and there’s often a stigma for couples who don’t. Some even make the decision not to have kids out to be selfish and self-serving.
For us, our concern was exacerbating the financial mistakes we made in our younger years and being a burden on our kids. When deciding whether or not to have kids, it’s important to remember your kids’ whole life — not just the day the stork brings them home.
[Editor’s Note: You can monitor your financial goals, like building a good credit score, each month on Credit.com.]
This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.
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