At first glance, this might not be something that belongs in a personal finance blog. But since this is our personal finance blog, I get to add a dash of philosophy on top of our frugal lifestyle and saving hacks.
As the title says, at the present moment, neither Mr. E. nor me are interested in having children. We have discussed this several times, and usually we reach a conclusion akin to “Well, if we really want to raise children, there are plenty of children already on the planet who needs some love.”. Right now though? We are happy being a small, childless household.
Sure, this can be explained by the cost of having and rearing a child. But to be completely honest, that is not the main reason we have reached this decision.
Neither of us have travelled that much yet. We lived abroad for a few years, but never outside of Europe. While the option of travel is a minor thing, the bigger argument for the both of us is that we still have a plethora of things we would like to focus our time on. We have not prioritised looking for a flat which allows pets in order to adopt, because we haven’t had the time, economy nor willingness to commit. Considering how a child is an even bigger and more long-term commitment, it is simply not the right choice for us.
Writing, activism, blogging, creating a business, all of these are things that we would not be a able to spend as much time on with a child in the mix. I have no issue with people who prioritise differently. For us though, this is how we wish to spend our time right now, tinkering away at the various projects and brainchildren we have going on. Mr. E. is not willing to give up his writing aspirations, and I have a job that will demand 100 % of me for the next handful of years.
I will admit it, as a big, concerned environment geek, this was probably the biggest factor for me in choosing whether or not to bring biological little humans into the world. As the above image shows, there is no personal choice that will impact your personal contribution to climate change as much as having a child (or having another child, as the choice might stand for some).
We don’t have a car, I walk to work every day, we eat a primarily plant-based diet, we line dry our clothes, recycle, and don’t travel a whole lot. Still, as you can see, all that effort does not even add up to the effect one whole, new human being on this earth would contribute.
When you think about it, it does make a lot of sense. A whole new person means a whole new lifetime of potentially good or bad choices for the climate. Will they recycle? Will they drive a car? Will they buy fast fashion and generate lots of waste? Will they want a big house, using lots of materials and land? Will they themselves have children, and if so, how many?
In short, having a child could more than double the impact you will have on climate change. Because my goal is to become financially independent as soon as possible in order to enjoy a life in the woods with homegrown food, it is relevant to my interest whether or not the climate and associated weather will be more extreme or not by then. Buying someplace not at risk for flooding is already high on our priority lists. What other aspects will be necessary by the time we have the economy to make the move?
Lastly, as part of this segment, I believe there are too many people on this planet as it is. We are displacing wildlife, who has just as much right to live on this planet as we do. How tragic, if we can only show the future generations clips of wild animals on tape or in pictures. That is not a future I wish to see, and in my own, modest way, I try to do my best to avoid that.
While the Frugalwoods amiably demonstrate how it is absolutely possible to have children without breaking the bank, they do have some costs attached. This is, after all, a whole, new human being we are talking about, with specific needs and wants of their own. At the very least, they will need clothes (free or not), at least some toys, food, school equipment and lots of time and love. The latter could have a serious impact on anyone’s economy, as it relates to our ability to work overtime, focus on that sidehustle or get a second income stream.
On the other hand, while it might be possible to live off hand-me-downs and free furniture (something we wholeheartedly support!), a lot of calculations people make are under the assumptions that they will have an able-bodied, healthy child. As soon as that child is outside what is considered ‘normal’, those costs might very well skyrocket, depending on the infrastructure in place for your specific country. While that might not be a very comfortable thought or discussion to have, I think it is absolutely necessary to think about how your life and finances might be impacted, should you have a child that requires special care.
As a last point on this list, there is the simple fact that Mr. E. and myself simply do not want children at the present time. We are both lucky to have families who do not pester us endlessly about this, and several of our friends enjoy a childless existence too. While having a child might be important to you, I think we could all do well to remember that in today’s society (with booming populations and thousands of children in need of a home), having a child is a matter of personal fulfilment and should be treated thus, not as a necessity or a human right.