We have an amazing group of people who follow Penny Pinchin’ Mom. However, not all of you are parents — yet. I am thrilled to have Stefanie O’Connell contribute to our site today. She shares why she’s budgeting for her family – even though she is currently single.
I’m not the kind of girl who starts daydreaming about her wedding the day after a good first date.
Why is it then that as a single, 30-year-old woman, I’m saving for a family?
I’m not under some romantic notion that I’ll suddenly be overcome with certainty about “the one” and a happily ever after complete with multiple mini me’s. In fact, I’m not certain I want a family at all.
What I do know is that I want to have the option of having a family.
It’s not the romantic, but the pragmatist in me that asks me to consider the cost of all my possible futures, family included, and start saving appropriately.
Now you might still be thinking I’m jumping the gun here, worrying about the cost of childcare before I even agree to an engagement, but I’d argue it’s that exact mentality of putting personal contingencies on financial preparedness that’s the problem.
While you may need to wait on the right partner to start the procreation process physically, you don’t need to wait on anyone to start preparing financially.
After all, building your savings for what is likely to be one of the greatest expenses of your life takes time.
According to the most recent data from the US Department of Agriculture, the cost to raise a child born in 2013 from birth to age 18 is $245,340.
Divided by 18, that’s an annual cost of $13,630. Divided by, it’s $1,135 monthly.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have an extra $1,135/month lying around in my budget. Which is why, I’m working towards that goal today, while I have the flexibility and time to figure it out, instead of the ticking clock of a pregnancy hanging over me.
46 percent of Americans report they don’t have enough savings to cover a one-time, $400 emergency expense. How is it then that we expect to be able to cover an additional $1,135/month for the next 18 years without proper preparation?
That’s why I’m not only saving for a family while I’m still single, I’m saving for a family under the assumption that I’ll remain single. While I may decide to go the route of adoption or freezing my eggs, it’s not why I’m planning my future family savings solo.
I’m anticipating the costs of raising a family on my own salary and savings, because the sad fact is, most of us aren’t. Which means we’re woefully underprepared when those milestone moments (and their associated costs) arrive. And with today’s college grads carrying an average of $37,172 in student loan debt, it’s increasingly likely that joining financial forces with a spouse will move young people further away from their financial goals, like saving for a family, than towards them.
That’s why now, single or not, it’s critical to consider the full cost of your future goals and prepare to foot the bill yourself – whether it’s buying a home, traveling the world or starting a family.
After all, aren’t we better positioned to live our best lives and support everyone in them when we can fully take care of ourselves?
I am proudly uncompromising of my goals and proactively creating the financial infrastructure to support them – regardless of marital status, life stage or any other personal circumstances.
Stefanie O’Connell is a personal finance author, entrepreneur and creator of the free Cash Confidence challenge, dedicated to empowering financially independent women who love to keep the cash conversation real!