For most people, finances are personal. Asking about salaries, debt and retirement savings is generally considered taboo. Deciding when to have kids (and when to stop) is even more personal than finances.
Of course, as with anything else personal, you can share as much or as little as you want. You don’t need to answer to anyone or feel the need to justify your decisions.
So should you wait to have children (or more children) until you are debt-free?
We’re not. Actually, we’re expecting to welcome one more to our family in April 2015.
That said, while I could try to describe the joys of children, argue that kids don’t cost as much as you think, surprise you with the ways kids save you money, remind you that there never will be an ideal time to have a baby, or tell you you aren’t getting any younger, I’m not here to convince you that our decision is right for you. Your own priorities will let you know what to do.
Priorities guide our choices.
Our priorities are powerful. We make decisions based on our priorities, whether we realize it or not. We make time for what matters. We spend our money on what is important to us.
Priorities are evident not in the goals we set, but in the goals we actually work toward and achieve. It’s what we do, not what we say that matters.
While every personal finance guru has rules and formulas guaranteed to fix your financial woes and prepare your financial future, their advice is general, not personal. Rules and formulas don’t take personal priorities into consideration. Making decisions based on someone else’s priorities just doesn’t work.
Getting out of debt is a priority, but there are others.
In the past two years we’ve paid off over $50,000 in debt, which is more than we make in a year. We’ve changed our lifestyle and made sacrifices to work toward our goal. It’s safe to say that getting out of debt is a top financial priority for us.
However, even with paying off debt as our highest financial priority (well, besides tithing), we still have other priorities that are higher. Having and raising a family, is more important to us than getting out of debt. This stems from our belief that family is central to God’s plan.
While we try to be prudent and responsible with our finances, we do not base our decision to have kids on our finances.
Should you pay off debt before having children?
Let’s look back at the original question: Should you pay off debt before having children?
My answer: It’s totally up to you! It’s personal– between you, your spouse, and God.
It’s not a decision for your financial planner, your ecclesiastical leader, or your book group. The personal nature of family planning does not lessen when finances aren’t ideal.
Take a look at your priorities, align them with your spouse’s (unity in priorities really makes a happy marriage), then pray about it.
Priorities determine our decisions. We all have different priorities, so our decisions will be different. And that’s just fine.
For us, having a family is a higher priority than getting out of debt. At the same time, having kids and getting out of debt aren’t mutually exclusive by any means. In fact, I think having kids can actually help your debt repayment, but that’s a topic for another day.