Author: Dr. Rohini R
From a financial point of view, it is never a good financial decision to spend money on anything that doesn’t make you money. However, as human beings we still spend money on things purely for happiness – such as, luxury items. Just like luxury bags, shoes, cars, economists have pointed out that children have gone from being an economic asset to being a luxury item, very expensive luxury items. You have to want children for reasons other than societal status/ pressure, peer pressure, family pressure, to fix your relationship/ avoid divorce because logically and economically, children are a financially stupid decision, because they can bleed you dry – Unless your child is Justin Beiber. It is important to plan and be financially secure before having a child – Amongst all professionals, the one group of professionals that have completely failed at this are most doctors, however this article doesn’t apply only to doctors.
Parents are supposed to provide for the child
Back in the day, in an agrarian economy, children would start working from a fairly young age, help out in the farm or family business, the household chores, and gain new skills at a very early age. Hence a family that had more children, meant the family would be more economically/ financially secure and prosperous – making them an economic asset. However, these dynamics have completely changes at least in the cities and completely unthinkable in developed countries. In today’s world children are expensive. Having a child is a financial decision, one that most medicos are not aware of and don’t plan for – which is not something that is expected from intelligent people.
In recent times, parents are supposed to provide for a child. It is quite appalling to see doctors making less Rs. 30,000 a month have a child. It is justified if they live within their means, a huge part of the country manages a family with much less. The problem with doctors is they have kids without any financial planning and supplement their lifestyle with their parent’s money (the grandparents). The grandparents in many families are paying for the school fees for the grandchildren, proving accommodation, food and paying all the bills. How is this okay? It is completely irresponsible.
Children need a bigger space
Normally, when a couple has a child, they plan to move into a bigger house so the child has more space to play. But in the medical community, doctors are raising children in the hostel room. How is this responsible by any means?
A child’s expenses are damn expensive
If parents, as responsible adults decide not to take family support, having kids means you would be a financial slave in order to provide. The costs of child care, a house that is spacious enough, school education, school supplies, hobby classes (music, art etc), sports, clothing, toys, food, vacations, healthcare, college education , accumulating assets for them, their marriage, the list is endless – All of these these things are incredibly expensive. The salaries of doctors are in no way in line with these expenses.
Children are time consuming
Children also need an incredible amount of time. One way to become more financially secure is by increasing income. However, children being so time consuming, it again hinders with the ability to increase income and the family’s finances. The women typically take a backseat and spend more time with he children, when she could be focusing and excelling in her career, making more money. So the ability to make money and take risks, such as in business go down after having a child.
Having a child at the wrong time
Children don’t just happen by accident. Contraception is real. Having a child during post—graduation or fellowship, discontinuing or delaying the course, burdening colleagues with your decisions – these things do no good. Having children because of societal and family pressure is a stupid decision. Having a child to fix a broken marriage – another ridiculous decision. If the parents have had problems, having a child will make every single problem worse because it is not easy to raise a family. The spouse staying because of the child and having no choice, will not improve the relationship.
Economic payback to you?
Technically, Zero! There’s no legal obligation for children to pay you back anything or reciprocate in anyway. They have the right to cut off ties completely, if they wish. What families typically expect in india is the children to take care of them (not necessarily financially), live with them, live by their rules, marry someone of their choice and expect them to be a source of happiness by putting undue pressure on them. Emotionally blackmailing children (well into adulthood) by reminding the of all the expenses and how difficult pregnancy and childbirth is – of course it is difficult, but it was the mother’s choice to go through it. Parents tend to take out their frustration on the children. All these things are completely wrong. Children did not ask to be born. It is wrong for parents to spend money on children but expect them to pay back by living life on their terms, control and emotionally blackmail them. If you give up your dreams for your child, that is your decision – if you expect the child to compensate for it or emotionally blackmail them for it, that it self tells you that it is a stupid decision. Growing up in an Asian household, we have all been subjected to this and continue to be subjected to it even now as adults. If that is going to be the case again, please do yourselves and your future children a favour by not having them. Instead, make some good investments and save up for retirement – the longer you live, the longer your retirement.
The effects poor financial planning have on children
A child brings joy in a parent’s life. Parents who are financially unprepared tend to face a lot of stress and frustration which they take out on the children. Their irresponsible financial behaviour will eventually end up hurting their child. The other ways the child would be affected is by not having enough opportunities or a comfortable life because it is expensive. Doctor salaries are so low, most of them would not be able to provide the lifestyle they had for their children, unfortunately.
Sure, you love kids or feel you need them for your life/ family to feel complete but having kids by making yourselves miserable and them miserable is not wise. The purpose of this article is not to advocate not having children or change your mind in that regard. Have them, but realise the costs, make proper financial plans and decisions. Don’t punish children by being financial irresponsible. I have seen people make better financial plans even before getting a dog. Consult a financial advisor for help.