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Having kids when not financially stable – Cost to raise a kid

As the readers of this blog know, I have mentioned my background quite a bit. I have also written multiple times about poverty, in particular single moms. There are also posts about how tragically kids “suffer” for poor decisions their parents make, whether having babies when single, too many kids, etc. What is interesting is that data shows that people are having less kids (if any) and the average age of birth continues to get later in later, in particular in urban and suburban parts of the country.

My dad “formally” abandoned his kids (and me) when I was 12 or so (but he was out of the picture for year(s) prior to that); there was zero child support; my mom thrust back into workforce; being raised by a single mom after that; etc. And while many had it worse, I too came from in effect a struggling single mom and we were not financially stable.

I have also written about how single parents (and in particular moms) may be the largest demographic group when it comes to poverty and we even reported on the huge number of emails that come to us from single mothers as they can’t pay the bills or care for their kids. And also anyone who reads our forum also sees the overwhelming number of requests from single parent (mostly mothers) who are struggling. Find the forum here. https://www.needhelppayingbills.com/helpwithbills/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7204

The good news is the trend is going in favor of people having birth later in their life, having fewer (or even no) kids, and also working on their finances/careers to become stable before having a kid. Younger generations, including millennials, are also putting off child birth by postponing it and also having few kids. But bringing a baby into a financially unstable home is still a major crisis in the US as shown from poverty stats, and of course the child is the one who is harmed the most.

While I do not have children of my own, I have plenty of nieces, nephews, and have acquaintances/friends with kids. While I am not in their shoes, I am exposed enough to the parents to get a “feel” for what their financial challenges are. And all of them made a conscious decision to be career and financially stable (as much as possible) before having kid(s).

Annual costs of a baby – kid

Studies vary, and the USDA says it may be 11k to 18K per year to raise a kid prior to their 18th birthday. That amount is exclusive of higher education expenses. What did you think it costs to raise a kid in today’s day and age? Please go with annual average from zero to 18. We will create a forum poll for this.

Please answer in the forum exclusive of college costs. Even though if someone does decide to have a baby in todays day and age they better plan and account for that kid to get a college education and/or some form of technical degree, as without when the kid has a minimal chance to support themselves in the future. In fact, the poverty rate for a college educated person is 5%. The poverty rate for high school only is 15%, poverty rate for those with no GED is 30%, and some college is 10%. In other words, having a college degree puts a kids chance of living in poverty to be minimal.

But please include all the other countless costs…cost of delivery and all doctor visits, child care, food, housing (as you need more space for a kid), medications, all the countless supplies (cribs, car seats, etc.), toys, additional life and/or health insurance, and more.

Here are the stats from the US Census Bureau on poverty. First keep in mid the national poverty rate is about 12%. Now dig into the details on poverty –

  • 26% of single moms live in poverty, so that is over twice the national average.
  • 15% of people with a high school diploma only live in poverty…30% higher the national average.
  • About 30 to 40% of kids who live in household run by a single parent live in poverty…thus the kid is being in effect punished due to the decision making of the parent.

People becoming more practical?

What is interesting in all this is the fertility rates in the US continue to trend down. Over the last 10 years fertility rates are down about 15% per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. This means women are having less kids (as that is what fertility rate measures). As noted, millennials are delaying and having fewer kids, and birth rates are down as much as 20%. Another positive is that teen pregnancy rates are down 67% since 1991 and down 9% from 2015 per Health and Human Services.

Last year there were fewer babies born than in the last 30 years per the National Center for Health Statistics. However the US stall has higher fertility rates than many other “developed”/”advanced” countries including those in Western Europe and other places. Third world and developing nations still have higher fertility rates than in the US.

The average age that a women is giving birth is also trending up, to about 26.5 years old. What is fascinating is that women that live in cities (primarily high priced coastal ones) are not giving birth until their early 30s. In New York and San Francisco, their average age for birth is 31 and 32 respectively. In Todd County, S.D., and Zapata County, Texas, it is 21 year of age for a woman to have a kid.

Average birth age

There is no decisive data that says why fertility rates are decreasing and why the average age is increasing. But most experts say people are making these decisions as they want to become more professionally and financially stable, which would be great for battling poverty. Also costly child care, people want their children to be financially stable, etc. are two leading reasons, and here is more data from a sample on why people are having fewer babies and/or postponing it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/05/upshot/americans-are-having-fewer-babies-they-told-us-why. html

Requests from single parents or moms or unstable parents

Honestly this is one of the things that often frustrates us here at NHPB the most…people that have kids when they can’t afford them. The reason being is that their financial hardship or life in poverty is in some ways self-inflicted. It is really selfish of the parent(s) as well, as the kid is the one he is “punished”. (That may not be the best word but it is one that comes to mind).

Some people get disabled in their life. Or they decide they need to step away from the workforce to care for say a parent or someone. Or they are discriminated against as maybe a minority. All of those reasons (and others) for financial struggles are in some ways out of the person’s control. That is a lot different than someone who makes a selfish decision to have a baby even though they can’t afford the baby…it is harder to have empathy for those parents. But of course there is always tremendous empathy for the kid in those cases as it is not their fault.

In general, it is harder to having empathy for people that make reckless financial decisions, such as those who walk away from a job without another, those who have kids but limited or no financial stability, and situations like that. Those all contribute to the cycle of poverty and “poverty mindset”, which is in effect self-sabotage.

We see so many emails from people saying they do not work and have not worked but are pregnant; women with crazy amounts of kids and low income minimal wage job; those with no stable housing but having kids; etc. They are all struggling, but have all these kids or get pregnant. It is so sad for those kids, babies, or soon to be born babies.

What are your thoughts? Please send any comments and participate in the forum.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

11 thoughts on “Having kids when not financially stable – Cost to raise a kid

  • February 6, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Thank you. All these women are pumping out babies and live off the government. They have no clue how to raise or pay for a kid and I sick and tired of my taxes paying for them. GOOD FOR YOU TO WRITE ABOUT THIS COST.

  • February 13, 2019 at 11:28 am

    People on government assistance should not be able to have kids. The uneducated/poor/women that want babies to satisfy a man or make themselves happy cost this country tens of billions and my tax dollars. Plus not fair to kid to be born into an poor unstable home.

    • February 16, 2019 at 8:00 am

      Who is you to tell people who can have a baby? Your racist.

      • February 18, 2019 at 2:27 pm

        Jeana, Hello. I never mentioned race in my comment. FYI I am of mixed race like tens of millions of Americans. FYI your comment is so poorly written that it proved my point. Education is imperative.

  • February 25, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    I follow your sight and forum. Insane how many requests from parents – mostly single moms – whom need aid. People are f**** clueless as to cost and personal time commitment of kids. I have 2 and hardest thing raise my kids/most expensive thing in my life ever!!!

  • February 26, 2019 at 1:51 am

    It takes a man and woman to make a child. The issue is not just “single moms”. Men should be penalized or some basic sex education classes- to teach them how to wear condoms, not to play with women’s emotions, and to be financially stable before even having sex.

    Good job all the single moms. They are the true superheroes for seeking help and having responsibilities . Abortion & adoption is an option- but it takes a selfless and strong woman to raise a child by herself and not just give it up and walk away like most men.

  • February 27, 2019 at 10:57 am

    The woman is THE most important person when it comes to decision-making, to have sex with any man which can always result in pregnancy as BC not fail safe, decision to use birth control which can fail, and even risk planned or unplanned pregnancy . and the Supreme County Roe vs. Wade gave the women power over their own body and the decision. It is her body, she carries the baby inside of her for 9 months (not the man!) and the man does not need to push out a baby for hours or days. Her feelings and needs are number one as is the accountability. Love that younger generation of woman is delaying pregnancy to build a career first and gain financial stability too if they even make the ultimate decision to have a baby.

  • March 1, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Yes, I have 3 kids & I struggle. I wish I did things differently in my life, including had a different baby father and got an education or skills. I need help with my rent, light & water bill, and also help with my kids Easter. I work home health & the lady I take care of died so I’ve been out of work for 4 months until two days ago I work for a new agency but I only get 10-12 hours a week. I had no savings and even some debt when I had first son. The babies daddy was mid income but not enough. Please help me & my kids. I’m at a very hard place right now. I just need a little help I would highly appreciated it. Thanks so much.

  • March 4, 2019 at 11:10 am

    I began trying for a baby with a complete lack of concern that neither me and my partner of had real jobs, savings, health insurance that someone else paid for, or financial stability. I was entry or mod level in corporation and he a bartender/writer. Eventually got pregnant. Hardest time in my life raising that kid and keeping roof over heads and food in fridge and medical up, even after my husband got a better job.

  • March 8, 2019 at 7:58 am

    News said yesterday birthrates a record low and ages of having kids ways up. They interviewed people and took surveys and they say woman want to build careers and gain financial stability as kids are very expensive. i hope this applies to single people too.

  • June 12, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Who these days to can afford to have a family and raise children in most parts of country with the middle income or poverty wages? Just to exist as an individual today, you need several thousand/month after taxes in big cities to pay for your mandatory cost of living basics (rent or mortgage, utilities, clothes, house supplies, save for retirement, transportation, food, health insurance plus copays, plus other personal items). Next, if you are stacked with student loans like most, you could add another $1,000/month to the figure above.
    Now lets do this, and lets get down to the real nitty gritty for a family of four people. First off, you you’re your mandatory costs of medical bills and debt, infant formula, diapers, clothes, frequent office visits to the doctors and on and on. This is just the beginning of costs – after the kids are in school and get older, you run into even more expenses – tuition if you put them in private school as public is so poor in big cities or if you have a good stable public school then you pay for rent because housing is much more costly in those areas. Then day care expenses which could easily exceed thousands/year plus after school activities (music lessons, entertainment, sports, ballet, etc).
    By the time they get into their teen and close to college age years, they will need transportation (maybe a car) and some money to go to college or trade school. For the most part, the only people who can afford to properly have children while at the same time saving for their own retirement are those getting all kinds of social financial aid (welfare, cash aid, food stamps and other government help) or the higher income.


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