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Monday, March 27, 2017

Blogger Candidate #1 – Life Without the Kids

Posted by Tim Stobbs on October 27, 2009

As promised here is the first of two guest posts of candidates looking to post for the blog on a regular basis.  To make things completely fair I’m not giving you any names or background details on the blogger, but rather just the post.  I want feedback just on the writing.  The candidates of course can response to any comments but please use an alternative screen name, such as Candidate #1,  rather than you usual name for commenting.  Candidates should make sure to use your email address so I can verify your comment(s).  Thanks – Tim

I live in a smallish 1,000 square foot condo townhouse with my wife, in a DINK* household.  Neither my spouse nor I have any plans of changing our family situation in the future and are quite content of maintaining a childless household.  This lifestyle is contrary to a majority of couples who feel that the point of marriage is children and a family.  My wife and I don’t mind children, but at some point in visits with family and friends we are always ready to be done with their infants and children.  Maybe this patience is learned, but to us, it doesn’t seem like something worth learning, and doesn’t seem to be something that would enrich our lives.

Financially, not having children makes a lot of sense, with the average cost of raising children in North America approximately $250,000 but our decision is not based on financial reasons, it is more based on happiness.  We as a couple are quite content in our lives and don’t feel that children would bring us closer together, rather it seems that an addition to our family would push us apart, as time that we could spend doing things together would be allocated to doing things with a child (which I know we could do together with the child, but it would be different).  There would be less sleep for a while, which is something that we both enjoy, and less time to do things that we like to do.

A childless couple can sometimes be seen as selfish, but on the flipside in a world where families are having 8-18 children and it is getting more and more overpopulated by the day, it is probably good that some couples decide not to add to the numbers.  We enjoy our ability to pick up and leave for weekends with a small suitcase and a compact car, rather than loading up a mini-van with half the stuff in the house.  We like to quietly sit and read at the end of the day, and wake up when we want to on weekends – essentially, we enjoy the freedom to be selfish, to do what we want when we want to do it, something I don’t think is possible if there are children involved.

Maybe in 50 years (I am 30 right now) we will regret our decision to remain childless, but I don’t really think that this will be the case, this decision was not made lightly and as agreed when it was initially brought it up, can be revisited by either my wife or I if our viewpoints change at any time.

*DINK = dual income no kids

Comments

25 Responses to “Blogger Candidate #1 – Life Without the Kids”
  1. Traciatim says:

    1) 500 sq. ft. per person is not smallish, it’s extravagant on world standards. In fact the global median is somewhere near 160 sq ft. a person, you have over 3 times that amount. The industrialized county median is around 340 sq feet per person, you have a little less than 50% more space than that.

    2) Already our replacement rate is not being reached, and that is a major problem for supporting the country in the future. Your note about families with large amounts of kids is a straw man to support your narcissism.

    3) Your own kids are far different than other peoples kids. I have two kids and I still can’t stand other peoples kids.

    4) You don’t need a minivan with 1 or 2 kids. You fit fine in a mid sized sedan with travel gear, or a full size or small crossover for a longer trip. Unless you have 6 or more people you really don’t need a huge vehicle.

    NEXT!?

    Maybe I should wait to comment until I get a good night sleep next time ;)

  2. Dana says:

    I don’t know why, but this post rubs me the wrong way. I am offended. There is an underlying current of superiority in the tone.

    You say, “This lifestyle is contrary to a majority of couples who feel that the point of marriage is children and a family.”

    You can’t speak for the majority of couples. You don’t know what motivates people to get married.

    We started out our married life 18 years ago not sure whether we wanted to have a family or not. Contrary to your belief, not all marriages are based on a desire to procreate.

    We changed our minds. Seven years ago we adopted our amazing, wonderful daughter and 4 years ago we adopted our awesome, beautiful son.

    It never occurred to us to prioritize a good night’s sleep, a spontaneous weekend away, or the convenience of a compact car over sharing love and our comfortable life with our children.

    Sleepless nights are temporary (and you may actually miss them when you look back and realize how fleeting and precious that time is). The loss of spontanety is temporary too. The compact car vs. mini-van is up to you.

    It sounds like you are selfish and don’t want to share your time and financial resources.

    You also say, “Financially, not having children makes a lot of sense”. We don’t measure children by return on investment. This may be what I found offensive. Kids are not a commodity.

  3. Julie says:

    Wow.. I think the commenters are being a little harsh. The blogger admits that there is some selfishness. It makes me giggle when people hold out having children as some kind of charitable act – having kids is selfish too, despite that once the committment is made parents do have to be selfless. Our planet is full of hundreds of thousands of unwanted children already and children born today are very likely to live through terrible environmental catastrophe. At least the blogger is coming from an honest place.. ease up folks..

  4. Caitlin says:

    Ok, I’m childfree, and I support others who are childfree.

    That said, this post is just weird. What does it have to do with guest-posting on a personal finance blog? The writer spends more time trying to justify his personal, private decision to a bunch of people who will ignore it or worse, look down on it, anyway.

    Everyone, lighten up. Both choices have selfish and selfless motives. Regardless, those motives don’t really have a place in a regular PF blog.

    (Though if anyone knows of a really good chilfree PF blog, let me know ’cause I’d love to read it!)

  5. Adam says:

    Wow, hot button topic you’ve got. I always find it funny how defensive individuals with children get when the subject is breached. You tend to not see DINK’s get defensive about not having kids. Is it because society says you must be defensive if you have children or you are a bad parent? Society has a lot to do with default reactions, including the phrase ‘I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world’. With exceptions of course.

    I am also a DINK. Me and my sig. other decided not to have children either. Guess why? Yes, you’re dead on. We’re selfish. We both realize we don’t have the personalities to raise children with the focus and attention they need to become successful, well adjusted adults. We enjoy our time way to much and plan to continue enjoying that time into the future :)

    Now, call me selfish, ignorant or a non-contributor if you like. One thing I can guarantee, that’s nothing compared to what you may call us should we have had children ‘just because it’s what you do as a couple’ and failed to raise them responsibly. We wish more couples would have thought twice before bringing another life into the world. Having no child is better than raising child irresponsibly.

    My selfish 2 cents.

  6. Traciatim says:

    See Adam, there is the difference. Realizing you may not be a great parent and deciding not to have kids is a fine choice to make.

    Not having kids because you want room in your car, want to sleep in, don’t want to give up your huge amount of living space, or it may change your relationship . . . selfish snob.

  7. Dana says:

    Adam, I respect anyone’s decision to have/not to have children. It’s a personal choice. We were DINKs for many years.

    I agree with Traciatim. Well said!

    It’s not the author’s decision to be childfree it is the arrogant presumptive tone of the piece that offends me.

    Caitlin also made a good point that this article isn’t very PF-focused, considering it is a PF blog.

  8. Sorry…two thumbs down.

  9. philbert says:

    I must say that having children has made me more selfless, more patient and more giving. I don’t feel that life is about me or my pleasures, but rather it’s about a responsibilty to serve and give to others. Having children teaches you compassion, self control, understanding and love. I don’t care about the financial ‘cost’ of children. Life is short and you can’t take it with you anyways.

  10. Adam says:

    Firstly, I agree – although this post could have been directed more towards PF, it isn’t really steered in that direction.

    @Traciatim
    I will concede that there is a mild difference there, but I don’t agree with your assessment that those values make anyone a selfish snob. Those are simply someones values, whether you personally hold them or not is only a reflection on what your values are. ‘Selfish snob’ do not those values make.

    What would be selfish, is combining those values with raising a child. I applaud someone who recognizes that they appreciate those things before they have a child only to find that out about themselves in retrospect. MANY parents find those things out only when it’s to late.

  11. Traciatim says:

    Adam, I think your wrong there. Thinking about the others needs first (IE, don’t want kids because you doubt your ability to be a great parent) is in stark contrast to thinking of yourself first (don’t want kids because it interferes with your life). That is exactly the difference between selflessness and selfishness.

    The snob may have been a bit much, but that came from the tone of the original post.

  12. Adam says:

    Traciatim, what if you don’t want kids because you doubt your ability to be a great parent due to your belief they would interfere with your life?

  13. Applicant #1 says:

    @ Traciatim

    I just looked at houses this spring, it is very difficult to find a house (townhouse or otherwise) under 1,000 square feet in most cities in Ontario. I attempted to talk my wife into living in a “tiny house” (around 500 square feet) – she was not game at all for this.

    The Canadian replacement rate is not being reached, but the global population rate is growing, with the world population expected to be 9 billion by 2040 (Wikipedia, I’m not sure if this is right, but seems to agree with other sources).

    Maybe my own kids would be different, that’s what people tell me, but what if they’re not? That would not be a good situation?

    Again, I apologize for the mini-van comment, but all of my friends who have children either have a minivan or want a minivan.

    @ Dana

    I apologize for rubbing you the wrong way, not really my intention at all, I don’t find myself superior to anyone, it was more of an opinion piece that I wrote to perhaps put a contrary opinion on what I generally read in PF blogs all over the internet, where the majority of writers have children – just explaining my point of view.

    I realize I can’t speak for the majority of couples, what I can speak about is the majority of people I know, who are married and do have kids, maybe I’m running with a weird group of people, but I think that that is the reason or the end-game of most marriages/unions.

    I can also speak on what I know of my priorities and how I would feel if these priorities were shifted through a conscious choice to have children.

    While realizing children are not a commodity, there is a significant opportunity cost to having children, the same as many other life choices – postsecondary education, buying a house etc. I don’t see children as something that can be bought/sold on the market, but the cost can be quantified and has been by several agencies.

    @ Caitlin

    The request asked for topics on early retirement, happiness, or the environment. I wrote this more from a happiness perspective rather then early retirement, explaining my lifestyle and why I live it that way.

    @ Traciatim (Post 11)

    I apologize if I came across as snobby, it wasn’t the intention of the article, my intention actually was to get a contract writing job on site and write about something I know about. I actually do doubt myself in my ability to be a good parent, but that kind of goes along with my other views noted in the article. I see myself as generally selfish and think that a parent should be very selfless, always thinking of their kids first. There are too many messed up kids coming from houses where it appears the parent/parents do not care. I would like to think that if I had my own kids I would change my ways, but don’t think that the lifestyle suits me. I’m not a child hating ogre by any means, I have young nephews and cousins that I see almost every weekend, as well as friends small children and all of them seem to like me, I was trying to explain the choices I made, I’m genuinely sorry if my tone turned you off.

    @ Everyone

    Thanks for reading and your comments, positive or negative regarding my article. I have never written anything publicly before in my life and this was an interesting experience. I would like to thank Tim for the opportunity.

  14. Jon Snow says:

    My wife and I have decided not to have kids because we feel its just to late to start a family. We were married this past summer – and we are 37. Not to old biologically to have children to be sure… but we are not comfortable with spending our 40’s and 50’s in child rearing mode.

    We are both a bit sad with this decision… if we had met ten years earlier I think we would have started a family. There are positives to be sure, most of them, not surprisingly, financial. Our net worth is steadily climbing, thanks to our decision to embrace the LBYM lifestyle, and the ridiculous explosion in Vancouver real estate. Our 850 sq ft condo bought for $150000 in 2003 can be sold easily today for $300000. Unfortunately, if we decide to move up to a nice house, were looking at $600000+. Ah, such is life on the West Coast….

  15. Four Pillars says:

    Nothing wrong with not having kids.

    Traciatim – where is the rule written that you should have kids or you are selfish?

    I agree with Traciatim that 1000 sq ft is not small at all. We have 4 in about 1300 sq feet.

    $250k for kids? In your dreams – they are very cheap. At least up to 3 yrs old which is the limit of my expertise.

    Jon – my wife and I were both a fair bit older than you when we had our kids. Don’t let your age stop you if you are only 37. Just keep in shape so you can keep up with the rugrats!

    I liked this post!

  16. chad says:

    i wish the topic was more about finances that’s mostley what this blog is isn’t it
    how to boost the tfsa acct or rrsp
    I guess not to talk about resp on this one anyways

  17. This article sure inspired a lot of comment! I’ll wade in. How you feel about this depends on how you feel about the purpose of a couple or even the purpose of life. Why do people get married? I think it is to create families and raise children, otherwise what would be the point of it? You could just date until it got boring or you agreed to split up. There is no arrangement required. Each makes their own money, they pool it together to make purchases.

    In a way, even the purpose of living is to reproduce. Your attitude will make you extinct, so maybe that’s why there are more people who like and want kids than don’t. All the “I don’t like kids” genes die off quick.

    The money/opportunity costs of kids is a red herring argument. Every choice has opportunity costs. Your choice to remain childless has the opportunity costs of not having a family. I’m sure you spend the money elsewhere: i.e., you do not have an EXTRA 250K because you didn’t have kids.

    Anyway, it doesn’t seem that selfish. They pay taxes to school other people’s kids, they aren’t a burden. It’s just a choice.

  18. Adam says:

    Customers Revenge makes a good point. I have a hefty tax burden on my home which supports schools and the education of others children. I accept that fact and contribute happily. Were the situation somehow reversed and couples with children had to support my childless globetrotting ways, I am sure there would be a lynch mob at my door ;)

    Customers Revenge, you also make a red herring argument that the purpose of marriage and couples is ultimately to reproduce. This is proven false as it is in our primal nature, as males, to reproduce and move on to the next mate quickly and efficiently. Alas, we created the concept of marriage\common law etc in order to have the support of two adults in the child rearing process. Really marriage is not the driver for reproduction, but rather the driver for rearing the results of reproduction ;)

  19. Traciatim says:

    FP, I never once said you had to have kids or you are selfish. You are putting words in my mouth. I said that if your reasons for not having kids were that you wanted more room in your car and to sleep in on weekend you are selfish. (plus, I have two fairly young kids and I do sleep in on weekends … they can fend for themselves in the morning now).

    Joe Snow . . . Come out east, that 300K can but you a McMansion on a really nice piece of land and have some left over for a car.

    The are piles of reasons not to have kids that aren’t selfish. Heck, even if they said the primary reason was they didn’t want to burden the planet with more people it’s almost acceptable. Even though that argument is a little out there, considering if we took all the people in the world and put them in Central America we could all live and have less density that some of the highest density cities in the world.

    I also have 4 people in 1150 sq feet and I describe my place as average, not smallish. That’s 287sq feet per person; A little over half of what was described here.

    $250K for kids. I agree here too that that’s dreaming. Sure if you support them until they are 30 and pay for all of their post secondary education then maybe . . . otherwise it’s far less than this in reality. That puts 20 years at 12500 a year per person. That would mean every family of 4 would have to make at least $25000 after tax just to pay for their kids. I’m sure there are piles of people out there that go on less and even have some money for themselves too.

  20. Rec says:

    Canidate#1 Your topic choice was great if it was meant to elicit debate. Personally I find the whole: to have or not to have kids topic boring; a non-issue. Who cares why or why not other people want to have kids. I don’t believe in marriage-what’s the point? But I don’t feel the need to justify my opinion to others; it’s another non-issue. Personally I would have like to hear how not having kids has made you happy & how it affects your wealth goals.

    Blog Comment #2
    You said:
    I realize I can’t speak for the majority of couples, what I can speak about is the majority of people I know, who are married and do have kids, maybe I’m running with a weird group of people, but I think that that is the reason or the end-game of most marriages/unions.

    I know of a few couples this has happened to, but most relationships were already on rocky ground, and having kids was a last ditch effort to bring them closer together. (Anyone who does have kids is laughing at this absurd thought right now!) These people are indeed selfish!

    The request asked for topics on early retirement, happiness, or the environment. I wrote this more from a happiness perspective rather then early retirement, explaining my lifestyle and why I live it that way.
    But you said in your post:
    We as a couple are quite content in our lives
    I don’t recall you saying you are happy. Maybe you could have wrote about how not having kids has allowed you to live your life full of happiness & self worth, travel, anything. I like reading this blog because it relates day to day life & peoples personal financial choices together – not their politics or personal beliefs. I say stick with the topic – Personal finance.
    :)

  21. Retired Syd says:

    Candidate #1:

    I’m with you. Never wanted kids, spent the last 25 years of my adulthood having to explain to all my well-intentioned friends and family why that is. It’s funny that they don’t seem to find this line of questioning offensive, yet many find the actual answers offensive.

    I think I would be a great parent, actually. I find it offensive that someone would only think it’s “OK” for me not to have them if I thought I would be a terrible parent.

    I also find it offensive that someone would think marriage should only be reserved for people who intend to procreate. I don’t remember that being on the form. And there are plenty of elderly folks getting married that would probably be offended by that too.

    I don’t actually think the purpose of life is to procreate. I think life is a gift and you squander it if you don’t try to find happiness in it. Each person’s road to happiness is different, and I think it’s offensive to call one person’s road more selfish than another’s.

    Tim’s blog isn’t just about personal finance, it’s about finding your happiness. He challenges people here to make sure you’re not just saving for the sake of saving, but to know what makes you happy, and to tailor your finances to that end.

    I retired at 44. That has helped my happiness very much. Was it easier to achieve without kids? Probably. Is that why I didn’t have them? No. I didn’t have them for the simple reason that I did not want them.

  22. Four Pillars says:

    Traciatim – Sorry, I think I misunderstood your comment – I thought you were calling them selfish just because they weren’t planning to have kids. I realize now that you were talking about the REASONS given rather than the decision itself.

    As for kids on weekend – we need to trade kids some weekend – both of mine are up at 6am on weekends.

  23. J. Keeling says:

    As the mother of three children I was divorced in my 25th year of marriage-if I did not have children to love and nurture through the darkest days of my life I would have not survived-their smiles made me stay alive.

  24. JulieS says:

    As soon as I read this post, I chuckled, thinking about all the self-righteous “how dare you”s it was going to get.

    I have a 1 year old daughter. I’m still new to this parenting, but I’m getting the hang of it. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money, but it is a lot of work. Candidate #1 is correct to expect parenting to be a lot of sacrifice and work, and however much you think is reasonable, take that and double it.

    Despite this, I do not regret having my daughter. Along with the unexpected sheer immensity of labour for and around her, I also did not expect the beauty I would find in her babbles and kisses. Have you ever smelled a scent that reminded you of home and warmth and love, like baking bread or a fresh-mown lawn, or after a spring rain? I feel like that whenever I step into her room or hug her. Everything permeated with her scent or sound or mess is precious in a way I cannot describe.

    That being said, don’t think there aren’t many days when I envy spending a whole day watching a Star Trek marathon, or just tripping out the door for some air or ice cream or solitude. If there wasn’t a biological imperative to birth-or-get-off-the-pot, my husband and I would probably have put it off indefinitely, never quite getting around to it, and enjoying our lives just the way Candidate #1 describes. But those days will come again, after she’s grown up a bit. The initial furious investment in your own time and happiness will pay off as surely as a retirement account (even accounting for a Great Recession of the teenage years). Short-term pain for long-term gain.

    But that doesn’t excuse the roaring offended masses who have been posting here. Other people living their lives in happiness does not minimize your own. In my bold, unsolicited opinion, if the Candidate’s lifestyle choices offend you, it is because YOU ARE SECRETLY UNHAPPY WITH YOUR OWN CHOICES. If you offended by that, go ahead and post some more evidence.

    To roughly quote Jubal Hershaw, “Butting out of other people’s business is 80% of human wisdom”.

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