Becoming a mother is life changing. Women who decide to become mothers commit to take care of the next generation – a wonderful journey despite its financial and emotional implications. As more and more women choose, or are forced by circumstances, to be single mothers, it is important that women begin to take into consideration financial planning from as early as possible before committing to motherhood.
If you are already a mother or hoping to be one soon, your experience of motherhood will be affected by the financial decisions you make today. Making a decision to have a child comes with many responsibilities including financial ones, as children are expensive to bring up. The costs start kicking in from the day you become pregnant as there will be pre-natal health care bills, delivery charges and post-natal expenses, which include costs for the child, and they are numerous – food, clothes, medical, nanny, education…
So, becoming a mother is not as easy as getting pregnant. It means taking care of a child until he becomes an adult who is able to take care of himself – this means anywhere from 25 to 30 years, depending on how soon he can become economically independent. Motherhood requires long-term planning for the child and it really does not matter whether you are married or single because in essence, women take the bigger responsibility of caring for children.
You need to ask yourself a few questions that touch on your finances if you are planning to have a child now or later. Can you take care of a child with your current income? If you are married, do you need to have financial discussions with your partner to agree on how the extra member of the family will be financed? Are you the type of woman who would like to devote all your time to your children, which means giving up on your job and career until they grow up? If so, how will you pay the bills? Will your partner be able to support you? Are there alternative sources of income you can explore such as working from home?
When all these things are taken into account, many women choose to postpone having babies until such a time when they are financially comfortable to meet their child’s basic necessities. Sometimes money may not even be the issue – the major dilemma may be getting a man to father your child. Women are often faced with various challenges that make them postpone motherhood such as:
You are in your late thirties, want to have a child but you have not met a suitable man to be the father.
You have given up on marriage and are ready to raise a family alone but your current income is not enough to sustain a child.
You want to become a mother when you can spend a lot of time with your children but quitting your job is not an option for now.
With a little help and guidance, each woman can enjoy the experience of motherhood, whether single or in a relationship, and also continue to prosper. However, for this to happen, you should have a financial strategy in place that allows you to enjoy motherhood and still allow you the freedom and ability to keep building your wealth.
Plan for children early on…
Today, many women are choosing to delay motherhood to pursue career goals, or are simply not able to get a man to father their children. This delay means there are many childless women between the age of 35 and 45. While no one is advocating for women to have children when they are not ready, it is worthwhile reminding them that the fertility clock is a reality and planning for children early is prudent.
Between the age of 20 and 24, a woman’s likelihood of infertility is three per cent. The figure rises to 32 per cent between the age of 35 and 44. Between the age of 20 and 24, a woman’s likelihood of getting pregnant as a result of having unprotected sex is 100 per cent and that likelihood drops to just 36 per cent between the age of 35 and 44.
Although some women are today betting on in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with their frozen eggs, the outcome is not very good for older women. Between the age of 30 and 35 the delivery rate for a woman who has IVF is about 62 per cent. This drops to 28 per cent between the age of 36 and 40, and to 14 per cent for women over 40. The fact is that a woman’s fertility drops dramatically as she gets into her forties, and the risk of having a child with Down syndrome or other birth defects increases exponentially. By the age of 45, a woman has one in 30 chances of conceiving a child with birth defects.
Just as the birth control pill was widely accepted in the sixties as the solution to unwanted pregnancy, egg freezing is today becoming the modern woman’s solution for postponing pregnancy to first achieve other goals in life, the main ones being to make money, climb the career ladder or find the right partner. Freezing a woman’s eggs until she can find the perfect partner or is ready financially may allow her to buy time for a while, but egg freezing is not a guaranteed path to motherhood.
So why are we telling you all this scary news? Because we believe no woman should be motherless because she failed to plan early. We also believe planning for a baby should start when a woman is in her twenties and every woman should clearly understand the opportunity costs involved in delaying childbirth.
Let finances not be the reason you miss out on motherhood, or have problems to deal with later on in life like taking care of a child with birth defects. That means apart from thinking about a relationship that can help you bring forth a child into this world, you must focus on building your finances from as early as possible so you can give your child the life you desire for them.
Start keeping some money aside as soon as you start working in preparation for motherhood when it happens. You can open a baby’s account where you put, say, 500 shillings each month. You can imagine how that account will have grown in ten years’ time or by the time you are ready for motherhood. You could also start planning for a business you could do from home so that you will be able to take leave from full time employment when the baby comes. Indeed, if you are innovative and have a strategy, you could make more money being self-employed.
Having a baby should not stop you from growing your wealth. With good practical strategies and plans that take into account the baby will be a consumer for a long time, you will have enough money to take care of the baby, continue to grow your savings and live a decent life.
Your children’s attitudes and ability to handle money later on in life will be shaped by what you teach them about finances, so your responsibility is not just taking care of your baby’s financial needs, but also ensuring they grow with good money habits and values. A woman, therefore, must learn to nurture her prosperity in motherhood and not wait until prosperity happens before she welcomes motherhood. The body clock waits for no woman. Women must learn to combine motherhood and finance in ways that enhance the quality of their lives.
Some women feel torn between choosing motherhood and making money, yet the two can happen simultaneously without conflict. There is no denying that when you combine both it can be quite exhausting, but most women don’t have a choice. They have to make money to provide for their children. In focusing on their families, some women often forget themselves and this should not be the case. They get caught up in the day-to-day dramas of children, often finding it hard to step back and remember that there are bigger issues to consider in their lives.
The best thing that happened in this country was for women to get extended maternity leave of three months, which means they are able to keep their jobs and their pay, as they nurture the baby to be big enough to be left with a caretaker. It now makes it fairly easy for working women to become mothers and women should use this time of maternity leave to make future financial plans. No more money excuses. Motherhood is a God-given responsibility for every woman.
Published on March 2013