There’s no doubt that having kids can be expensive. In most areas of the country, childcare costs almost as much as rent--sometimes more. And kids come with other costs, too. From diapering tiny bums to feeding extra humans for 18+ years, the costs can really add up.
But people who focus only on the spending side of having kids may be missing some of the possible financial perks of having them. That’s right. Outside of the sheer joy of raising little people, being a parent can actually come with some financial perks. Now, they may not entirely outweigh the costs of raising kids. But these perks are definitely worth considering if you’re on the fence about having kids. (Or if you’re feeling financially overwhelmed by parenthood and are looking for a light at the end of the tunnel!)
1. A Healthier Life
Want to really save money over the long term? Focus on your health. The costs of chronic health conditions like hypertension are high. And don’t even get us started on the high costs of diseases like cancer. Luckily, women who bear children and breastfeed are less likely to get cancer and have better long-term health outcomes. And contrary to popular belief, having kids may actually lower parents’ blood pressure.
Besides the scientific studies on the effects of being a parent, there’s the human element. Having kids can motivate you to take charge of your health more firmly. Wanting to keep up with your 10-year-old on the basketball court is an excellent reason to invest in your own health. And while that investment takes time and maybe even some money in the form of a gym membership, over time, staying healthier will definitely save you money.
2. Paying Attention to Your Money
Sure, your budget is automatically stricter when you introduce another human into the mix. But becoming a parent can make you really take a hard look at your finances. If you’re not already paying attention to your budget, parenting might make you take a second look.
Plus, once you have kids, you may have less time for big-spending than you could do pre-children. When they’re little, anyway, it can just be simpler to cook meals at home than to go out. So you may find that you actually spend less on food--at least until you start having to feed teenagers.
3. Big Savings at Tax Time
Of course, if you know much about the U.S. tax system, you know there are certain incentives in place for parents. This means that you might suddenly get a bigger tax refund. You can write off at least some of your childcare expenses, either through a Dependent Care FSA or through a tax credit for childcare spending. And even if you don’t pay for childcare, you can get additional deductions through the Child Tax Credit.
The tax benefits you get from having kids won’t likely completely balance out your spending on them. But it can ease the burden and make having kids a little bit more feasible.
4. Long-Term Happiness
This one is kind of like the health boosts parents can expect versus non-parents. It’s not a direct money-saver, but it might save you money over the long run. Yes, kids can be frustrating. And parenting can be a roller coaster of really high highs (like the first time they say mama or dada) and really low lows (like having to clean up someone else’s puke in the middle of the night).
But overall, parents are happier than non-parents. Kids bring their own version of stress to a parent’s life. But there’s really nothing like seeing the world through a toddler’s eyes or laughing with your kids over a joke only you understand. Over time, this could reduce the amount of money you need to spend on other stuff to make you happy. You may find that you’re more content to just spend time with the tiny humans you’re responsible for.
5. Income Boosts (But Only for Dad)
Research shows that dads earn more money over their careers than their non-parent male counterparts. So just having kids can be a great way to boost your career if you’re the dad.
Unfortunately, the same doesn’t hold true for women. In fact, having kids can damage a woman’s career track and overall lifetime income. With that said, we are hopefully seeing a seachange in this area as women fight for more equality in the workplace. If you choose a partner who will equally share parenting responsibilities and a career that allows for some flexibility, you could move up the ladder even after motherhood.
We have a long way to go still to ensure that moms, in particular, aren’t penalized in their careers for having children. But times they are a-changing. And for now, at least one party in a two-income household can benefit from the career and income boost that kids seem to help drive.
Clearly, these financial perks of having kids don’t fully outweigh the potential costs. So it’s important to count the costs when deciding if and when to have children. With that said, kids don’t have to be as expensive as you might think. And you can get some of these financial perks when you decide to have them.