U.S. News & World Report has a handy little quiz about whether you can afford a baby. Surprise! In a consumerist culture, they're kind of expensive, plus there's that whole 18-year-commitment thing. Some of us can barely commit to a job for 18 months, let alone a relationship, let alone a crying, wiggling, pooping, screaming dependent thingie. I kill houseplants! I shouldn't be let near infants. But, I took the quiz anyway. Guess what? I'm actually not terribly financially unprepared. Damn. One thing I have to take off my list of "478 Reasons Not To Breed."
So, here are the questions:
Do you have $5,000 to $10,000 worth of savings in the bank that could go toward baby-related costs?
Why, yes, if I didn't have to pay my mortgage or student loans. Will Sally Mae give you a breeding deferral?
Could you live on around $1,000 less a month, the average cost of child care? If you or your partner plans to stop working, can you support your lifestyle without that second income?
HA! "Partner." "Second income." "$1,000 less a month." It was hard to complete the test after laughing that hard.
Do you know the details of your workplace maternity or paternity policy?
I write crap on the Internet, and don't get paid when I don't.
Could you afford to add an additional dependent to your health insurance?
I believe this is what SCHIP is for.
Do you have an emergency fund that would cover at least three months of living expenses?
What have I been living off of since January?
Do you have life insurance and a will?
What, like I have stuff to give away?
Would you need to buy a new home or car before expanding your family?
Yeah, my 1 bedroom place isn't nearly big enough for a dog, let alone a baby and all the crap that it needs.
And, yet, somehow, I still managed to score a 3, which came to "You are on the right track, but additional planning could help ease the transition to parenthood." Yeah, additional planning, a real job, a partner with whom to share the responsibilities, some emotional maturity, health insurance and a desire to breed.
But, it's not just me who lacks those things. Lots of people have lots of kids without any consideration of the financial implications. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad, and sometimes the only thing you really need to make room for is the probability that your life is always going to change in unexpected ways (like, say, getting fired from a job!) and you shouldn't live paycheck to paycheck if you can possibly help it.
Can You Afford a Baby? [USN&WR]