I’m officially in my late twenties and thinking about having a family one day in the not-so-far future. But every time I get serious about it, I remind myself that I already have a huge obligation that might preclude me from ever being a mom: I’m broke AF because of my student loans and at this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to afford kids.
My monthly student loan payments are the cost of a sizeable mortgage payment. Rather than invest in real estate, I invested in myself and took on debt to secure my professional and financial future. The real difference is I have to fork over thousands of dollars every month to my loan servicer and I don’t get any equity on the other end of the transaction. I guess you could say I “own” my degree a little bit more every time that I pay some of my debt off, but who knows. All I know is that it is a lot.
I feel like I’d have to deprive my child to balance my debt obligations. I grew up in a family where my parents gave me everything to their own detriment. They didn’t want me to want for anything but they also didn’t really take care of themselves financially and it impacted their relationship and my family dynamic. It put a lot of pressure on me to show my parents that I was worth the money they spent on me instead of on themselves or their debt obligations. I don’t want to put my child through something like that. Additionally, I don’t want to have to make that choice in the first place. I want to be able to give my child what they need and want while paying my bills comfortably. The problem is I don’t know when or if I’ll ever be at that point.
Things aren’t tight right now, but they would be if I had a child. I’m lucky to have a career where I make enough money to pay off my loans and live comfortably. Then again, I’m a single, childfree woman at the moment so I only have to worry about myself. Throw a child into that mix and suddenly I’d be broke.
Even when I pay off my loans, I still need to save for retirement. Newsflash: social security in the United States is running on out and millennials like me aren’t saving for retirement because we have student loans to pay off. As I pay off my loans, my next step is to put as much money as I can into my retirement fund so that I can retire with some money when I’m older and the kids I hopefully have won’t have to pay for me. I’ve been investing some small amounts of money here and there so I won’t be totally behind the curve when it comes to retirement, but I do want to make sure I have a substantial amount tucked away. Doing that means delaying having kids even further.
I’m giving myself eight to 10 years to pay them off before having a baby. Hopefully, this is enough time for me to prepare myself financially to be a mother. I’ve set yearly goals for myself at which I plan to pay back chunks of my debt so that by the time I decide to have a child, I’ll be in the clear. I’ll be in my late thirties, but more and more women are having kids later so I don’t feel that insecure about being an older parent anymore.
Sometimes I worry if I’ll even want a kid by the time I can afford one. I wonder if I will have been so used to grinding without children at that point that the prospect of having a kid just would seem foreign to me. I guess I’m just afraid that my dream of being a mother will fade.
It sucks that the price of an education is having a family. Student loans are the biggest scam of our generation, in my opinion. So many of us take on student debt and higher education with the promise of a better financial future, better employment prospects, etc. Little do we know that our futures will be saddled with a huge financial obligation that will delay us from pursuing things like having a family or buying a home.
I don’t regret my education, I just wish I had more flexibility. Like I said, my education is one of the best things that has happened to me and I feel grateful to have multiple degrees. That being said, I feel like I don’t have much flexibility on the issue. I don’t come from money and my parents didn’t pay my way, so unless I marry my well-off boyfriend and he decides to pay off my loans, I’m stuck with them until they are gone.
Maybe I’ll hit the lottery—who knows! From time to time I’ll play the lottery and see if I can’t knock these loans out in one single stroke of luck. The truth is, if money were no object, I would be pregnant, like, yesterday.