Financially, when is the best time to have children?

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speedbump101
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Post by speedbump101 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:36 pm

As my mother used to say there is no 'convenient' time to have children... That being said, when our one and only child arrived, I was 40 and my wife 37. Looking back now, for us this was a very convenient time in our lives... Plus at 61 I have a 21yr old... keeps me young!

SB...
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Post by kiaseduniai » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:38 pm

DonnaB:
And iIf you have children early you will likely learn to live on less. Good luck!
Chuck:
So don't put aside something truly fulfilling in order to spend more time accumulating garbage.
Great points. I never thought of it this way. We became parents early and have been much more frugal than our friends.

We had to sacrifice a lot and were lucky to land on our feet. But my son is the best thing ever happened to me.

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monkey_business
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Post by monkey_business » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:07 pm

Chuck wrote:
monkey_business wrote:the only reason I even brought this up was in response to Chuck's statement about children giving meaning to life.
Ack! When did this turn into a controversial statement?!?! What a bunch of Scrooges. :) :) :) Yes, I know. This is a board about money.
Therein lies the problem with opinions on the internet, they sometimes cross and you end up arguing with someone named 'monkey_business' about philosophy :lol:

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ryuns
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Post by ryuns » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:53 pm

On the decision not to have kids: http://www.grist.org/article/2010-03-30 ... -im-proud/

Otherwise, I would say probably early to mid thirties, taking into account the statistics pointed out by pochax below and the likely career path of an ambitious college-educated person. Hopefully you'd have a chance to get as much education as you sought and have some years of work experience under your belt.
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chaz
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Post by chaz » Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:53 pm

ryuns wrote:On the decision not to have kids: http://www.grist.org/article/2010-03-30 ... -im-proud/

Otherwise, I would say probably early to mid thirties, taking into account the statistics pointed out by pochax below and the likely career path of an ambitious college-educated person. Hopefully you'd have a chance to get as much education as you sought and have some years of work experience under your belt.
I agree.
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david9117
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Post by david9117 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:02 pm

From a pure financial point of view:
Expected Net present value (NPV) < 0 for having kids, basically not a viable project.....
(unless the kid makes it big like Gates, Walton etc.) :)

I have kids and glad did not run the financial numbers......

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Re: Financially, when is the best time to have children?

Post by Ron » Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:17 pm

Sailorette wrote:From purely a financial point of view, when do you think is the best time in life to have children?
Never.

- Ron

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Re: Financially, when is the best time to have children?

Post by taemoo » Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:27 pm

Ron wrote:
Sailorette wrote:From purely a financial point of view, when do you think is the best time in life to have children?
Never.
I guess this could depend on culture. My asian friends support their parents in retirement that includes paying for the mortgage, car loan, and an allowance above SS.

Sleepless
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Re: Financially, when is the best time to have children?

Post by Sleepless » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:00 pm

taemoo wrote:
Ron wrote:
Sailorette wrote:From purely a financial point of view, when do you think is the best time in life to have children?
Never.

I guess this could depend on culture. My asian friends support their parents in retirement that includes paying for the mortgage, car loan, and an allowance above SS.
A friend from a small country in Asia recently stayed with us for a few days. We showed him around, and he was quite shocked to learn about the notion of retirement homes.

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Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:10 pm

I'm a recent dad, so I'll throw in my two cents:

Purely, from a financial perspective:

1) Must have health insurance - one day after my wife gave birth, the phone in the room rang, it was Hospital Billing, looking for our portion of our co-pay, they wanted to take a credit card number over the phone - from my wife!! Jeez, after such a stressful time in her life, here were the bill collectors..... Without health insurance, room and board for wife and son rang up....get this at a gross figure of $58,000 - no joke. :roll: That was some pretty expensive omelets she was having for breakfast.

2) Recommend if you do not have a secure job - so short of tenure or some sort of guaranteed position, keep a minimum of one to two years salary in the bank/cd's/money market/short duration fund. That way you don't have to sweat too much, if you have your kid, come home only to return to work and be told, congratulations, your fired. I've seen it done.

3) Buy all baby stuff between the 6th and 8th month - by the 6th month you know you'll be carrying to term, pending some unforseen event. By the 8th month, both you and your husband will never want to walk into Baby's R Us again. Better yet, get family to donate stuff their not using anymore. My cousin gave me his spare crib, a vibrating chair (great for kids with colic), rattles, etc. The best invention is the Diaper Genie - no more odiferous smells. :lol: The car seat and stroller we bought - I got sticker shock over the little box you attach to your car seat - that little thing was like $150 - times two, not including stroller.

4) Decide whether you are breast-feeding or buying formula - If buying, stroll through Target, pharmacy and be prepared for sticker-shock. Babies eat ALOT. If breast feeding, be prepared to buy a pump, assorted bottles and such - anywhere from $100 and up. Also, another perk of breast-feeding, for the mother, you drop the weight you gained during pregnancy faster, but be prepared for kid to be attached to you - feeding is on DEMAND.

5) If your motor vehicle is out-dated, falling apart or otherwise deemed to be unworthy of carrying a child, like my wife's sports coupe. It's time to upgrade. Most Bogleheads don't advocate leasing, so it's either 2nd hand or new. You will need money for that. I hate auto finance debt, but if it's necessary, then that's another expense.

6) Take the birthing class and baby well care class - it comes in handy, though, all the stuff you learn there will go out of your head, the minute the baby starts Wailing.

7) Initially, monthly expenses have not gone up that dramatically. I suspect that will change once he's in school or about to go to school. If you are of mindset not to save for college, no need for 529 plan expense. Otherwise, start saving a little bit now for that, so when you do have your child, you'll be that much further along in that respect.

Good Luck!

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VictoriaF
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Post by VictoriaF » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:24 pm

rrosenkoetter wrote:
livesoft wrote:About one year after your siblings and friends have kids. That way, you get all the stuff their kids no longer use (clothes, toys, books, furniture, etc) for free.
ooh... good answer
A clever answer but not an accurate one. Second-hand stores and garage sales feature much wider variety of children stuff than an older sibling could possibly offer.

Victoria
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VictoriaF
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Post by VictoriaF » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:29 pm

sscritic wrote:If you wait until 50 and your child waits until 50, you will never be called upon to contribute to a 529 for your grandchild, nor will you be asked to buy Christmas wrapping paper for the grandchild's school fund raiser.

The obvious answer from a financial point of view is thus 50. You save lots of money if your grandchildren are born after your demise.
If you wait until 100, and your child waits until 100 then neither you or your child will have to spend any money on your children. Iteratively, your entire line of descent will be saving tons of money and retiring at 48!

;)

Victoria
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Post by marbleous » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:54 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
rrosenkoetter wrote:
livesoft wrote:About one year after your siblings and friends have kids. That way, you get all the stuff their kids no longer use (clothes, toys, books, furniture, etc) for free.
ooh... good answer
A clever answer but not an accurate one. Second-hand stores and garage sales feature much wider variety of children stuff than an older sibling could possibly offer.

Victoria
Yes, but most garage sales and thrift stores I go to don't give stuff away for free. Remember, this is a money forum, and free is as good as it gets.

Plus, all the stuff you get as hand-me-downs you can't use (or can't stand, like every battery powered toy for toddlers) you can then donate and take as a tax right-off. Win-win!

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VictoriaF
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Post by VictoriaF » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:16 pm

marbleous wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
rrosenkoetter wrote:
livesoft wrote:About one year after your siblings and friends have kids. That way, you get all the stuff their kids no longer use (clothes, toys, books, furniture, etc) for free.
ooh... good answer
A clever answer but not an accurate one. Second-hand stores and garage sales feature much wider variety of children stuff than an older sibling could possibly offer.

Victoria
Yes, but most garage sales and thrift stores I go to don't give stuff away for free. Remember, this is a money forum, and free is as good as it gets.

Plus, all the stuff you get as hand-me-downs you can't use (or can't stand, like every battery powered toy for toddlers) you can then donate and take as a tax right-off. Win-win!
If you faulted me on referring to hand-downs from a sibling rather than hand-downs from siblings and friends who had children earlier I would have agreed that I was sloppy and underestimated livesoft's advice.

But you accused me in misunderstanding the value of money for true Bogleheads, and I have to defend my honor!

I think there is an important difference between minimizing costs and always trying to get costs down to zero. Avoiding extra fees and charges -- where feasible and takes a minor effort -- is a healthy attitude. Always getting the lowest possible price, on the other hand, may be suboptimal. For instance, it may not be worthwhile to have multiple credit cards and accounts and continuously move money among them in pursuit of a small fraction of one's overall assets. Just as it may not be worthwhile going to twenty grocery stores to buy twenty items seeking the lowest price for each item.

Dan Ariely's "Predictably Irrational" has a chapter "The Cost of Zero Cost. Why we often pay too much when we pay nothing." Ariely has several enlightening examples. For example, when they were selling chocolates at MIT, they priced Lindt truffles at 15 cents and Kisses at 1 cent. 73% of students chose a Lindt and 27% chose a Kiss. Then they started selling Lindt for 14 cents and offering Kisses free (0 cents). 69% of students picked up a Kiss instead of a Lindt! If the students were rational before, they were not rational later!

Perhaps, a family would make more prudent choices and reduce clutter if it pays (very small) fees for used children clothing at garage sales than getting it at zero ($0) cost from relatives and friends.

Victoria
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Re: Financially, when is the best time to have children?

Post by Cosmo » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:31 pm

ViverDeRenda wrote:
Sailorette wrote:From purely a financial point of view, when do you think is the best time in life to have children? Mid-twenties, before your careers take off? Or later on, after you're well-established financially?

I know there are many, many other factors that will play into DH's and my decision, but I'm curious about how old most Bogleheads were when they had their first, and whether you would change anything in retrospect.

I look forward to your words of wisdom!
~Sailorette
NEVER.
Why bother even posting that???

btenny
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Post by btenny » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:55 pm

Well the key issue I see is to live with and be married to your wife/husband for long enough to be sure no divorce is in the future. Then if you both like and want kids I say have them when you are out of school and covering your bills with some room to spare.

In my case the wife and I waited until we were 28 and had been married a few years. We were homeowners and well set up financially and in stable jobs with good health insurance.

Since we both wanted and liked kids the cost of kids (eg money) was not an issue. Yes we had to plan out her reduced salary the first year and her lower salary in the kid raising years but the rewards were worth it. Yes kid expenses and private schools and college and kids cars etc are expensive but a part of life. You make tradeoffs for the kind of lifestyle you want to lead. In our case we were able to cover the costs and still retire early. I am sure I have gotten more than my cost back in pleasure over the years. Plus now that I have grand kids so the fun returns are even better.

Bill

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Post by diasurfer » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:59 pm

The answer 'never' isn't within the parameters of the question. From a purely financial standpoint, it seems the U. Texas study cited above provides the most evidence-based answer.

I find it interesting that so many posters responded with having kids early teaches you to be frugal early. My wife and I were already frugal so it didn't matter. We know plenty of people who worsened their financial situation with kids by blowing insane amounts of money on clothes and toys they didn't need.

I also don't agree with the "have them early so you can retire early" response. What is early retirement anyway but another way to ruin your finances? A time in your life to spend money and enjoy your freedom when you don't have a job. IMO it is easier and cheaper to do this when you're young. I'd rather do the Inca Trail trek or the two month surf trip to Bali when I'm in my 20's and 30's without kids than when I'm in my 50's.

By now it should be obvious that we were "old" when we had kids. Our first was born last year when I was 40 and DW was 33 and our second is due in September. Our honeymoon was kind of a final epic trip abroad for a decade or two. Not that we won't travel with the kids - but the trips won't be as far flung or long. We save a lot of money by getting so many hand me downs from friends and our siblings who already have kids. We hardly bought anything.

We were lucky in that both times, my wife got pregnant the first week or trying. We're having another girl. (She'll get sick of hand me downs from her sister I'm sure). I love my little girls! But I would really like to have a son too. So one problem with waiting until late is that if we try again for a boy I'm going to be around mid-40's which is just old no matter how you slice it. We'll see. I just feel fortunate to have healthy children.

So that's how I did it. These reasons are nothing more than hindsight justification. I never really intended or planned it that way; that's just how it worked out. If I could do it all over again, maybe I'd have them early. Who knows? "Man makes plans, and God laughs".

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Post by funnymoney » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:08 pm

Well, you don't always get to choose. Our first was delivered a few weeks after DH got out of the Navy, so we had to pay cash (i.e. go broke). The second came along real soon after we moved to a nicer community and took out a mortgage we couldn't really afford. Never did save a dime for their college.

Planning? Well, if we had waited to plan, heaven knows what would have happened. But when they come along, you adapt, take fewer vacations and maybe they don't get all the ski lessons

But we got them both through school without debt and today as adults they have blessed us with grandkids and we are closer than most families. So lucky.

Better to do everything you can for healthy, because a child with significant health problems can really skew kids your plans and opportunities. But WHEN? You can really work around that....

Funnym0ney 8)

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Re: Financially, when is the best time to have children?

Post by market timer » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:08 pm

taemoo wrote:
Ron wrote:
Sailorette wrote:From purely a financial point of view, when do you think is the best time in life to have children?
Never.
I guess this could depend on culture. My asian friends support their parents in retirement that includes paying for the mortgage, car loan, and an allowance above SS.
I'd also bet Asian parents invest more in their children, certainly true for those in the US. Would be interested if anyone has the stats.

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Post by btenny » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:14 pm

Regarding hand me down kid stuff versus bought used at a garage sale....

We used to get 5-10 year old stuff for our kids from my older brother and sister and aunts and so forth. They were trying to be nice and help us out and they were being thoughtful. But most of this stuff was too big, too small or just almost worn out. Plus we were the first people who had to use baby car seats and safety cribs and so forth so reusing the big items was difficult. We did not do any garage sales when our kids were growing up. Maybe we should have but we only did do a few swap meets. Now we done some buying at garage sales since we retired and found some real bargains. And since we only buy what we need this stuff gets used.

Bill

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Post by yobria » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:14 pm

If you're a subsistence farmer, ASAP. Otherwise, of course, never.

Nick

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Post by Tyrobi » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:25 pm

From our experience, I was 29 and my wife was 27 when we had our first child. Both of us were done with school and were already settling down with our first house. In addition, we were ready to have only one income earner in our household.

The best time financially to have a child is varied from one person to another. Now, to have how many children is another topic entirely. Both my wife and I agree that we will never match our parents (5 children on her side and 6 on mine).
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Post by Buster » Wed Apr 07, 2010 5:57 am

scrabbler1 wrote:
Chuck wrote:Now if we're to look at money as one factor in the decision, I would say if you are inclined to have children, you should do so as soon as you can possibly afford it. After you have children, you will realize what you were depriving yourself of. You think your career/money/cars/etc have meaning. I thought so, too. Well, sorry, they don't. So don't put aside something truly fulfilling in order to spend more time accumulating garbage.
Chuck, this is an insult to those who chose not to have children. For those of us childfree like me, I find nothing fulfilling about having kids. And no, I did not accumulate garbage. Because I don't have kids, I enjoy personal and financial freedom. I retired in late 2008 at age 45, something I never could have done if I had kids. I come home to peace and quiet, something I never could have done if I had kids. I have been able to do volunteer work with kids because I never wanted them of my own. (For me, the best part of that type of kid "fix" is that when I am done, I can give them back and return home to my peaceful and quiet home.)

If you want to say that your life became more fulfilling because you had kids, that is fine with me. But to make a blanket statement that everyone's life will become more fulfilling once they have kids is an insult to those of us who made a different personal choice which was best for us.

And many people who had kids regretted doing that. Remember Ann Landers' survey back in the 1970s in which 70% of the respondents wished they hadn't? Or how about the more recent Dr. Phil piece which showed a great number of regretful parents?
I also left work early - two months before my 46th birthday. No kiddos. Over the years have heard some of the most absurd "reasons" for having kids, mostly having to do with "who's going to look after you when you're old?" and "don't you get lonely?". To me, it's unbelievable what has become normal today with raising kids.

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Post by verbose » Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:54 am

Personal considerations are more important IMHO. Are you personally in a place in your life where you're ready to have kids? If you had a surprise pregnancy now, how would it affect you? If you could manage, then you may be ready.

If you wait for the magical point in your career or bank account, you'll be waiting a long time. From a financial and career viewpoint, it is best to never have children. That's a fact.

I think many people have been misled with the notion of family planning. Just a few generations ago, there was no such notion. Now we have contraception and assisted conception. However, family planning generally works for couples whose fertility is such that they are able to conceive in 6 months, but not so fertile that they accidentally conceive while using contraception. I know an awful lot of people who fall on one or another side of that happy medium.

Believe me, those of us who are infertile or sub-fertile have had a lot of time to ponder these things.

But, you asked about financial considerations. There are some minimums you should look for:
- Do you have room in your current home or can you afford to move?
- Do you have health insurance?
- Can you afford child care or the loss of one income in the short-term?

I say in the short-term because your initial child-care expenses will be much greater than the long-term ones. Most at-home parents go back to work after a few years. Child care costs drop as the child nears school-age, then plummet once they start school.

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Post by yobria » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:48 am

Chuck wrote:After you have children, you will realize what you were depriving yourself of. You think your career/money/cars/etc have meaning. I thought so, too. Well, sorry, they don't. So don't put aside something truly fulfilling in order to spend more time accumulating garbage.
If you're worried the world is accumulating too much garbage, Chuck, do it a favor and don't add more humans to the planet.

Certainly human relationships have more meaning that material goods. But that does not mean you have to reproduce to experience them.

Nick

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Post by Quasimodo » Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:23 am

We were married 11 years before we had our first child. We tried earlier, but there were medical issues that prevented it. Our marriage changed for the better with children.

I'd be inclined to say if you want children just go ahead when and if you can. We all have our precious plans, but life has a way of throwing the unexpected at you.

John
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Sailorette
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Post by Sailorette » Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:10 pm

I love how so many people seem to think that my husband and I are going to make a decision about the timing of kids based on these responses :lol:

We've got a pretty set timeline in place, but have had a number of conversations with friends recently on whether it would be easier, financially, to have kids at a certain time. Personally, while we're living overseas and 6,000+ miles from all family and are both applying to top 10 MBA programs does NOT seem like the ideal time. Although our friends who have kids in Taiwan are able to hire a full-time nanny for only $1,500 a month, so I guess that would be a plus!

And while I appreciate all of the concern about my fertility, I'm not fixated on the idea of my children needing to be biologically mine- even if we have no problem getting/staying pregnant the plan has always been to have one/two and adopt one/two. Spending a day with kids in Cambodia who will never see the inside of a school or visit a doctor in their lives kind of put things into perspective for us...

Thank you all for such excellent, and sometimes amusing, feedback!
20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did... throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

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Post by runthetrails » Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:11 am

OK, not a financial consideration, but one to possibly consider here. I believe parents and children tend to have closer adult relationships when they are closer in age. I'm currently in my 40s and my parents were born in the 19-teens -- I can tell you that we did not have too much in common.

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Post by elbryn1000 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:42 am

i think the answer is that it depends on each individual couple. some like early, some like later. some let it happen when it happens, and others try to plan it out.

for us it we agreed to wait a few years after getting married to have some "us" time. we got to travel around a bit, do things on a whim, and enjoy time together. it also helped that being newly minted dink's we were able to put together a strong head start to retirement, purchase a home, and emergency fund. We also got to get used to living with each other full time. knowing that the risks increase the longer you wait, we decided two years ago that the time was right to start trying and 11 months ago our boy came along :)

for the guy who said by month 6 you should know what you're having? not so much for us. we were assured with 85% confidence that we'd be having a girl. day of delivery? boy comes out. "what do you want to name him?" we were stunned and while we had a short list, hadnt selected a name thinking we wouldnt need to. thankfully, i didnt paint the room pink or anything.

it also helps that my wife is the youngest of three girls in her family. her two sisters had a total of 2 boys and 2 girls before us and we have stockpiles of clothing/toys/equipment from ages 0-4 sitting in our basement. never turn away the free stuff. the things you dont want can always be donated and even if the clothes are almost worn out, you can still get some use out of them when the kid is around the house when noone can see. the kids dont care much for what they wear, it's more the parents that care. all i know is my kid has more toys prior to age 1 than i did in the first 5 years of my life.

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Post by pr » Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:44 pm

About 10 days ago a good friend of mine got diagnosed with advanced brain cancer. He is in his mid 40s and has 2 young children. He is a physician (like myself) and decided he wanted to enjoy life a bit after med school, residency etc. It is unlikely he will live to see his children graduate grammar school. Kind of a similar situation to The Last Lecture professor. So even though you do not care if they are biologically yours- do you want to maximize the odds that you will be there to see them graduate from college? Something to think about. Personally, I think the ideal age to have a first child is in the late 20s.

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