Affording Kids on a Recession Budget

Author Nan Mooney explains how to make it work.

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Nan Mooney, author of (Not) Keeping Up With Our Parents, has long pointed out the financial stresses that 20, 30 and 40-somethings face: Wages haven't risen along with expenses, from housing to child care to college tuition. "A lot of us now are in two-income families yet still can't seem to support our families in the way that single-income families used to," she says.

Mooney, 39, came up with her own unique solution: She moved from New York to Seattle to live with her parents when she had her first child. Not only did that drastically reduce her housing costs, but her mom also helps her with child care. If she had stayed in New York, having kids likely would have been prohibitively expensive -- or she probably would have had to rely on public assistance, Mooney says.

In addition to creative living arrangements, Mooney suggests downsizing other expectations when it comes to affording kids. "People are saying, 'Maybe I don't need a Pottery Barn nursery, maybe my kid can go to public school, maybe I won't take vacations. It's not what I'd choose, but it's what we'll do,'" she says. Parents are also forming local communities so they can swap baby gear instead of buying new toys and clothes. Mooney also recommends looking into forming a babysitting co-op where parents take turns caring for kids, or bartering or swapping duties.

However you cut costs, chances are your baby won't even notice, Mooney adds. "Accept that you aren't going to be able to afford to raise your child in the way that you hoped and expected. It won't be a detriment to your child… Rich kids are not happy kids."

For more, read:

  • "Parents and Adult Kids Living Together"
    • "Quiz: Can You Afford a Baby?"
      • "Are Gen-Xers Falling Behind?"