Have Baby Boomers become sociable weavers?

A trendy issue to start a family argument is ‘what’s the right age to start a family?’

The traditionalists take the line that it just happens. And many career women can tell you that long-term delays can have the most awful consequences.

Lets confine this article to what makes the most sense in terms of family financial planning.

Many believe that babies should be delayed until family finances can afford them. In my experience this suggestion has little merit. On the whole family disposable income does not sky rocket during a persons 20’s and early 30’s. Everyone is to busy buying houses, cars and more. Waiting for this phase to end towards the end of 30 something can lead to other dangers.

In the context of family planning a baby is usually not that expensive. Baby food and nappies are nothing compared to the costs of education, designer clothes and cell phones. The real expense of children happens when they are 12 to 25 years old. That’s when family earnings need to be at their prime.

So, it would seem that mid 20’s is around the right age. The unforeseen real benefit is that the kids should be financially self sufficient by the time parents are around 50. Theoretically that leaves 10 or 15 years for the parents’ financial recovery before retirement.

The real consequences of starting a late family are that university fees, cars etc can, and often do, devastate retirement savings.

But, as always there’s a catch. Having babies young used to result in ‘empty nest syndrome.’ But a feature of generation Y ( Born 1980 -2000) is that they simply don’t leave home. So the empty nest is fast becoming a sociable weavers paradise.

Now sociable weavers will tell you it’s a great way to live. If you get bored of fighting with your kids you just turn on your grandkids. There’s plenty of fun to be had.

But the issue then becomes who pays for the fun. And so often today we are finding that generation Y are feeding on the Generation baby boomers retirement nest egg.

Perhaps family planning should work backwards. Rather concentrate on when you hope to have your kids truly off your hands. Allow 25 years for that and work backwards. So, if you want to be kid-free at 50, start a family in your early 20’s.

I don’t think the likes of Apple and other top employers are taking this into consideration when they offer employees free embryo freezing as part of an employment package. It’s difficult enough to start a family at 40. Just imagine getting them off your hands at 65.


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