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How student debt affects decisions about starting a family

Julie Lord
 


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How do you know when it’s the right time?

The decision to start a family is one that is increasingly influenced by financial factors. According to government figures, the average cost of raising a child has now jumped to $233,610. So, for any parent, a precarious financial position is going to make having a family seem like a bad idea. But how much impact does student debt really have when it comes to making decisions about starting a family?

Affordability

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a newborn – it’s not necessary to have all the latest equipment and toys. However, for any new parent it’s highly likely that monthly spend is going to increase when you have a child. If you add that increase in spending to your current debt repayments is that going to make life affordable for you or difficult to manage financially?

Taking time off work

You might be a mother considering maternity leave and potentially taking time off work after the birth to care for your newborn. Or you may be a father looking at paternity leave after the birth and then becoming a stay at home dad. In either case, if you have student debt repayments to make then these are going to have to be factored in to the decision to leave, or take time off from, your job. Will you still be able to make student debt payments if you’re not working? How will this affect the total household budget?

Mortgages and home ownership

If you don’t yet have a foot on the property ladder then thinking about starting a family could be the moment that you decide it’s time to take that step. Everyone wants to be able to provide security for their children. However, the reality is that if you have a lot of student debt then you may find this more difficult than you thought. Lenders will take into account the levels of debt that you – and your partner – have, in relation to what you earn, to determine whether a mortgage is affordable for you. If your debt-to-income ratio turns out to be too high then it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a mortgage.

Reluctance to have children

Research has shown that, increasingly, levels of student debt mean that graduating students are waiting longer to make life decisions, such as getting married and having children. Many couples are simply not willing to take the risk of getting pregnant while there is a five figure (or larger) debt to repay. So, if you or your partner have substantial student debt you may find that you’re not on the same page when it comes to having children. They may prefer to wait, for example, until you’re both in a better financial position.

Borrowing to cover the costs

According to the personal finance experts at Solution Loans , high levels of existing debt, whether it’s student debt or any other kind, will affect your ability to borrow more. Like a mortgage lender, any other lender will look at your current debts and if they are too high they won’t be willing to approve an application for a credit card or personal loan, no matter how necessary it may be.

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