Starting a Family #illumedati

Hey everyone, it’s Finance Fridays again. This post today isn’t necessarily related to Finance Fridays, however, I felt it was at least circumferentially related, as I’ll explain. Today we’re going to talk about “Starting a Family.”

My Little Ones

My Two Little Ones

Starting a Family?


So here’s the background story:

I was talking to someone recently who just finished fellowship in neuroradiology. He moved back home where his family was and started a new job. Currently, he was just crashing at home in order to save some money and not make The Biggest Mistake of Your Life. His job has been going great so far so I asked about whether he was planning to rent a new place. He was considering moving closer to his job since his current commute was about 45 minutes or so, and the thought of renting a place had crossed his mind. He also has a long term girlfriend and they are planning to get married soon. Perhaps they’ll plan for their first child a year or two after being married.

Sounds like the prototypical “young attending” scenario to me. He’s not too far behind “Dr. Lee”.

So what did I do?

In typical “Sensei” fashion I felt it was my duty to try to “prepare” him.

I started talking to him about Buying a House, Child Care, Public School versus Private School, and a bunch of other stuff.

Overall, I think I ended up scaring him.

I guess it was kind of a lot to think about in a short amount of time. However, that is kind of the reason I am writing this post.

Starting a Family isn’t easy.

It’s a decision that shouldn’t be made on a whim or taken lightly. I think prior to starting a family, you should really look ahead toward the future about where you want your family to be in the next 5 and next 10 years. I think it is important to include where you want to live and where you want your kids to go to school.

You also need to consider Child Care if both spouses are working full time and if there is or isn’t extra family support (like grandparents).

In his particular case, he is lucky that his fiancé and him are both from the same area, so both grandparents would be available for help. However, the question of where to live is a difficult one since it revolves around being closer to work or closer to the grandparents. The additional problems which loom on the horizon are “where do they want their kids to go to school?” and “do they want to do public school or private school?” This could affect where they choose to live, as well as effect how easy (or difficult) help from the grandparents may be available.

These are all things that he never even considered.

Of course, how could he know? 

Going from being married to having kids is like going from Zero to One.

I keep using this particular example, because I feel it really explains how different it is. You are creating something. This little human will depend on you for everything. Everything changes.

The best explanation for this is from a standup comedian: Michael McIntyre, People with No Kids Don’t Know.

It’s short, but give it a watch. It illustrates the difference pretty well.

Well, we kind of already knew that Sensei…

Yes I know, it’s common knowledge right. However, starting a family is something you are never really prepared for until you’re in the thick of it.

Even “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry“. Let’s look at an example:


I love my daughter with everything I have and I want to give her every opportunity possible. Anything that interests her I want her to be able to try, which at the present time is swimming, hula, ballet, and piano. However, these enriching activities aren’t cheap, especially on Oahu. A good friend of mine has distilled enriching activities on Oahu down to a very simple concept:

“Enriching activities cost about $1/minute.”

On Oahu at least, he’s not wrong.

That works out correctly for 30 minutes of swimming a week, 1 hour of hula a week, 1 hour of ballet a week, and 1 hour of piano a week. So basically, you’re looking at 210 minutes of activities a week, or about $210 a week, with a total of about $840 a month. Is she going to be doing all these things forever? Well probably not, but you can see that these activity costs can add up. If you’ve done the math, that’s ~$10000 a year.

Just so we’re clear, understand that these are just “normal activities”. Kylie isn’t getting one-on-one private lessons from Olympian swimmers, famous hula dancers, or ballet dancers. Her piano lesson is a 1 on 1 lesson, however, I think that’s par for the course.

The point of this story is that I think people tend to grossly underestimate how much kids can cost. It’s not just diapers and baby food. I think the single most important cost that people tend to underestimate is how much Child Care will cost. Then there is likely a need for drop-in babysitting costs for when the daycare/preschool is closed.

Additionally, there are opportunity costs as well.

I don’t watch The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones or Stranger Things or whatever the hottest new show is. It’s not because I hate TV. It’s because it’s not something my kids can enjoy with me. I’d rather sit and watch Paw Patrol or Shimmer and Shine or whatever with my kids because they enjoy it. By the way, how about that new show Top Wing? My kids love it.

The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things will still be around when my kids are older and able to watch it with me, so I’m not too worried. Yes, I know I could watch these shows on my iPad from bed if I wanted to, but it’s just not that important to me. Before we sleep, my wife and I prefer to read books with the kids or listen to Kylie practice piano.

TV just isn’t all that important.

That’s just one example of course.

You have to plan everything.

You can’t just decide, ok, tonight is date night with your spouse. Babysitting coverage and reservations are a must.

To give you an example, our next date night is in December. It’s going to be a triple date and it took a while to figure out everyone’s call schedules and stuff.

I started planning it 3 months ago.


Starting a family is a big responsibility and big decision. One that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Going from being married to having kids is like going from Zero to One.

People tend to underestimate the costs of having children. (especially Child Care)

It’s not just diapers and baby food.

These costs may grow with time, depending on your situation (public school versus private school, enriching activities, sports, etc.)

Michael McIntrye and his “People with No Kids Don’t Know” skit illustrates this concept well.

Overall, I think I scared my friend a little…

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