This short post is a reply to something I have seen recently in a discussion in BIGS World, our Facebook Group.
The topic of discussion is on a recent piece by Channel News Asia profiling a couple who lives with 7 children with a monthly income of less than S$3,000.
The comments was rather pleasant with people asking their peers in the group whether they would do something like that, to people providing perspectives of the motivation of the couple that looks towards more than the tangible aspects of life.
There are also some contrasting their own experience with the experience of this couple.
However, this comment caught my attention:
It is not I felt the need to address this but I have been seeing him form an opinion of the group in general that the pursuit of financial independence is only conducive if you are single.
However, this comment, is befuddling considering that no one raised negative things about this couple with 7 kids up to this point.
So I will try to address some of these points.
The general feel of the group is that there are more married couples or folks that would get married at some point of their lives.
Many of the group members have children, or have children that have grown up.
Consistently, we have sub topics on sharing parenting views and such. I find it hard to consider parents to be anti-children.
Are singles anti-children?
I think most singles were once a child ourselves, so if our parents have done this, we might not have a chance to experience this world.
His point may be that we need a lot of money, then we can consider having children
We are in a group where money is a center of discussion.
If we do not discuss the monetary aspect of children, then what is it you wish for us to discuss, when someone share an article such as this. ( the guy who first shared it Mr Tree of Prosperity, has 2 young children himself)
Most of my friends are married. With Kids.
Most of them do not think about the monetary aspect so much before they have kids.
If you talk about the monetary aspect of having kids, it doesn’t mean it always factor high in your consideration.
However, is it wrong to not consider the monetary aspect of the equation when evaluating whether you should have another child?
Personally I think it should.
And I think there are other intangible aspects that as a future parent, you should consider as well.
Don’t ask a single guy like myself.
Ask the couple and their 7 children.
- It as the Dad who did not want to stop at 2, the wife’s original plan
- Their monthly income (about S$2,500/mth) are less than monthly expenses of S$3,000/mth
- They have no savings to buffer. The wife is increasingly concerned about the stability of their family income
- They get a lot of assistance from various sources
- social services
- for education – financial assistance scheme
- for health – CHAS
- from church – blessing of groceries, tickets to Universal Studios, Stay-cation, trips to Malaysia
- They share their toys
- They have to evaluate whatever they purchase, to maximize the value they get
- They seldom eat out and when they do, their choices are food courts to coffee shop
- They use to have a domestic helper but after a while could not afford
- The husband works odd hours and usually are too tired and had to rest a lot at home, and not able to provide assistance to the wife to take care of the household chores or the kids. The husband felt guilty that he is not living up to his role as a husband “As a husband and a father, I don’t feel good”
- Eldest Daughter felt disconnected “After Hannah was born (in 2013 – the sixth child), he had to work harder. He wasn’t at home as much,” said the 16-year-old, who cried a little as she remembered those times she missed her dad while growing up.“It was only Rachael and me, and Rachael was a small baby,” she said. “I miss it because, for example, it was 100 per cent about me. Now it’s 100 divided into seven portions.”
- Mrs Heng still feels guilty about is Hannah’s speech delay. The five-year-old can repeat words but is not speaking in sentences yet, and must be referred to a speech therapist. She frets that she may have not done enough when the girl was two years old. “I was expecting Isabella, so sometimes I wonder if it’s because I was too tired, and then I didn’t communicate enough with her,” she said.
- Mrs Heng: “When I’m overwhelmed with their schoolwork deadlines and then a lot of housework, or if one of them is ill, and I’ve to handle so many things … I do think about whether I’m raising them all by myself”
Despite this profile, the dad said: “If I were to restart this whole thing, I may even have had more.”
Perhaps we shouldn’t consider the monetary aspects.
I would argue their choice of having so many children is affecting the intangible part of their lives, rather than the tangible part. Is it something that they can cope with? Only the 9 people can answer.
To answer the member’s question, no we do not need to be a billionaire, but my personal opinion is that you need to have some grasp whether you can provide for your family responsibly.
I have my doubts.
The dad have this very worthwhile philosophy.
“I see children not as a burden but as an inheritance – as a blessing.”
We all have goals, but do you think is it correct to have the whole world subsidizing your philosophy?
I see the dad as a person who buys 7 endowment plans.
He is paying the premiums right now. Eventually the whole family would survive this and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Is it correct for him to pressure himself to live a high tension work life just to fulfill this philosophy?
Is it correct to put this pressure on his wife, to take care of this enlarged family, such that she doesn’t have a life out of the family?
Is it correct to force these responsibilities on their children and taking away attention that they yearn from them by fulfilling this philosophy?
Is it correct to force your fellow friends, Singaporean Tax Payers, and Government to provide assistance to support a huge family because you struggle to support?
My answer is no.
If I were married and discussing with my spouse about this, I would more or less get a good idea about how our cash flow would look for the next 3 to 5 years, then think about the intangible aspects.
If I feel very strongly about having a few children, I would always consider if we can support them with our income alone.
Lastly, if you make a comment that we are anti-children, that we think too much about money, then please make sure that the next time we see you, or when your friends see you, you have 10 children. If not, you are also anti-children.
Financial Independence is not Just for Singles
And one last note.
Just because we showed a lot of spreadsheets, data of how to achieve financial independence as a single, doesn’t mean you cannot pursue it as a couple with kids.
The beauty of the pursuit of financial independence is that even if you do not make it, the money gives you a lot of optionality.
With that, even if you pace shifts, your goals change, you can use that wealth prudently built up to exchange for something your family will value now.
There are many in the group that are married, with kids. They are there to learn the kungfu of trying to get there faster.
This means that they are drawn to building wealth which eventually leads to financial independence.
And if you need more examples of couples trying to do this, read:
- How a Singapore couple juggles having $2 million retirement goal and letting a spouse stay at home
- Mr and Mrs Sipping Coconuts. Last count they have 2 young children
- Kate and Dave. Last count they have 2 young children
- Growing your Tree of Prosperity. Financially Independent. Last count they have 2 young children
- Lim Der Shing. Former Jobs Central Co-Founder. Angel Investor. VERY Financially Independent. Last count they have 4 children
- STE. VERY Financial Independent. Last count 2 older children
Financial Independence is a niche concept. Not many know about it. Even less pursue it.
But if there are more couples out there with kids, pursuing it, trying to find out the kinks how to reach there, how can you say its only for singles?