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Money Makeover: “Can we afford to have a baby?"

FINANCIAL ROADBLOCK: "We feel pressure to keep up with our friends!"

MONEY-SMART SOLUTION: Wait to make major decisions until you're both financially — and emotionally — ready.
When faced with the ever-popular question of "When are you going to have kids?" Breanne gets frustrated. "Even though we both want kids, I wish people would leave it be," she says. "I feel rushed and sometimes guilty that we haven't gotten pregnant yet." Larry agrees. "Of course I want kids," he says, "but I just don't think we're ready." They're smart to know their limits, says Tessina. "It's important for them to get their emotional connection and financial situation secure before having children," she adds. "Parenting is stressful and demanding, and if they're not ready they will have a very rough time." Fact is, failing to prepare for all the consequences of big life changes — whether it's buying a house that needs a lot of renovations or having a baby — will always put you in the hole. "But if you plan for life's big moments," says Ulrich, "you'll never be surprised or weighed down by the price tag."

When family and friends pressure Breanne and Larry to start thinking about having a baby or wonder why they haven't started trying by now, the couple needs to maintain a united front about their relationship time line. Talking to each other openly about their future wants and hopes will help them eventually attain the life they desire, Tessina says. She suggests that they draw themselves a life map — with sections for home, kids, money, fun, and work. In each section, they should write down their dreams. "This will make their long-term plans more real to them," she says — and will help them figure out when they will be ready to become a threesome. "Things will come up that neither one of them could predict, but that's the part they're good at," Tessina says. "For example, they were able to make big decisions together when it came to buying and renovating their home. So long as they keep working to take charge of their future, they'll be taking steps to create the family they always dreamed of having."

THE COUPLE'S REACTION

BREANNE: "We now know how to reach our overall goal of having a baby instead of letting things 'just happen.' Tina helped us figure out a better way to talk to each other, and Carmen helped us financially prepare ourselves for the family we'd like to have. We made the life map Tina suggested. We still need to get more detailed on how to attack the goals we've listed, but just sitting down to discuss them was helpful. We've also started paying off the highest-interest credit card first. I've looked into some online savings accounts that offer a higher interest rate than our current accounts do. I also started doing more bill payments online, which I like because I no longer worry about my payments arriving late."

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