You Can’t Afford Kids

Posted by Mrs Money on February 23rd, 2010

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Aunt Julie
Creative Commons License photo credit: Johnath

I was talking with someone the other day about trying to get pregnant, and they ended up telling me “You can’t afford kids.” After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I asked them why they thought that was the case.  They said that kids are so expensive, and they know how frugal I am and that if I have kids they will probably have me stressed out all the time about money.

To be honest, one of the reasons we’ve waited to have children is because of money.  We wanted to make sure that we had stable footing before adding a child into the mix.  I don’t think that’s silly, but maybe other people do.  At one point, we had over $36,000 in student loan debt, my husband was in culinary school, and I wasn’t even making that much in a year while supporting us! To get pregnant would have been a strain on our marriage, finances, and sanity.

I know that we’ll never be truly 100% ready to have kids, but I want to do the best I can with what we have now to prepare.  I want to get as much debt paid off that I can, save up enough money to take a year off work to stay with the baby, and have a healthy emergency fund just for peace of mind.  I don’t think that having a baby is a decision to take lightly, and everything I can do to prepare will make it so much more worth it in the end.

To be honest, I don’t know if anyone can ever afford to have kids.  I think that you make sacrifices and deal with the cards that you’re dealt.

Do you think we’ll be able to afford kids?

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63 Responses to “You Can’t Afford Kids”


  1. maria says:

    prepare yourself, but not too much

    you know, kids are a god sent and we actually don’t have the power to have a child at a certain moment in time

    you might get to the point where you both think you are fully prepared, but then not being able to concieve

    so… don’t take the preparation too serious! a child needs a place to sleap, some food, few clothes and LOADS of love. most of the people have what they need to provide for a baby

    I was prepared for a baby at some point, got pregnant, but lost the baby. then I found out that one in four pregnancies don’t get to the 12th week. It was a hudge dissapointment. This happens when you prepare too much and think you are in control. now I have a little baby, I am pregnant again, not that prepared, but so happy

    I wish you the best,
    Maria

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Maria- Thank you so much for your lovely words of encouragement! I wish you the best of luck with your pregnancy! I know- sometimes I do over think things. :)

    [Reply]

  2. I don’t have kids but I have a lot of friends that do. I hear them complaining all the time about how expensive kids are but they keep popping them out.

    You’re right, I don’t think anyone is truly ready for kids but you are going to be more prepared than most.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Single Guy Money- I have friends that have kids too and they do the same thing. They have a huge tv, buy a lot of pre made foods, etc.

    Thanks! I know that we feel better for the way we are doing it, and we’re the ones who are going to be paying for it! :)

    [Reply]

  3. Jeff says:

    Here’s a tip from a father of two and someone who’s in debt. Kids don’t cost as much as people think. Now my kids are still little so I can’t speak to the long term costs, but so far I’m very surprised how little we have to spend.

    Clothes are cheap as long as you only buy them on sale. If you use a spot remover they stay nice as long as the little guys fit into them. Mom to Mom sales are great for clothes and toys. And resale shops are a good choice too.

    Formula is expensive but after talking with our Doctor we found a great knock off at Sam’s Clubs and were able to get the formula at 1/3 of the price. Once they can eat normal food you won’t even notice a change in your grocery budget.

    If you have family and friends the baby shower is the best idea ever. Don’t ask for a bottle warmer, starilizer, or other crap that is marketed to a new parent. It’s all a waste of money. Make sure to ask parents what they use and ask for that stuff.

    You are already a frugalista so you will not have to worry about the little bit of extra money. I’m sure the person who told you that kids are too expensive either doesn’t know how to purchase products correctly, or doesn’t have kids.

    Good luck,
    Jeff

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jeff- You are the best. :) I’m all for buying second hand clothes and hand me downs! Those are great tips, and I’m sure I’m probably over thinking the whole thing. I’ve probably freaked out too much about the cost. :)

    [Reply]

  4. Your reasons are the exact reasons why we’re not having kids right now, among others. My sister-in-law’s mom was once pressuring me about having kids. When I told her that we were broke, she kept insisting that you didn’t need a lot of money to have children. I’m sure you can still be very frugal with children, but having a good chunk of change in the bank couldn’t hurt.

    I have a regular gig babysitting for two boys who are 15 months apart in age. I’m thankful for the job because it has taught me a lot about children (should we ever truly decide if we want them), but it is also the most perfect birth control ever. I see what their parents spend on things (necessities, medicines, doctor copays, toys, etc.) and those categories for children are not ready for our budget.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Saving Her Life-I can’t stand when people pressure others to have kids. :(

    I babysit too for extra money. It is a good outlet to be around kids. :) I wish you the best of luck with your decision!

    [Reply]

  5. I can’t believe the person you spoke to would say that. We all find ways to pay for the things that are important to us, whether it be kids, house, or subscription to video gaming magazines. You may need to shift things around, you may need to make different choices than you make without kids, but if you want kids, you make it work. I think that, given your frugal nature and your willingness to experiment with different life style choices, the cost of having kids will just be another item on the budget that you figure out.

    That being said, the MENTAL cost of having kids is skyrocketing :)

    ok, ok, I’m kidding (I think).

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    ami- I know, crazy, right?! The mental cost is skyrocketing, hehe. I love that!

    [Reply]

  6. Kacie says:

    That is so incredibly offensive of them! I am really cranky at them on your behalf for saying such a thing.

    You will be absolutely fine. Kids don’t cost nearly as much as people keep saying. I don’t think you’ll really buy into the “babies need all these gadgets!” mentality. You seem to take a minimalist approach in general, and that approach will definitely save you money and stress when it comes to having kids.

    There are always trade-offs. If X couple had more money, then maybe they could afford for the mom to be a SAHM indefinitely. Or maybe another couple could afford a housekeeping service.

    Or a bigger house, or frequent vacations, or … the list will always go on.

    Babies and kids don’t HAVE to cost a ton!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Kacie- I was pretty offended too. I don’t think they realize what they were saying! I don’t WANT all the baby gadget crap. I hate things around the house, so I’ll be fine without all the junk. :)

    I’m looking forward to a simple life with my family. :)

    [Reply]

  7. Shawna says:

    We have been putting off having kids or TTC for monetary reasons…yet we are still in debt, live in Michigan (need I say more?) and we have a modest savings…we are mentally and emotionally ready for a child and have recently decided that there is no perfect time for a baby, but our life cannot be on hold because of it (we are 31 – me and 35 – my husband) now that we have healthcare benefits again.

    I have cut back on everything and started saving more and paying down our debt at a faster speed, but our kids will not ever have the newest expensive gadgets…however, they will have a solid, loving, financially-frugal set of parents who teach them that material things aren’t the be-all-end-all and that loving relationships and family are all that’s necessary in life.

    You will be fine finacially and WONDERFUL parents.

    The most responsible and mature children I know are the ones who didn’t get the world handed to them and appreciate hard work and earning things themselves.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Shawna- We were thinking about moving to Michigan to be closer to family, but I don’t think that’s the best move right now. :( I am so glad you shared your ages with me. My hubby will be 33 in April and I freak out that he hasn’t had kids yet.

    I feel like I won’t be able to give all our kids those “things” they want, but they will be loved, well taken care of, and wanted. I figure that outweighs everything. :)

    Thanks so much for your kind comments! They mean a LOT!

    [Reply]

  8. Steph says:

    Oh how rude to say something like that to sombody who wants to have a kid.

    A friend once told me: Back wehn she was a teenager – she was afraid she might be pregnant because she was still in school and her dad lost her job. When she told her familie her parents were very angry, how could she be so stupid but her Grandma was really calm, smiled and said.

    “Whats the fuss about, money? All you realy need to care for a baby is love and diapers.”

    She raised her Kids during a war and she had not much more – but still the kids grew up and were not unhappy.

    I personaly would add penaten cream to the mix because I dont know anyone who managed to raise a kid without that cream – its a wondercream to fight diaper rash. Guess its a bit hard to find in the US and maybe a bit expensive but worth every cent.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Steph- I know. I don’t think they realized how rude they were! Thanks so much for sharing your story and tips!

    [Reply]

  9. Jes says:

    Like everything else, it’s a question of priorities. Five years ago, when my long-time job fell apart, I said I
    “couldn’t possibly afford” to take a job paying less. Five years later, I’m finally making about half of what I was before, started at less. I love what I’m doing and simply adjusted (with remarkably little pain) to less money. If you want a baby, you’ll work out the money. To rant just a bit, I really really hate the widespread mindset that every decision is a financial one. I don’t want money to be that important.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jes- I have thought about taking a job in daycare even though I’d probably make half what I’m making now. I think I would be happier doing that. I agree- I think that you really can’t think too much about money when kids are involved. Everyone says they are worth every penny. (Until they become teenagers!)

    [Reply]

  10. Well, you can probably afford kids if you want them given that you and your husband are careful planners. And I know lots of people who really can’t afford kids and keep having them anyway–in fact, the irresponsible seem to be breeding at an alarming rate :)

    I used to be a teacher and one of my student’s parents told me once, “You can’t base the decision to have kids on how much it will cost you. Having kids is not a rational decision, it’s something you want to do.”

    I find this to be quite true. DH and I want to have kids although it is certainly not as ‘frugal’ as not having them. But saving money is not the whole point of life, is it? I consider myself far more prepared and responsible than many people I know who already have children, so I don’t worry about it.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Simple in France- I know! It seems like that about the people that are unprepared. Sheesh! ;)

    I love that! I have heard it’s not a rational decision either. I’m just freaked out because once it’s done, there’s no turning back! lol

    I agree- I think experiences are worth more than having millions or dollars in the bank!

    [Reply]

  11. Jody says:

    Oh my. If we had waited til we could afford to have children we still wouldn’t have any!!! I agree with the man above who said that children aren’t as expensive as everyone says. Buy clothes on sale, at garage sales, or at a thrift shop. Find someone who will pass on their child’s clothes for a good price. I think that frugality already in place is a super start to being able to “afford” having children!!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jody- Thanks! I know- people have said if it was all about money, there would be no babies ever again! ;)

    [Reply]

  12. Jenny says:

    We prayed and prayed and finally decided to go for #2 in the fall of 2008. We panicked that we wouldn’t be able to pay for the homebirth I desperately needed even though insurance wouldn’t cover, and also that I might not be able to quit my job. Saving all that money made our budget super tight, but we did it. Once we were done, losing my income didn’t hurt so bad and I was able to quit. We’d already cut out a bunch of unnecessary spending and were disciplined. We recently went to have our taxes done and our new little tax deduction (plus our lower income, since I quit my job) more than reimbursed us for the homebirth.

    Breastfeeding is free. Twice a year I go to a consignment sale and spend ~$200 on clothes. We cloth diaper, and most of those are used too (covers and inserts are cheapest). If I never bought my daughters a single toy, they would still have too many thanks to the grandparents and other relatives. We do pick up toys at yard sales and thrift stores, and sometimes get a special new toy (if it’s on sale). The first doctor’s visit was expensive (about $150?) but we haven’t had any sick visits. What else is there… I’ve spent a lot on pretty slings and wraps, but I didn’t have to. Those can be made or bought secondhand for cheap, and can replace the stroller. You will need a good car seat, and those are good to buy new for safety reasons, but that could be a shower gift and diapers.com has good sales and free shipping.

    For me, it’s more an issue of being emotionally ready for a baby. We had our first when I was 22, partly because so many people we knew had trouble getting pregnant and we didn’t want it to happen to us. It was a good decision. So anyway, sorry for the long comment, but when your heart tells you you’re ready, I’d go for it :-)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jenny- I really appreciate your comment! I want to homebirth so badly too, and I’m willing to save up all the money I need to do that. I’m just worried I won’t be able to :( And I’m going to breastfeed and cloth diaper, and do all those fun things! I will definitely have to ask you for advice when the time comes if you’re okay with that! :)

    [Reply]

  13. abbie says:

    We waited through 5 yrs of marriage to have kids, and our baby’s due 2 weeks from today. Fortunately, my insurance is great through work, so we haven’t paid a dime for fantastic prenatal care. I plan to breastfeed and cloth diaper at least some of the time to save money during my 6 month leave from work.

    I think it’s wise to wait and be secure, which is why we waited.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    abbie- I’m happy with our decision. I think it’s worked best for us. I can’t believe your baby is due in 2 weeks! Your pregnancy went by so fast!

    [Reply]

  14. megscole64 says:

    That person is an idiot.

    Kids don’t HAVE to cost an arm and a leg. There are consignment shops and cloth diapers. Family tends to go crazy with gifts so toys aren’t an issue. And kids don’t need all the things that people try to say they do.

    My great-grandma raised several kids (at least 4 that I can remember…a couple died way before I was born) during the Depression. NO money. And yet her kids were clean, fed, and clothed. They were beyond poor but they were not trashy. It does not require money to maintain safe, healthy, and happy children.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    megscole64- LOL I think so too. I know we’ll be able to do it. We may not be the American family with all the cool things, but we’ll be happy, and that’s all that matters. ;)

    [Reply]

  15. megscole64 says:

    Oh…and let me just mention that not everyone CAN breast feed. I tried for a month and was depressed to the point of suicidal. Even the extremely radical lactation nurse finally told me to switch to formula since I wasn’t even enjoying my new baby. The guilt was horrible…but the cost was scary too.

    But you can save money on formula. Join a coupon website (i.e. HotCouponWorld) and trade for formula checks (they have names on them but I only ever had an issue one time when using them). Also sign up for the formula checks on your own (I traded Enfamil Qs for Similac Qs from other moms). I saved HUNDREDS upon HUNDREDS of dollars on formula.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Thanks for the tips! :)

    [Reply]

  16. H Lee D says:

    Like others here, I suspect that *because* you are frugal, you’ll do fine with kids. The person you spoke to does not understand the difference between someone who is frugal and a tightwad.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    H Lee D- Thanks! :) I think we’ll be fine too. I think that person is a little crazy, to tell the truth!

    [Reply]

  17. Cate says:

    Wow–how rude! I would have been so offended. But also, I think that person is missing the point about frugality. I’m frugal not necessarily because it’s fun (it isn’t always), but so that I can afford the things I REALLY want, and one of those things is children.

    Anyway, I agree with the sentiment that children don’t have to cost a fortune. I think it all depends on your attitude towards what’s “essential” for kids. (Tip: not much!)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Cate- Some people are rude. ;) I totally agree with this: I’m frugal not necessarily because it’s fun (it isn’t always), but so that I can afford the things I REALLY want, and one of those things is children. Amen!

    I’m going to just block everyone else out and go with what feels right for us!

    [Reply]

  18. Marsh says:

    OMG! Of course you should have kids. They don’t cost much at all, especially if you have a have them at home with a mid-wife, sleep together in a family bed, carry them in a sling, breast-feed, make your own wipes and use cloth diapers. My boys got the best hand-me-downs from my sister who only bought the best. I bought most things off the sale rack at Target and my kids were always clean and adorable. We homeschooled so didn’t get caught up in the peer pressure about clothes. They wear t-shirts from Wal-mart or the thrift store and we buy Kirkland jeans from Costco. I have one who is living on his own now and appreciates Mom’s frugal ways and teaching, and I have a 16 year old who also loves thrift store treasures. It only starts to cost more when they are male and teens with hollow legs–they always want to eat. We cook everything from scratch and so this also saves tons of money. Go for it! We need you to raise up more frugal, simple living people.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Marsh- You are awesome! Thanks so much for your compliments. :) I am so excited about the possibility of getting pregnant soon. And I love how it’s all over the internet! ;)

    I’m proud of you for raising your family frugally!

    [Reply]

  19. Sara G says:

    My son will be a year old a week from today. So far, we have been able to absorb the added costs of having a child. So much of it comes to the choices you and your husband make. My husband does not like going into Babies R Us because it makes it seem like you need all that stuff, which is not true.

    In some ways, having a son has helped me to be more frugal. We eat out less often now, partly to save money and partly to help me shed my pregnancy pounds.

    I have been fortunate to receive nice “hand-me-downs” and try to pass them along to others. When I do need to by clothing for my son, it is on sale or second hand. If my son can wear second hand clothes, so can I.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Sara- My hubby and I are both frugal so I think we can resist the temptation of the baby stores. I don’t like a bunch of crap around the house either.

    That’s awesome! We are not the best about controlling how often we eat out. That’s a great point you have there!

    I looove second hand clothing too! No shame in that game. ;)

    [Reply]

  20. Tia says:

    Don’t let the those negative nellies get you down. I am a single mom of two amazing kids. We live very frugally on about $25,000 a year. I make my mortgage payment, life insurance, car insurance, groceries & all utilities. We even have an emergency fund in place. Anything else is a bonus. If you already live frugally your kids will be blessed to learn to appreciate all the little things you can give them and they will grow up knowing not to take money or financial savvy for granted. :) Invest in some cloth diapers (the added laundry will barely be noticeable on your bill), breastfeeding is super healthy and free and babies/kids don’t need designer labels on the clothes they are going to dirty. As long as you have good insurance (for an hospital birth) or saved the money for a midwife assisted home birth you will be fine. God bless you on your upcoming adventure in kids. It’s the most amazing thing you will ever get to be a part of. Oh and 1 more thing. With my 2nd child I saved to pay a lactation consultant to help me with nursing and it was so worth it! I was so frustrated the 1st time and she helped me work through all those issues. Best money I EVER spent. :)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Tia- Your comment almost made me cry. :) Thanks so much for your nice comments. It’s so good to know there are people out there like me that want to raise kids frugally! <3

    [Reply]

  21. I think if you feel emotionally ready for kids – then you’re ready. You can have children on a frugal lifestyle and be very happy. You can have children with lots of money and be miserable. It all depends on your attitude!

    Until I had kids I was a major control freak about our house and finances. We had our first child, and then I relaxed a little… then tried for one more, and got TWINS…

    Love knows no bounds. You will always find what you need to provide for your children.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Christina- I think we’re just going to go for it soon. I’m a little bit of a control freak and I think it will be good for me to have kids. I’ll have to learn to be more flexible!

    I can’t believe you got twins the second time around. How fun! (Not that I want twins… ;) )

    I’m looking forward having a baby!

    [Reply]

  22. Angel says:

    you are much more ahead than many parents.

    me & my husband just had our 1st (i’m 28 & he’s 30). we stated ttc when i was your age (it took us almost 2 years & one lost pregnancy).

    we paid off both cars, most of our cc debt & old student loans. he just graduated, so we will be paying student loans again & i quit my job to stay at home (bc it was important to both of us), so our income was cut in-half, but we are managing. a lot of the advise i believe was already shared, but we cloth diaper, breastfeed, line dry our clothes, buy 2nd hand clothes, prepare cheap healthy meals, grow our own produce, & walk almost everywhere.

    our boy is only 4 months, but already i have found a group of like minded moms & tons of free activities.

    p.s. we were prepared for a home birth too (even saved & paid the $1500 that insurance wouldn’t cover), but our little boy had other thoughts in mind and we had to deliver by c-section at the hospital (in the end only costing us $100).

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Angel- I am so sorry for your loss :( I love that you quit your job to stay at home with your baby. That is so important to me too!

    We could totally be friends :) You sound so much like me!

    [Reply]

  23. Frugal Babe says:

    You will ABSOLUTELY be able to afford kids! I think the person who told you otherwise got it backwards… people who are frugal have the easiest time with the expenses that come with kids – one, because they tend to have money saved that they can rely on in a pinch, and two, because they know how to be frugal across all sorts of different situations, and will figure out creative ways of raising children without breaking the bank.
    Our son is nearly two, and the only real expenses we have for him are his college fund ($100/month, but not a necessity for a lot of families) and his health insurance (about $100/month). Everything else is pennies, since we use homemade cloth diapers, get all of his clothing at thrift stores, and stay out of baby stores all together.
    You will be make great parents, which is the most important part. And you’ll make the money part work out just fine.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Frugal Babe- Your son is almost two?! How did that happen? You are one of the biggest sources of inspiration for me. I am totally picking your brain when I get pregnant. :)

    Thanks so much for the vote of confidence!

    [Reply]

  24. ~Carla~ says:

    Wow…. it must be nice to be one of the privelidged few who know it all, huh? ;) lol!! I’m a SAHM of 4 kids & we’re living on about 40K/year. Most would probably faint at that, but as long as you budget and live within your means, you’ll be fine! Kids don’t need $200 shoes & yearly vacations… ;)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Carla- I know, right? That’s fantastic you can be a SAHM mom! I am so happy for you. I sometimes feel like my hubby doesn’t make enough money and that people would think we’re stupid for me wanting to stay at home, but it’s what we’re deciding, so I’m going to go with it. :)

    [Reply]

  25. Simply Life says:

    Great post and so good to learn from others!

    [Reply]

  26. I wanted to be as financial stable too before having kids, and if my wife didn’t kick me in the butt, we would just be starting today (which would have been horrible)!

    You seem like a very smart lady! I think you and your husband will do fine, even if kids are a bit price today.

    Money helps with raising your kids! It cost money to have your kids play sports, swimming lessons, and nice vacations! So it is wise of you to think about this, but you are frugal, so you’ll do fine!

    I love my kids more than anything, and I’m sure you will too!

    Every year passes, and I wish I could freeze time… but the kicker is every year that passes it keeps getting better too… We’ll see if I feel the same way when my kids are teenagers! ;)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Money Reasons- Thanks again for the post and for the nice comments! I think we need to just go for it and see what happens. We’ve got a good amount saved already. :)

    I hope you continue to enjoy your kids, even when they are teenagers! :)

    [Reply]

  27. Ted says:

    Both our kids were little surprises (woo hoo!). The biggest expenses for us are/were doctor bills and diapers. We used Target formula (great stuff- and cheaper) and got lots of clothes from friends. Make sure you have stellar insurance- that will ride the wave of the first year the best. Plus, you have to keep your house a bit warmer in winter and cooler in the summer. Frugality helps to keep the costs down as you wont run out and buy 900,000 brand new toys!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Ted- I think I’d like to have a surprise! That would be fine with me. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this year is the year I get pregnant. :)

    [Reply]

  28. Kids change your lifestyle so much, you can’t compare the way you live now with the way you live after kids. Also, different parents have different ways of raising their kids. Some focus on giving them experiences (trips to the library, time with grandparents, walks in the park, etc.) and others focus on giving them things. The “things” route is much more expensive. If your friend has kids, look at how they parent–they may have a very expensive style that you don’t to mimic.

    Make sure you have some type of insurance though–even if it has a very high deductible. Our second child ended up costing over $350,000 and 5 weeks in a hospital that wasn’t near our home so we had to stay in a hotel. Without insurance, it would have wiped us out. We ended up paying about $10,000 out of our pockets over some time. Obviously this was a big expense, but nothing compared to what it could have been.

    If you have a big deductible, you may want to try to time getting pregnant so the frequent prenatal appointments and childbirth are all applied to the same deductible. We tried to do this, but it turned out our insurance year ran from October to October instead of January to January. So we hit the deductible once for prenatal care and once again for having the baby. (Who is doing fine now and is in good shape.)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    $350,000?!? You are not helping me want to have kids. :) just kidding! I am glad your baby is doing well now!

    I am the type of person that would rather give experiences. I have a friend that gives her kids everything and it just makes me sad when I’m around them because I know I’ll never be able to give them that. :(

    Thanks so much for the comment!

    [Reply]

    H Lee D Reply:

    Don’t be sad that you can’t give them that. Be sad that her kids get stuff and not time. Any ol’ jerk with money can buy stuff. Not everyone will give time.

    [Reply]


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