Before becoming a single mom 12 years ago, Robin Bergman did everything she could to prepare financially, from saving over $200 per week to cover the first seven months of day care to cutting back on personal purchases.
“I was used to spending money on myself,” recalls Bergman, who lives in Simsbury, Conn. “I went on vacation every year, and I bought artwork and I bought jewelry and I bought beautiful furniture, and I ate out a lot.”
But nothing prepared the bookkeeper turned financial statement analyst for a career shift that forced her to take a $10,000 pay cut seven years ago. Soon after, in 2009, her house went into foreclosure and she was forced to uproot herself and her now 12-year-old daughter, Judy.
Nevertheless, the 52-year-old hails her decision to become a single mom as the “smartest, best and most selfish” one she ever made.
While the number of women who are choosing to become single moms without the help of a partner is increasing, it’s likely that the number of women who are considering the lifestyle but scared they’ll end up in the poorhouse is on the rise, as well.
While it’s important to acknowledge that the decision to have a child on your own involves careful consideration of nonfinancial factors—in and of itself a highly charged topic—getting a clearer financial picture can help prepare one for the transition. Here is a breakdown of some of the costs to consider from those who have taken the single-motherhood path, not including unforeseen circumstances like salary downgrades.
The Cost of Getting Started
There are many ways to make a family as a single mom.
According to data from Single Mothers by Choice, a New York-based organization founded to support women who are, as the name suggests, single moms by choice, 20% of its members choose to go the way of celebs like Sandra Bullock, Sheryl Crow and Charlize Theron and adopt. But it doesn’t come cheap. The average cost of a U.S. adoption is about $30,000, and international adoption can be even costlier, not to mention some countries don’t allow single-parent adoption.
About 60% of SMC’s members (roughly 30,000 since 1981) have chosen to conceive a child through insemination by a sperm donor, says the organization’s president and founder Jane Mattes.
And while donor insemination is often less than $1,000 if it works the first time, as it did for Bergman, who at 39 conceived her daughter through one round of unmedicated intrauterine insemination (IUI), that’s not always the case.
“The average single woman who seeks fertility treatments is usually between 37 and 39.”
Some need to move onto more aggressive treatments such as IVF, which insurance doesn’t always cover.
Alan Penzias, a reproductive endocrinologist and medical director of Boston IVF, says the typical single woman who seeks fertility treatments is usually between 37 and 39, and usually requires a few cycles of IUI to get pregnant. But older women might require IVF because they have fewer eggs or other issues.