Costs of Having Kids...

Updated on May 03, 2010
K.P. asks from Dover, NH
31 answers

I always hear people talking about the costs of having children.
What specifically do they mean?

I just had my first (almost 6 months) and we're considering having #2 somewhat soon.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive about how much it is to raise a child, its just that it hasnt been too bad so far (and we had to deal with some medical issues recently).
Maybe it's because we had family/friends give us pretty much all the clothes/toys/furniture we need and havent had to buy much so far. Plus I breastfeed so I dont have to worry about formula.

We have and I know we will continue to need to spend money on several things but it just hasn't been as bad as the "horror stories" I've heard about how expensive it is to raise children.

Please tell me your experiences.....

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answers from Los Angeles on

The only thing I can say is that You are repaid for everything you give times 1000 thats why its so hard not to spoil these guys.

They become individual, amazing, fun little people and you want to give them everything you can to help them foster their identity. My son is into art. when he finds a Canvas or Book or what not he usually talks me into it, I was never good at art and I love it that he is :)

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answers from Reno on

I hate it when people say, "It costs $50, 000 to raise a child, and more to send them to college!" It's not as if you need that in cash as soon as they're born. Avoid debt, pay as you go, buy used when you can and don't compete with others, and raising a child won't feel "expensive." (We have 4, and have had foster/"extra" kids three times.)


answers from Los Angeles on

Estimates of the cost depend on family income but range from 125,000 to 250,000 from birth to 18 (not including college.) The big costs are things like childcare/after school care/education, increased spending on housing (for safer neighborhood/good schools), healthcare. Those types of fixed costs have been going up for families over the past 25 years. In fact today's two-income families actually have less disposable income that the single income family from the 70s because those fixed costs have gone up so much.

The other big "cost" to consider is lost income. If one parent or the other stops employment, or scales back, or chooses a lower paying job for flexibility then opportunities for greater income are lost.

I think it's important for mothers and fathers to understand the financial implications so they can plan and make good decisions. So no, the costs may not have kicked in yet which means you have time to learn more about the costs and decisions that are ahead!

Author, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today

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answers from Minneapolis on

Well, I think that when people talk about the costs surrounding raising kids, they are discussing ALL the factors between birth and finishing college. Having 6 kids between the ages of 21 down to 9, you would be surprised at all the expenses that pop up over the years - baby clothes and furniture are the very least of it. Here are a few examples of costs that I think some people forget about:

-The cost of car insurance for a 16 yr old boy who doesn't get straight A's
-The cost of 7 (yes 7) sets of braces
-The cost of driver's ed (here it is $350 per kid)
-The cost of a prom dress
-The cost of senior pictures
-The cost of school lunches for 12 years times however many kids you have
-The price of hockey equipment
-The cost of birthday and christmas presents times however many kids you have
-The cost of taking 1 kid vs. 2 kids. vs. 3 kids, etc on a vacation
-The cost of instruments and lessons
-The cost of helping each child with wedding expenses
-The cost of having a larger home and/or vehicle with having more kids
-The cost of additional health and dental insurance for additional family members (depending on the kind of plan you have)

Really, I could go on, and on, and on and on. Believe me, the very cheapest years are the early ones. The older they are the more expensive they get :)

However, the value of having six kids running around my kitchen trying to surprise me on Mother's Day morning is priceless and I do not regret one minute of it. I am envious once in awhile of my girlfriend who has one child and the "extra" money they always seem to have, but I am sure that she is envious of me as well for other reasons.

Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

K., you just haven't gotten to the expensive part yet! I have three (18, 14, 7) and I'm forking out money left and right!
Shoes, clothes, haircuts, makeup, sports equipment, tutors, club sports fees, school sports fees, travel expenses for sporting events, private lessons, field trips, summer camp, braces, school supplies, pictures, cars, insurance, gas, preschool, daycare, college, bikes, furniture, room decor, skateboards, prescriptions, dr visits, dentist visits, ortho visits, chiro visits, testing fees, phones, phone bills, computers, game systems, books, school dances, formal clothes, limos, movies, cds, snacks & drinks for the endless friends that are always here.... oh my gosh.... the list goes on and on! Even a simple stop at Starbucks to buy a coffee ends up being a $20+ expense - ouch!
It's worth every penny and I'd spend double if I had to. But YES it is expensive.
The biggest is college! It's going to cost us $160,000 to put our daughter through college. And we've got two more to go. I highly suggest putting at least 4 years between kids so that you don't have two in high school with all those expenses and you don't have two in college at the same time! LOL ;)
Good luck and God Bless!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

The reality is that from cradle through college it will cost you about $1,000,000 per child to raise them. Babies can be relatively inexpensive, especially since you are showered with gifts for them. Breastfeeding is such a money saver, too. (Plus it is the best thing for your baby!)

I have 2 children. A boy, age 18, and a girl, age 11. It seems like kids get more expensive the older they get. Teenage boys appear to have a bottomless appetite and can consume vast amounts of food before you know what has hit you. Plus my son is beginning college in the fall and we have been putting aside money for many years to help pay for it. Every year the cost of college (even state schools) has been rising. And if you make "too much" money (according to the Federal Government) then you do not qualify for any pell grants. My son got pretty good grades. (3.4 GPA) But, not good enough grades for any scholarships. So, the burden falls upon us. (Or student loans, which we would like to avoid as much as possible.) This year his tuition will be $4,600. He will live at home, but he is going to need a car to commute to campus. (Plus car insurance, gas, maintenance.) He also will still have to buy books. (Currently about $1,000 a semester!)

My daughter is a dancer. Her dance lessons are $225/month plus the cost of all the shoes, leotards, costumes, performance fees, tickets, ect. that she needs for dance.

Then, the school will always try and get your money. Pictures, prom tickets, outdoor science school, grad night, graduation robes, senior class picture (5th grade and 8th grade class picture), yearbook ($85 this year), PE clothes, lab fees, etc. And that's if you do public school. Private school is even more, of course!

I'm just glad that my son decided not to continue with choir after 8th grade. (It was $350 in 8th grade.) High school choir is about $2,000 per year to participate. Football, cheerleading, swim team, etc. all have similar costs as well.

And still you must clothe and feed your children. Luckily, my kids are good about shopping for things on sale and going to Target or Marshall's. Sometimes it seems like their feet grow 2 sizes over night. Especially after you just bought them 3 new pairs of shoes last month! (Thank heaven for Payless and BOGO!)

However, I do not want to discourage you from having more children. My children have been the greatest joy in my life. And I would spend even more to keep them safe, happy and successful. So, is it a "horror story"? No, it is a story of love and sacrifice to provide for these little people. But, it does cost money - and of course, you can say "no" to many things. Life is all about choices anyway. And they have to learn that one way or another. Good luck and Enjoy your children!

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answers from Minneapolis on

If I had to list the things that make children "expensive", here's what I'd include:
1. Child care ($235/wk for preschool + $105/wk for before/after school care for older child)
2. Sports (we can really only afford baseball+soccer+one long as it is not hockey which is simply too expensive)
3. Clothes & Shoes & Jackets & Boots & Hats & Mittens (they just never seem to stop growing)
4. Birthday parties (throwing & attending)
5. Family vacation (even camping is costlier w/kids)
6. Groceries (cooking for 2 is very different when you add two growing boys into the mix)
7. Fuel (it simply takes more resources like gas water heat electricity to run a larger household)
8. Outings (we try to do something every week and tho library or park are free ...a museum or movie are not)
9. Toys (educational or video or bike etc. do they need these things? no...but what child wouldn't cry about not having a bike?)
10. Time...Don't dismiss this. Time is the most precious and scarcest of commodities and one that kids need A LOT of.
11. Marriage...Similar to above. Having and caring for children is the single biggest stressor on a marriage (money is 2nd)...It can literally "cost" your marriage and you will need to "invest" in keeping it strong.
12. Can't BELIEVE I almost forgot family medical and dental and vision coverage!!

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answers from Jackson on

It's up to you. You get to decide, how much money to spend on a baby and toddler. Babies are as expensive as you want them to be, if you are not opposed to shopping clearance racks, or buying gently used clothes, and buying used outdoor play equipment and some toys. These shopping skills will get you through the pre-school years.
On a personal note, I would not buy used shoes, but that's just me.
Other pre-school costs can include Ballet, Gymnastics, Tumbling, Tae Kwando, T-ball, Piano lessons, Gymboree, Art classes, Baby Yoga, Ballet, Tap, Piano lessons, Ice Skating, Skiing, and finally Horse back riding are all available somewhere for a price.
Pre-school or Nursery School is an expense that many people feel is crucial to help a child become socially adept at a young age.
You will struggle to say no, particularly if your child has an interest and is good at any one or more of these things. You can keep costs down for the first 5 years.
When they are older, the children resent used clothing and want to do more activities. As an older child there is Boy scouts, Girl scouts, 4-H is called Clover buds, for kids age 7 & up, Religion classes, Summer camps, Computer camp, Yearbook camp, Basketball camp, Soccer camp, Foot ball camp, Volleyball, Track, Tennis, Cross Country, Skiing, Golf etc....
In addition to sport & educational camps fees, there is a generally a fee for T-shirts and or uniforms. Every sport has a specific (high dollar pair of shoes) that need to be worn to play. You have to buy those. Our schools have "pay to play" fees, and are partially subsidized by parent run Booster Clubs.
If you decide to flee city life & move to the country to save money (like we did) don't be hasty. My husband & kids opted to buy beef cattle as a calf and continue to raise the calf to a full grown steer for the next 8 months. Being a member in 4-H club can be inexpensive. As simple as planting corn seed in a bucket & taking the the finished corn crop to the County Fair.
When you live in the city or country, there is always social pressure from other parents to give your children the benefit of everything in the world.
It's more important that the child has an interest in these things. Try not to cave into "adult peer pressure."
I hope I didn't scare you too much.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Can you put a price on children?
When you need a car and go and get one dont' you usually assimilate the charges into your budget? Same goes for children.
I have four and a foreign exchange student. I don't drive new cars and I shop at garage sales, Walmart, and Target. We/ve had braces, summer camps, music lessons, the list goes on. We live comfortably. If we could have had more they would certainly be welcome.
I would never give the advice to anyone thinking about having a family to wait until you can afford it. There are people who live on nothing and have the most loving families, there are people who have it all and can't stand to be around their children.
If you and your husband have a lovign relationship and bring another child into this world he or she will know love and that is what matters. You will make do.

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answers from Houston on

It is different for every family. My husband left while I was I was left to pay for my house, car and baby largely on my own. We were very comfortable before that, but having your income abruptly cut in half is a tough pill to swallow. He does pay his child support (and I asked for less than I was entitled to) though he tends to lag behind several months. I don't ever plan on having it and stock up on essentials when he does pay.

When my daughter was an infant, her monthly daycare was as much as my mortgage--and that was a mid-range place. Can you think of a quick way to come up with $800 dollars a month? It now runs about $700 when I include registration fees. Oh yeah...and the extra gas it takes to get there.

I also breastfed, but had to work so there was the cost of a pump and supplies for a year. Yes, less than formula-feeding, but still more than if I could have stayed at home.

Medical company has great coverage but once you start adding family it amounts to nearly $3000 more a year than what I would pay for just myself. Of course, I am happy to have it since she's had ear surgery twice in three years...over $20,000 in charges.

I'm extremely happy that she is out of diapers. Store brand never worked--I tried at least 6 different ones. Every one...diaper rash. I partially cloth diapered and used Pampers for the most part. Luvs later on.

I've been lucky that my Mom and friends buy nearly all her clothes and we get plenty of hand-me-downs.

Aside from the necessary evils of childcare and medical insurance...I don't find it particularly expensive. If I had the option of staying home, it can be done economically and fiscally is about separating the WANTS from the actual NEEDS.

So, just the first year alone, I had to come up with over $10,000 in childcare and medical insurace.

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answers from New York on

This is a very interesting question. I recently read that the cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 was almost $225,000, for a middle class family earning less than $100,000 a year. The cost per child goes down if you have more than one.

I just did some quick calculations and was able to come up with $155,000 (updated from $105,000, orginal only included one year of day care, not 10) considering I only spent 10 minutes, I'm sure I forgot a lot of things. My children also do not play sports (tried soccer and softball for 2 years when they were younger). We haven't had any major medical expenses, the usual doctor co-pays and medicines, luckily my health insurance covers glasses, and luckily no braces.

I think there are so many factors that you could add into this that make your cost to up or down significantly.
For example in my case some of the things that are low cost for me,
no sports
no major medical costs, I have a great health insurance plan at work
low food costs - we don't eat out much and keep grocery bills down (have you ever seen how much a teenage boy can eat? some families spend a lot on food)
our school district includes free preschool
my girls play musical instruments - I rent them through the school @$50 a year - my friend in a nearby town pays $50 a month (elementary school)
clothing - my daughter gets a lot of great hand me downs from her cousin and when they were little, yard sales and consignment shops
no video games in my house, so we haven't had the huge costs of the gaming systems and all the games , let's not talk about the cost of books)
my girls do girl scouts, which overall isn't a very expensive activity, at least for their troops

Our the other hand since both of us worked, we paid for daycare at a cost of $5,600 a year per child, and this was reduced because family helped out a lot and our (hubby and I) work schedules were different so many times he was home with the kids while I was working and I was home when he was working.

Don't even get me started on all the costs of fundraising, of course you don't have to participate in everything, but between the selling, book fairs, car washes, dinners, auctions, etc, it all adds up.

Teens don't need cell phones. But in my case the cost (about $200 a year for the phone and service) is well worth it, so I can reach them, they can reach me, and it's a safety line.

As mentioned, my girls play instruments. By 7th grade, when we (parents, child, and teacher) knew they would continue with music, we had to purchase instruments, they require special shoes for marching, and they took a few lessons. And they also play with groups outside of school, so there's the transportation cost of driving to practices and the cost of attending the concerts. And did I mention the $650, I just paid for her to go to a band competition with school. (Not complaing - It's great! Most of their friends are in band and they're a great group of kids - still costs a lot less than most sports).

When they reach high school it's the constant, I need $5 or $10, to go to a school sports event, the movies, so and so invited me to go here or there with their family....

The figure above doesn't include the cost of driver's ed and car insurance, I'm just ignoring that for now...

As the commericial says the cost of housing, cloths, food, activities $225,000....
the love, the laughter, the smiles PRICELESS!

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answers from Raleigh on

I also believe that people over exaggerate the cost of a child. Your food bills and your utilities will raise slightly, but not enough that every month you will see a drastic difference! I plan on saying "good luck" to my kids when it comes time for college. Not because we won't have the money to send them, but because I truly believe that the best way to appreciate your education is to have to work for it yourself (I know not everyone feels this way, but it works for me). Honestly, other than clothing, after the age of 3 there is nothing crazy expensive that your children HAVE to have!

UPDATE: I just wanted to add that some of these mamas are in crazy school districts! Not that I don't believe that they have very costly bills for their children, but thousands a year to participate in a school choir is insane! I grew up going to one of the top public schools in the country and never did my parents pay a penny for activities like that! Maybe look into some of the things you think your child could potentially be "into" and then see what the cost is in your area. (i.e. Soccer only costs us $80 a season. Add $20 for cleats, and $10 for shin guards and it is only costing us $110 for the whole if he plays in the spring, he should be able to reuse most of what he had in the fall!)

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answers from Dallas on

I wouldn't trade the experience of having our daughter for anything in the world.

We are planners and we were planning before I got pregnant. We feel differently than a lot of others because we feel it is our obligation to get her through college and out of the nest debt free. Debt free is something we live and teach daily. That said....many parents don't have the same feeling. We began with a plan to save a minimum of $10,000 per yr and have it in her account by her birthday each year. We have done that, she should be covered.

We also do not want her worrying about us because she is an only child so we made sure financially WE are cared for and she has no obligations financially.

I thought we were spending a lot when she was young but WHOA...we hit high school!!! Our daughter is a captain of cheerleading....cheerleading is around $2000 per season NOT including the weekly private coaching. She is in a great orchestra... her violin is one that will get her through college and it was $3000, which does NOT include weekly private lessons. I can go on and on with her expenses. She intends to study abroad for a year and go to a highly accredited college. Not cheap and we are not counting on scholarships, not that she is not good... just don't count on things that are not guaranteed.

We have no regrets.... I am driving the car that will be hers when she turns 16. It will be 5 yrs old, very safe Mercedes but looks brand new. It should get her through college, hopefully, with no accidents.

We are planning for a wedding and we have offered, no turns into a house fund. We eloped and had no desire for a huge wedding. She has dreams of a big one.

I don't see it as a horror story. We had one child by choice and we are enjoying edcuating her and teaching her about money, how it is earned, not given to you and delayed gratification.

COMMUNICATION is key at our house.

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answers from San Diego on

With a pre-teen and teen, I'm just now finding out how expensive it really is! With all the electronics, nice clothes, and everything else they want, it's crazy! I was very frugal when they were young, buying from garage sales, used clothes, etc. They got everything they needed and lots of used toys, and they didn't know any different. Most of the money we spend is on our kids. I rarely buy anything for the house, we never do any home improvements, unless we have fo fix something, I buy cute clothes, but inexpensive, and luckily my hubby isn't a clothes horse, so we manage - and I'm a stay at home mom. We just have to live without a lot of stuff, and it works for all of us. My kids have gotten used to it. They still have their cell phones and other things, but they don't get everything. They do extra-cirricular activities, but usually only one at a time, so it doesn't get too expensive. Like soccer in the fall, gymnastics part of the year, etc. We don't cram in things every day after school, which isn't good anyway - they need their down time.

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answers from Boston on

I agree with most of the other answers, but the only other thing that I wanted to add was that even if you aren't paying for daycare, then you should add the "cost" of you NOT working. If you were earning $50,000 before and then stay home for 5 years, that right there is a $250,000 "cost." Not saying it's not worth it if you feel that staying home is the right choice for you, but just explaining the math.

And don't forget college. Even if you aren't planning on paying for all of it, by the time your little ones are 18, it's entirely likely that the cost of 4 years at a private college will be around $300,000. Whew.

Finally, the grocery bills do go up pretty dramatically once they really start eating. My husband was one of 6 boys growing up, and he said that they went through a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread _each day_. Now, if you have two rather than six, obviously that won't be the case, but it would be safe to assume that once they start eating real food your grocery bills will double (and will stay doubled for the next 17 years).

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answers from Topeka on

It is expensive when you look at it overall.I have 3 & when they need something or don't need it I have to get it for them.As far as clothes I usually stockpile yr around their closests are at the fullest at any given time so is their shoes for all seasons.We don't have medical issues so there is no extra $$ there but my son does have teeth issues that we are now going to be paying for not all out of pocket but we were lucky enough to have had several things covered with the medical card sine my hubby was laid off work for a while and no insurance with his other job.Schooling we are in yr 1 with kindergarten they did go to preschool twice a week as far as that goes we are on a discounted lunch (free)attending was inexpensive due to lay off and it went by income but the snacks we send every week gets expensive we have to provide for the entire class plus napkins.The toy's I don't buy much for them unless it is necessary they get most of their items during birthdays,holidays,v-day,and the occasion because you were good and I love you.The cost's of diapers,shampoo there bathroom supplies,foods,it does add up and my husband is always yelling at me at the cost of things I have no control over what things cost I do cut down on things use coupons if I were to ask my husband how much diapers, wipes,clothing,shoes are all for 3 children he'd have no clue all he see's is the bank statements and thinks i'm overspending.I make a mental note of what is needed then I go and get it that week that way I don't get all the things at one time which can be expensive I alway's hunt for sales or clearance the best possible price and quality so far I have been pleased with Target and Walmart brands they are little and out grow them fast to be spending too much on clothing.I'm a sahm so daycare we don't need it,out to eat everynite we don't,we keep up on all our bill's my husband is very talented he makes all repairs to house,cars you name it he does it so the repair man doesn't come see us.*Happy Parenting*

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answers from Chicago on

I have three kids under 4, and it costs almost nothing. Seriously! I breast-fed them all for at least a year, and the baby is still nursing. Toddlers, of course, eat very little. That will change when they are teens. :)
Diapers, sure, but the other stuff is all toys we don't NEED, or mom/tot classes we again don't NEED.
And, I plan to work at a university years from now so they can go to college for free, as saving up from nearly any job would not be enough.

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answers from Dallas on

We were in the same boat. We were given everything we needed in showers and from family. Most of the cost is absorbed by the offset of what you stopped spending money on once you had a child - i.e, going out with friends, dates etc. If you intend to put them in daycare at any point - that is where the cost is! Daycare is outrageous, which is one reason I quit working - we were spending $5,000+ a year on daycare. I did not breast feed, so formula was expensive along with the diapers. Once they are out of diapers (and formula for me) it was like getting a raise. Once they start in sports and other activities that is where the real cost begins. Our boys are in Boy Scouts and it is a lot of money - with two week long campouts a year, along with a campout every month plus all of the gear that is needed for camping!!!!! I'm thankful they don't play sports too. Anyway, the cost is cyclical but we always seem to find it when we need it. It is just part of the sacrifice of having kids - wouldn't change a thing.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I think the cost creeps up on you (as I believe others have said, I haven't really read the responses yet). Example: groceries. It starts with the diapers, and formula. Whats an extra $10 or $20 a week? But as they start to eat people food, you slowly have to buy more food and beverages and different things than what you as a grown-up like (goldfish crackers, Kraft macaroni and cheese, hot dogs...) then they get to pre-school and there are fees for that. Then there's the $200 music class which renews every few months... then the gym class... and then the sports and instrument rentals and stuff...
I am like you- got tons of furniture and clothes passed down from family and all that, so I didn't feel like we spent any money at first having kids. Plus, I realized I was spending what money I would have previously spent on my own clothes and shoes, on theirs, and I didn't mind one bit. It just seemed to even out. But then I looked in my closet and saw 5 year old clothes and falling apart shoes, and I realized I couldn't let my own wardrobe go at the expense of the kids!
Let's not forget all the trips to Urgent care and doctor visits and perscriptions (if your kids get sick as much as mine do!), my sick-child co-pay is up to $20 now! It does add up.
see there's all kids of things.

Ah, it is all worth it though, isn't it ;)

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answers from Los Angeles on

My husband and I have 4 kids, 1 girl (15) and three boys (13,11,10). We spend about $1000 a month on groceries right now. They always forget to turn lights off. They sometimes forget to put soap in the dishwasher so it needs to run again. They "play" with the shampoo in the shower (pour the whole bottle out and watch the bubbles), they take really long showers without actually washing with soap.....all expensive. They have broken every drawer in our fridge that we just bought three years ago, they broke our kitchen sink faucet by pulling on it over time, they broke their bathroom faucet handles from being too rough, one kicked a whole in their bedroom door, one cut thru the window screen (right after we had new window installed), someone closed the screen door in front of the doggy door, so the dogs chewed thru the screen to get out, they peed on the toilet seat so many times that the acid ate thru the bolts and broke it off--we have to buy a new one about every 6 month. They jumped on their beds and two of them have broken so many times that if it happens again we will have to buy new ones because they will be beyond repair. We have stopped buying video games, and they are now responsible for buying their own batteries with their "chore money". Yes we pay them about $10 a week to do chores. They have lost so many socks that for a while we were buying new socks for all the boys every week. And they are really rough on their shoes. They go thru them faster than they grow out of them.
We just went to a funeral and they didnt have nice clothes to wear. We decided we could spend about $200 on clothes, I spent $350 on only two of the boys because they needed pants, shirts, socks, belts and shoes. And that was at Kohls. No, they didnt need the ties, but they were so cute in them...

And no one really mentioned the cost of medicine. We have medical insurance that pays for doctor visits, and we have a copay for meds. Two of the kids are bi-polar, one has anxiety, one is depressed. So, once a month we go to the psychiatrist, and sometimes get samples of medicine until we find out if it's the right one, then we have to pay for prescriptions. We spend about $200 a month just on their medicine.

One of our boys just learned how to ride a bike, and now he wants one for his birthday....

Yes, kids are expensive. But then they smile at you and tell you how much they love you and it all seems worth it. If everyone always considered how much money it costs to have kids, no one would ever have them.

Good luck!

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answers from Philadelphia on

I think the most expensive thing is daycare... people in my area spend as much as my mortgage each month! I am SOOO lucky to have family around to help out on that aspect.
other than that, I haven't found my daughters to "cost' that much... only what I want to spend. I am a good shopper, and I almost never buy new clothes... I shop at consignment stores, craigslist, etc... and if I buy new... it's from Target for less than $10.
I also CHOOSE to put my girls in swim lessons and gymnastics, but I don't HAVE to pay for that, I want to. of course, i couldn't afford it if I were paying for daycare.

My favorite quote is "TIME is the best thing to SPEND on a child"

Anyway, that's all I can think of. some people are just so negative!!! :-)

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answers from Chicago on

I love the answers you've received.

I agree there are horror stories out there. However I also think that we Americans tend to overspend in general. I think there is an entitlement mentality...

I see SOOOO many people that buy everything new, buy all the latest toys, gadgets and gizmos and then complain about how in debt they are! I want to yell DUH!

That said, we are comfortable (financially) however we also live quiet frugally. We decided before we had kids what our priorities were and the life we want to provide for our children.

We decided to "create" grateful children. We mostly only give toys as presents. We buy bikes and things at garage sales and church bizarres. We shop for the best prices for other things online or on sale. Our kids don't know anything different.

We do all of this because we want to save more for college and retirement now.

I agree, that the first year of life there can be a lot of "first time" expenses like a crib, stroller, carseats, etc. But to me, it sounds like you did it right.

Plus there are always choices - the next car seat you get after the infant seat, are you going to buy the best rated one regardless of price? or are you going to walk into Target, Walmart, etc and buy the best looking one they have? or are you going to buy one that's cute? or used? My point is, you can spend anywhere from $300-$0 on that next car seat. EVERYTHING you or your child needs is like this. You have choices on how much to spend.

You can decide that car seats are worth $300 to save your child's life. You can decide that you need a baby video monitor because you're worried when your baby cries or that he'll fall out of his crib. You can decide to pay for his college tuition or you can tell him to go it alone. You can decide that you want to only have two kids, because that's what you're comfortable "affording", or you can have 6 because that's what makes you happy.

My point is, YOU decide how much to spend on your child. Kids aren't cheap. However they don't have to break the bank either.


answers from Detroit on

My sons are 3yrs apart so we've only had one child in diapers at a time. We have 2 boys so our 2nd son wears alot of hand me downs. I didn't notice a huge difference in expenses between having 1 child and 2. In fact, we are ready to start trying for #3. Good luck:-)



answers from Los Angeles on

it is bad when they get older. i'd say after 7.

toys (the 5 buck toy doesn't cut it)
no more hand me downs because they wear through everything
in general their interests are what costs money.



answers from Los Angeles on

Having read some of the posts and the list of costs, I think I'm about to have a heart attack. My kids are only 4 and 2. I do not look forward to the teenage years. Seems to get more expensive the older they get. Right now, I don't buy new clothes for my kids. I prefer hand-me-downs, thanks to my SIL who takes really good care of her clothes and has great style. I also have my daughter wear tops that were once actually dresses. Yeah, you heard it right. :)

We live comfortably but we rarely eat out. Maybe once or twice a month. And I cook everything. It's hard, but that's the way it has to be.

However, upon reading these posts, I am now deciding, starting from TODAY:) hehehe, that when my kids are old enough to start earning or at least save from their allowances, they will have to set aside money for all their activities on their own accord (starting a year in advance). So that when their activity comes around, they've already set aside the money for it. I'm sure they won't be able to do it all unless they're working, but if they can save 50% of it, that is a good start. I'm mainly looking ahead to High School activities with proms, dances, school trips and activities. Provide a list of prospective costs (the year before) and have them check off the list as they begin to save for each one. I should have them save for their car 3 to 4 years in advance. I don't plan to give my daughter a car until she's 17-18.

I don't know what anyone think of this idea, but I don't know how else I would be able to come up with the money every time an event/activity comes up. Planning ahead is the only way...and best of all, the responsibility won't just fall on me and my husband, but my kids must plan ahead too.

I'm really glad I came upon this post today, I have not even thought about expenses for things that far ahead (except for the College funds..but that was it).




answers from Grand Rapids on

I never understood it either until my oldest son started sports last year. As babies, they are as expensive as you make them. You don't have to buy tons of toys and clothes, nor do you have to buy brand name diapers. Now, my son is in year round sports, goes to a one week day camp in the summer, and has piano lessons every week. It costs over $1000 a year right now to pay for his extracurricular activities. He loves them, so I work a couple extra shifts every month to pay for them. (I only work part time normally.) I am worried about the cost as he gets older though. He hasn't needed football pads or his own baseball bat yet... all that extra expensive stuff. But still, this stuff is all optional in the grand scheme of things. It's just important to us. He does eat like a horse though. We spend $500 a month on food for four people (3 boys, 1 girl... me! lol).



answers from Santa Barbara on

I agree with you, it's not THAT bad! Early on, babies are relatively inexpensive. Especially when breastfed. If you had a shower, share baby items with a close friend or family member, buy used and shop at second hand stores, small children can have very little effect on your budget. But most of us don't do that. We get caught up in what we think we "need". But really we dont need many "things" for children to be healthy and happy, but our culture tells us different. With that said I think most people think kids cost so much because both parents have to work, so day care costs eat up a huge chunk of their salary. Add to it the cost of college--saving for college, added health care costs, copays, cars, car insurance, braces, soccer registration, gas from running kids to and fro and once they are older--especially with boys the cost of food! Still worse is the social pressure kids feel and project onto their parents to always have the latest gadgets (video games, ipod, cel phone) and cool clothes...which most of us give in to. Certainly kids are gonna cost ya, but it's up to you how much you let them break your bank!



answers from San Diego on

My friends always say it is the diapers. I am curious too though as we are adopting!



answers from Los Angeles on

I think what some people think of as manadtory for good parenting (fancy "educational" toys and expensive birthday parties) add to the "cost" some people fear so much. Oh...and if you go back to work, childcare is a big expense. Some folks are afraid of losing touch with their career or the market they work in and feel they must go back to work. This is definitely an issue.
As an ex-special ed teacher I would add that finding out your child needs extra therapy or help can be a real budget buster too. My heart goes out to these parents. Autism and learning disabilities so common is not in the realm of the unthinkable.



answers from Los Angeles on

I like Suzanne G's response, she's been in our checkbook register to get that list! My oldest daughter is graduating HS this year and we paid the expenses for choir and dance for all 4 years and she had an amazing experience. It is very important when they get to be teenagers that they are committed to an extracurricular group activity like choir, sports, band, etc. They bond with friends with common interests and have a sense of belonging on the big HS campus. Jr. High and HS is definitely when the big expenses kick in, but don't let it scare you. It happens gradually, and you do what you can to make it work. Do start saving for college now though, even a little each month, it's very expensive, and education is the best investment you can make for their future.



answers from Los Angeles on

The beginning is pretty easy, you get all your main baby stuff from your baby shower, and as you said, little hand me downs too. But wait a bit...the costs add up the older the child gets. As they get bigger, they grow- they eat more food, bigger meals, lots more snacks, milk by the gallons, fruit, toys toys and more toys, and clothes.
My near four year old needs a whole new wardrobe about every 6 months, shoes about every 3-4 months. And I mean WHOLE new wardrobe, from socks and undies, to shirts, pants, pajamas, jackets, sweaters, seasonal stuff like bathing suits and big jackets are a given. Then there's preschool, or daycare, school supplies. Buying separate dishware, flatware, sippy cups, doctor check ups, etc. Okay, okay, I know that seems like a lot of info at once, but you did ask for specifics. Sorry. If you can get hand me downs- take them! They grow so fast and soil most of their clothes when they're little anyway.
Your biggest expense will be your food bill for sure. If you have a little one now, having another won't be such a big deal especially since you already have all the baby gear! :-) And keep the clothes from your first, that really comes in handy (especially when their born in the same season.) That's what I've done. So I may have to buy my 4 year old a lot, but I figure it's all for two kids so I know it'll help later. But my food bill is crazy. For example, my son loves blueberries- but they are about $5 a pack! And he'll eat two in a day. That's $10 already and doesn't include even a whole meal or a whole snack even.
But please please don't let all this deter you from another baby! It's the best thing you can do for your baby, give a sibling- someone to be with them through out their lives. And they're really cute too. ;-) Hope that tells you what you needed to know and you have another healthy little one real soon! All the best...

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