|Me with my two sons - Mackinac Island, MI - 2011|
Whoever says that, “it just doesn’t cost that much money to have kids,” has either: A- never had kids or, B- has so much money that it just doesn’t seem like that much to them. If you are in group A, keep reading to find out how much kids really cost. If you are in group B, well, everything that is a big deal financially for most people is probably much less significant for you.
Here is my understanding about how much money it costs to have kids, based on my life’s experiences. This is Part 1, and is based on my experience as a parent. My kids are currently 4 and 1.
For most people, this is the fun part! It usually doesn’t cost a lot of money to get pregnant. In fact, this step can actually be a cost savings. Depending on your method of birth control, you may no longer need to purchase whatever it was you were using to avoid pregnancy.
Two scenarios come to mind though that do involve costs for becoming pregnant. One is fertility treatments. I’ve personally known two family members who have gone through extensive fertility treatments to become pregnant, and they are not cheap. The other cost scenario that comes to mind is not directly linked to becoming pregnant. It is getting married. If you are old-fashioned like I am, you believe that a couple should be married before they bring children into the world. Sometimes the marriage occurs before the pregnancy and other times the marriage occurs because of the pregnancy. In either case, the cost of getting married will vary greatly depending on the type and size of the wedding. In today’s world, many people choose to defer the marriage expense by just not getting married.
The OB/GYN, or vagina doctor (as I like to call them), is one big expense. Regular appointments are suggested throughout the pregnancy, and they get more frequent as the pregnancy progresses. One of the appointments usually involves an ultra-sound, which adds to the cost, but is very important and even necessary. The OB/GYN is the doctor that usually delivers the baby at the hospital, and their costs are separate from what the hospital charges will be. In our case, our OB/GYN required full payment for her charges before the baby was born.
Baby furniture and clothing can also be major expenses, especially if it is your first. Luckily, women have these things called “baby showers,” where first time mothers have a party with all of their female friends and family members. At this party, the new mother is “showered” with gifts that will help with the new baby. Another great idea, that I’ve only been a part of once, is for the guys involved to throw a “diaper party” for the new father. This is similar to a baby shower, except that the party involves guy things like eating food, drinking beer, playing cards or watching sports. The cost of admission for everybody attending is a pack (or box) of diapers. Depending on the size of the party, the new dad could be left with a years supply of diapers! For everything not provided at one of these parties, the parents (or grandparents) need to cover the rest. This usually involves renovating an entire bedroom into a baby-room. A cradle, crib, changing table and high chair are basic things that are needed. Also, things like car-seats and strollers must be purchased.
Most people choose to have their babies delivered at a hospital. More often than not, the entire process involves at least a two night stay. Unless you are on some sort of government (welfare) health insurance, this is not cheap. Luckily, for those of us who do pay for their own healthcare, there is a way to get a discount on your hospital bill. Keep in mind, this expense is on top of what your OB/GYN has already charged you.
Baby to Toddler Expenses
Diapers and wipes will be a never-ending expense until potty training occurs, usually around age 3. Some people try to save money by using the old-fashioned cloth diapers that you are able to re-use by washing. I wonder if this is really a cost savings, if you factor in the added laundry and time expenses.
Feeding a child is another never-ending expense. The cheapest and healthiest way to feed a baby is the natural way, by breastfeeding. Even this has some minor expenses. You will probably want to purchase a breast pump, some nursing bras, special nursing shirts and those pad things that get stuffed into the bra to soak up leakage from the feeders. If you choose not to take advantage of the free baby milk, formula is available at a great cost. As the child becomes older, they are introduced to baby food, which is sold in those little tiny jars. Don’t forget about all the special bottles, sippy cups, plastic silverware and kiddie plates and bowls that you will need to buy.
Pre-school can start as early as age 3. Unless you live in a school district that offers it for free, there will be tuition expenses.
Clothing is yet another never-ending expense. Especially when they are babies and toddlers, those youngsters don’t stay in one size of clothing for very long. A lot of money can be saved by shopping at garage sales, thrift stores or even craigslist or eBay. When kids are this age, they won’t complain and won’t even know the difference between new and used clothing. If you are too good to put your child into used clothing, be prepared to spend an arm and a leg!
Still think kids don’t cost very much? This is just the beginning. Check back soon for part 2!