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Are Three Children Really That More Expensive Than Two? New Member

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Hello Ladies,

My name is Nikki and I am a SAHM to a 17-month-old DD and am expecting again in March. Most of my adult life, I pictured myself as having 3-4 children. However, with everything going on with "this economy" (really getting sick of that phrase) - I'm doubting if having more than two is a good idea.

Making this decision is difficult when we hear numbers such as, "It takes $177,000 or more to raise each child - not including college". Does this seem accurate to you veteran mamas? It's hard to buy into when I see so many children with luxuries that they don't need. These are not all rich children either. Families with modest incomes have kids skating around the grocery store in their Wheelie shoes, texting on their own cell with fancy keypads or fiddling with their ipod Touch. Don't get me wrong, I don't plan to be a Scrooge towards my kids. I am simply trying to figure out what type of lifestyle was figured into this number and even more importantly what a realistic figure is.

For those with more than two, what kind of sacrifices has your family had to make to a "larger" family affordable? I'm really interested in the different systems that larger families use such as the obvious favorite hand me down scheme. What other advice do you have in terms of family size and how it affects your marriage, ability to keep house, social life, ect.?

I really appreciate your time and input

****Please see updated post #29. Thanks****

Nikki
post #2 of 39
I hate those scary number articles. They are based on the New-More-Better uber-consumptive American lifestyle and forget about the many things that can be re-used with subsequent children (clothes, cloth diapers, toddler beds, highchairs, bibs, etc) My second and third children didn't *need* anything new. They got a few things anyway, and if I found an item at a thrift store that was better quality than what we had, I traded up, but there wasn't a *need* to drop tons of money on them.

Expenses as they get older are lifestyle choices more than anything. They may eat more food as teens and have different clothing styles, but you can still buy food in bulk and be thrifty about clothing purchases, so 3 children vs. 2 children wouldn't be that much more.

There are a few things that we sacrifice as a family, not so much because of size but because of the value we put on our time and on dh's hard earned money. We rarely eat out, and we don't travel much. Because we have a low income, and because both of us grew up with frugal minded families, it is incredibly difficult to lay out $30 for a single meal for all of us at a restaurant. It just does not feel good when we know we could get several days worth of meals by using that money at a grocery store. But it was difficult to pay proportionately the same when we had only one kid.
Traveling is the same story. We don't go tooling around the countryside or on yearly vacations because we're watching the gas meter drain the income that dh worked so hard for mile by mile. It's painful rather than enjoyable. I know plenty of people feel differently about this, and if you do, there are still deals and coupons and price comparisons out there that could make the additional child's cost reasonably affordable.

We did need to accept that our tiny sedan wasn't big enough for three kids in carseats. But dh did his research and got a good deal (3K ) on a 2000 Mazda MPV which is awesome, and will fit two more kids if God so blesses us.

With marriage, family life, social life....no real difference. We do the same stuff we did before ds3 came along. But we lived a very quiet, very simple, very home-based lifestyle before, too, so it wasn't a big change. Our marriage has improved greatly over the years. I think as a couple and as a family we would be seriously lacking without our third son. I watched him melt dh's heart in his first two years. He just had a personality and brought with him a joy that we really, really needed--and it overflowed to benefit us and his siblings. Such a blessing! (and his name means "blessed" )
post #3 of 39
Don't let the numbers scare you - some of the money they quote is based on assumptions that each child means you'll buy a bigger house, larger car, etc...

I think that a larger family is preferable to more money - family relationships mean so much more than things (obviously I'm not talking about extreme poverty here, but most people in the US who say they 'can't afford another child' aren't making the choice between being able to feed and house themselves and another baby, they're deciding what type of lifestyle they want for themselves).
post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natsuki View Post
but most people in the US who say they 'can't afford another child' aren't making the choice between being able to feed and house themselves and another baby, they're deciding what type of lifestyle they want for themselves).
I once said this here on MDC and got flamed to dust. Get your flame proof suit on.

I don't think about my children in terms of expense but I can see that if we had no children, I was working full time and dh was doing what he is doing now then we would have more money than we do now. I'm not sure what we would spend the money on as we aren't big consumers but as things are now, having four children isn't killing us.
post #5 of 39
Babies are not expensive, kids can be though. It does depend on what choices you make, obviously, but sometimes as the kids (and your family) grow things will change. I always assumed I would homeschool, but for me, homeschooling was very difficult with four small children and my dh wasn't happy with my relaxed schooling so we made the decision to send my oldest to school. Public school is not an option for us and private school is expensive. I do plan to pull him out in the next year or two and begin homeschooling again once things have settled down around the house, but for now it is a large added expense. There are other things to consider, too, like clothes and shoes. Baby/toddler clothes are cheap but once you get to about age 4 they are more expensive and are worn out so quickly. Of course there are ways to lessen this expense (checking consignment shops/goodwill for good quality clothes etc) but it's still an expense. My three oldest are all boys, and #3 is wearing some of the same clothes that my first two wore, but my 5yo and 6yo wear clothes out before they can be handed down, holes in the knees and elbows after just a season's wear sometimes. Of course kids also eat more as they get older.

Really, though, babies are cheap. Kids are more expensive than babies but a little bit of frugality can really cut down on the expenses, just like anything else.
post #6 of 39
Gawd, I hope not.

We *do* like to travel, but dh makes a good wage, and we've actually considering downsizing our house so we can afford more vacations and experiences, instead of more things. More things would mean we'd need more house!
post #7 of 39
It really depends on your lifestyle and what "extras" you would like to give to the kids. I have a son who rides horses and competes once a month and a daughter in gymnastics class and does soccer in the spring & Fall. Between the two cost me $150 a month. My youngest is only 2, but once she finds an interest we will also find the funds for her interest. We try to be thrifty-Buy off craigslist, 2nd hand clothes, ect...it still adds up.

We don't have cable TV, fancy cell phones, eat out that often, or a yearly vacation other than the 800 mile trip to see the family (we stay with a family member and eat their food for a week).

Demographics also play a huge role in cost. We pay very little for the extra activities our kids engage in because we live in a fairly rural area. An hour away the cost of those same activities sky rocket! Same with housing. We got a great price on our house and taxes are low. You really need to look at the WHOLE picture.
post #8 of 39
I second the babies are cheap, kids are expensive thought. All my babies haven't that cheap though, crappy health insurance thanks to living in the US, and some special needs for 2 out of my 3 children have proven to be expensive. It is the little things as they get older that add up. I am not talking about taking every music lesson, horse back riding lesson, etc... but even public school field trips, one little gymnastics class, I feel like I get asked for $10-20 bucks constantly.

I do have 3 and yeah they aren't cheap! Just like this week, the youngest two got ill, and by the time this illness is over, I will be looking at at least 1K in medical bills for one stupid virus.
post #9 of 39
We just had baby #4 join us and we are a lower-income family. The added financial cost was something we were aware of in having another baby, but it wasn't part of the decision to have another. We are just budget conscious in our decisions and live within our means... whatever that may be, lol. For us, having four children costs less than my sister to have just one. I don't think that is a good thing or a bad thing, it is just different lifestyles and different spending. For every family, budget and spending choices and decisions are different.

To answer your question, though, I don't think having three cost more than two at all. As a PP said, it can cost more as children rather than as babies. Like if you want to have all your children enrolled in sports leagues for example...basketball fees for three will cost more than one.

For us the only thing was that was a noticeable expense change was transportation. When we had multiple children in car seats, we had a minivan. We then sold the minivan and went car-free using public transportation and walking for about 8 months while living in an area that was condusive to that. When we moved back to our former town, we needed a car again but were able to get a little economy sedan because we had one less child in a car seat. Now we have a new baby and had to go back to a minivan...however we got one for nothing as it just needed some basic repairs!

Any added expense has been well worth it from baby #2, to baby #3, to baby #4.

The macro economy and all involved will vary and change. Having the extra child in your family will not once they are there. So I'd make the choice based more on your family's situation and heart.
post #10 of 39
We are about to add child number six to our family. IMO it's just "another potato in the pot" so to speak.

We do drive a large vehicle, so that is an added expense.

My oldest is too big for the clothing they sell at children's resale stores, BUT her clothes are lasting longer now because she isn't playing in the dirt in the backyard much anymore......so I think the clothing thing is all relative for the most part.

We don't eat out much, but that's ok. Sometimes dh and I will slip away for dinner out together so that we can talk and enjoy one another.

We never were big vacationers. We LOVE to camp though, and camping is a blast with our big brood.

We are very active in our church, and my children have many many wonderful experiences that cost me little to nothing. My sons are in cub scouts(that the church pays for) My dds are in wonderful activities for young girls. Oldest dd will be getting to go to camp with the older girls this year.

They do cost more when they get older, but at least they won't all be teenagers at the same time!
post #11 of 39
Babies are cheap. Kids are expensive.

DD2 has cost me nothing, really...breastmilk, a few bananas, a bit of yogurt, a car seat, diapers (we used to cloth diaper, but with dd2, we're using sposies, for reasons that are long, complicated, and kind of odd)...that's about it. (We already had a stroller, and my MIL gave us the Ergo. We don't have a crib.) DS1? We've paid for Scouts, a week at Art Camp, a weeklong field trip at a marine science outpost, Tae Kwon Do (including his gi and protective gear), gymnastics, swimming lessons, choir fees, field trip fees, photos, Christmas and birthday presents (and parties), etc. etc. etc. It adds up. Honestly, though...ds1 is almost 17, and I don't think I've spent any $177,000 on him. I really don't.

However, I've seen that $177,000 before (usually with an added on "and that's in US dollars!!!!" because I'm Canadian). It does include things like a bigger house, bigger car, etc. It also, imo, fails to account for subsequent children in the same family, which affects many things. For instance, we buy a family membership to the local Aquarium. It costs the same whether we have one child or four children. That also applies to the zoo, hands-on science museum, tourist farm, etc. etc. We're lucky in that we get a lot of clothes from my MIL (she loves to buy for the kids, and lives a long way from here), but we also do a ton of hand-me-downs, so clothes for the younger ones don't/haven't cost as much as for the older ones. Even extras, like school pictures, often offer a slight discount for multiple kids from the same family.

There are so many variables in all this kind of stuff that it's impossible to state what kids cost, yk?
post #12 of 39
It really depends on what you want.

Saving for college is a huge priority for us. We can do it for two kids - not enough to pay for all four years, but a chunk. But we couldn't for three. Three kids are not afffordable for us.

It's also very important for us to save for retirement so that our kids aren't financially burdened by us when we're old. It would be much harder to do this if we had more than two.

Not everyone feels that way.

We also think it's important to be able to provide our kids with music lessons, a week of summer camp here or there, and then there's shoes, clothes, field trips, etc. that everyone else has mentioned. Those things get more expensive the older kids get.

Again, that's not a priority for everyone.

Really, it depends a lot on what you feel your responsibilities are as parents. We live very simply, do used clothes as much as possible (but again, it gets harder as they get older). Our kids don't have any electronic gizmos or "luxuries." One of us stays home, we cook from scratch and mostly go camping for vacations. And yet, we have what I consider a comfortable lifestyle. We wouldn't if we had more than two.
post #13 of 39
Yeah, as they get older, much more $$$. School fees. School supplies. Camps, swimming passes. Even things like going out to eat, hair cuts, and shoes add up, and add up fast. When we decide to go on a vacation (we have 3 kids), cost factors in a great deal. Even just one extra plane ticket is easily $300. Two kids can join two parents in a hotel room with one bed, but with three, one kid gets the floor. Three big kids can't fit comfortably in a car, once they hit teens.

Allowances, driving to activities (even if activities are free or low cost means gas $).

Now I would never trade any of my kids for anything, and if I could have another one, I would in a heart beat. But yeah, going from 2 to 3.... And let me tell you, I had no idea how much a 12 year old boy could eat until I had one.
post #14 of 39
well, #3 has cost us over $40,000 in her first two years of life in out of pocket medical expenses. So, it's not so much that she is our third child, but who she "is", if that makes sense. Babies/kids can be expensive, but I don't necessarily think that more kids= more expense. Just some kids are more expensive than others.
post #15 of 39
We unschool and live out of town, which I think makes life waaaay cheaper. For example, our homeschool group has regular swap meets, where I usually get some clothes, books and games. We grow much of our own food, with plans to eventually grow 75-90% of it. We vacation with my parents at their timeshare or go camping. Also, not being in town very much gives me less chance to go spend money
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjawm View Post
And let me tell you, I had no idea how much a 12 year old boy could eat until I had one.
This. DS1 has slowed down a little these days, but I thnk at his peak, he was eating as much as dh and I combined...and we eat too much. It takes a lot to gain 6" in height and 35 pounds in weight, all in 6 months...
post #17 of 39
It depends on what you want for your kids, but I think those numbers are actually on the low side.

When kids are babies, they're pretty cheap. That ends.

We want our kids to be able to participate in activities that interest them, so for example, we pay for things like dance lessons, a violin tutor and instrument rental, Tae Kwon Do, etc. It's expensive and it adds up, but is priceless in terms of what those activities have done for my kids.

Our kids have far less in the way of designer clothing and status symbols than the vast majority of their colleagues. We say no a great deal, but every now and again, it's nice to say yes. It's easy to believe that this stuff won't matter at all to your kids--that's what I used to think. I have one in jr. high now, and I see it very differently. It really does suck to be the only one in your peer group who doesn't have Ugg boots, for example, when you are 12 years old. That doesn't mean my kids have them, but it is a reality that my kid is ashamed of the fact she doesn't.

College is hugely expensive. Personally, I absolutely wouldn't have a child if I wasn't going to send her to college without having her be up to her eyeballs in debt, but that's me.

I grew up in a large family, as did dh, and wouldn't want that for my kids.
post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
College is hugely expensive. Personally, I absolutely wouldn't have a child if I wasn't going to send her to college without having her be up to her eyeballs in debt, but that's me.
Yes, but the OP said the article specifically excluded college costs.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhf View Post
Really, though, babies are cheap. Kids are more expensive.
Yep, a third baby costs very little if you have good health insurance. But a third KID? Tons. Anyone who thinks another child doesn't equal more costs is unrealistic IMO.

And with every baby I had, that is another five years that I wasn't bringing in any money to contribute to the household - given that we made the choice for me to be a SAHM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjawm View Post
Yeah, as they get older, much more $$$. School fees. School supplies. Camps, swimming passes. Even things like going out to eat, hair cuts, and shoes add up, and add up fast. When we decide to go on a vacation (we have 3 kids), cost factors in a great deal. Even just one extra plane ticket is easily $300. Two kids can join two parents in a hotel room with one bed, but with three, one kid gets the floor. Three big kids can't fit comfortably in a car, once they hit teens.

Allowances, driving to activities (even if activities are free or low cost means gas $).
Exactly. It isn't just about handing down clothes and reusing bikes. SO many things either wear out, don't fit, or plain just are more per person. Food, water and electricity. Preschool/camp/lesson fees. Yearbooks. Photos. Birthday gifts/Easter baskets/Xmas. Travel expenses - even if you don't take extravagant vacations. Just flying to Maine to see the grandparents once a year is more for another airplane ticket or a bigger hotel room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
It depends on what you want for your kids, but I think those numbers are actually on the low side.

When kids are babies, they're pretty cheap. That ends.

We want our kids to be able to participate in activities that interest them, so for example, we pay for things like dance lessons, a violin tutor and instrument rental, Tae Kwon Do, etc. It's expensive and it adds up, but is priceless in terms of what those activities have done for my kids.

Our kids have far less in the way of designer clothing and status symbols than the vast majority of their colleagues. We say no a great deal, but every now and again, it's nice to say yes. It's easy to believe that this stuff won't matter at all to your kids--that's what I used to think. I have one in jr. high now, and I see it very differently. It really does suck to be the only one in your peer group who doesn't have Ugg boots, for example, when you are 12 years old. That doesn't mean my kids have them, but it is a reality that my kid is ashamed of the fact she doesn't.
Similar here. My almost 14 year old doesn't have Uggs, but 95% of her friends do. She is fine with it, I think - though I know she'd love a pair. She also doesn't have a laptop - something most of her friends have. I've already told her she isn't getting a car for her 16th birthday. It isn't that we can't get these things but that I think it isn't necessary. I don't want a spoiled kid who expects everything handed to her on a silver platter. I think a 16 year old with a BMW and a $200 purse just.... looks bad. Not how I want to parent - whether we can afford it or not. Kids are kids. If she grows up and gets a good job and chooses to buy a $200 purse, more power to her! But I'm not leading her down the path of that being necessary/important.

So yes, you can do a bigger family frugally. You can hand down clothes/sheets/bikes/toys. But there are always consumable costs. Don't kid yourself that another kid won't cost much. It will.
post #20 of 39
Moving to the Frugality and Finances forum.
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