Originally Posted by ThoughtFullMama
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
This is true for us, too. We live rurally and unschool, grow some of our own food, network with farmers for deals, camp or simply don't vacation. But I do think each additional kid can a) increase costs significantly, and b) limit options for the family. I have four kids.
I'm good at living cheap. I'm frugal with food (buy in bulk, cook from scratch, eat "boring" instead of "fancy'), I network diligently for hand-me-downs and used items so we don't have to buy things, and I have a great system for handing stuff down from sibling to sibling so we hardly ever buy clothes for the kids. Thankfully most of the families we socialize in are in the same boat, but where we lived before, we were the oddballs and it was uncomfortable. I grew up wearing secondhand clothes in a town where that just wasn't done
, and I don't care how good it was for my character or my parents' budget, it was really stressful and hard for me.
Having more kids definitely limits your lifestyle options. We have relaxed our standards significantly - our house needs a lot of cosmetic work that we are just ignoring to save the $. Thankfully, where we live, people don't care so much about that kind of thing. But in some areas there are social repercussions for not keeping up with that sort of thing.
I can't afford to have my kids in activities that they would like to do (I have one kid in one class and one kid in paid music lessons, and that is it). Lessons and classes around here start at about $15/week/kid and go up from there. We lived without paid activities for a long time, and I wish I could afford for my kids all to take one or two weekly activities. But that could cost us $300+/month.
Eating out at a nice restaurant with four kids is pretty much unaffordable. Unfortunately, my DH loves to do this. Even if we go to the local pub and get burgers and fries or similar, we end up spending $75+ with tip, and that's for a pretty simple meal. We found one lunch buffet that costs only $40 for the family, so we occasionally soothe DH's "need" for taking the family out by going there, but yikes.
And we never hire a babysitter to go on dates. $10/hour plus the cost of whatever we might be doing out? Dinner? Movie? Nope.
We live in a very arts-rich area, and I would like to be able to take my family to more concerts/shows/events, but it's usually cost-prohibitive. Typical prices are $15-$20/adult and $10-15/kid, so for a family of six, that's $70-100. For one event/one evening. It probably feels affordable to the single person who is buying one ticket, but not to a big family. I took the kids to a puppet show recently, and even with a "group discount" kindly invented by the owner of the troupe as a favor to us, it still cost $30 for just me and the kids, and it was a huge extravagance. A good show, but still.
Generally with three kids you can still fit in a small car (depends on the car, depends on the carseats) but with four kids you need a bigger vehicle, and bigger vehicles generally cost more and use more gas. We need a third-bench SUV here because we need four-wheel-drive. Even minivans only fit 5 kids or 4-5 carseats...without room for extra passengers.
As far as vacations go, if we needed to fly to visit relatives, we couldn't do it. We don't go anywhere fancy for vacations. But that is okay with us.
And food. With fewer kids you have more wiggle room for things like organics and interesting, unusual foods. There is no doubt that every kind of consumable costs more with more people. Toilet paper, art supplies, band-aids...it adds up.
Anyway, I love my family, I love that it is "bigger," I wouldn't trade it. But if I was planning a family now I would probably be choosing fewer kids. The economy is uncertain and although people with more kids maybe have practice already at having less disposable income, they are squeezed, too.
I think the more kids you have, the more flexibility you lose...your "affordable" options decrease, your financial wiggle room shrinks, and you get more proficient at homegrown fun instead of purchased fun.
And the more kids you have, the less 'average' your family will seem socially, at least in some communities, so if you feel uncomfortable sticking out, that could be a consideration.
Also, not just moneywise, but logistically it's more taxing to schlep four kids around than two. I think how easy that feels depends on your personality, but it's good to think about that going into it.
Maybe it's not fair for me to generalize, but this has been my experience with an average to low income and four kids. I'd suggest thinking about what lifestyle stuff is important to you and what you're willing to give up, and consider how flexible you feel about that when thinking about whether or not to have more children.