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Are Three Children Really That More Expensive Than Two? New Member - Page 2

post #21 of 39
I agree with pp who pointed out that a third child can add an increase in expenses for

- larger car, if you need the space for car seats
- extra-curricular activity fees - basic house league team fees are about $250 to $300 per child, so signing up 3 for soccer or baseball or hockey for a summer is almost $1000, vs. $500 for 2 - it can be a big difference for some families
- "family" admission to museums/art galleries/show etc. is often for 2 adults/2 kids - the third has to pay extra
- school fees - even in public school, there are often extra fees for sport uniforms, field trips, school photos, special pizza lunch days, music instrument loans, lab fees, etc. That 3rd payment can add up through the school year. I know quite a few families who could afford private school tuition for 2, but not for 3, so they don't send any and use the public system instead.
- hotel rooms often can't/won't put 5 in a room - you may have to get 2 hotel rooms when you travel. I know this a huge frustration for friends of ours, who often have trouble booking hotels.

Of course, if you home school, limit activities, don't travel much using hotels etc., many of these expenses can be minimized, as others have suggested.
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThoughtFullMama View Post
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.
post #23 of 39
When they are babies, no - but once they hit elementary school age, absolutely yes! We've got 4 boys, and the hand-me-down thing doesn't really work when they're rough and tumble playing and you're lucky if clothing lasts through 2 kids (heck, I just had to go and buy jeans for my older two because they shot through the knees, even with patches inside, and so those pants didn't even last one kid one season, LOL!)

We are pretty frugal, but there are experiences that we don't want to forgo just becuase we chose to have 4 kids. So, piano lessons (just 3 taking right now, it'll go up when #4 starts!) run over $300/month. They play one sport per season (well, not in summer) and so that's $200 for all of them to play each sport. While I agree that more kids doesn't always mean needign a bigger house, it definitely means needing a bigger car! We bought a minivan when #3 was born, and we'll have to keep driving a bigger vehicle (hopefully that same minivan, it's a Honda so it should last forever, LOL!) until they are gone from the house. And oh my lord, the FOOD. It's amazing how much they eat, and even being very frugal and choosy in what I buy, we still spend a lot of $ on food each month!
post #24 of 39
I am going to agree with the others on this, that it really depends on what you want and how you live. As some of these women have said, they live out of town and grow their food, etc. But maybe that isn't possible for your situation or something? Ya never know. And yes, babies might not affect the wallet too much, but I think once kids start getting older, you're going to have to start paying for a lot more things too. (Not in every case, but usually). I have two sisters and we of course wouldn't change our family for anything, but it definitely starts costing a lot more once the kids are older. For example, one of my sisters will soon be starting college- so there will be two of us in college; my parents aren't even paying for the tuition and it's still costing money (clothes, food, etc.) But there I think there is definitely a difference once they're not babies anymore!
post #25 of 39
YES. Yes. yes.
Babies do cost as well. Homebirth-$2,500-$4,000.

My dd1 takes piano and 2 hours of ballet a month. $168
My ds will start preschool this fall. $250

Date nights once a week cost at least $100 a pop. But we need to have time alone since my dh works from home and we home school, which means we are together all the time.

Yes with number 3 we had to buy a van. Our paid for camry had to go, but we did pay off our van fast and got a great deal so not too bad.

We like to take vacations and enjoy museums and activities. My dd will do 2 science camps this summer and ballet and my son will start in soccer-maybe.

My kids aren't big eaters so for now that's reasonable, but we planted 8 fruit trees and have a HUGE garden, etc in preparation for the future.

We also bought a bigger house, but it was only 25k more tan the house we sold, we got REALLY BLESSED with finding/buying our current house.

I haven't worked for a substantial salary in 6 years so yes we would have more money.
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jentilla View Post
Date nights once a week cost at least $100 a pop. But we need to have time alone since my dh works from home and we home school, which means we are together all the time.
I have absolutely no doubt that this is necessary in your family and in your marriage. But I wanted to say that DH and I both work from home and we homeschool (4 kids ages 5-11) and we do not have date nights.

Our version of date night is to wait until the kids are all in bed (which is pretty late) and then watch a Netflix movie alone.

DH and I also both get out separately with no kids at least once or twice during the week.

It can be done, and we certainly could not afford to spend what you do on date nights. But I am really happy for you that you have made it a priority and can make it work because it's important to you.

Edited to say that I sincerely do not intend for this to sound snarky! I just want to make sure the OP knows it's not true for everyone where the family works at home and homeschools. I think you spend this on a date night because it's important to you, you've made it a priority, and you can make it work in your budget, and that is a good collection of reasons.
post #27 of 39
Just agreeing that the extra expenses come in as they get older. We have four: about to turn 3, 5, 7, and 9 - and while they do have most of what they want, we are comfortable for now, so it's certainly not a huge struggle. I can see how when they are teenagers, it will ge even more costly. We do intend to at the least help the kids pay for college (if that is what they want to do), but besides saving slowly right now (mainly, my parents have college savings accounts for them), *I* will be out of school myself in a few years, and our income will more than double. So, I guess I am just assuming we will have a lot more disposable income at that point - to throw at college for the kids, retirement for ourselves, etc. Just mentioning that in case you are currently a SAHM with plans to go back to work or start a career as your children get older, b/c that really is when they get more expensive. Babies, toddlers, etc., can be cheap IME. It's the activities, private school, cars if you do that, designer clothes - also if you do that ;-), and the biggie - college for more than 2 kids.

Now, I do agree that childcare is more expensive for date nights and whatever. We don't have family to watch them for free anymore, and have plans to go out both tonight and tomorrow night - babysitting alone will cost $150 - but for us, it's not a frequent thing and absolutely worth it.

I don't know, but we are TTC #5, and money honestly is not a big consideration for us, but I know for others adding even just one more is a big deal and something they have to plan for to feel more comfortably from a financial aspect.
post #28 of 39
Those huge numbers for the cost of raising a child come from the USDA, see here. Their estimates are based on what people around the country say they spend, but there are also a lot of assumptions built into their analyses, and they don't figure the costs in anything near the same way you or I would.

In any case, their total reflects what they think people typically spend on a child, and there are many ways that you can spend much less than average without depriving your child at all.
post #29 of 39
Thread Starter 

More Info From Original Poster

Hi, original poster here. Thank you to all the mamas that have contributed to this discussion so far. You have given me a lot to consider. I just wanted to give you more about my personal situation so that it will be easier for you guys to give advice. Once again, I'm asking for your opinion and I will be not be upset if it's not all good news

My husband makes just over $30,000 a year a regional truck driver who is on the road m-f, home every weekend. He will be seeking local work after the new baby gets here. Local work is competitive, but overall trucking is a pretty stable industry even in these times. Another upside is that if we all of sudden need more money, he can make it quickly by staying out on the road longer. I get a pension of $12,000 per year from a large communications company. Our only debt currently is our mortgage - $660 a month for a 1600 sq. ft. 4 bed/2 bath house with a big enough lot to add addl. rooms and plant fruit trees and veggie gardens. We live deep into the suburbs of Phoenix.

College wise, we have 529 plans that we and grandparents are paying into as we can. We also live close enough to Arizona State to make living at home an option and have access to many good community colleges and vocational schools.

I should also mention that the baby on the way is a 2nd girl, so there will be immediate sharing of clothes. I breastfeed, we cloth diaper and have good insurance. A used minivan purchase is already required. We have two old cars, fully paid for, but there is simply not enough room for the four us. We are looking to spend about $14,000, any recommendations?

I plan to fully stay home until my youngest is in first grade at the very least. Even then, I'd like to do part-time work that has me home in time for milk and cookies after school and at least one day off during the week so that I can participate at the school. I hated being in daycare till 6 0'clock every night as child. Nothing made me feel more worse. My old company is now hiring people to do technical support from home - so that's a possibility.

Both sets of grandparents plus my sister live in the area and love to babysit. We actually get out the movies quite a bit. For dinners, we have always brought DD along as she has just been an "easy baby". I don't count on getting that lucky twice though. It's only fair to mention that my DH is a "Father of The Year" type. He may only be here on weekends, but he takes every diaper change, most feedings, helps with housework, reads to DD... you get the picture.

So, what's your analysis?
post #30 of 39
i agree with the gist of what most have been saying: it depends on your priorities.

i went from wanting 4 kids to only two after taking a plane trip and realizing how much tickets are and that having more than two would be prohibitive.

for us, travel and our children being bilingual are HUGE priorities.

we homeschool and at the moment are both working to pay down debt. ideally we'd like to have one parent working full time and one home, working from home. but to get there, must pay down student loans (our only debt besides mortgage).

if we both worked full time jobs and sent our children to school, i think we could afford a lot more. but having time with our kiddos is also a HUGE priority.

good luck with your decision!
post #31 of 39
MamaScrat, you have a good set up!

For a van, I'd suggest something like a Mazda MPV. Mazda is literally third in line behind Toyota (#1) and Honda (#2) in terms of good quality, etc. All three are similar in those respects, except Mazda just doesn't have the name recognition the other two have, so they don't hold their 'value' as much. You could get a newer Mazda MPV (they were discontinued in 06/07 to make room for the Mazda 5) for under your budget limit.

Overall, yes, each child costs extra. However, I think a lot of people make 'too much' out of the cost of each child.

For example, I'm the oldest of 6 (my mom and aunt lived together, so technically it was me & my 2 sisters, and 3 cousins. We act more like siblings though). Me nor any of my siblings did 'after school' stuff, since we couldn't afford it. We went to public school. However, my mom stayed at home and was REALLY into our school work. She pushed us in learning, from helping all of us with homework to making sure we could take accelerated/AP classes, etc. All 6 have gone/are going to college. That, I believe, is more important than any 'extra-curriculars'. We did get involved in clubs in high school, like the French club, Journalism club, etc. So we did have 'extra-curriculars' albeit free ones. We did a lot of fundraising to go on trips, etc. Colleges are more interested in seeing a depth to extra-curriculars rather than a wide spread of them anyways.

In the beginning, because there's a large age gap between my middle sister and I, my mom would 'cash-flow' our college expenses. We went to a state school 30 minutes away, stayed at home, etc. She did put restrictions on it--we had to focus on studies (aka no partying) and we had a certain (very high) GPA to meet. If we didn't meet it, we'd be cut off.

After a while though, we all applied for FAFSA and qualified for Pell grants and loans. Since it was an inexpensive state school, Pell covered tuition and books were 'cash-flowed'. There are lots of tricks to buying/getting access to text books on the cheap, which I can post about if you are interested.

I'm not saying it was easy, it isn't. I would have loved dance and music lessons. However, I wouldn't trade my siblings for that. We are all close, ds has close relationships with all of them, we all help each other out, etc.

So it can be done. Your kids will still have a chance at college, especially if you really push them academically. It's not popular to say it here in the US, but grade matter a LOT. Good grades in high school and you will be AMAZED at what schools will do to get you in. To give you an example, my sister's application got lost. It was 2 weeks before the last orientation day. We called them and found all this out. Once they got her transcripts, 'magically' everything moved forward quickly. Good grades also open up tons of scholarships too.


Ami
post #32 of 39
Quote:
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.
That was my first thought too. The difference in the day to day stuff for 2 kids vs. 3 doesn't really factor in for us. But I do feel the difference when I transfer money into 3 college savings accounts instead of 2. It is our hope to pay 100% for all 3 kids, certainly not a priority for everyone but something we feel strongly about for our kids. None of our parents saved a penny for us and we turned out OK so I'm certainly not trying to start anything here.
post #33 of 39
One way we are funding our children's college is for me to work at a college - even if you're in an administrative (vs. faculty) position, oftentimes after a few years there your children will get free tuition not only at that school, but at all affiliates.

I even know single moms who have sent children to private college for free due to working at a college and given the field in which I currently am employed, that is our main plan for paying for college (the kids have small college funds but there is just no way for us to sock away $100,000k each for college even if we stopped at only two children).
post #34 of 39
For us it would be vastly more expensive.

Car: we'd need to get a minivan to fit three car seats, so the car, and gas for the next 15 or so years. I would question as to why you think you need a minivan for four people? Think of the impact on the planet!

Income: I am planning on starting some part time work once my youngest is in preschool, so we'd be back to one income for 3-4 years if we had another.
post #35 of 39
Quote:
One way we are funding our children's college is for me to work at a college - even if you're in an administrative (vs. faculty) position, oftentimes after a few years there your children will get free tuition not only at that school, but at all affiliates.

I even know single moms who have sent children to private college for free due to working at a college and given the field in which I currently am employed, that is our main plan for paying for college (the kids have small college funds but there is just no way for us to sock away $100,000k each for college even if we stopped at only two children).
That's an awesome perk!
post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by aircantu1 View Post
That's an awesome perk!
It is, but it is also one being phased out for new employees at many colleges. Still worth looking into, but harder to find than in the past.
post #37 of 39
I think having three kids isn't expensive right away. But I see the extracurricular activities really making a dent. We are big on sports/creative activities. So yes three is eventually more expensive. Not even getting into college because they could want to be md's for all I know. That's great that your family can help you out.

Having said all that, having siblings to grow with and love is amazing to be a part of.. Siblings that will be there for each other after we are gone makes all the difference in the world to me.
post #38 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delicateflower View Post
For us it would be vastly more expensive.

Car: we'd need to get a minivan to fit three car seats, so the car, and gas for the next 15 or so years. I would question as to why you think you need a minivan for four people? Think of the impact on the planet!

Income: I am planning on starting some part time work once my youngest is in preschool, so we'd be back to one income for 3-4 years if we had another.
Hi Delicateflower,

I just wanted to answer you mini-van question. We have a 4-door Saturn and a Hyundai. As it stands now, I drive the Saturn (larger of the two) and the only place that I can keep the toddler seat is behind the passenger seat. If I put it behind the drivers seat or the middle, I have to move the drivers seat so far forward that I can't even drive (I'm average height, but have freakishly long legs). Even with the current arrangement, neither me nor my 6' 3 husband can fit in the passenger seat, so one us rides in the back with DD. This will not be an option when we add an infant seat to the back in a month and were certainly too

I suppose that it would be possible to buy a larger sedan vs. a minivan. However, this seems silly to do when we are leaning towards three or four children and try to only replace vehicles every 7 years or so. Also, the local schools are not great out here on the outer rim, so lots of parents send their children to charter schools further in. These utilize car pool systems which I will most definitely be a part of. DD's already on the waiting list for the best of them. I'm a huge fan of homeschooling, but I don't see myself capable of doing it. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind.
post #39 of 39
In our experience, adding a third child added a lot of expense to our family, because our third child has had health problems. He cost us nearly $10,000 out of pocket in medical expenses the first year of his life. Of course, you could have a perfectly healthy baby/child, and that wouldn't come into play, but it's something to think about for sure... there are no guarantees.

But really, this is all so subjective. It really depends GREATLY on what choices you make for your family, how you spend your money, how often you are willing to say "no" to your child when they want something every other kid has, what things you think are important for kids to have/do, etc.
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