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How much do kids cost?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'm sure that there has been discussion of this somewhere, but I can't seem to find one with my search terms.  DP and I are trying to decide how much to spend on a new home.  This has prompted us to take a look at our finances.  In the past, we've just spent a very small percentage of our income, and not worried about keeping track of any of it.  I don't like the income percentage rules because it doesn't account for varying ratios of necessary to unnecessary spending.


Anyway, the big thing we don't know is how much it costs to have kids.  Right now, we only have one child and she is only 20 months old.  And we think we've made money on her so far as a tax dependent because we have spent so little on her.  So what are the big expenses of having a child and teenager.  How much do you spend per year or month on clothes, food, toys, medical, activities, etc? Is there something really expensive and not obvious to me yet?

post #2 of 24

When they are babies, they don't cost much.  Of course, there is child care or the loss of one income and associated benefits to consider.


When they are older, they are expensive.  First, we intend to pay for four years of tuition at a public institution of higher education, and that's a lot of money to save.  If you want to send your kids to private K-12, that can be extremely expensive.  We don't, but the one nice private school around here that I think is great costs about $20K/kid/year.


Clothing, shoes, food etc., cost more the older the child gets.  How much you spend though, is somewhat up to you.  Some folks do thrift shops.  We do not, but we shop carefully and usually buy what's on clearance.  As kids get older, they want more status symbol items.  My kids would love to have Uggs, Miss Me jeans and Coach bags, but they don't.  We buy most of my older daughter's clothes at Aeropostale, which you can look at online to get an idea of prices.


Activities for us are the big expense.  For a 10 year old and a 13 year old, we spend $650/month for music, sports and dance, plus additional money for recitals and instruments.  We just spent $3,000 on a violin.

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

We want to move to a neighborhood that has really good public schools, so we won't need to pay for private.  We have a college fund set up already.  It's mostly the day to day expenses that I don't know about.  As a general rule, are girls more expensive than boys?  650/month for both girls, all activities?

post #4 of 24

I think it's hard to generalize.  The $650/month is for private music lessons for my two girls (on top of the lessons they get in school), tae kwon do lessons for one and dance for the other.  In addition, there are extra fees associated with those activities.  Dance recitals run us about $350 for tickets, costumes and fees.  My older daughter is in a regional youth orchestra which has a variety of concert fees.  There are belt testing fees and tournament fees for tae kwon do.  My oldest will be going for her black belt soon, and the testing fee for that is $500, on top of the $110 monthly fee.  There are always additional expenses that crop up.


We send our kids to some summer activites as well.  We don't have to pay for childcare in the summer, but our kids go to camp for a couple of weeks (about $200/kid/week), take swimming lessons and other things like that.  If you need camp all summer long, that's very expensive.


Activities, are of course, optional.  Many people will spend more and many will spend less.  For us, it is important to nurture our children's outside interests, but other people don't or can't do that, or choose not to.


I don't know that girls are more or less expensive than boys.  I'll bet it costs more for clothing, makeup and accessories on average for girls.  On the other hand, auto insurance will be more for teen boys, and they'll eat more.  I've got nephews who play very expensive travel sports, but so do some girls.


We have excellent medical and dental insurance, and our kids have good teeth and have been healthy.  If your kids need braces, that can run $5-6K/kid.  We are lucky in that respect, but my dd has a friend with a serious disability that has cost her mom a great deal of money. 


You'd probably get a more accurate answer by looking for articles on the topic, where people have done research, rather than just looking at anecdotes.  One number that I've heard thrown around for teens is about $10,000/year, which I think is pretty reasonable, but again, you can do it for more or less, depending on your kid and your circumstances.

post #5 of 24

Our biggest expense is food.  Music lessons we spend $160/month for violin and piano for one and violin for another.  Clothes are done thru ThredUP, or online sales.  Really, it's about lifestyle.  My kids would rather go watch a goat have a baby or climb a tree and get holes in their knees, thank goodness!


post #6 of 24

Our biggest expense is medical for one of our kids. More than $600/month after our insurance covers what they will. This is one of the hardest things to plan out because your kids can be wonderfully healthy.... or not. Often there is nothing you can really do about it other than give them the help they need and pay the big bills.

post #7 of 24

Again there is no way to accurately know what a kid is going to cost you years from now.  Just from reading this board you can get an idea of some of the costs you could face.  I have a 10 yr old boy who can eat me out of house and home some weeks and other weeks he eats like a bird.- We are facing food issues which are going to send us to thearpy soon. Thats going to be expensive.  My son has wide odd shaped feet so his shoes are $50, he cant wear Target type shoes, he needs Keens, New Balance, Nike etc. I perfer to buy him better clothes, since its summer here most of the year, things from Gap, Nike, etc last longer and I dont replace them as much.  He will probably need braces $$


He just started drama class $100/month and Swim club $65/month although I may up the swim to $125 month if he really likes it.


Its difficult to put an actual dollar amount on kids, each one is so varied and unique but the older they get the more they cost, Thats a definate!

post #8 of 24

Mine are 4 and 6 and definitely starting to get more expensive.


Clothes for example I used to be able to get 90% of stuff used and either cheep or free. Now they are getting much more of their own taste in clothes and it's proving harder to find decent used stuff in bigger sizes. I also find the very cheep stuff can be a false economy as it wears out before getting outgrown. We also have school uniforms, which for us work out quite expensive and we still need non school clothes for the rest of the time


We keep after school stuff to swimming lessons and one club, more for time than money, with 2 kids it adds up fast though. There are also school trips and stuff to keep in mind.


We're nowhere near the eat us out of house and home stage but having watched 3 teenage boys grow up I know it's coming.

post #9 of 24

Thankfully we're getting tons of hand-me-downs, now, so that stuff is free.  We're planning to homeschool so that costs a bit extra (though not that much if you do it right).  Ds, it turns out, though, has some dairy issues, so we've been spending extra money on things like goat milk yogurt (which doesn't seem to bother him) and such... but I suppose you wouldn't have to.  Of course you can never really plan for that kind of thing... or,say, serious injury, or that kind of thing, really.  We don't currently have the kids involved in any extracurricular activities, but expect to eventually.  We also have a family membership to the Y which costs $50/month... hmmm  OH! we ended up buying a bigger car because we now have 3 kids, so that's money in gas and cost of the car was more than we'd pay for a smaller car...


I can't think of more, but at this point my oldest is only 5.

post #10 of 24

If I remember right, the USDA's Cost of Raising a Child analyses say that an older child or teenager costs (on average) a few hundred dollars a year more than an infant or toddler.  Expenditures shift from daycare and diapers to food, clothing, and educational activities as the child ages.  Also, what they track is what people at different income levels actually spend on their children; it is entirely possible to spend less than the average.

post #11 of 24

Depends on how you want to live.


For us the biggest expense is food, and I know that will grow as they hit the bigger growth spurts and get to be teenagers (all boys so far, yikes!)


If we have more than 5 kids, we will need a bigger vehicle.  Probably won't need a bigger house because we're good at efficient use of space--ours is a 3 bedroom home with a living and dining room, and people raised bunches of kids in much smaller spaces, so we can do it. :)


Other than that, it's lifestyle issues.  We homeschool, using the free state cyber charter schools.  We aren't a family that revolves around a lot of activities, and we get our entertainment and our exercise for free, where we find it.  Insurance will increase some, I'm sure.  But no matter how many children we have, giving them a full ride to college was never in the plans, so we don't count college funds as an expens.  (We will gladly and with great vigor help them in ways that don't involve check-writing, though).

post #12 of 24

We live in a neighborhood with a good school, so no tuition. OTH, we pay high property taxes. but we have a great public pool a 1/2 amile away by bikes and its $180 for the season. If we visit it 6 times, we got our money's worth. We usually do by Fathers day.


If you have your children in activities, depending on what it is, you need to factor in time, energy, gas, and cost of course. So example- your daughter plays softball and there are 2 seasons,- early spring and then summer, you have to think about travel, time, practice, uniform, injuries, being a spectator etc. Sometimes you buy expensive equipment sometimes you buy it at play it again sports. Sometimes your neighbor is cleaning out his garage and he finds his kids old sports equipment and it works just fine.


If there are practicies during the week and you have 2 or more in activities, factor in gas and maybe take out as well.


Healthy kids like mine still need physicals and still get an occasional strep infection or fall down and break something. I cannot remember the last time we have not owed the Dr's office, or something is clearing on insurance. And one gets sick, the other gets it or you do.


Hand me downs should work out great but I have a 5 yr old and 9 yr old. The 5 yr old dosent care for a lot of the styles from when her sister was 5 or they look dated or just not what she would wear. Or they just dont fit the same because each kid has a different shape.


We buy better quality clothing because as said, it lasts longer. Keens are expensive, but its one thing I get to pass on to the younger one. And my older one wore them all summer. A trip in the washing machine, they look new. My neighbor has a pair on her youngest boy she bought 9 years ago for the oldest. They look good as well. I am passing on a pair my youngest just outgrew and the mama is estatic.


kleets etc, I pass them on because they usually only  last 1 season and your kid grows out of them.

post #13 of 24

It's imposible to anticipate how much a babe can cost (factor in health issues, allergies, accidents, etc..) but generally you can judge by your lifestyle


We don't own a home/are happy renting and plan on homeschooling. So our rent is flexible and school can be as costly as we make it...I do plan for things like quality craft/art supplies, books, museum memberships, classes and the likes. Right now DD and I take a parent/child Waldorf class, and do a few drop in play classes when we feel like it. We also try to eat quality food (organic, local) and that is obviously more pricey in some cases. We only own one car and it's a Toyota (nothing fancy..) and I buy most of my clothes on sale. If we wanted to nix the organics and classes we could, but we budget for them. So again, it depends on the lifestyle you want

post #14 of 24

Even if you calculate it for a normal, healthy child, things happen that are not expected. Our first child gave us a small taste of this. I had planned to bf but for various reasons it did not work out for us. I had to invest in an expensive pump and bottles and used that for 5.5 months, and then formula after that. My first child is also a Celiac kid and that has really upped our grocery bill, which doesn't seem like a lot until you add it up for years and years.


Second child was born with a tummy problem, ended up on prescription formula that our insurance did not cover, and it was about $800 a month. We were a single income family and this was very hard for us. She also had a feeding tube for 5 years and lots of medical stuff. Those copays are not cheap.


They both need braces. They take piano lessons from an expensive but good teacher. It just seems like there's one thing after another. We love our children so much, they are such a joy and blessing and we would do it all over again if we knew what we were in for with them. But we also will not have another child for financial as well as other reasons.

post #15 of 24
Our biggest cost is medical. Even with good insurance we are looking at spending around $5000 this year for our 2 year old. Even minor health problems can get expensive quickly. Food and clothing add a bit to our budget. We are pretty indulgent with toys and activities. I probably spend a couple hundred a month. That could easily be trimmed in tough times.
post #16 of 24
Wow, it just depends. We are fortunate enough to have a very healthy child (thank the good Lord), which is obviously a blessing emotionally and of course financially. Our insurance covers well child visits and so we've never paid any medical bills for her. As far as activities, I'm a piano and voice teacher and my brother and his wife are both professional violinists, so most likely I'll be teaching our children music. I do plan on putting our kids in ballet and probably 1 or 2 sports and our city's children's choir. We are planning on homeschooling, but I don't really know how much it will cost. Clothes are so variable. I usually buy at thrift stores. Shoes are incredibly expensive (wow!) I probably spend more on shoes than clothes. I have no desire to buy a bigger home right now. I like our little place. We will probably move when I get pregnant with # 3.
post #17 of 24

Far, far more then I ever thought humanly possible. eyesroll.gif I didn't expect to have 3 children with all different needs, only one child has ever had his issue covered, everything else has been out of pocket. Even things that aren't medically serious, really add up. The daily tutoring for a dyslexic child, the private school that can better handle children with SNs when I planned on HSing, therapist after therapist, on and on. We are fortunate to make a good living but it doesn't go that far now days. We could cut back on activities which my children do a fair amount of but then I feel when I have a child that struggles so much in daily life but then excels at sports, I want to build her self esteem and allow her to do what she is good at. 

post #18 of 24

I have a 14 year old (plus 5 younger kids)... he got a new computer that he paid for 50%, that was $600 for my half.  He grows like a weed but doesn't really care about clothes, but I've already had to buy new clothes three times this year every time he has a growth spurt... so about $300 and I will probably have to buya  new set soon.  He eats a LOT but I cook from scratch so spend about $30/ week on food for him.  We homeschool and the computerized curriculum is about $500 but I can re-use it on his younger siblings.


We qualify for a subsidized insurance plan so it is about $50/ month for him... everything is covered with no co-pay.  However if we ever stop qualifying that will be a big  expense, probably about $300-500 a month.


His braces were not covered and that was $6000 all included.


We have told him that we will pay for in state tuition at a public college but not room and board, and not for a private college-- so if he lives at home that will be about $25000 for the entire undergraduate degree.


We anticipate driver's ed to be about $40 per private lesson... I'm not sure how many lessons he'll need.  Also we'll pay for SAT prep, probably about $1500.


I pay a weekly allowance of $12.50 so $600 a year... he does a LOT of work around the house though and is very good about it, I never have to nag.  I also pay "bribe" money of $10 for every A he gets on a math test which is usually about $20 / month.



post #19 of 24

I agree that the older children get, the more expensive things tend to be, but I also agree that it varies so much by individual child, family, and lifestyle. What you consider a "must-have" or "must-do" for your children might look very different from someone else who has different priorities, you know?


Yet some things just get more expensive despite individual preferences. Clothing and shoes, for example, do cost more as children get older, because the larger sizes are more expensive (especially shoes, wow! My oldest just started wearing men's shoe sizes last year and I got major sticker shock in buying him sneakers, eek!)


And older children consume more food, girls as well as boys, so grocery budgets need to adjust accordingly.


If you let your child do extracurricular activities, they also have the tendency to become more expensive as the child ages, because with most things, they are moving up in skill and level they longer they participate in something, which brings greater costs with it: travel expenses when they compete in something out of town, new uniforms/costumes/shoes as they outgrow the old ones, additional lessons/classes and better equipment as their skills advance. It adds up, for sure!


The teen years bring some milestones with them that can also be more expensive: possible need for braces or other fun dental work like having your wisdom teeth removed, driving (aack, I'm not ready for that at all!!!), and then there are the "social expenses." While teens can also get a job to offset some of those costs, which obviously the younger kiddos can't do, it still usually ends up impacting the parental pocketbook, too.





post #20 of 24

My kids are younger (4, 2, 9 weeks) but Im already feeling more of a pinch. Before I was able to take them anywhere and not have to pay enterence fees since under 4 is free admitance. Now I have to pay for my oldest as well as 1-2 adult tickets.. so instead of costing 10.00 to visit the zoo it costs 15 for example. My kids eat a TON (more than me) so my food bill has almost doubled since it was just DH and myself. My oldest has expressed an interest in doing either dance or gymnastics, tuition is 45 per month plus the cost of clothing/shoes/fees etc. If I find a class for her sister as well that would be 90 per month. Bigger car (before DH we had a 2 door, 4 seater) which means lower gas mileage. 5 plane tickets to visit family is a whole lot more expensive than 2, 3, or 4.


Things that haven't gone up so far but I expect to eventually: housing, right now the kids are requesting sharing a room so I don't have to worry about it but later who knows.. clothing costs, its harder to find the bigger sizes in good conditions used and the hand me downs have basically dried up.. education, we plan on homeschooling so theres the cost of books/supplies/etc.. food when DS starts eating solids..Whenever we move it will be more expensive and since DH is military we move every 3-4 years.  Im sure there is more as well.


Im lucky though, my MIL is going to teach me to play the piano when we move near her soon as well as teaching my oldest if she wants. My girls are happy with doing just about anything so a park to them is just as much fun as going out somewhere. I sew so I can get clothing and alter it to the childrens needs instead of having to find something that is "perfect".. etc.

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