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"Cost of raising a child" - Complete and Utter Bull?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
So, my parents and in-laws are both very taken in by the "Cost of raising a child" charts and facts and figures that they splash all over the TV and newspapers and whatnot at every chance. Therefore, none of them support my desire to ttc in a year or so, since we are not even close to wealthy (we make around $1100 per month together, before taxes and bills). What are everyone's experiences with this, and with the actual cost of raising a child WITHOUT all the expensive formula and diapers and whatnot? We plan to breastfeed, cloth diaper, delay or fully skip vaccinations, homeschool, and make our own baby food (we just started a garden! yay!). I'd love some testimonials on just how much less expensive it is to raise a kid this way.
post #2 of 28
Gosh, it depends on so much. Do you need to buy everything new, or can you get things via thrift/Craig's list/family&friends? Are you going to use prefolds or AIOs? Will you SAH or do you need to pay for childcare? There are lots of ways to save money.

Honestly, those figures are generally for raising a child through age 18. Cloth diapers and homemade baby food are a drop in the bucket over the long term, so while they can add up to some very real savings, kids still aren't free.

Remind your parents and in-laws that the amount you spend on a child is heavily influenced by your income (you can google it for studies that show this). People with lots of extra income tend to spend it on fancy clothes, dance classes, private tutors, pricier toys, etc. You have to provide food, clothes, and love, but you can do that quite inexpensively.
post #3 of 28
I would have to agree with PP.
You can spend the money if you have it, if you don't you don't spend it. My mom gives me this line a lot too. "Kids are expensive you know." Then I was talking to dad about what mom said, he crinkled his nose and said, "I lost my job the week we found out your mom was PG with you. You can never be "ready" for kids, just emotionally ready."

My dad is a wise man. and I think he secretly wants gran-babies!
post #4 of 28
Huge load of bull! We have 6, from a baby up to teens. It depends on how you do it and your values. Lifestyles are expensive, not kids! I spend less per week on groceries for our family of 8, ($200/mo, although in the last month I think that's gone up.) than my single MIL or my mom and dad did together. (Mom died recently, haven't talked groceries with my dad lately.) The bigger kids do do some spendier things (church camp, mission trips, sports and band equipment, etc) and their clothes are spendier (boys from about age 4-adult sizes which my 13 yo now wears in particular are hard to find at garage sales and resale shops super cheap) but I KNOW we spend way less on all 6 kids than most "normal" people do on cigarettes or alcohol or manicures or hobbies or... THEY are my hobby and vice! We do public school. (Small town, K-12 in one building, gotta love it!) but homeschooling can be dirt cheap or super expensive. We make choices on how we spend our money, same as anyone else. If you are serious about this, I would very strongly recommend being debt free and doing things the Dave Ramsey way from the beginning. ( www.daveramsey.com ) One big thing is to have decent insurance. (Medical, life, disability) DH nearly died last summer and was off on disability ~6mo and racked up about half a million in medical bills. I don't know what we would have done financially if we hadn't had disability insurance and medical insurance. Its huge if you have kids whether you vax or not. We've been to the ER more times than I can count with the kids, there was a time with my now 13 yo son when he was a preschooler that I though for sure we were going to get reported as we had him in the ER so much. Boys will be boys! Oh and there are ways we do spend more, but in reality we are probably about "normal" or cheaper than "normal" We drive a 12 passenger van, so more gas and more expensive than, say, a yugo. But we paid $13,000 for it on ebay and it booked at $21,000. And $13,000 is cheaper and uses about the same gas as the big SUVs everyone seems to drive. (Heck we're rural, its a lot cheaper than the F350 & 450 v10 pickups I see around!) We also have a bigger house, but we bought an old farmhouse that was a rental and are slowly fixing it up as cash and time allow. Definitly less than a nice house in the 'burbs, but not a nice 750 sf cottage or condo, either. We'd be paying our mortgage, cars, utilities, etc whether we had kids or not. KWIM?
post #5 of 28
I totally agree with the pp. I only have one DS, but if you want to live simply/frugally, you totally can. Besides health insurance and day care, I just don't really spend money on DS. All of his clothes are given to us by older cousins, his toys were all presents, etc. I buy things every one in a while. Like if I'm at a store and I see a cut $5 pair of shoes, every once in a while I'll buy something like that. DH and I are pretty much making less now than we were before DS, and I've just found that my priorities have changed. Instead of going out to eat a few times a week, I'd rather spend $25 on a water babies class. Does that make sense? Overall, I think people spend way too much money on their kids.
post #6 of 28
Our biggest expense so far is definitely child care (DD is 18 mo). But even if you aren't going to need childcare, don't forget to factor in how much income you or DH might lose if you stay home with your child.

But there are other expenses, even if you buy things second-hand. For example, you really probably shouldn't buy car seats secondhand. So plan how you'll pay for the infant seat and then, around 6-9 months later... the convertible seat.

I second the previous poster who said to make sure you have really, really good insurance! Babies have to go to the doctor a lot more than adults... and I don't even really like taking them in. But the thing is, they can't tell you how they're hurting or that it's just a cold and will go away soon or that it's a respiratory infection and antibiotics would cure it instantly.

But anyway, along those lines - nothing with a baby is for sure. You might plan on breastfeeding, but what if the baby refuses to nurse suddenly or you have supply issues? Will you have enough money for a breast pump to pump until the baby starts nursing again or to get your supply up? Also, my friends IRL were planning on doing cloth diapers, but then their son was born with club foot and had to be in a special cast and couldn't wear cloth for several months. Unexpected stuff happens!

My point ISN'T that you shouldn't have a kid if you are ready. Because for most of us, that would never really happen. We are both in grad school, but I am so glad we had DD when we did. HOWEVER, there have been more expenses than I was thinking there would be (ie she weaned herself at 8 months (completely, absolutely, refused) when my supply was drying up and we had to buy formula for 4 months, etc.)

Bottom line: make sure you have something saved ahead for emergencies or unexpected purchases and have the kid whenever you want to!

good luck with your decisions!!
post #7 of 28
For us, the actual cost estimators have been way low.
post #8 of 28
For the first year, all you really need is a good sling, some diapers and some second hand clothes.

I was really broke while pregnant and a few people kept trying to buy me useless stuff like a crib, stroller, expensive clothes, etc. I ended up getting my friend to buy all the diapers (about 200$ for everything until she was diaper-free), splurged on 2 slings (100$ total) and got clothes from local thrift stores.

I am in Montreal, so I get paid to go to school, get 1 year maternity leave, 7$ a day daycare and a bunch of other facilitating things, so I might have a more optimistic vision of what it costs, but I still really dont think that money should be an issue when deciding to have children or not. No matter what, you will always manage to get by and there is no way you will ever regret having a child if you are broke at some point.

The figures for the costs of raising a child are usually quoted from financial companies trying to scare you into opening up saving accounts and investments or by government and other people who have an interest in preventing 'poor' people from having children. Plus, if you look at any other figure of the cost of anything over 18-21 years, you will see that they are all just as impressive. If the cost of food for yourself is several hundred thousand dollars over the rest of your life, will you stop eating? Of course not.
post #9 of 28
Ok, so ya'll are saying its relative, but what to do you tell those people who say "Have a baby?...in THIS economy?!"

Like, they cite rising gas prices, food, etc as a reason to hold off on having a baby. While i think its valid in some ways, gas prices are not going to go down so waiting for that be reasonable again isnt feasible.
post #10 of 28
Originally Posted by Brown Lioness View Post
Ok, so ya'll are saying its relative, but what to do you tell those people who say "Have a baby?...in THIS economy?!"

Like, they cite rising gas prices, food, etc as a reason to hold off on having a baby. While i think its valid in some ways, gas prices are not going to go down so waiting for that be reasonable again isnt feasible.
Ah yes, but I think a lot of babies are born in tough times because making a baby is free entertainment!
post #11 of 28
DS2 is almost 3 and I would bet that I have spent about $500 on baby related stuff. DS1 is older, we choose to put him in karate ($80/month) and homeschool so we buy materials but it doesn't cost much to raise them. We have never done childcare and we get medicaid so those are 2 big expenses that we don't have to deal with.
post #12 of 28
I don't know...to the people worried about the economy, I would just say that throughout history there have always been hard times, but people just didn't stop reproducing. KWIM? Plus, it may be hard now, but it could get better. And the gas thing isn't even a valid argument. It's only going to go up. You'd never had kids if you waited for gas to go down.
post #13 of 28
People ask me all the time how I do it, esp. as a single mom. I always tell them it's not easy and really I don't know somedays how. I did get these great books called "The Tightwad Gazette" It is a great read for anyone interested in saving money. The author covers everything and she has 6 kids.
post #14 of 28
Are you interested in proving to these people that you can swing it? If so, all you really need to do is make a budget. Write out all of your monthly expenses that you have now. Add in the new expenses you expect w/ a child (be generous w/ things like healthcare and thrifty w/ toys). Take into account changes in income, and voila! you have a budget. It should tell you whether or not you can afford it.

I guess I'm the loan dissenter in that I don't think anyone should just have a baby w/o looking at whether they can afford it. I realize that for some people that means they need thousands of extra dollars, and for some, it means hundreds (depending on lifestyle choices), but it's still an important exercise for a responsible adult to make sure that they can care for their offspring in a manner they deem acceptable.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
One thing that makes me think we'll be more able to afford a baby than people think, is that everyone says "oh, but, cribs are so expensive!" and "what about a car seat?"

Here's the thing...my family is HUUUUGE and, completely aside from the hand-me-down pool (about a truckload and a half of clothes, crib sheets, toys, etc organized by age), my mother's family always throws an enormous baby shower for every pregnant woman, and they literally buy all of the big stuff. Most of the family showers I've been to have included the stroller, car seat, play pen, high chair, crib, and swing. Plus clothing and toys and bottles! Not to mention, my mother-in-law has been stockpiling baby stuff for her future grandbabies for years. Cribs, crib sets, stuffed animals, clothes...

Even assuming they don't buy all of that stuff for us, we plan to cosleep and wear the baby as much as possible (and make the carriers). If we get a crib and/or stroller, well, that gives us those options, but if not, we'll try our darnedest to stick with our plans.

Well, here's hoping...at least we have a small amount of fixed monthly income. $650/month isn't great, but at least out here in the midwest, it's not chump change. Pays rent and half of our bills most months...
post #16 of 28
I am actually very interrested in adding up what I think my DS has cost us so far! hehe.... Ill come back with the figures!!!
post #17 of 28
For DS1, I bought everything. Crib, stroller/carseat combo, bouncy seat, swing, name brand clothing, etc. He cost me (and my parents and assorted family members) a lot.
For DS2, I bought a carseat and a bouncy chair, used hand me down clothing and got a sling on eBay for $12. When he was a little older we started building up a cloth diaper stash that would last for multiple kids.
For DS3, most of the hand me downs were worn out so we bought some new clothes and got some clothes as gifts, bought a carseat and that was about it.
For DD, we bought her some clothes and girly diapers, a carseat, I got a bouncy chair as a baby shower gift and I bought a new sling just for fun.

We buy the kids some new clothes and shoes and such as they outgrow things or wear them out but we mostly ask relatives to buy them clothes, shoes and coats as gifts for holidays/birthdays rather than buying toys. Overall, the cost of having 4 children has been basically equal to what I spent on having 1 child.
post #18 of 28
They're a big load of bull for us, anyway. Food has been a bit more expensive, though, there's just more mouths to feed, but that is offset for us by the fact that I have *no* desire to eat out anymore. No way I'm forcing my two to sit still for a dinner out.
post #19 of 28
Originally Posted by SusannahM View Post
They're a big load of bull for us, anyway. Food has been a bit more expensive, though, there's just more mouths to feed, but that is offset for us by the fact that I have *no* desire to eat out anymore. No way I'm forcing my two to sit still for a dinner out.
This too. I've learned how to cook from scratch, even things I didn't even know you *could* make from scratch and we go out to eat as special occasions rather than "I don't feel like cooking" which was common while I was working and only had one child.
post #20 of 28

My sons first year in money

So this isnt exact but its pretty close!

We were on a budget the first year as DS was a complete surprise and due to our current family situation at the time - I am sure we could have saved more if this was a planned pregnancy so I think that makes a difference as well with money!, we wernt exactly in the best of money at the time - we had nothing set aside and were in a bit of debt. However, DH makes a 'decent' amount of money and I got a full time job (for min wage) as well which really helped. Not to mention - of course, we got a lot of stuff bought for us and handed down for us via family and friends this being our first baby and the first grandchild on my DHs side of the family!!! Also - lets not forget ebay!..which I didnt discover until much later in my sons life so probably could have saved even more money had I discovered it sooner! lol...But even our budgeted items could have been more budgeted if need be...how much one is willing to budge of course is really going to be down to your comfort level I think!

Maternity: (because lets not forget pregnancy costs money too lol)...

I spend about £50 on maternity clothing. A few trousers and some stretchy tops - nothing fancy. (had I discovered ebay, I could have got more and better things for less I am sure!)

£75 on prenatal vitamins (the key here though is to think ahead and buy things like this when places have sales on - we have a store here called Holland&Barrettes...they sell everything from vitamin C to red raspberry leaf tea...We plan to TTC #2 this December and they always have spring/summer sales on - so I am already stocking up on items they have on sale. Currently their bottles of EPO are £1 dropped from £3 - so you know what I am stocking up on! lol)

And post baby of course. You dont need disposable underwear but I found them handy and heavy duty post baby pads are cheaper if you buy them disposable but if you plan on having more children will eventually pay off when you have more children if you get cloth... £40

Baby Gear: (depending on how you plan to 'parent' you really dont 'need' a lot of baby gear - so I will divide this section in two)

Sling (of course!)...you can make your own but of course you can buy off ebay or buy a used one from thebabywearer, etc... £25 is what I paid for the best new sling I ever got!

Nappies - We paid £200 for our set (shaped, poppers, liners, the lot)... BUT if you want to budget this you can get a whole set (all you will ever need!) of prefolds for £30! (and lets not forget used ones which can save you even more money too! )

Nappy covers! - £50. (however you can spend much much less on this if you get cheap plain plastic slip on ones. Our Boots sells a pack of 5 for only £2 so a years worth of these would cost £15 if you take good care of them! lol)

Nappy liners - the things that catch the poo ...of course you dont need these but then if you dont use them you have to scrape poo and soak your nappies, etc...However you can get reusable liners so that does save money. We got flushable ones that could be reused so we did reuse quite a bit!... £100 in liners for the first year. (even the cloth liners cost a lot though!)

Nappy pail - £5 (no need for soak or anything since we had the liners)

Obviously washing the extra load of nappies that you now have in your daily life will cost a bit as well - but I have no idea how much this adds on...my guess is not a lot though!

But we also did EC! - However we were late starters!... But all of this above cost us nothing in the second year as DS was graduated by then! Everything we have now is also already paid off. My DH did the maths and we started to get our money back (pretty much) after DS was about 6-9 months of age. Much sooner if we would have went with the £30 terry nappy pack though when you consider how much disposables cost and how many nappies you actually get through. And much much sooner if you do EC! I will be starting EC from birth next time around - you only need a few nappies as 'backup' and maybe a potty (though thats optional of course!)...which we already have! lol

What you dont need but might come in handy:

Bouncer - £10 (cheapest one out there, you dont need something fancy but when you have a shower its nice to put your baby somewhere where you can see eachother if you arnt bringing them in the shower with you - however we are buying a shower sling next time around but thats only £15)

Pushchair - £100 (you can get cheaper ones though and ebay of course!...depends on what you use it for...I got a shopping trolly like the old ladies have lol for only £20 - as I dont have a car, its nice to carry my shopping in and all the other things you need)

Change table - £50
Change tabple mat - £10
(You dont need any of these items but as I had a section, I found them really handy as it was easier to bath and change my son then and of course, a nice neat and tidy area to store all the nappy things needed as I like organisation lol)

Change bag - £20....but you dont really need it, you can get any other bag big enough and I am sure cheaper and ebay of course! lol

Clothing in the first year: (we budgeted £50 everytime he needed new clothes, which was every 3 months as the clothes were sized! lol)

£200 (you could of course plan ahead like my friend does and buy all the clothing you need everytime they have a sale! - We never have any money then or a place to put it all in our tiny house but with good planning my friend has clothing for her 3 year old daughter in size 10 things! lol...all sale items! lol)

Food: (we made his own and hes always been a good eater! - About £5 a week for him)


And breastfeeding is free....but you might want fancy breastfeeding bras and shirts?

add £50 (of course there is ebay and dont forget the sales!!!!)

Also - you will be eating more in pregnancy and whilst bf your baby ...no idea how much this really costs but lets just say we budget out (now with a 3 person family) about £40-£50 a week in shopping and when I was pregnant we were spending about £80-£100 a week in shopping lol....

Also - we live in the UK. So I didnt have to pay for any of my antenatal care, my midwives, the birth of my son, his care after he was born, etc. Well we did, but its all taken out of taxes anyhow (which are extremly high compared to your country! lol) so what we end up with at the end of the year never changes regardless. And everyone in the UK gets child tax credit (unless you earn more than £60k a year - which isnt a huge part of the population! lol) - So we get £10 a week for my son (which really is only getting some tax back for having a child).

Total (highly budgeted - though I am sure it could be even more so with a planned baby, things bought in sales as you can do when you plan this lol, ebay, used items, etc): £665
Total (not so budgeted): £1050

Now the second year has been cheaper.
We dont need all the 'starting off' gear.
DS used the toilet.
Dont know how much his food costs but as I said our weekly budget for all of us is £40-£50.
Clothes we buy every season as needed - about £300 a year.
Shoes £30 - but my son was a late walker!!!

Hes going on three now and this year so far has been about the same in the way of clothes and food. Shoes have cost more - double that price so £60.

We only buy him new toys for birthday/christmas. Everything in between is chairty shops! And of course, he has a grandma that spoils him to bits! lol
About £30 for birthday pressies and £50 for Christmas.
Though he does have a birthday party which is about £150 everytime. BUT - You dont have to have a party and as he gets older, he wont be getting one. We seen to be doing that backwards as most people I know dont bother with parties until their child is 3-4 years old. As we are unschoolers though and they are not, all the people I know will be spending much more on parties when they start having them as they plan to invite the whole class!...DS isnt going to 'not' have friends, but hes not going to have a class of 30 to invite to a party. So we will keep birthday celebrations as a family event when he is 'school' age - which will cost much less than what we are spending now!... However, it will still be the same *yearly if he takes up something like ballet or whatever we have in this area to offer - other activites you know, etc. So he wont be having that much spend on him on his birthday party, but that much will still be there to spend on him on other things.

However - We hardly go out to eat and have only been camping as a holiday (so cheap holiday lol).

Having a second is going to be cheaper if I had to budget but as its planned and we are better fiancially I really want to splash out and enjoy it - so I will be spending more on maternity clothing. However I already have the first 6 months worth of clothing for this twinkle in my eye lol ...ALL ebay, ALL brand new with tags - only £40!!! So I have saved money there, and as I dont need a bouncer or change table, or nappies, etc...It will still be about the same as my first sons first year or cheaper. Just what I spend on *myself is going to be more. Which of course, you dont have to do! hehe
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