“We Hate Money,” or, We’re Having Another Kid
It’s true, the PTBP household is expecting another member by the end of June! While having another child was anything but a financial decision, we couldn’t help but think through the financial implications. It’s just how our brains work. And it seemed the most relevant aspect to share here. So here’s the breakdown, including thoughts on kid-raising costs, college funds, resume gaps, and when to upgrade to a bigger home or car.
The Quarter Million Dollar Baby?
The average cost to raise a child is widely reported to be $250,000. If that strikes horror in your heart, rest assured. Oh wait, I have no idea how much it costs to raise a kid. My oldest is only 6.
There’s the cost of prenatal care and delivery, which we estimate will run us about $3000 this time.
Speaking of insurance, paying for a family plan vs. a couple is a big hike in premiums. But—it’s a flat fee after that, so get your money’s worth by having more! #ifonly And of course, kids get sick and that costs something, too.
Young-mommy bloggers will tell you how very little kids costs. Indeed, we spent very little on the first five years of child-rearing. Hand-me-downs abounded, and gifts and buying used items filled in the gaps. We found plenty of fun, free activities via the library, metro parks, playgrounds, etc.
Then we paid for preschool: $1200 for a year. Hand-me-downs slowed and we spent a bit more on clothes and shoes for our oldest. We also spend more on food now, because guess what—at some point they actually start eating.
Then there are the birthday parties kids get invited to. And school supplies, fundraisers, and donations for class parties. And sports and swim lessons, and don’t do that stuff year-round. We also pay for the occasional family attraction or event, especially on vacations.
The Income Question
Another big financial factor is that each kid sets the clock back on me returning to the paid workforce by 5-6 years. We decided before having kids that I would stay home with the kids till they’re in school full time. Part-time working from home worked well until #2 came along. Clearly having a huge resume gap is not going to do me any favors, but for us that’s not a determining factor. And I know how incredibly blessed we are to be in that position.
I’ve heard of families in similar size homes upgrading to make way for baby #3, and I can understand why, but it’s certainly not necessary in our case. In lieu of a larger house, we purchased a used wooden bunk bed ($160) to clear a room for the nursery. I’m glad the kids get the experience of sharing a room, anyway. I could see someday wanting more space as the kids (and their friends) get bigger, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Since getting pregnant, I’ve fielded a LOT of questions about when we’ll get a minivan. Answer: we’ll get a larger vehicle when we need one. Our family car is a 2003 Ford Taurus Wagon. It fits three car or booster seats in the second row, so in my book, we’re golden. But the wagon isn’t going to last forever, or maybe we’ll need more seats for driving the kids’ friends. We’ll see what becomes a problem first, and the next car will definitely need to have third row seating.
What About College?
I’ve heard more than one family say they’ll limit family size due to the cost of college. I understand how very real of a consideration college costs are for families these days. How much/whether to help with kids’ college is a controversial, personal decision.
Our stance is: we will save and we want to help, but we aren’t promising to pay for all of it, either. There are more and more ways of getting college credit without paying top dollar, and we very much expect our kids to explore these options. By offering substantial help, but not a massive sum, we hope to motivate them to make responsible choices, while offering an advantage as they get their start in the real world.
Another approach some people seem to take is resume-loading. Parents will pay for private tutoring, music lessons, year-round sports, and other extracurriculars, all with the hope of their kids getting significant scholarships. I wish there was a way to do the math on this. If you invested (in a college fund) all the money you spent on those tutors, activities, and experiences for your kids that you hope will lead to a scholarship, who would come out ahead? I’m placing my bets on the average growth of regular contributions. And this doesn’t require nearly as much running around.
The Bottom Line
Bottom line, we’re not making family choices based on money. On the one hand, that’s an incredibly privileged position to be in. On the other hand, there is perspective as well as privilege involved. Kids do cost money—don’t let those toddler mom bloggers fool you. But my guess is they don’t have to cost a quarter million each (barring unusual circumstances). We don’t feel the need to buy a bigger house, a larger car (yet), or the greatest possessions and experiences for our kids. We also don’t need to pay for the most extracurriculars, or float the full cost of college. And this is very freeing, both for our current stress level, and our ability to make family size choices based on other values.
What factors determined your family size? What are some other financial considerations parents face these days?
Congrats! When our son and daughter (twins) were born we did not upgrade things. We drove a honda civic for years. Two car seats, double stroller, etc. all fit. Others would have all kinds of opinions of the things we should do or buy. Most noticeable were the comments we’d received about having more kids. Instant family, you’re done. So when we were expecting our youngest son, there was some surprise and even more unwanted comments. Just like money, family, kids, the number of children is all about what fits your situation best. Good luck!
Thanks! Yes–having twins probably brings lots of assumptions with it–that you need bigger, better everything, or that you’re done having a family. That’s great you were able to do your own thing despite that!
Congratulations!!! You bring up a great point about how parents are expecting their kids to get scholarships, yet they spend so much money on club sports, private coaches, expensive training facilities, yada yada. That is really prevalent in the area I live. I’ll bet that money invested would have gone a lot further to help a kid pay for college, and might also save the kid from injury or burnout as well.
Thanks! I don’t think we live in the most extreme area for this–I imagine places closer to Ivy League schools or just bigger cities where there is a lot of competition are worse. But it still happens. And yes, the kids are at risk for injury and burnout, for sure.
Bravo! Finally an honest voice of reason. Ours are all adult now, but it was biology alone that was the determining factor.where there’s a will, there’s a way, and sounds like you are well on the way to figuring it out.God bless and all the best to your little family.
Thanks! It does seem like for millennia, people just made it work. So while we can easily over-analyze things, in the end we believe things will work out.
Money DID guide our decisions on trying to have kids for a few reasons: we’re essentially on our own here with no family or friends to help regularly, my health doesn’t allow me to parent full time, but PiC’s job is the one with benefits so he can’t be the SAHP either. JuggerBaby thrives on being in daycare ($$$) for the most part and it allows us to have our family and financial freedom but I do wish we had the option of having one of us at home part time.
Our only is going on 3 so we don’t KNOW how expensive it will be going forward but we have a few guiding principles: hand me down will stop at some point and JB will need to then learn the art of buying used or clearance clothes, we don’t desperately need to put JB in all the expensive hobbies and activities, we do need to maintain our sanity and we strongly encourage reading with a library card! That’s good for your brain and free to boot. We’re saving aggressively for college but we also don’t feel like we need to pay for every bit of it ourselves, either. I want JB to have some skin in the game.
Thanks! I can certainly see why family, health concerns, benefits or other job factors could be an important consideration for others. So many of the working moms I know have at least part-time childcare from family and that makes it so much less expensive than full time day care. Not having that would be harder.
Congrats! Though we are only six months into this whole parenthood adventure, it’s clear that if you keep waiting for the right time, you’re likely to wait forever! There are certain parts of child rearing that will always be expensive (in money, opportunity cost, etc.), and there are certain parts that we can all be flexible with. You make great points here about a lot of that! I cannot wait to follow along 🙂
Thanks! I agree, no one ever feels quite ready for parenthood. And some areas of expense are more flexible than others. We’ll try to minimize what we can, while still providing what we feel our kids need.
Families bring a value and a level of happiness to your life that cannot be quantified in dollars. As long as they can be supported, more kids can be a real blessing. My brother has 12 and told me that after the third child, it was really no more difficult (the Oldsters have one and wonder about the sanity of my brother!).
Congrats to you and enjoy the adventure!
Yes, the family size question is not one that can be worked out in a spreadsheet. I agree with you wholeheartedly that, so long as you can afford their needs, kids are a blessing. I can’t imagine having 12! But some people thrive with big families–it certainly is personal.
Oh, this is great news! Congratulations! Let me just tell you about my sister – in connection with your career clock being set back. My sister had three children and worked only very part time (1 or 2 days per week) for most of their growing up years. When her youngest was in grade 8, she started work on her Master’s degree. She went back to work full time at 45 … and she flew up the ladder! She’s had an amazing career these last 15 years (including 2 addresses to the UN), and while she’s in a position to stop work, she doesn’t want to. Life is long, and you’ll have lots of opportunity to develop your career when baby #3 (or #4?) is older. You’ve set yourselves up very well for a growing family, and I’m so glad you’ve decided to go that route : )
Thanks! And thanks for sharing your encouraging story about your sister. That is wonderful. I’m not too worried about the career issue at this point, but want to be realistic about where our choices could lead. I do think that the experience of being a mom has already taught me skills and a confidence that would be very valuable in the work place. I’d definitely be a better teacher now than I was in my early 20s, even after time away from it. I’m not sure that’s what I’ll return to. My mom stayed home with five, then went back to school and has built a small business. So I know it can be done!
Our main considerations in family size has been our sanity! Coming from a family of 7 kids, I always thought I would have a large family too. But after having our fourth child, I the toll of the stress on me and my husband started to weigh heavier. So we’re pretty certain we’re done having kids. Health concerns were also a factor. We haven’t (and don’t plan to) paid for preschool. As a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom, I handle their pre-school education on my own. But our 9 year old has already started going to the orthodontist twice a year to see when will be the best time to start braces. It seems likely that all 4 kids will need braces.
I can absolutely understand that consideration! Sanity is exactly why the space between #2 and #3 is twice as long as the space between the first two. We were just not ready yet.
I definitely see preschool as an optional expense. Our son could have gone for three years because of his birthday, but we opted for just one. We are doing the same with our second, though we are volunteering together at a preschool for refugee and immigrant children.
My parents put 5 kids through braces. I’m sure our orthodontist loved us!
Yes, I remember getting looks from my friends when we announced baby #3, and people calling ours a “large” family. Really??? We wound up with four, and I still would not call that large. But in today’s culture, we are bombarded with messages about what we should be providing for our children, and if you took that all seriously, you’d barely have one.
Just as preschool is nice but not a must if a parent is home (ideal), college is not for everybody. And if your children do want to go, having them shoulder part of the cost is only logical.
Also, as the Good Book says, don’t worry too much about tomorrow–it will have enough worries of its own. I find late in life that what children need most is a sense of security within their family: parents who are not stressed to the max, a stable environment, three squares a day, a caring mother or father who is there when they need them. If they have this throughout their growing years, they will be well fortified to handle what they face as adults.
When you consider returning to work outside the home, beware that middle school and high school students often need nearly as much supervision as toddlers. So many teenagers get into real mischief when no one is home to supervise them, and it can affect their future dramatically.
Bless you and your growing family!
I almost started the post by remarking how 3 is now considered a large family, which seems funny to me coming from a 5-kid family. So true what you say about what kids actually need. I’ve heard that about teens really needing a parent home after school for several reasons. Most likely I’ll either be working in a school, or freelancing, so I hope to be home when they are.
Congrats on the third baby. We don’t know when our third baby will arrive, but we are currently in the process of selling our old vehicle to buy something with cash that’ can fit 3+ car seats and have cargo room (hello Chevy Suburban or Expedition EL) so we don’t scramble when that day finally happens.
Our oldest turns 3 in June so our children are still really cheap. We want to teach our children frugality and life skills. We haven’t set anything aside for college and I don’t know if we will, right now our extra income is going to pay off our mortgage and to try to buy some land or some other real estate that can potentially be passed onto our children to live in or make passive income from.
Thanks! Sounds like you’re preparing for a growing family in your own way. We dream of having more land, but are enjoying benefits of the ‘burbs for now. Having sidewalks where the kids can walk or bike to the neighbors has been really nice.
We have 3 kids (oldest isn’t in kindergarten yet). I’m set on making the 3 across the back seat in the Nissan Altima work as long as possible (6 months and counting). My wife is not on the same page… We’re definitely going to end up with a bigger vehicle at some point in the next few years, since she is the one who has to put them in the car during the day to take them to school and whatnot.
Luckily the oldest two will both be in boosters by the time the baby comes, so that will make it a lot easier, I hope. I could imagine it being a tight squeeze in the Altima, so kudos for making it work thus far!
Yes, child expenses are very cumbersome, I have changed the types of spending for the family, My expenses have become the first, Yet I did not wish one day to live without children, Responsibility and love makes life beautiful.
Hi Kalie! I know this comment isn’t very timely, but we faced many of the same issues when Baby # 4 turned into #4 and #5.
On the house, we only have a three bedroom. The twins currently share a crib in our room. We will need to move eventually, but we want it to be our “forever home.” The longer we can put it off, the better. Our finances are on an upswing and we will have more options the longer we wait. Not to mention, it is not a buyer’s market right now.
On the vehicle – Remember, you can always pick up a short school bus like we did. Just let me know if you have any questions. So far it’s worked out great and been lots of fun.
I love have you’ve thought outside the box, both for sleeping arrangements and transportation! My parents had 5 and they bought a full-size van and had an extra bench seat put in the back so we could drive friends places with us. I think we will just go the mini-van route when our current vehicle gets too old. Hopefully that’s at least a couple years away.