A few months ago, my husband and I increased our weekly grocery budget from $120 to $160 to accommodate our growing toddler’s appetite. We also moved to a two-bedroom unit, bringing our rent up $200 more a month. And of course we bought the little things that seem minor but surely accumulate: bath books and toys, garden supplies to grow carrots on our patio, and a child-sized table and chairs we recently purchased at the furniture store.
They don’t kid you when they say kids are expensive. Or are they?
I’ve read a few articles citing that raising one child from birth to 18 years old can cost upward of $143,790—and that’s on the low end. The more income parents make, the likelier they’ll spend on their children, and those who live in cities with higher cost of living tend to spend more as well. And I’m not one to argue. Just the year I was pregnant cost us thousands of dollars alone. Yikes.
My husband and I spend more now that we have a child than when we didn’t. In addition to the costs I mentioned earlier, we also spent on big-ticket items like strollers and car seats. Continuous expenditures like diapers and food have also eaten at our wallets, as have child-centered entertainment like going to the science center or the children’s museum.
Child care is another new expense, and if we decide to enroll our toddler in a preschool or private school in the future, that number isn’t going down. We also opened a 529 college fund, and by far college savings is the biggest child-related expense in our budget.
But just as costs continue to rise, we’ve also managed to control or even remove previous expenses because we have a kid. The last movie my husband and I saw in the theaters was Harry Potter. Other non-kid-friendly entertainment—watching plays, going out to bars, attending sports events—are special treats, not a frequent occurrence. We tend to stay home or hang out in local spots nowadays. And because we have a third member in our family, we’re stricter with how we spend our money and time.
We also save money by going to free events or venues. We’ll happily go to an outdoor shopping center because they have an awesome children’s area—free. Or we’ll go to the library or the park. Thankfully toddlers aren’t too high-maintenance with to entertainment. My little guy loves walking around the block and being outdoors.
We’ve also kept some expenditures low by buying them occasionally. Most of our books, movies and CDs are borrowed free from the library, and clothes and toys for our toddler are purchased once in a while.
So while my husband and I have breathing room in our budget for our toddler, there’s no denying that our son has increased our expenses, from obvious costs like diaper cream to more subtle ones like a date night alone for my husband and me. We compensate by doing our best to minimize costs and increase savings as much as possible.
Discuss more topics about money and kids:
- Raising Children on a Tight Budget
- 10 Frugal Tips for Moms that Actually Save You Money
- Smart Money: 43 Things Your Kids Have Outgrown that You Can Sell for Cash
- How to Slash Your Grocery Bill by 37% (While Still Eating Good Food)
- Teach Money Skills to Your Kids Even from an Early Age
Tell me in the comments: How much do kids cost in YOUR family? Are kids as expensive as they’re made out to be? What are your biggest expenses after having kids? Have you been able to minimize some expenses because of having kids? Have finances determined whether you decided to expand your family?
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