How much do twins cost compared to singletons? Don’t forget these overlooked and surprising costs of raising twins to better prepare.
“So, this is what it’s like to feed three growing boys!” I told my husband, shuffling through the fridge wondering what to feed the kids.
I had always known that the costs of raising twins would be higher than one child. But it’s easy to forget until you realize you’re making huge batches of baby food that cover a mere two days and ordering boxes of diapers every month.
I figured raising twins would include double of most standard purchases, but I was still surprised at some of the costs I didn’t expect.
Surprising costs of raising twins
Maybe you’ve reviewed your yearly budget and are shocked at how much you’ve spent in the last year of having twins. You thought you’d stop spending in one area (“Yay, no more formula!”) only to find yourself spending on other expenses (“How many snacks can two toddlers eat?!”).
Perhaps you’re a soon-to-be twin mom, wondering how much your finances will change as you prepare for their arrival. Or you’ve found ways to keep expenses minimal, applying frugal practices even more.
From my personal experience and surveying other twin moms, I realized that there were a few surprising costs to raising twins. I share them with you below, so that you can better prepare or balance your budget now that you’re a mom of twins:
1. Twin-specific gear
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Even though I had saved many of my older son’s gear, two babies at the same time sometimes need twin-specific gear.
Take, for instance, the stroller. We already had two strollers, but neither worked for pushing two babies at the same time. Despite already having two strollers, we needed to get a double one for the twins.
Or the nursing pillow. A standard one won’t cut it for tandem feeding two babies, so I bought a twin-sized nursing pillow instead. (The My Brest Friend twin nursing pillow was my best friend. I swear by that thing!)
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2. Buying a larger vehicle (or house)
When I was pregnant but didn’t know I was having twins yet, my husband and I were already planning on replacing his aging car with a similarly-sized one. We already had a three-year-old, so adding one more car seat wouldn’t be a problem for that future sedan.
He kept postponing that purchase, and thank goodness he did. Because when we finally did learn that we were having twins, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to fit all three car seats in the back seat. Instead of a sedan, we ended up buying a larger van to accommodate all three car seats.
Depending on the car you have, you may need to get a new one to fit the twins. In my case, our eldest son plus two babies meant we couldn’t rely on sedan-sized cars to fit the five of us.
A new vehicle might mean a new (or higher) monthly payment and more expensive insurance. What you can save on with a new vehicle are maintenance expenses, which tend to be lower with newer cars than driving an older one.
Besides a car, you may need to consider getting a bigger home to accommodate the twins. Whether an upgrade from a one-bedroom to a two, or buying a new home in a good school district, your home could be a large expense that comes with twins.
3. Extended bed rest and maternity leave
The costs of raising twins come not just in what we spend but in what we lose.
Take your income. Working until the babies are born may not be the most comfortable or possible arrangement with twins. At 32 weeks pregnant, you’ll be as big as if you were carrying a singleton at 40 weeks.
And sometimes, you may not even have a choice. Your doctor could place you on early bed rest, or you might have complications that take you out of work earlier than with a singleton. Perhaps you have an extended maternity leave because of a C-section or health issues.
With my singleton, I gave birth to him the next day I stopped working. But with the twins and the complications I had, I needed to go on bed rest at 31 weeks (and not work completely at 32).
To prepare, save several weeks’ or even months’ worth of expenses to cover reduced income. You can also reserve vacation days to pad your income during extended leave.
4. Doctor’s appointments and hospital bills
With potential complications—and a twin pregnancy being high-risk—your doctor will likely watch you closely. Even with insurance, you might still need to fork over co-payments and parking fees for the office visits.
And here’s the thing about twins that’s so easy to overlook: there are two of them. Silly, I know. But after the twins were born, I realized only later that I’d get billed for two patients. Never mind that their procedures were nearly identical and done on the same days.
Besides regular hospital stays, consider potential NICU stays and their bills. With more than half of twins born earlier than full-term, a NICU stay is common for twins and preemies.
My tip? Start saving now. As I say in my book, Expecting Twins:
“Find out how much your insurance plan covers your hospital stay. You won’t be able to predict the exact amount, but get a range of what to expect. You can begin saving now or at least setting aside the amount you need to pay it off.”
5. Food and formula
If you happen to formula-feed—whether completely or as a supplement—you’re bound to add more expenses keeping those tins stocked. After a complication with thrush, I wasn’t able to produce enough milk for both twins and had to supplement with formula.
Whether baby food and solids or table food and snacks, food expenses add up with twins. Grocery bills and even restaurant outings will usually be an extra cost for twins compared to singletons.
I expect that my twins will only eat even more as they grow into voracious tweens and teens and the inevitable growth spurts. The upside? Once they’re a year old, the extra cost of milk and solids will more than make up for the cost of formula.
There’s no other way around it: twins usually mean more diapers, regardless of size.
One way to combat the cost is to use cloth diapers. The most cost-effective is using cloth diapers completely on your own—in other words, washing soiled diapers. But many cloth diapers also have subscription services that can cut down on the financial burdens.
One of the perks of having all boys is the ease of hand-me-down clothing. Nearly everything my eldest wears gets passed down to the twins, starting with his newborn clothes.
Even then, plan on purchasing a handful more clothes, considering that there are two of them and only one set of hand-me-downs. Plus, some of the hand-me-downs may not be seasonally appropriate for the twins. Your eldest could’ve been three-years-old in the summer, while your twins need winter gear come that age.
Even without an older sibling, clothes for twins can add up. Consider “special” clothes that can take a huge chunk of the budget. For instance, rain boots, rain coats, and umbrellas for each will be needed for wet weather.
8. Childcare and school
By far the biggest expense for many families is childcare and schooling. Not all families can nor want to keep one parent home with the twins, adding a considerable expense to the budget.
From nannies to daycare to preschool, twin parents have larger expenses than others with a singleton. We managed to afford a wonderful nanny and preschool, but we’ve had to tighten our budget and find creative ways to afford these expenses.
How to offset the expenses? Consider hiring a nanny or au pair with a rate lower than the cost of sending two babies to daycare. Recruit family like grandparents, even if for a day or two. See if the preschool offers sibling discounts, and adjust your work schedule so you don’t have to enroll them in after school care.
9. Extra-curricular activities and camps
Once your twins get older, you might consider enrolling them in extra-curricular activities. Even preschools offer after-school programs like gymnastics and dance. Elementary schools offer even more, from robotics to chess.
And when school isn’t in session, many parents of twins face double the costs of summer camp. Even with sibling discounts, these expenses can take a huge chunk of your budget. If you plan to enroll your twins in summer camps, start saving at the beginning of the school year to offset a large bill come spring.
10. College savings
While not a necessity, college savings is an option many parents use to help their kids come college-selection time. I squirrel away a few dollars for our kids’ college savings. But with double the kids (plus our eldest), I’m not able to save as much as if I only had another singleton.
One way to pad your twins’ college savings is to think consistency over quantity. Putting away $50 every month from the start will usually yield more than saving a larger amount much later.
Even if you were expecting more expenses from having one baby, the shock of hearing you’re having twins can feel stressful. “How will we afford this?!” was often a thought that would pop in my mind as I prepared for my twins.
Thankfully, we somehow figured out a way. And a lot of that has to do with knowing what to expect with twins so we could better prepare.
A few expenses to consider include twin-specific gear, or even double the gear you normally wouldn’t get with a singleton. A bigger car or house is sometimes necessary, especially if current circumstances can’t fit the new additions.
Twin pregnancies and births can mean extended bed rest and early maternity leave, as well as double the hospital and medical bills. Staples like food, formula, and diapers can add up with two babies to feed, as well as clothes to outfit both of them.
Childcare for many families is often the biggest expense for twins—in my case, our nanny cost more than taxes! Preschool, though less expensive than nannies or daycare, still remains an immense financial cost for two.
Then, once your twins are older, extra-curricular activities and summer camps can add to the budget, as can saving for their college fees.
Financial costs are often a huge source of stress for twin parents. But thankfully, as we always do, we find a way to make it work—even if it means cooking batches of baby food that barely cover a mere two days.
Get more tips:
- Tandem Breastfeeding: How to Breastfeed Twins
- When You Don’t Have a “Village”: How to Take Care of Twins Alone
- Your Most Frequently Asked Questions about Twins
- How to Handle Twins after a Singleton
- How to Encourage Individuality in Twins
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