Cost of Kids

by James & Miel on January 28, 2009 · 0 comments

In honor of my twin sister giving birth to her second child on Sunday, I wanted to do a quick post about the cost of kids.

While we wouldn’t trade our fabulous Miss Makenna Rose for all the money in the world, the cost of having kids is certainly something to consider when planning a family.

Average Cost of Kids
On average, an American family spends from $143,790 to $289,380 (depending on income) to raise one child to the age of 18 – or as much as $44 per day; this is according to the USDA’s report “Expenditures on Children by Families, 2006”. That’s quite a chunk of change overall. I’d say that in the Washington area that figure is likely well above average – on average.

Homebirths are Cheaper.While my sister and her husband choose to have a home water birth for personal reasons, this decision also saved them a bundle. They don’t have the final bill for the birth yet, but according to the estimates they will only spend a few hundred dollars rather than a few thousand. This certainly isn’t an option that everyone would take, and certainly not for financial reasons alone, but if you are considering a home birth you might also think about the cost savings as an added bonus.

Save Clothing & Buy Used
Kids grow out of clothes quickly and sometimes barely get to wear some items more than a few times. Hand-me-downs are certainly the way to go in my book. While their first is a boy and their second is a girl, some clothes are uni-sex. My mother also went to the by the pound goodwill and picked up a bag of girlie clothes as well. Just look for stains and the like and you are good to go. Implementing a frugal lifestyle, especially with costs related to children, is always a great way to build wealth when you otherwise would be losing it.

Library & Used Books
If it isn’t otherwise the case, your local library will be a friend for instilling reading early on and saving on books. In Oregon they issue a library card at birth to promote the use of their system. My sister has gone regularly with her son, who is now three, and they always have a stack of library books by his bed. Another tip is to reserve the seasonal books in advance so that they can have holiday books and so forth at the appropriate time. My sister is also a huge fan of buying kids books at goodwill. In DC we don’t really have this option but we’ve found a great selection every time I’ve gone to look in Oregon. Kids libraries can add up to be very expensive otherwise!

Baby Gadgets
Aside from car seats and cribs, most baby gadgets can be used again – yes, you can wash of the applesauce and make it like new. This time around she only bought a couple of items to prepare for the birth. She also asked around from friends and managed to get a couple of items that people where just waiting to pass on – such at the beloved johnny jump-up. Overall just remember that there are many things that you can go without as well. We survived without all those gadgets and your kids will too.

Save for Maternity Leave
In the US women have the luxury of taking three months of unpaid leave (I won’t even rant about how wrong this is). My sister therefore saved $5k to help cover expenses while she is taking maternity leave. She also took time to calculate how to keep expenses lower around child care. For instance, she has worked out a leave schedule where she comes back to work gradually over time and utilizes her husband’s paternity leave to fill in some of the gaps. This means that she will be able to keep both children at half time daycare for a bit longer and save money on that end as well. As an added bonus my sister just secured her job on a permanent basis and got a retro-active raise.

Plan in Advance
Overall it takes planning and saving to prepare for this kind an expense, not to mention everything else it takes to be a good parent. My sister is a fabulous mother, so I have no doubt that she’ll be able to find cost savings where she can.

Cheers,

Miel

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