When I read this question to myself it made me think of something that happened in the grocery store once. My husband and I were on the hunt for diapers when I said, “Man, I thought these things went down in cost as the child got older!” Another gentleman passing by laughed at me and said “They (children) get more expensive the older they get.” Really?! I didn’t realize that about kids. I really thought the infant stage was the most expensive stage that we would hit. Apparently I was wrong!
THIS IS YOUR WARNING:
All of the things that you’ve heard about how much it cost to raise a child is probably true. I never regretted having either one of our children when we did, but I also didn’t prepare myself for what could lie ahead. For example, I didn’t expect to feed my first child formula. Well, guess what…I did! If you have ever purchased formula, then you know how costly it can be. I found myself buying the store brand just to save money. That stuff is not cheap!
I also didn’t realize that you go through a box of diapers in about a month. Fortunately, we had a shower where we were given just diapers so that helped somewhat. I have friends now that have invested in cloth diapers to save cost in the long-run. It might be worth looking into if you are at home enough to do laundry or have a sitter that will take care of your cloth diapers.
Food is another HUGE expense with kids. One week you’re thinking “Oh, I can handle this, he doesn’t really eat all that much.” Then BOOM! Growth spurt! When a growth spurt hits you might as well be ready to cash in your 401K to purchase more because it seems like they eat twice as much as they ate the week before. I heard that only gets worse as they become teenagers. I have two boys, so I have already told my husband that A.) I’m glad we’re debt free so we can pay for food and B.) we might want to cash out a small amount our stock investments just to contribute to our food envelope. Just kidding…(kinda).
The stage that we’re going through right with an elementary student and a toddler is keeping up with clothes and shoes. My six-year-old is needing a new wardrobe every year and goes through several pair of shoes. So, the gentleman in the grocery store was right…children do get more expensive as they get older.
What do the statistics show?
I checked out one of my favorite baby sites, www.babycenter.com, to see how much it would cost to raise a child from birth to age 18. On their site they have a “Cost of Raising a Child Calculator” and here is what I put in for an average family just to see what the cost would be. I clicked on the area where I live (southeastern part of the United States) then I stated that I was not a single parent. I chose the average household income to be in the range $57K – $100K and then said that my “child” is 0-2 years old. The last question asks about college and I chose public college. When I hit calculate it shows that the total cost of raising a child from age 0-18 would cost somewhere around the area of $290,990. WOW! Housing was the highest line item while Clothing was the lowest. That is almost 1/3 of a million dollars, and that’s only for one child!
Should We Wait To Have Children Until We Can Afford Them?
I have heard this question being debated for years. I have also heard people say that if you wait until you can afford to have a child, then you’ll never have a child. Have you heard that one? This question is really hard for me to tell people the exact answer. I think every couple is different and every situation is different.
For me, I knew when I had those baby blues and I knew that I wanted a baby right then. I don’t always see the big picture and plan ahead. I just knew that I wanted a baby around a certain time in our life. Should we have waited? Probably. We were not in the best financial state by any means. I actually spent most of my maternity leave on bed rest until the baby arrived. This is also something that we didn’t plan for. So, when the baby did get here I had to go back to work when he was only 4 weeks old. I would never recommend anyone doing that! In our situation, there was no other way around it.
There are times that I wish we would’ve thought ahead and planned accordingly. I do feel like I have missed out on a lot of fun times with my first born because I have always had to work. But if we had been living on a tight budget like we do now then I could’ve made it work to where I could have stayed home more with him and wouldn’t have the regret that I do today. So, you need to answer this question for yourself. Sit down with your spouse and honestly look at your finances to see if it is a feasible time in your life to have a child. If it’s not, then just plan ahead. Just say, “Okay…we are going to work really hard saving money this year so that we will have enough money to have a child within this amount of time.”
So, what are your thoughts on when you should and shouldn’t have a child?