Becoming parents this summer has been the biggest change in our lives. So far it’s been a blast with our daughter. She’s such a happy and laid back baby.
We did our best to prepare for the big event including emotionally and financially. I’ve heard from people (friends and online blogging buddies) that raising a kid can be expensive. I decided to look at the numbers and examine how our baby girl is affecting our finances.
Can You Afford Having Kids?
Where do people get that idea that kids are expensive? One source often cited is the USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child Calculator. Based on how many kids you have and how old they are, you can get national and regional averages for the costs associated with children.
I tried it out to see what it said and compare it to our expenses. Here’s how it breaks down for a child under 1 year of age:
- Housing ($4,375)
- Food ($1,675)
- Transportation ($1,863)
- Clothing ($913)
- Health Care ($963)
- Childcare ($3,238)
- Other Expenses ($950)
The grand total is $13,975 for the Southeast. The national average for a child under the age of 1 is $14,938.
Looking at the Costs
If you look at the numbers though, many of the expenses are sunk costs.
We bought our townhouse before we had our daughter. We have no intention of upgrading our housing JUST for her. We converted our guest room into her nursery. It’s the smallest bedroom area, but it’s definitely big enough for her right now.
We don’t plan on moving in the immediate future. We’re working to pay off our mortgage faster by sending in extra payments. Since the baby expenses haven’t hurt our budget we’re planning on keeping the extra payment amounts the same. However, should we need more wiggle room in our budget, we’ll redirect those payments.
I think the increasing in housing is due to utility bills increasing. Right now, we’ve see our electric bill go up, not because of the baby though. With the heatwave we’ve had the air conditioning on. With the cool down (relatively), we’ve been using the windows and fans.
We choose to breastfeed, not for the financial benefits (it’s free!), but for the health ones. So far it’s going well. Groceries have gone up as I’m eating more to accommodate my new role feeding my child. The plus side is that we’re eating out less often and cooking more meals at home.
Should something change and we have to switch to formula, it will raise the costs, but I still don’t see how it would add up to almost $1,700. Sites like Baby Cheapskate often posts deals on formula, so parents who are formula feeding can get some savings.
While the baby hasn’t affected our transportation bills yet, she will have an effect on what car we purchase next year. Right now my husband drives a coupe and I drive small sedan. We were planning on buying a car, but we’re looking at roomier cars with the baby on board now.
Our plan is to buy the car with cash, either a family sedan or a small crossover. I’ll track our progress with our next car purchase.
I think having a baby will affect this area of our budget the most. Who knew babies needed so many well visits? Fortunately we have well visits covered 100%. We have a $2,500 deductible, but when we had to pay that for her delivery, we had most of that reimbursed by my husband’s job.
What eats a big part of my husband’s paycheck now is the health insurance premiums. Before the baby, our plan was costing us $101.06 even paycheck. Now the family premiums are $193.33 each paycheck. If we decide to have more children, the premium doesn’t increase.
I’m really surprised with this one. I realized that we’re fortunate to have our friends grab some of the baby’s outfits for us at our shower.
For us, we have bought a few items new, but I’m a big fan of the kids consignment shop near us. Babies grow so quickly, I wouldn’t want to spend a huge amount of money on my daughter’s clothes.
Thoughts on Having Kids
I know we’re just beginning this journey, so numbers will change as time progresses, but I want to share what we’ve learned so far. I hope having an open discussion about the finances of being parents can help us to pick up tips from one another.
I do think parents should be prepared and save money for expected and unexpected expenses. I agree with Glen’s post that many well meaning parents that sometimes they go overboard with their kids.
It’s a balancing act and we have keep an eye on our own spending. I’d love to hear your tips and stories.