The economics of kids – Break the bank

sullyWhy is it that no one tells you how expensive child rearing is? I think the cold hard truth is purposely kept from the public so that we continue to have a kid – even more than one – without really thinking about the financial repercussions.

Wait for it – I am going to burst that bubble as a favor to all expectant, new parents or parents who forgot the first time (like me), how bloody expensive it is to “have” and “raise” children.

Here goes: You are not a young parent. You may have been able to have your child without any medical intervention, but the fact is, a lot of us ‘late maternal agers’ had to turn to fertility treatment and even IVF to conceive. $15,000 a go…  I know it is common for couples to try at least 3 to 4 times or more.  So let’s say before this kid is even on this earth you are already upwards of $15,000 to $60,000 in the hole (of course it is worth it, that’s just the price it costs).

Again before this kid makes an appearance on earth – there are so many things you need to invest in – like the latest and greatest car seats and strollers, bouncy chair, swings and clothes.

I definitely smartened up with the birth of my second.  Be wise about what you spend your money on. Buy baby gear on Kijiji or second hand shops. Kids grow so quickly, and fancy expensive outfits don’t get the wear they’re worth from a baby – even from 2 or 3. Unless there was a major diaper explosion, most of the clothing from the first year looks new even after they’ve worn it. And the fancy stroller – some can push you into the thousands.  Really. I’m going to say that maybe you got lucky with a fruitful baby shower but I promise, you probably will drop a thousand to several.

Now the kid has arrived. You buy a Breast pump – the good ones ain’t cheap. If breastfeeding isn’t working for you, you will have to buy formula.  Formula ranges from $20 on the very low end (sometimes you catch a sale) to well over $40 per can of powder.  Depending on your kid’s appetite, you will need to buy a can every 3 days to a week. So let’s say add another $150 to your monthly grocery bill for formula. If you choose the premix formula, triple that.

Infant-formula

Of course there are diapers and wipes.  Again diapers range but on average you are looking at about $40 for a jumbo pack of diapers. Newborns go through diapers a lot quicker than infants and toddlers, but as they get larger, there are less in a box so it all costs a fortune. Add another $40-$100 a month to your bill. Double that if you’re going organic. If you’re going cloth, the initial investment is a few hundred – but that spike in your hydro bill from the hot water sterilizations keeps the price tags pretty equivalent.

 

diaper babyLet’s do some incidentals now: creams, shampoos, pacifiers, a fancy shmancy video monitor so that you can watch your little precious sleep.  Your baby bill keeps rising.

Once your baby starts solids you’ll need to buy cereals, bibs, spoons, freezable containers, baby food (if you are not making your own – which can also add up).

But then there is my favorite instant road to bankruptcy: daycare.

Whether you choose to employ a nanny which can run you anywhere between $1,500-$2,500 a month or daycare $1,000-$1,800 a month, you may be working for nothing.

I remember the first year I received a tax slip from my son’s daycare it was $22,000.  I kept thinking to myself I could have sent my son to Harvard.

pile-of-money

The good news is, after the first couple years, your monthly spend on your children lessens.  But the cost of diapers and formula are replaced with after-school sports, weekend outings, birthday parties and the latest and greatest toys they absolutely cannot live without.

I am seeing a dim light at the end of the tunnel as my youngest son is about to turn one. For example, rather than paying $30 a can for formula, I can pay $4 for 3 bags of homo milk.  That equates to big savings.

I promise you, the purpose of this post is not to be Negative Nelly, but in turn to empower parents to plan before they have kids.  Put away a cushion. You can easily go bankrupt without properly planning.  I have been there done it. Twice. I am afraid.

Of course, my two little blessings are worth the stress of debt. But as my lesson and advice to you, you will be a happier parent with a little savings tucked away for child rearing.

Budget. Buy second hand. Save as much as you can. (time for me to listen to my own advice…). If you don’t have a mat leave with at least a small monthly cheque – like me – you will have to save even more, because trying to work at full capacity to bring home the bacon, and still have time to raise a wee one is nearly impossible. Raising two? That’s a full time job in itself.

Not only is parenting hard, it’s bloody expensive! But there’s no doubt about it, it’s absolutely a blessing and rewarding, and the only thing I’d change if I did it again would be to save a little more before.

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