Not including college, parents today will spend around $240,000 on their kids between the ages of birth and 17. While that number can vary based on living area and status, it’s no secret that kids are expensive. From healthcare to daycare, and everything after that, kids cost money. And even though there’s no real way to get around the costs of certain things (like regular health checkups) there are ways to cut costs and make sure you’re financially stable, even with kids. Here’s how.
Kids Are Expensive and Making You Broke: What to Do About It
Yes, kids are pricey…but follow these steps and the financial pain might just subside a little… (And who knows? Maybe you’ll decide to have more!! Lol…well, maybe not. 😉 Let’s just make the ones you have a little cheaper.)
1) Prepare Ahead Of Time
I get it, sometimes kids are a surprise. But even still, if you’re having a child naturally (ie. not through adoption or foster care), you have a good 40 weeks, or 9 months, to start preparing. Your child shouldn’t come into this world without you at least having some sort of plan in place.
- Can you get better health insurance?
- Do you or your partner need to pick up extra shifts to put some money in savings?
- Will you have family or friends that you can rely on when the baby comes?
Asking these questions, and getting prepared ahead of time, will help you when the baby is born.
Will it be stressful? Most likely. But kids are expensive and stressful anyways. Might as well get used to that now. Knowing that you’ll have some savings to fall back on if something goes wrong, or that your family will be able to watch the child if you go back to work, can offer peace of mind and mean less money spent upfront.
2) Live Below Your Means (Even If No One Else Is)
Would you like to know a secret? My family of 3 (soon to be 4) has always lived in a one or two-bedroom apartment. Even when we took in my sister and became a family of 4 for the first time, we lived in a two-bedroom place.
Because there was no point in upgrading to a bigger place. Kids have shared rooms for years. My sister and I did it until I was over the age of 14. It used to be normal before Americans started wanting bigger and better.
- Would you also be surprised to know that many people in other countries (even first world countries) find it weird that we live in such large and extravagant homes?
- That we own more than two cars?
- That we eat out ALL the time, instead of cooking at home?
And the fact is, they’re right. We’re weird.
We have this incessant need to prove to “people” that we have our lives together, even if that means we’re drowning in debt.
Add kids to the mix, and parents jump at the chance to have the biggest house, biggest car, best daycare that teaches 6 languages, and all the sports they couldn’t do growing up. But ask yourself, who are you really doing this for? Your kids, or your ego?
Living below your means is one of the smartest things you can do for your kids. Kids are expensive, but only as expensive as we allow. Sure, you can get that four-bedroom home for your 2 kids. Or, you can stay in a two or three-bedroom and have them share a room. Yes, you can absolutely buy a huge Suburban like the many flashy soccer moms out there, or you can make do with a smaller SUV that’s great on gas. The choice is yours.
3) Realize That Kids Don’t Need Much
On the note of keeping up with the Joneses, it’s also important to remember that kids don’t need much.
Do you want to know what I wanted as a kid?
- For my parent’s to take the time out of their day to show me love.
- Go to my games.
- Meet my friends.
Not for them to work all the time just to buy things I didn’t want or force me to do things I didn’t like.
And the same goes for kids around the world. In reality, they don’t need the baby wipe warmer or huge swing set. They don’t need super expensive clothes or the latest gadgets. They need their parents to love and care for them. To give them their time, not just their money. To make them feel safe and secure. They need parents to teach them things their parents never knew, not buy them things their parents never had.
There are some things you can’t skimp on as a parent. Healthcare and education being two. I get it. I want my child to have the best education and healthcare that I can provide to her. But other than that, she really just needs me, her mom, to love her unconditionally and raise her to be a well-adapted and decent human being.
4) Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Even if you stick to a budget, lower your bills, plan ahead, and have great health insurance, sometimes things just happen.
And as much as it sucks, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Food pantries,
- government assistance programs, and
- grants are there for a reason.
It’s to help you get back on your feet and take care of your family.
Don’t struggle because you think it’s the “right thing to do”. Don’t bury yourself into a financial hole you can’t get out of just because of your pride. Kids are expensive, and we know this. And sometimes, you need help with them. And that’s OKAY.
We can’t always control our lives or misfortune. So, cry your tears, make a plan, and ask for help. Because at the end of the day, we’re all in this together. And I can almost guarantee you that your community won’t think lesser of you just because you asked for help, financial or otherwise.
Kids Are Expensive, But They Don’t Have To Be
I can say first hand that I know kids are expensive. Having my daughter cost me $2,500 just for her birth, and I got lucky with that number! But what I’ve come to realize is that it doesn’t have to cost you a quarter of a million dollars just to raise them.
My daughter is healthy, happy, and thriving, and at 5 years old, hasn’t cost me even a quarter of what the numbers show she should. And while everyone’s situation is different, I’ve learned that there are always ways to cut costs and beat out the norm.
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.