I often hear the phrase said, “Babies are so expensive” and I have to wonder… are they? Well, yes and no. This post is going to explore 3 reasons kids are expensive and 3 reasons they aren’t.
A black cotton dress, tights, and black sequined flats.
That’s what I was wearing the day I had the thought…”Am I pregnant?“
Previously, you see, it hadn’t occurred to us we could get pregnant without actually “trying.” We’d only been married 9 months and were planning on moving continents.
We had no money.
No paying jobs (we were volunteers).
And no clue how to raise a baby.
So, naturally, we were pregnant. We cried for 3 straight days. We wondered how we’d afford to live in Australia if my husband was in school and I was pregnant, then with a baby.
I was going to work full time!
We had a plan!
Well… that plan got on a ship that sailed then sunk. And so we just got on with it. I had my daughter in a delivery room in Northern Scotland with a big rainbow outside. Then, the minute I held her, I knew being a mother would be my favorite role in life.
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After now having had 5 kids in the last 5 and a half years, I have figured out a thing or two about birthing babies. And about how the best laid plans don’t always pan out.
But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that while you can’t control every single factor about life, you can learn and grow in knowledge and understanding and that, my fellow mamas, is what keeps you prepared.
“But babies are so expensive…”
This is what I was told time and time again. The truth is, babies can be very inexpensive. Teenagers? We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but babies? Yeah… they don’t need much.
3 Reasons Kids Aren’t Expensive
We all come from different situations with different knowledge and habits about money, but I think there are some elements we can all agree on.
They Do (And Like) Free Things
You buy a baby an expensive toy and they want to play with the box. You fill a room with child friendly items and they want to chew on your keys. You kit out the backyard with a swing set you had to finance and they’d rather eat dirt.
It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong, but that kids like free things. They don’t understand the value of money and, often times, they are content with the most “boring” items. At least according to adults.
On top of that, until the age of 3 they fly free, eat free, and get into most events free. This is literally the cheapest it’ll ever be.
They Don’t Care About Clothes
Well, you may be thinking, mine do! And yes, my daughter likes pretty shiny things as well. She does not, however, understand about brands or which clothes are expensive or which are from the thrift store.
They don’t care about hand me downs and they can’t tell if their white shirt has been washed one too many times with darks. They can’t read so they don’t care what the shirt says and, ultimately, they’ll run around naked if you let them.
Whereas adults may spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on their children’s clothes, it isn’t because they have to. It’s because they want to.
You Can Be Frugal With Kids Without Sacrificing Quality of Life
When your children are little, it’s so easy to have a great time with them. They truly don’t need expensive things, pricey lessons, or pro gear. How do I know:
Because I have 5 kids and these are a few of their favorite things:
- the water hose
- .99 toy cars
- dancing together
Sure they get older and you may want to sign them up for more pricey activities, but for a good long while, they don’t require much of anything.
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3 Reasons Kids Are Expensive
All that said, there are some things that add to the budget when we have kids. Even if we are frugal, knowledgeable, and money savvy. They are little people, after all. They don’t work, but they still eat.
You’ve Got To Be Prepared
As soon as we had kids I realized we needed a will. So we needed a lawyer. That, of course, meant we needed life insurance to provide for our kids in the event something went wrong.
Of course we care about their health as well so we also need health insurance now. We need an emergency fund
in case for when emergencies happen. We need to dot all our i’s and cross all our t’s because now we are responsible for others.
Depending your family’s situation, assets, and health needs, this can really add up quickly.
You’ve Got To Be a Grown Up
When I was young I traveled Europe, lived in a closet (more or less) in Rome, and did what I want. I spent my money on fun things and did not have to think of anyone but myself.
Then, when I became a mother, that all changed. I could no longer flit off on a weekend trip with no second thought. I also couldn’t live in a dive or a closet.
As parents our priorities change and this directly crosses over into our budget. We need a safe home, a dependable car, good insurance, and we actually need to provide better food than junk. In short, we’ve gotta grow up.
For some of us, this is the hardest part about motherhood!
You Want More Out of Life Because Of Them
When I became a mother it was clear to me… I wanted SO MUCH for my kids. I wanted them to have a hygge home, to get to travel, to have opportunities we all want for our kids.
We realize we want them in good schools, to have a chance at a better education, and we want them to make use of their talents and gifts. It looks different for every family, but these things aren’t always free.
And that’s okay. The goal isn’t to spend no money on our kids, the goal is to choose well what we spend our money on.
You are spot on! I’ve never understood the hoopla of babies being expensive. Now teenagers on the other hand…having four of those, I recommend people sock away all that money spend on baby extras for later when it will really be necessary.
One thing I wasted a ton of money on with our first child – experiences. She barely remembers the things we did/went to before she was 5. Children’s symphonies, expensive Christmas tree and pumpkin farms, the state fair, etc. Most of these over the top activities actually had the opposite effect we wanted. We were all stressed out, tired and over-stimulated. Going to grandmas, or a park or simply watching clouds in the backyard would have been far healthier (and cheaper).
BTW Your photos are gorgeous!
Rachel Norman says
Cheri, THANK YOU, girl. I’ve often struggled with wanting to do things when the kids were really small and some things, fine, but some things were REALLY expensive related to our budget and we knew it wasn’t worth it in the moment. Glad you said it so succinctly.
Lucas Schaeffer says
This article doesn’t really address the question it posits in any meaningful way, looking at the hard line costs of having kids. There’s no mention of electronic devices, entertainment, sports activities & equipment, nothing. How are you going to send them to all those great schools, or buy them the best food, travel widely, have the best experiences, and pay down asphyxiating debts, mortgages with 2 kids, much less 5? For some reason all the sacrifices are never mentioned. What of the parents’ dreams, goals, careers, etc.? There’s also this widespread disseminated that somehow being free to travel, have experiences, follow ones whims and passions is somehow immature—that you have to “grow up”, & being grown up means putting that aside. Maybe that’s why the rate of divorce is so high in Western countries: the UK, US, Australia, etc, rats hover around 50%; that means a lot of broken & reconstituted families. What the author should address is that being a parent isn’t for everyone, that plummeting birth rated on an overcrowded planet ravaged by pandemics & climate change may not be such a bad thing. People after all, are living longer than ever. Maybe think long and hard if this is right for you… & BTW, a stickler note—I always find it hysterical when parents seem surprised they got pregnant without trying; if you aren’t in birth control or using contraceptives, then of course you have a high likelihood of getting pregnant. Imagine if your teens were sexually active and suddenly got pregnant and said, “Well Mom, we weren’t really trying…” Talk about a misnomer!
It seems you are confusing needs with wants. “electronic devices, entertainment, sports activities & equipment” are all things that are nice to have, but aren’t really part of the cost of raising kids. I have five kids in total. Only two of them are into sports at all and as for entertainment, we all watch the same tv.
If you don’t want kids, don’t have them. All she’s saying is that you shouldn’t blame costs, because the actual minimal costs of having young children is not high at all.
Having a child is like buying a painting or a vintage car- it has value because you believe it does. I wouldn’t spend a single penny on an NFT of a monkey or on a banksy, while others would fork over a fortune and that’s fine. We have a right to choose and if you prefer to travel and experience places and people, then you do you