I have been coming across a lot of articles lately titled something like “raising a child on a budget” or something along those lines. So apparently this is a fairly hot topic right now. I do have to say that too many of the articles are written more from the perspective of someone who really means “budget” as in you know how much you can set aside each month for baby stuff. Lets get real. Really real. Lets actually call this article “How to afford a child when your flat a*^ broke”.
Here is my honest opinion: Children are not expensive.
The figures are insane if you look at the cost of raising a child born in 2013. $250-300 THOUSAND DOLLARS. … Really? That doesn’t even include college! According to these figures housing is the most expensive cost, followed by childcare and education, then food, lastly transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous stuff falls at the bottom. These figures are confusing to me. I guess the understanding is that as we have more children we are expected to have bigger houses… ok, i can see that logic, sort of. Childcare and education… childcare is EXPENSIVE, education really shouldn’t be, unless you are paying for private schools or special programs. Food I get, and healthcare i would think would be a larger chunk than that, although my kids qualify for medicaid so ours is free, but im not sure how long that will last since we are making more money now.
So lets take these figures and break them down into my thinking. Really the only kid that should be expensive is the first, they are paving the way. You know what to expect after the first one. Plus hand me downs are fantastic. So lets look at what you need when having a baby. These are my essential items: 1) a co-sleeper bassinet 2) a moby or some sort of baby carrier 3) a carseat 4) at least 7-10 cloth diapers. I prefer the one size covers without a pocket. the Flips are my favorite. I also would have about 15-20 inserts. the really nice sturdy cotton flour sac towels are the best. you get them in the kitchen section and they are like 5 for $5. That’s it. That’s what I have for newborns. No special shampoos or bath seats or random stuff that’s just gonna take up room. My babies shower with me, and only about 2 times a week. I don’t use harsh soaps on them, usually just rub a handmade soap onto a washcloth and rub them down. I don’t even really have a diaper bag. I have a large bag that i sometimes take with me with a change of clothes for the kids, diapers, and snacks but i rarely use it. usually i just throw a clean diaper in my purse with a plastic bag for the dirties. You really dont even need a changing table. babies can be changed anywhere, especially if you have a towel handy.
There is big stuff you will need for later. That’s the crib, the high chair, and some sort of a swing or bouncy chair. something that entertains them so you can put them down and walk away for a little bit. Ask for those for your baby shower (ask for ALL the essentials for your baby shower). The bouncy seat you will probably use pretty quickly but the rest will take you probably at least 6 months so if you dont get it, you have some time.
Here is the most expensive thing i have come across: if your income relies on both of you working. Childcare is expensive. We were lucky enough for me to be able to work part time from home which means we dont need childcare. I highly recommend if you can figure out how to be able to survive on one income, or can have a job that allows you to be flexible with your schedule, that is the best, plus there is nothing quite like staying at home and raising your kids. I still do pay for childcare when i can though. i prefer to have someone watch the kids 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours at a time (when we can afford it). That ends up being about $10-15 a day. That’s not too bad, especially when it allows me to make at least $150 more a week than i would have, and have sanity.
Lets now tackle the big one: housing. We are about to be a family of 5/6 and we are building a 1500 sq foot 3 bedroom home, which will probably end up costing us about $80,000. We expect our kids will spend most of their time outside or in the family room/kitchen with us. They dont each need their own bedroom. I understand that house size and bedrooms are completely a personal preference, but don’t feel like you cant have a child because you only have a 2 bedroom place, you totally can. Housing costs to me is a total non issue.
Food: well, you know my stance on food. But still food cost is a big one. This is also an area where each kid will cost approximately the same. it’s not like other costs where once you jump the hurdle of having the first the rest are far less expensive. it doesn’t work that way. So we cut costs other ways. Mainly by growing our own and making everything from scratch. We have been discussing our food budget since we are off of food stamps and we are looking at about $100 a week. That’s not because we can’t afford more, that’s because we don’t WANT to buy more. That $100 would feed us VERY well. Very Very well. with snacks and 3 meals a day and real hearty nutritious stuff. According to the USDA the average family of 4 should be spending $146-289 on food every week. To me that number is crazy. I could eat a gourmet meal every night on that kind of budget. Once we start growing our own livestock and hunting deer we wont even have to worry about the cost of meat, and possibly even most dairy. Although we will have to pay for the livestock, that cost isn’t $0, but it is smaller than what we would be paying at the store.
So here is my summery: I LOVE my kids. I love my kids more than I knew I could love. I love being a mom (even though some days I just wish i had a good tall glass, make that bottle, of wine to get me through the day). Of all the money issues we have had over the past 2 years not once were my kids one of them. They are probably the least expensive part of my life right now. So when I hear about how to “raise a child on a budget” I have to laugh, because you really don’t need a budget to raise a child. Lets rephrase that again, you don’t need a budget to raise a WELL EDUCATED, DISCIPLINED, INTELLIGENT, LOVING, QUALITY MEMBER OF SOCIETY child. You don’t You just have to WANT to put forth the effort to do it.