My kid is worth the cost

August 10, 2010 · 11 comments

Today’s guest post comes from a personal friend. Janell. Here’s a little blurb I asked her to write about herself…

My name is Janell. I met Ninja through my husband, who is in the same line of work as him. I am a married, twenty-six year old mother of one. I work part time from home, where I also spend my days with my little girl. I was a writing major in college, but don’t have a job where I can exercise my passion, so I recently created a blog to serve as my creative outlet. Feel free to join me as I write about everyday adventures, family, children, and crafts at emptyinkwell.com.

I’m a new mom; my daughter is seven months old. Too often, I hear from acquaintances—even random people—that they’d love to have kids, but aren’t ready for the financial responsibility. The look on their faces as they say this suggests something along the lines of: you look way too young to be a mom… are you sure you know what you’ve gotten yourself into? And to that, I have a few comments:

One. Something my mother taught me a long time ago is this: you will never be “financially ready” for any life-changing event.

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to set some financial/personal goals before making a life-changing decision—I think it’s even wise to do so—but you can’t be one hundred percent prepared for something you don’t yet know about, like getting married or having children—they aren’t things you can save up to buy or set a budget for before experiencing them firsthand. Having children is full of the unknown… you learn, adjust and make-do with what you have, one day at a time.

Two. Kids don’t cost as much as you think (or I thought) they would—at least not right away.

For starters, having a baby shower will pay for the kid’s first six months of life—seriously. Kind of like how a wedding shower will practically fill your kitchen cabinets, bathrooms and linen closets, a baby shower will clothe, clean, and diaper your kid for quite a while before you end up spending any noticeable amount of money.

My husband and I didn’t buy a pack of diapers until our daughter was two and a half months old. We were given enough clothes to fully stock her wardrobe for the first six months of her life. (Of course, we bought a few outfits here and there just because we couldn’t resist how adorable they were.) We never needed to buy bottles, towels or washcloths. We have yet to buy baby bath or baby lotion. And all of the big-ticket items (crib, stroller, etc.) were also given to us as gifts.

Like I said, I am a new mom. I’m sure a lot of you parents out there are thinking… just wait ‘til your daughter gets older. And I totally agree… kids get more expensive as they get older. First they start eating real food (not free mommy milk or 90 cent jars of baby food). Then they’re in school—they need school supplies and lunch money and fieldtrip fees. They go to birthday parties and to the movies with friends. Then they’re driving and need gas money and insurance. College tuition, books. I get it. But as a child’s expenses increase, I’m guessing that so does the family income. My husband and I certainly don’t plan to be making the same income when our daughter turns ten, or twenty, as we do now.

Three. My kid is worth the cost… no matter what.

Having said all that, I’m not encouraging anyone to pop out a kid (and definitely not more than one) if you truly are in a bad financial spot (i.e. you live on the streets, don’t make enough to pay for the bills you currently have, only weigh 100 pounds because you can’t afford to eat, etc.). But assuming you have a relatively “normal” (whatever that means) lifestyle and a decent handle on your finances (and if you read PDITF, I’m assuming you probably do), you’re in as good of a spot as the next for a kiddo.

If you have young children, do you ever get the “are you ready for that” comments or innuendos? If you have older children, any financial advice you can offer to help us newer parents plan for when our younger kids get older and more expensive?

1 Brian

I have 3 children. As they get older they get let’s say different. Their wants and needs do sometime become more expensive. My older son and daughter are at the age where they are asking for things like cell phones, lap tops, etc for birthdays and Christmas. One trick we used and still do today is we had a circle of friends with children close in age to ours and we’d share clothes. Kids at a young age grow fast and often only wear things a few times. So we’d pass it to along to a friend with a child younger then ours, and we’d have someone pass us clothes with a child a little older then ours. I often see kids on my street running around with clothes my son was wearing a few month ago.

2 Debbie

My girls are 6 and 8 and the best advise I can give is to not have any debt (excluding mortgage and maybe a car loan) when you decide to start having kids and to not create any debt afterwards. Sounds obvious but…..

Also don’t give in to all their wants. I don’t buy things for them out of guilt or because they are whining and I can’t take it anymore. If I feel guilty about lack of time I carve out time to do something with them instead. More memories and less stuff is accumulated.

Little ones don’t ‘need’ as many toys as you think for development, etc. All the fancy toys in the world can’t replace a cupboard full of plastic containers, pots and pans or a large cardboard box. You hear it all the time but it’s really true. Honest.

3 Janell

Debbie, I love your “more memories and less stuff” comment! That is how my parents raised me, and my four brothers and two sisters. The seven of us were far from spoiled, but always felt we had everything we needed. And most importantly, we learned that the value of relationships is far superior to that of material things.

My mom also had a “toy drawer” in our kitchen… full of Tupperware lids, cups, and smidgets, and other random plastic dishes. And you are right… we LOVED them!

4 Sandy L

Ditto on what debbie said. It’s often the $5 christmas present that’s the most popular. There’s nothing cooler than a big cardboard box to build a fort out of. The kids were in heaven when we remodeled our kitchen because they built a big fort maze.

I’m digging learning about other pdif readers. Fun fun.

5 Makky's Mom

Advice from another Mom:

Resist the urge to buy name brand – high end – designer stuff for your baby/child. The child doesn’t give a hoot what name brand she’s using, and the lower priced brands are really quite durable in spite of their non-designer name.

Breastfeed rather than buying/using formula.

For the first Christmas and birthday, go easy on the gifts. They will be showered with gifts from loving extended family and friends – they won’t even notice if you got them anything – they aren’t counting gifts at the age of 1 or 2… heck, they don’t even know they should be expecting gifts! I remember when my oldest had his first Christmas at the age of 10 months – I picked out a few of his favourite little toys from the toy basket and wrapped them up and put them under the tree. He was squealing with delight when he unwrapped his favourite teething toy – he didn’t know gifts where supposed to be new things! And we saved ourselves a good hundred dollars or more!

Overall, I’d say our kids do cost us more than I ever expected they would… probably about $500 per month per child (4 of them!) on average. Sounds like a lot? It is. And we aren’t extravagant spenders… it’s just what it is – food, clothing, shelter, driving costs, entertainment, physical activity costs, future educational costs, medical costs, the cost of having friends (gifts, extra food when they visit, etc…), the cost of things they break, lose, give away without permission… the costs go on and on. But don’t get me wrong – they are very much worth it! I wouldn’t give up the hugs and the “love you’s” for any amount of extra money.

Like the original blogger wrote – you can’t be expected to be fully prepared for that which you haven’t yet experienced – but just know that it does cost something and that money should be factored into some version of a budget.

6 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

I don’t have kids, but we get the opposite comments. “You’ve been married for more than 5 years? When is the baby coming?” It’s just as annoying I’d guess…

I think you are completely right about your points though. Kids really don’t have to cost a complete fortune and you are never going to be prepared enough…some things just have to happen before you can handle it. Good luck and sorry for the rude comments you have to hear!

7 Sandy L

That totally used to annoy me. My husband and I were together 7 years before we had our first. I was in my 30’s and he was almost 40. The second we got married (after 5 years) people were asking about kids and trying to convince us we needed to start right away.
Kids are great, why are you waiting, blah, blah, blah.

I know now that there are things like fertility issues that you have to be mindful of, but it was still irritating.

8 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

If fertility issues were the reason we don’t have kids, I would start crying if anybody asked. Take that guilt trip suckers!

Since we are just choosing not to have kids (yet), it’s just annoying…

Why does everybody think that these questions should even be asked? I understand being asked sincerely why we don’t have kids (and don’t mind talking about it at all). BUT, most of the time, it’s not sincere, it’s just a way to be mean…

9 Rogue Marvel

My husband and I tell people we aren’t quite ready because as of right now, my husband is in graduate school and going to graduate with a ton of loans. Tho we are really excited to have kids, and we know if something where to happen right now we would make it work. We already decided we probably won’t wait as long as my folks (5 years). Hoping to get a lot of his debt down and have a baby in the next two years.

My mom told me while she is happy she waited so she could enjoy her marriage before children came around, but she believes its a trade of. The longer you wait the older you are and the less energy you will have as your kids get older. Yeah you may not have as much money if you have your kids younger but you can enjoy them a little more since you can really run around with them.

10 kates

Errrm…

“For starters, having a baby shower will pay for the kid’s first six months of life—seriously. …a baby shower will clothe, clean, and diaper your kid for quite a while before you end up spending any noticeable amount of money.”

I think this is likely true nowadays, if you have generous friends/family of middle/upper SES.

Just sayin, sounds like you were lucky! :)

11 Jessie

Great post!!

My family (grandma, mom, and aunts) all say the same thing. Baby’s don’t cost nearly as much as people think they will (especially early on) and you’re never going to be really ‘ready’ so just do what’s right for you and your family.

I don’t think that I’ll get the comments you did around age and what not (I’m 26 and my Jordan is 27) – cause my family so so so supports babys! LoL!

Previous post:

Next post: