I have no clue why, but when I think about things, it’s always in a very scientific method way. There are many different variables that go into each life choice, but if you make observations on the constant variables, then it can make things like planning to choose or expand parenthood a lot easier.
So allow me to walk with you through a scientific method approach of, “Should I have a(nother) kid?”
Let’s say that you’ve made the observation that your uterus is craving a little person to start growing inside of you. Every time you see a newborn your heart melts and you start daydreaming about what your future baby may look like, their personality, what they’ll accomplish, and what they’ll bring to your life. Your hypothesis is normally a simple one like this… “Is it right?” It doesn’t matter what “right” you are talking about – whether it be the right time, the right person, the right situation, etc.
In most situations, I feel people come to their conclusion based on the social stature of their relationships, their position in life, or how badly their desire is. These are all variables that look out of a lense from your current perspective. I’m going to flip the script here and ask for your hypothesis to not be about surrounding variables that are ever-changing and chosen by heart, such as the listed, but yet to conduct your expectations on the constants, that of what is a child is/needs.
Just as if you are applying for a new position at work, you would want to read the requirements before fully committing to the position. So as a mother of two, I’ve tested every financial situation through my own life experience, or shall we say experiments, to come to you with a definitive first look at the constant financial variables for having children in this decade.
You have many different phases of a child’s life, but one thing is certain… you are responsible for their well being from birth to age 18. Those 18 years can be broken into these subgroups financially; full dependency birth-toddler, full dependency toddler-young adult, partial dependency young adult-adult, partial independence. Let’s talk numbers, shall we?
Full Dependency 0-3
This is the initial down payment essentially to parenthood. The entry fee for having a baby without insurance can be upwards of $5,000. Your insurance can vary on the amount they cover and the fee can vary on the place/way you choose to give birth. Not saying you’ll even get the birth plan you choose, because situations sometimes change and though you wanted a vaginal, you may be forced into an emergency C-section to save your/baby’s life. After you have had your new little bundle of joy, the bills start instantly.
Let’s assume you got every little thing on your wish list from your baby shower, so you’re starting out with all of the essentials and we are just going off of monthly necessities. Wipes and diapers are a must for the first three years minimum. They are varied by brand and amount but we were paying a minimum of $60 for diapers a month and a minimum of $30 for wipes. Now food, if you are gifted enough to feed naturally, then that’s great, but for most of us, we have to supplement with formula or purchase extra things to support our milk supply. Don’t assume your baby will be eating for free. You have to plan on $30 weekly in case you can’t supply or in case the baby is lacteous intolerant.
Also, this kid is growing… a lot! Every 1-3 months, you are going to have to have new clothes available. Those cute newborn onesies are going to be spit-up on and outgrown in a blink of an eye, if they could even fit in them in the first place (some babies come out too small or too large – we had both situations). You’re looking at an average of $150 per refurbish to keep up with clothing/clean sheets/replacing things ruined by poop… every 1-3 months. For this exercise, we will say a $50 monthly minimum.
So total right now, this phase of life is going to cost you $260 and up per month per child (who knows if you’ll have twins, right?). So for the birth and BASIC necessities for this kid, you’re talking about just under $10,000 of non-negotiable prices for one child’s first three years of life.
Full Dependency 3-16
Financially-dependent children from toddlers to young adults become a little easier, but just because their costs are more spread out, does not mean you are not investing equally-substantial amounts of money over a prolonged amount of time. As your child starts to slow in growth, their clothing becomes less of a necessity but still tends to need to be replaced or upgraded every few months with new seasonal pieces. The seasonal upgrade normally runs us around $100 per child and the complete wardrobe replacement normally runs anywhere from $300-$600 (for the sake of calculations, we will estimate $400 every two years).
By this point, your child (if they are a decent eater) will eat like an adult and cost about $150 a month at a minimum for their food consumption; this is not including eating-out costs. We eat out about three times a week. They will also most likely be into something (a sport, club, field trip, school fees, hanging out with friends). Though these may be one-time occurrences, they still add up over time. We will be going off of our 5-year-old’s expenses from this past year of dance ($800), school ($50), supplies ($30), and field trips ($100 total).
This is a minimum number because as the kid becomes more engaged with the community, there are more spending opportunities and things cost more. You’ll spend (at a minimum) during this 13-year span, $123,404 on them or about $9,493 annually. Monthly being about $791, but as I said, some months are going to cost far more than others during this phase.
Partial Dependency 16-18
Your kid is older, and can work! That’s great! All of their annual costs continue at this point, but one caveat… it’s time for college testing, cars, cell phones, and gas prices alone are killer. They could work to cover this depending on your household agreements, so I’ll leave you with the thought of those expenses lingering and a minimum number of the FD 3-16 phase continuing here. Meaning you are just paying for their food, clothing, and community involvement through school. The minimum of this investment is $19,008 for these last years crossing into adulthood.
Partial Dependency 18-?
I put this here because let’s face it, most kids are not fully financially independent at this age. I won’t include these numbers but considering how your child turns out, you may be still making monthly payments investing in their future until who knows when. Let’s say your kid hits the streets at 18 with a perfect credit score and money saved up to pay their own way through college and buy a house; now let’s all laugh at the person who thinks their kid is going to pay for their own college/car/house/etc. on their own at 18. It just doesn’t happen.
So going off of birth to 18 years old, I am concluding that the minimum maintenance for a child costs about $152,412 over 18 years. That’s just one child. If you are debating on another child or prone to twins, then the numbers must be multiplied by the accounted number of siblings or perspective children. Also, these numbers do not include private schools or childcare expenses, but can easily be calculated in if you choose that route.
Having my kids was an investment I was willing to make and many others do, too.
This article isn’t to scare you of the financial burden that children may bring, but to prep you realistically on what to expect through the journey. When I was debating with each child, I went through this process of calculating and researching, yet there was never any conclusive article outlining someone’s experiences or the experiment of what it truly takes financially. I hope my collection of real numbers can help bring some peace of mind in answering your question.