The Real Costs of Having a Baby
According to the USDA parents spend about $11,000 annually to raise a child, but what is included in this $11,000? It certainly isn’t being spent on just food, clothes, and diapers. About 30 percent of this amount comes from housing expenses – something that parents would be paying for anyway, granted maybe not as much. Childcare and education (not college) accounts for another 17 percent of this total and food makes up another 16 percent. The remaining 40 percent is spent on transportation, health care, and miscellaneous other expenses.
Seeing Past the Baby Expenses
As you can see, there are expenses involved in raising a child that go beyond the cost of “having a baby.” When you are making the decision to have another child, you need to think beyond whether or not you can afford the immediate expenses – diapers, crib, baby clothes, etc. As children grow up they add expenses to your household that you may not automatically think about. Besides feeding and housing them, you need to be able to pay their medical bills, pay for gas to and from their daily activities, and pay for other expenses that kids inevitably add to your budget, like wear and tear on your home.
Okay, You Get It
So you get it. It’s not all about paying for baby diapers, cribs, and toys. Babies are not actually that expensive to care for. A frugal and resourceful mom can easily come up with all she needs to take care of a new baby without spending a ton of money. Smart purchase from thrift stores, garage sales, as well as taking advantage of hand me downs, can give a mom all she really “needs”. However, what about taking care of a new baby beyond the first year? And, what about other expenses – like childcare or lost wages if she decides to stay home?
Childcare is one of the biggest expenses for parents of young children. Once kids get older and enter school, this expense may be done away with or drop considerably. The cost of childcare varies greatly depending on what part of the country you are in and what type of provider you use. The average cost of childcare is around $600 to 700 a month or around $7,000 to 8000 a year. Paying for two or three children to be in daycare may result in the income made from working being practically canceled out by the high cost of daycare. Naturally, this depends on the parent’s salary.
Can You Afford to be a Stay at Home Mom?
For some moms it may make sense to stay home while the children are young to avoid paying the high cost of childcare. Besides making economic sense, some moms may want to be home while their kids are young to enjoy their childhood. It may seem like giving up a second income will have dire financial consequences; however, sometimes finances actually improve with one parent at home. Families that live on one income may have lower living expenses. For example, a second car may no longer be necessary. In addition, families with one income may make more efficient use of their money and thus need less to live on than they did before.
Sometimes in order for a woman to be a stay at home mom, great sacrifices would have to be made. If she has a well-paying career, this just may not be a feasible or wanted option. There are options for working moms though. Some ideas are finding family members to care for the child, working shifts so that childcare can be split with her partner, working from home, or spacing out her children so that only one or two are in daycare at one time.
Look at Your Budget
To make the decision on whether or not you can afford to have another baby you really need to look at your own family’s budget. If you are not able to pay your current bills on time or are drowning in debt, this probably isn’t the best time to add a new member to the family. Instead, if you know that you want to have another baby but aren’t in the best position to have one at this time, start working on a plan to pay off debt, lower your expenses, or increase your income.
Struggling Financially or Waiting
You’ve looked at your budget and know that you really can’t afford another baby but your heart aches for another child. This is the time to really evaluate your personal situation. How old are you? How many kids do you have and how many would you like to have? If you are older, and don’t have several years of prime fertility left to plan around, you may decide that it’s worth struggling financially for a time in order to have another baby. Waiting is usually the better choice, but if your fertility is declining it may make better financial sense – if you and your partner are certain that you want another baby – to try now than to wait and possibly have to pay for fertility assistance down the road. This of course, truly depends on your financial situation.
Making the Decision
You know the reality of having another baby means paying for expenses not just now but down the road. Now, you just need to decide if YOU can afford another baby. Don’t just follow the logic of “if we all waited till we could afford to have kids nobody would have them” but don’t feel like you have to be rich to have a baby either. Use your own judgment on your personal financial situation and goals for the future to decide if you can afford another baby – now or down the road.