Mainstream media articles lead people to believe that having a child will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars – in my opinion, mostly for hype.
While it’s very possible that parents could spend this amount of money on a child it’s completely unnecessary.
I don’t make a lot of money. I have virtually no debt. I have managed to save an emergency fund of nearly six months’ worth of expenses on a small income and I have two kids. Both are healthy and happy and have everything that they need.
In my opinion this is the true cost of having children.
Basic Needs – Clothing, Shelter, Food
Depending on how many children you have your housing needs will change. But for the sake of this post let’s assume you’ll have one child. As a baby your child can (and most likely will) remain in the same room as you, at least for the first few months of life. After that an extra bedroom will be necessary. If you live in a one bedroom house or apartment at some point you’ll have to upgrade to a two bedroom or larger.
When I had my first daughter I was living in a three bedroom house so there was no extra cost. My daughter’s ages three and five now both share a room which actually works out very well.
Shelter costs $0 for me, could be a little for you depending on your current situation.
As far as clothing goes kids don’t really need much. They grow out of clothes so darn fast that it makes absolutely no sense to spend much money on clothing. My kids dress nice but the majority of their clothes come from yard sales, hand me downs, or gifts from family members.
Clothing costs approximately $300 per year per kid.
Food. This is a bigger cost than the others. My youngest daughter would eat the house if I let her. And I could spend virtually no money on food if it weren’t for my kids. I spend somewhere in the $500 range per month on food. This amount varies though. Sometimes I slip off budget and spend quite a bit more.
I would estimate food costs for one child to be about $2,000 a year and for older kids it could creep up to $4,000 a year.
There are other necessities to having children like beds, cribs, car seats, etc. My first daughters crib was purchased from Walmart for about $600. My second daughter used this same crib as well. My girls’ toddler beds were hand me downs from a friend as is the full size bed they are sleeping in now.
As far as other necessities go I would estimate the cost to be about $400 per year.
Miscellaneous – Books, Gifts, and other Items
Then there are other items like birthday gifts, toys, and books which most parents are going to purchase their kids. (I definitely do.)
But the frustrating thing is that kids rarely play with toys (seriously.) My kids are more interested in cardboard boxes, crayons, and coloring books than they ever have been in toys.
And for gifts I probably spend $300 on Christmas gifts and $200 on birthday gifts. And last year I had a birthday party for my oldest daughter which doubled the costs.
So in this categories – gifts, toys, misc. – I would say that $800 a year is a good estimate.
According to my estimates, it costs around $2,7000 to $4,700 per year to cover a child’s basic needs. And an extra $400 a year in non-essential costs and about $300 per year in doctor visits or checkups. This is just basic. Realistically I probably spend a bit more than this by taking my kids on outings to the Aquarium, Zoo, and Chuck E. Cheese fairly often.
There is also the cost of education, but perhaps we’ll calculate that another day.
Kids need love. They need strong examples as parents. They need parents who talk to them and teach them. Money is not the solution and throwing thousands of dollars per year at your children won’t make them better people.
How much do you spend per year on your kids?