on kid's being "too expensive"

I just read this post and it got me thinking. I agree 100% with Kristen's thoughts on the small expense that babies can be. Having four kids won't break the bank when they're babies/toddlers. If you're wise with money, that is. Because let's be honest, you can break the bank on any stage, at any time, if you want to (or aren't smart). But generally, we haven't noticed that we're all the sudden financially burdened since having two babies, 15 months apart, and another on the way.

But babies are one thing, and kids, adolescents, teenagers, adult children can be quite another. Maybe. Kristen spoke of the at times burdensome cost of college/university and extra-curricular activities. Not to mention other things some parents may want to help their kids out with in the future like a wedding or a down payment on a house.  And Brad and I are indeed saving for our kid's post-secondary education, to help them out with those big costs. But. Did you see the but coming? I still don't buy into the idea that we will need to break the bank so our kids can have a great childhood or life.

We've already decided (and I think it's important to decide these things early because even extra-curricular activities for babies are a thing now and it's expensive and prevalent!) that our kids will each do ONE activity at a time/per season, and that's it. And if the child wants to do an activity we can't afford, they just can't do that activity! Some sports are significantly more expensive than others (think about the comparison of soccer and equestrian), so we'll get out kid's involved in the affordable ones. And we're also planning to stick to "house league" level sports, not the competitive traveling teams, even if our kids are good enough to play on them. Why? The latter is far more expensive, has a ton of hidden costs, and has children away EVERY WEEKEND from their family, their community, and in our case, their church. No thanks.

And though we're saving now for our kid's post-secondary education later, that doesn't mean we feel that financial burden is solely ours. Both Brad and I finished university with a chunk of student debt, and it didn't kill us to pay it off. If anything, it made me more motivated to go to class when I felt lazy, and to be smart with purchases when I was fresh out of school, not making much. Paying for part of my university experience gave me ownership over that education, and it made me ditch some terrible spending habits when it came time to pay off those loans. If my parents paid my way entirely (and they did help, to be sure), I think I would have graduated with a sense of entitlement and not valued money like I do today.

Same with weddings. Our parents helped a bit, but we also paid 1/3 of the expenses. It made us think twice about what we thought we needed for our special day, and what was unnecessary. It motivated me to seek out deals and be crafty and let go of certain materialistic fantasies. In the end, I look back on our wedding and think of was a perfect day, completely beautiful, and very classy. An extra ten grand could have given me more fresh flowers or a champagne toast, but we made due with what we could afford, knowing we were paying for a large portion.

I'm all for parents helping their children, and our parents have helped us financially in many ways over the years (ask me how many times I paid for gas in highschool, and how many long road trips I took with their car!), but I also reject the notion that kids are TOO EXPENSIVE or that if one can't afford to give their child the very best in life, they're not doing their job as parents. On a modest salary, in an expensive city, we want four kids, which means there's no way we'll be able to give our kids everything. But you know what? I don't think we need to.



  1. This is great Emily! My husband and I leave WAY below the poverty line, in a 1+ bedroom apartment...and we have a child. We even wouldn't mind if God blessed us with another! Some days I buy into the world's mantra that we need EVERYTHING..and I feel badly. But recently I started thinking, what does Penelope need or want? and I realized..nothing. Our house is full of toys, we have so many clothes for her that she probably wears only half. She has lots of good food...I even buy her the all natural sunscreen that I feel so strongly about!

    So...basically...if I can do it. Anyone can! I even stay at home, which is not a neccesity, and I'd obviously work if it was between me working or us eating.

    I agree with most of what you say above (although gas is expensive and I know people who pay for their teenagers gas and it costs them hundreds of dollars a month!) I don't know what we'd do though if we had a very obviously talented athlete in our home. My husband was a national gymnast and LOVED his sport. It was very expensive though. I would never do something that we couldn't afford, but I would have a hard time saying no to a child who loved something so much. The other side of that is that high school often has great sports and kids can still get scholarships simply by playing in high school :)

  2. I'm right here with ya. Keeping expectations is the way to go!

  3. Anonymous21.5.13

    Great Post Em!

    - Margie Becker

  4. I'm a first time reader--I saw you on AT and had to click over when I saw that you were planning to house three kids in one room. A woman of my own heart!

    My mother in law is constantly harping on how much kids cost. This is the woman who never quite managed to live within her means and by the way didn't put a dime toward my husband's college education. We have a two year old and are expecting our second. So far it has been super cheap. We have health insurance to pay for the delivery, I breast fed and we cloth diapered. I've bought everything I wasn't given at thrift stores.

    However, I have found the opportunity costs enormous. After being a working mom for a year and a half, I decided it just wasn't for me. We decided to give up my $80K per year salary so our whole family could live a less stressful existence. So to me it is not just about the actual things you have to buy, but the financial situation you would be in if you didn't have kids.

    Thanks for a great post.