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Kids Don't Come Cheap

A couple of days ago, many of you discussed issues that keep you up at night. Sarah started it off:

I'm kept up at night wishing I could afford to stay at home with my kids instead of working, and still afford a roof over the head, to repay the enormous student loans (which, had I known I would want to stay home, perhaps I would not have racked up?), and eat... for those who say to move to a smaller/ more affordable place, I will admit that I've made the choice to be in the D.C. area to be near my parents rather than in a more affordable city. In this area, we can't find a more affordable home.

The conversation eventually turned up lots of interest in wills (more on that coming in the next couple of weeks), but today, let's focus on our spending. Business Week has broken out how much parents can spend on kids and how to cut those costs some. First, where does the money go?

High on the list: The family car, gas and auto insurance. Also heavy money eaters: housing, education, food, child care, toys and travel.

While many child expenses can't be avoided (housing, for instance), there are ways to trim the costs here and there. David Brady, an investment adviser in Chicago at Brady Investment Counsel, tells Business Week readers to buy from a set grocery list at the store and cook rather than go out to eat. Another important tip: Plan and put money aside for family expenditures, both large, like child care and vacations, and small, such as soccer and ice skating.

"The bottom line is that while there certainly are expenses associated with kids, they don't have to be nearly as expensive as some people think," certified financial planner Bob Nusbaum tells the publication. "Spending less can actually give you a lot more."

What do you estimate you spend on your kids in a year? What do you do to cut costs?

This Week's Talkers Get Kids Vaccinated Or Else, Parents Told ... Poll: IMs Help Teens Avoid Embarrassment ... Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say ... Many Parents Avoid Video Games With Kids ... Bill to Expand Head Start, Bolster Its Teacher Qualifications Is Approved

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 16, 2007; 7:15 AM ET  | Category:  Babies , Elementary Schoolers , Preschoolers , Teens , Tweens
Previous: Driven to Distraction | Next: Traditions Old, Traditions New

Comments


Our biggest money saving idea was actually not implemented for that reason. We chose to not have a TV while the kids were growing up. I feel it's just a big time waster. When it's on I personally am easily sucked into watching just a little bit more. But one of the nicest bonuses is that our children were much less affected by commercials and the current "I need..."

Posted by: educated mom | November 16, 2007 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Really, the biggest expense with children is the cost of supervision. That is, either lost income from a parent (usually the mom) staying home, or the expense of hiring quality daycare. Everything else is noise -if you let it.

Posted by: Aimee | November 16, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

My quick calculation is around $20,000. Most of that is child care expenses. My daughter will turn 2 in a few months and things start getting more reasonable after that, year by year. We are hoping that we can arrange our schedules so we don't need before and after care once she's in school. I guess we'll see how that works out.

Posted by: MaryB | November 16, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

True, educated. We have TVs around, but the kids don't watch much at all - as in, just about never. It's not on as a distraction. But my son got some DVD somewhere from fisher price and LOVES it - and asks to watch it all the time. And so now he's asking if he can get those toys. We said no.

We don't buy the kids any toys at all - we get them from friends/relatives. We do buy a few things during the holiday season - and this year we're realizing that the older one needs more toys appropriate for his age. Otherwise, rare to buy them toys.

We try to cook in, not load up on so many activities (like now, when soccer is over and there's none). We like to go on vacation, but we're trying to figure out how to not spend fortunes (although we love it and we could, we're not doing disney this year, and for we're talking about tennessee, renting a cabin, checking out what's there - much less expensive).

Of course, we wouldn't have our house if we didn't have the kids. But then again, when it's paid off, it will still be worth a lot - and where would *that* money have gone anyway?

We try to economize in every way possible - at least I do - I grew up in a very wealthy area and we didn't have a lot of money (but a nice house) - so my mom was the queen of saving money. So I try to live like that as much as possible - buying clothes on sale for next season, or at consignment sales, trying to limit our budgets for whatever. But, I do admit, it's TOUGH.

Posted by: atlmom | November 16, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Yes, supervision is expensive, but let me tell you, after my nanny left, I didn't have any extra money lying around. Still a two income family, and now we have an au pair instead of the nanny, which is supposed to be less, but it doesn't seem to be working. :)

Now the eldest is in school, so his 'cost of care' is the payment for the au pair, but so much more is included in that payment (i.e., the little one is in school 12 hours a week, so she watches him, and also we have her instead of a babysitter - that saves a bunch...).

So, where does it go? I have NO idea...

Posted by: atlmom | November 16, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

In our family, the biggest budget buster is poor planning. If I sit down every week and make a meal plan based on what's in our freezer and pantry, and hit the grocery store only once a week with a specific list, then we usually stay on budget. If we don't plan and just grocery shop as we go, we end up spending far more money (and usually end up ordering out more).

Other than that, my biggest budget tips are: Stay away from Target, buy clothes and toys at consignment shops, and make use of the library. It's pretty surprising how little DD costs, when we can stifle our impulses to spoil her.

Posted by: NewSAHM | November 16, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I agree about the library and getting rid of TV. These two items have improved our quality of life immensely!

Posted by: blinny | November 16, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

The biggest thing we do is live on cash. We have a set amount of grocery money and gasoline money for each month. We keep this money as cash. It is hard to over spend at the grocery store when you pay cash. It makes you think twice about what you buy.

Posted by: Arlington | November 16, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to say something that many of you don't want to hear. If you're in a two parent household and you can't make expenses work it's time to find another job. I had a great, wonderful, but low-paying job in the 1990s but couldn't make ends meet. I improved my skills a lot and roughly doubled my salary in a year, tripling my salary in 5 years. I was stuck in a dead end position when I realized that I needed that graduate degree to make anything of myself. So I went to school for 4 freaking years and got a masters which allowed me to take another step up the ladder.

Now is the time for one of the spouses to stay home at night with the kids while the other gets their MBA or JD or MS.

When I make my lunch instead of going out to eat I save $6 per day. But when I go out to eat with the president of my company I have made connections in the past that allowed me to bill $2500 on an overtime project. That $2500 covers the lunches and more.

Scrimping and saving money is a sucker's game. What the bosses want is for you to think your budgetary woes can be solved by working for them and taming your interests. Bulloney. When you can't afford things it's time for you to grow up, be an adult, and realize that you don't earn enough money to pay for your lifestyle. You gain nothing by budgeting except the disdain of your children- Don't think for a minute when I was 9 and my mother finished her college degree and suddenly we could afford to shop at Hechts and Woodies instead of the bargain stores selling old bell bottoms that I didn't live a more carefree childhood (let alone the second car which meant pop could take me to softball and my mom take my sister to girl scouts at the same time instead of choosing). Such is life on the cruel playground!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Agree completely with NewSAHM. Figuring out what to eat in advance, and resisting impulses to spoil children (who truly do not need it) really help. Ditto the library. I really, really miss going to the library since I returned to work. It's just not a priority anymore. The kids go with the au pair during the week, and I never go.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 16, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

So which is out of line, the child care costs cited in the link, at $4,300/year, or the DC area, where it costs nearly $13,000/year for my infant in daycare? That does not include babysitters for an evening out. That just covers 2 parents at work (when we don't have to take off because he is sick and needs to stay home).

Posted by: Chantilly | November 16, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

We just keep waiting for the day our debt and student loans are paid off. At this point we have a set amount for groceries, gas, and everything else you can think of. My kids wear hand-me-downs, we rarely go out to eat and activities are limited. Christmas and birthdays are the only time we purchase toys. I am not sure that there is anything left to cut out in our budget! Believe me, we have tried.

Posted by: Momof5 | November 16, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

These stories about how much $$ kids cost are often one-sided -- they never consider how much money you DON'T spend because you have kids.

Before child, my wife and I would go out about three times a week for dinner / movies / music / whatever. After child, it's been a couple times a year. For vacations, instead of 3 weeks in Europe, it's a week visiting relatives.

I'd like to see someone do a more rigorous analysis someday...

Posted by: KidsSave$ | November 16, 2007 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The biggest money saver for us is for my husband and I to work opposite shifts. When my son's daycare provider finally gave up and admitted that he was too much for her to handle a couple of years ago, we searched around for another provider and found the same thing--anyone we could afford was unable/unwilling to care for him. So instead of finding a new position for him, we found a new position for my husband--I work traditional office hours and he works from 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. four days a week. It's not ideal, but at least we have our evenings together and we're saving a little over $800 a month in childcare costs.

Other big expenses wouldn't vary significantly if we didn't have kids, except the medical costs. That's about $300 per month that's specifically kid-related. Food, obviously, would be less expensive if we were only buying for ourselves, but when we were childless we ate out a LOT more than we do now. Our personal entertainment costs were also higher before kids--concert tickets, movies, etc. Our cars and our house are the same ones we'd have without kids. Toys, clothing, and entertainment for the kids adds up to about $2,000 per year.

Posted by: Sarah | November 16, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Ironically, we have found that giving the kids an allowance has cut down on spending for toys. Since they have their "own money", they can buy their own toys. It is amazing how little they "need" when they have to pay for it themselves. We do however spend waaayyy too much on books, but I just can't say no to reading.

Posted by: Moxiemom | November 16, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm not registered for on balance, but I have a comment. Maybe you could move it to the other blog for me.

I find it more disturbing that a mother is walking her TEENAGER to school than the fact that she is wearing pajamas while walking.

Posted by: to moxiemom | November 16, 2007 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Actually my biggest expense is my child's favorite sport - ice skating. This is where expenses add up for older children - those extracircular activities, and don't forget college savings.

Posted by: sk8trmom | November 16, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Happy to do so "to Moxiemom", I too agree with you although I will add that hanging around your teen in see thru pjs is pretty uncool too.

Posted by: Moxiemom | November 16, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

If you can't afford them, don't have them. Birth control is a lot cheaper than kids any day.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I think daycare is the big expense. People have different ideas about what they need so I don't know that I'd advise anyone to cut costs there. You have to do what is right for your kid.

Certainly ramping back on consumables, and not letting your kids get into an out of control consumption thing is important.

Thinking twice about expensive sports and lessons is legitimate. I've known a number of ice skaters, and while I love to ice skate, it does seem like an expensive sport -- as does hockey. But if your kid loves it then you can cut something else out.

We're self-employed and really go easy in installment debt. Our car is a junker, but it's paid for. There is so much keep-up-with-the neighbors around here. You have to make choices.

If your family is your priority then I think re-thinking career choices is good. Higher wages go with higher skills and stress. Sometimes the money is what you need so you need to go for it!

Posted by: RoseG | November 16, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

We could probably save $2K a year if we really trimmed the fat, but that only amounts to a little over a month of daycare, and it gives us sanity. It would hardly be the difference between one of us being able to stay home and both of us having to work.

As far as yearly cost, daycare alone is $20K. Otherwise, she's pretty cheap. Diapers and formula are about $1K per year. Clothes and toys are mostly hand-me-downs and gifts. We spent about $300 to outfit the nursery. We had to get a 2nd car, so that's about $1500 per year. We bought the house before baby, so we can't blame that expense on her!

Consignment stores rule, as does FreeCycle, where I got a free jogging stroller and a huge bag of maternity clothes. I always cook, so that's not a big issue, and I'm a bargain grocery shopper. If I go, it's $125 a week. It's $200 if my husband goes, and I swear he comes home with less. I've discovered a grocery store that's MUCH cheaper and less crowded than the one closer to home. It's by my Target, where I buy cheap formula and diapers, so it's not an added gas expense.

There are no quick, easy ways to save. It takes planning and control. It's the accumulation of all the nickles and dimes at the end of the year that make the difference.

Posted by: atb | November 16, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

We try to stay on track and not impulse buy for DD. She has plenty of toys and games to keep any 6 year old happy.

Our major vacation is normally a week, paid by the grandparents, to see them in Cape May. She will have to tour Europe on her own dime. I did and I appreciate more.

We use the library, free shows at National Theatre on Saturday mornings (they have a web site), and summer concerts outside at Strathmore and Cabin John Park. We will be going to the Kennedy Center in December for a Chanukah present instead of buying more toys.

Posted by: shdd | November 16, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

For some people, money is just tight, but for many others, it seems like people have a really hard time distinguishing between "needs" and "wants." When my friend had her second child, she claimed that she "needed" to buy a $500 a month minivan. (She also "needed" a bigger house, fancy clothes for her kids, etc.).

I don't see anything wrong with spending money on things you *want*, but I think you are going down a slippery slope when you tell yourself that you actually need these type of things, rather than just want them. And what kind of message does that send the kids?

Posted by: reston, va | November 16, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

"So I went to school for 4 freaking years and got a masters which allowed me to take another step up the ladder.

Now is the time for one of the spouses to stay home at night with the kids while the other gets their MBA or JD or MS."

I agree, in theory. In reality, I do not want to be absorbed in studying or classes for 4 years in the evening after working a full day. I already feel that I do not see my family enough.

Posted by: lurker | November 16, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

breast-feeding is free.

Posted by: obvious expense | November 16, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

breast-feeding is free

breat pumps are expensive

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Breast-feeding is free, but only if you produce enough milk and don't have to buy it! Then, formula is cheaper!

Posted by: atb2 | November 16, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"breast-feeding is free. "

Formula is free to some people.

Posted by: Spike | November 16, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

When the kids were younger, day care was the biggest expense. The best solution we ever had was the au pair (three au pairs, three years). Day care centers/after care were so expensive that DW used them as an excuse to quit her job. (She hated her job, and was able to show that her take-home pay after child care, commuting expenses, work-related wardrobe, etc. was $3.50 an hour. So we agreed she could quit.)

Now that the kids are older, the biggest expenses are activities and car insurance. (We have an 18-year old daughter and 16-year old son on our car insurance. I used to think college was expensive until I got the insurance bill. And our cars are NOT fancy or expensive or fast.)

Even with public schools, plan on significant outlays unless you want to be a pariah. The school band took a trip to Orlando, Fl; the chorus went to New York City. Those were from $500 - $1,000 each. (We were lucky; the higher-status public school that's the next one over sent their band to Hawaii. That was about $2,500 per student, after you figured in reasonable food budgets, etc.) If your child is on a school sports team, you're going to be asked to kick in for sweats, snacks, etc. to supplement what the schools provide. Same for school plays, clubs, etc. "Public" doesn't mean "no expenses for Mom and Dad."

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 16, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"Day care centers/after care were so expensive that DW used them as an excuse to quit her job. (She hated her job, and was able to show that her take-home pay after child care, commuting expenses, work-related wardrobe, etc. was $3.50 an hour. So we agreed she could quit.)"

Why didn't your DW get additional education so she could get a better job?

Posted by: Spike | November 16, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

"Why didn't your DW get additional education so she could get a better job?"

Maybe because she didn't want to work?

Posted by: fake99 | November 16, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"Breast-feeding is free, but only if you produce enough milk and don't have to buy it! Then, formula is cheaper!"

Huh? How can breast-feeding as much as you can and supplementing with some formula not be cheaper than buying all formula?

Or are you talking about buying breast milk?

Either way....sounds like an excuse to not breastfeed at least as much as you can.


Posted by: fake99 | November 16, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

My wife shops Coscto. She manages to buy what we need and what we will completely use (diapers, the vat of olive oil, frozen fish, laundry detergeant) at great savings. I can't go in the place -- I would buy what I want and what we'll never use. She also gets a nice annual check back from American Express from the required Costco card.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 16, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"She manages to buy what we need and what we will completely use (diapers, the vat of olive oil, frozen fish, laundry detergeant) at great savings."

Disposable diapers are bad for the environment. Do you need to use them every day?

Posted by: Spike | November 16, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Spike -- are you for real? Do you have kids?

Hell yea, we use them every day.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 16, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Spike -- are you for real? Do you have kids?

Hell yea, we use them every day."

I used cloth diapers with my children whenever possible.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Spike is just playing devil's advocate.

But he/she has a point. You could use cloth diapers at least part-time and save the expense of disposables. And before you tell me that washing diapers costs money and is bad for the environment, I'll answer you: "not as much as dispoables."

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

but disposable work better, duh

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 16, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Arlington Dad

"but disposable work better, duh"

For who?

Posted by: Spike | November 16, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

oh Spike, such silly questions

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 16, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"Why didn't your DW get additional education so she could get a better job?"

Spike - or should I say "chittybangbang" or "hillary" (see On Balance for the reference) - it's all about a work-life balance. That was what DW wanted at the time. Now she's back to work - but not in the same crappy job.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I hope our family dentist invites us to his son't college graduation party. After all, we paid for more than 1 semester for him to attend.

And I still owe thousands to the doctor's for stitching my son's head shut after he fell.
For what I've paid in medical bills/insurance this year, I could have bought a brand new car.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 16, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I should have said "BreastMILK is free..."

"Either way" I was making an excuse, huh? You're an idiot. I breastfed for 4 months, then went back to work, went through 3 pumps, none of which worked for me, consulted 2 lactation consultants, and still my milk dried up. Are you one of those people who refuse to believe this kind of thing happens because it didn't happen to you?

-----------------------------------------

"Breast-feeding is free, but only if you produce enough milk and don't have to buy it! Then, formula is cheaper!"

Huh? How can breast-feeding as much as you can and supplementing with some formula not be cheaper than buying all formula?

Or are you talking about buying breast milk?

Either way....sounds like an excuse to not breastfeed at least as much as you can.

Posted by: fake99 | November 16, 2007 12:34 PM

Posted by: atb | November 16, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Disposable diapers save time. It's really that simple. No dunking diapers in toilets. No extra loads of wash. It may cost more to buy them (though cloth costs much more up front), but my time has a price, too. As far as the environment, it's only better if you don't use a service, which rinse something like 5 times and use brutal detergents. Finally, most daycare centers don't accept cloth.

Posted by: atb | November 16, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Right now the biggest expense is day care. After baby #2 arrives, day care will be more then our mortgage payment. But lucky for us that is only one year were both kids are in full time day care. After that my older child can go to before and after school care. College savings racks as a number two. We sock away a lot of money for that. But clothes, diapers, toys, books ( I am like moxiemom) and other things seem to add up. I only buy tons of toys at Christmas and her birthday is two weeks after the holiday. The rest of the year, she gets small toys like a $9 strawberry shortcake doll or dvds. We always spend way too much at Costco. We go with a list but seem to throw a ton of extras in the cart. I think I like moxiemom's idea of an allowance for an older child.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 16, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Foamgnome about presents being limited to Christmas and Birthdays, with a little gift once in a while. Not only does this keep expenses in check, it helps prevent spoiled kids with too many toys and a sense of entitlement.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 16, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"Disposable diapers save time. "

Well, in my experience it isn't *much* time, though. Instead of emptying my diaper pail into the trash, I empty it into the washing machine. The machine does the rest. I actually added up all the extra time I spend dealing with diapers (which mostly involved just putting them away out of the dryer), and it worked out to 20 minutes a month. And I don't have to go to the store to buy diapers, which is worth something.

And FWIW, cloth always worked better for us, too. We always had problems with leaks in disposables, especially in the early days. We use disposables from time to time (overnight and on trips), but in general we have liked the cloth much better. And it really is a lot cheaper.

Posted by: reston, va | November 16, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Breastfeeding may be free but it's pretty disgusting when the kid gets to high school. Milk isn't the biggest expense for most families. It's the ipods, Xboxes, designer play clothes, TV sets in every room, nannies and au pairs, annual vacations to Europe. Whoever said there is a big difference between 'needs' and 'wants' hit the nail on the head. You can really, really cut out a lot of expenses if you want to but obviously the affluent entitled generation raising kids don't want to. They'd rather wring their hands and whine about how expensive it is to have kids. Jeez.

Posted by: TGIF | November 16, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Milk isn't the biggest expense for most families. It's the ipods, Xboxes, designer play clothes, TV sets in every room, nannies and au pairs, annual vacations to Europe.
-----
Gawd I hate this false attitude! That is so untrue in this city.

I didn't get to take one vacation this year and I don't have any of the above you mentioned and I still have financial issues.

What I had was approximately $21,000 in daycare for two. at least $5000 in car payments, gas, etc. At least $2000 in commuting expenses for my family- Metro and parking are both expensive. $12,000 in emergency home repairs like a new roof. $2,000 in furniture, including my son's big boy room (before the roof got damaged). Plus a general price of $200 per week for food for four.

And you say that Milk, at roughly $8 per week wasn't a major expense. Maybe, but it was more than the ipod I didn't buy or the vacation I couldn't take because we spent our money on the roof. Sigh.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree, in theory. In reality, I do not want to be absorbed in studying or classes for 4 years in the evening after working a full day. I already feel that I do not see my family enough.
------

Thanks for a very fair comment!

I really just wanted to toss out that theory of mine because I found that I could never really budget my way to sanity. I could talk about that all day, but I ran up credit card bills because I wanted to do what I wanted to do and then with more money my wants did not increase as much at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

First disposalbe diapers and now the ipod... what else am I doing wrong?!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | November 16, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Re 2:33 anon: Not to mention that nannies are cheaper than 2 kids in daycare. People not from DC or without kids in DC are trying to make very uneducated judgements and failing miserably.

Posted by: atb | November 16, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Anon at 2:33 -- people who don't have children also have home repair expenses, commuting expenses, car payments, insurance and maintenance, food, clothes, and medical expenses. Now, if you didn't have kids, you wouldn't have to spend $21,000 on child care or $2000 on a 'big boy room' (God lord, what is that?). I recently had to pay for new shingles on the roof and an entire new furnace/AC system in tahe same year. My car is a 10-year-old Hyundai and I haven't had a vacation away from home in 6 years. Oh, yes, I recently had a $500 dental procedure done that isn't covered by either my Blue Cross medical OR Delta Dental insurance. So, stop blaming your kids for the money pit you've dug for yourself into.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

"People not from DC or without kids in DC are trying to make very uneducated judgements and failing miserably. "

Is this blog for DC folk, only?

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 16, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"Either way" I was making an excuse, huh? You're an idiot. I breastfed for 4 months, then went back to work, went through 3 pumps, none of which worked for me, consulted 2 lactation consultants, and still my milk dried up. Are you one of those people who refuse to believe this kind of thing happens because it didn't happen to you?"

Resorting to insults, huh? Defensive much?

Someone said that breastfeeding is free. You said "Breast-feeding is free, but only if you produce enough milk and don't have to buy it! Then, formula is cheaper!"
and I asked how formula can be cheaper than breastfeeding. If you breastfeed part time, which you should still be able to do even if you don't produce enough milk, you buy less formula. Period. Your statement about formula being cheaper was stupid - but what do I know, I'm an idiot.


Posted by: fake99 | November 16, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

It's not about a money pit. It's about the false notion that if you trim the fat, all your financial stress will disappear, as if we all blow through money like Paris Hilton. It's as true for you as it is to people with kids. For us in the real world, there is a financial difference when we take our lunch instead of going out to lunch. There is no second home to sell. There is no shiny new beamer in the driveway. Childcare costs are a reality, so, we pinch pennies and stretch a dollar, all the while being accused of complaining we barely have enough for our "needs" when we're really spending all our money on "wants." Well, I do WANT to eat and have health insurance and a roof over our heads.

Posted by: atb | November 16, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Not only is the blog only for DC people, it's only for people who don't want to hear about ways to actually save money, but just want to make excuses for why they can't save money. "I can't breastfeed part time and buy less formula!!" "I can't use disposable diapers!!" "Waah!!! poor me!!!"

Posted by: fake99 | November 16, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

"I really just wanted to toss out that theory of mine because I found that I could never really budget my way to sanity"

I agree with this also. If you feel deprived and miserable because you are just making ends meet, then that is not a happy way to live. We all like some comfort in our lives. My family has chosen to use the credit cards and live with some debt in order to have a comfortable, not extravagant, lifestyle. It was important to attend the family reunion in another part of the country in order for our children to spend time with extended family, even if it meant charging air fare and hotel.


"People not from DC or without kids in DC are trying to make very uneducated judgements and failing miserably." People not living in DC can't fathom $21000 for daycare when they make closer to $36000 than $100000.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"If you breastfeed part time, which you should still be able to do even if you don't produce enough milk, you buy less formula. Period."

Really? Tell that to my body, which as I recall, but you may be able to correct me, since you seem to know so much, stopped producing milk as soon as I went back to work and only nursed in the mornings and evenings.

Posted by: atb | November 16, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the question about "what exactly is a big boy room?" and I'll add "why does it cost $2000 for children's furniture?" My kids used a hand-me-down (safe) crib. Two of them moved to $100 twin beds when they were 2; two used beds given to us. Changing table was the top of a dresser which was a hand-me-down. Other dressers when they were older were all hand-me-downs. Let's see - 4 kids, $200 for furniture.

And also 2:33 - we're talking about expenses of having children. You don't get to count the new roof or your commuting expenses or car expenses on the kids' tab.

Posted by: fake99 | November 16, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

EXACTLY, though hopefully they would be making more than $36K with dual incomes. Raw Fisher had a blog on wealth, and someone came up with an idea that to be considered rich, you would have to make more than half of the median house for your area value a year.

"People not from DC or without kids in DC are trying to make very uneducated judgements and failing miserably." People not living in DC can't fathom $21000 for daycare when they make closer to $36000 than $100000.

Posted by: atb | November 16, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"stopped producing milk as soon as I went back to work and only nursed in the mornings and evenings. "

OK fine. But then tell my how using formula is cheaper than using formula. Which was my original point. You said "formula is cheaper."

Posted by: fake99 | November 16, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I'll try that again: more than half of the median value of a house in your area. Though, it could have been mean, not median.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I already explained what I meant. It was a typo. Sheesh. I meant:

BreastMILK is free, but only if you produce enough milk and don't have to buy it! Then, formula is cheaper!"

Posted by: atb | November 16, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the relatives costs of breast milk vs formula: Actually, breast milk isn't free if you factor in the time that it takes to produce. And if you're having to take time off of work to pump, for example, it's quite relevant.
In my case, I was a poor milk producer. I'd estimate that any milk I produced cost me about $5 per ounce.

Posted by: acorn | November 16, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

(I'd provide details on how I estimated that but that's probably TMI)

Posted by: acorn | November 16, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

people who don't have children also have home repair expenses, commuting expenses, car payments, insurance and maintenance, food, clothes, and medical expenses. Now, if you didn't have kids, you wouldn't have to spend $21,000 on child care or $2000 on a 'big boy room' (God lord, what is that?). I recently had to pay for new shingles on the roof and an entire new furnace/AC system in tahe same year. My car is a 10-year-old Hyundai and I haven't had a vacation away from home in 6 years. Oh, yes, I recently had a $500 dental procedure done that isn't covered by either my Blue Cross medical OR Delta Dental insurance. So, stop blaming your kids for the money pit you've dug for yourself into.
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I'm not, I didn't and are you capable of reading my post? I specifically responded to the jerk who said money problems were due to European vacations.

There is no need for me to answer for things I didn't say.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

And also 2:33 - we're talking about expenses of having children. You don't get to count the new roof or your commuting expenses or car expenses on the kids' tab.

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Was I saying I did? No, no I didn't. I was saying the money didn't go to a European Vacation. Jeez people, really!

And also, all those hand me down elements are great unless you're like us- the first of our generation of cousins and friends to have children. We get to buy and we get to hand down. I'm often surprised when people who got their changing table from their older sister don't realize that the older sister bought it.

Also I never, anywhere, said that I spend $2k on kid's furniture. I spent $2k on furniture, much of which went to my son's new room, but by no means all- something I stated originally!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"People not from DC or without kids in DC are trying to make very uneducated judgements and failing miserably." People not living in DC can't fathom $21000 for daycare when they make closer to $36k than $100k.

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That's actually true! I have a distant relative who charges $100 per week for daycare and if the parents want to take a week's vacation they don't have to pay anything. That would be roughly $10k for the year for two kids, not $21k like it was for us this year. She definitely says we pay too much because we don't "look hard enough." Yeah, um... not around here! I mean, we talked to a nanny who said she had a friend who would be our nanny at $28k for the year, so $21k for a real daycare seemed like a better deal.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 4:51 PM | Report abuse

If you can't afford them, don't have them. Birth control is a lot cheaper than kids any day.
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You know, before my wife and I had kids we talked to people at Sidwell and determined that yes, we could afford $12,000 to send our kid there so we could have kids and be successful. 10 years after the pre-pregnancy calculation when our kid was ready to start school the cost for Sidwell was basically $27,000 and I was ready to pay, you know, $12,000.

Did anyone here know what things would cost in the future when they decided to have kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 16, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I think a lot of this may have to do with when you bought your house. We purchased our place 4 years ago before things went really nuts... there is no way we could afford to buy now, even on the very lowest end. I don't know what's going to happen to the kids who are graduating from college these days. We put 20% down for our place, and it took years of scrimping and saving (and me living at home for a few years after college and banking my entire income) to save that up. Now a cheap townhouse in the dc area costs at least $400,000, even in a bad market! Not many people are going to be able to save up $80,000 for a down payment. And the alternative is a really huge mortgage balance and pmi.

Posted by: reston, va | November 16, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

"And the alternative is a really huge mortgage balance and pmi."

Another alternative is to RENT an apartment or house. Admittedly, this is not necessarily the American dream, but it's a really acceptable alternative. DH and I rented until our kids were ages 3 and 7. It's possible to be a happy family without being homeowners.

For us, the decision to delay home-ownership rather than delay having kids was the right decision.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 17, 2007 7:01 AM | Report abuse

"Another alternative is to RENT an apartment or house. Admittedly, this is not necessarily the American dream, but it's a really acceptable alternative. DH and I rented until our kids were ages 3 and 7. It's possible to be a happy family without being homeowners."

For sure, but when rents are higher than mortgages (as they are where I live), it does make it difficult. It's also a scary proposition if you live somewhere where the property values are rising rapidly, since it doesn't take long to get priced out of the market (which nearly happened to us). If you live someplace where the housing is out-of-bounds compared to the local salaries, it's just tough.

Posted by: reston, va | November 19, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

A home isn't just a place to live -- it's an investment. You get equity in the house and a tax break. Rent just goes into the landlord's pockets and at the end of 3-7 years you have absolutely nothing. I bit the bullet and pinched pennies in order to put a down payment on a house and the first few years it was really a struggle, but my home has tripled in value since I bought it. I wouldn't go back to renting in a million years.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 19, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

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