Kids are cheap

After reading this post on Free Money Finance, I just had to open my big fat mouth. Really, $15,000 for each year, for each child, to age 17? Do they really eat that much?
And if we didn’t have children, wouldn’t we find another way, probably far less fulfilling, to spend our money anyway?
I left a rather long comment, and then decided it was such a fine piece of literary frugality that I really had to save it for posterity. Here it is, for your reading pleasure:

I would estimate that our own expenses for 7 – count ’em – 7 children, ages 19 months to 12 years, run roughly:

  • $350/month for food/non food grocery items (including toiletries, diapers, etc.) This is about 60% of what we spend monthly. Being small people, the children are much smaller eaters than hubby and I, and are collectively thrilled by a $4 bucket of ice cream, whereas our own treats rank a little higher on the financial and evolutionary scale. They also use far less of the disposable products as well – maybe since their bodies are smaller. Except the one in diapers: those run $25/month but are included in our monthly grocery, and she really doesn’t use her share of the food or toilet paper ๐Ÿ™‚
  • $50/month for clothes and shoes, most purchased secondhand and passed down through the ranks. It certainly helps having all girls, though I realize there will be a price to pay later. Kimberly Clark will be handing us the bill.
  • $140/month for health and dental insurance. This is the difference between a family rate and a couple rate on our particular policies.
  • $120/month in additional medical/dental bills. This includes births. This, like the others, is a rather generous estimate. We rarely have medical incidents or bills.
  • $200/month in extra gas and maintennance, due to driving the larger-than-average family vehicle required by our larger-than-average family.
  • $210/month: this represents 30% of our monthly housing and utilites, since we would likely have a somewhat smaller home without children. Actually, this is only true in theory. Our current home, which we are living in as we build it with our own 18 hands, *is* small by most standards, and our utilities are very reasonable.
  • $50/month in homeschooling expenses. Actually, much of this is used to buy books that Hubby and I enjoy as well. But just for the fun of it, we’ll tack the bill on the children.
  • $1000/year for birthdays and Christmas. This varies a lot, and is a rather generous estimate. But hey, we’re generous people, right? Why else would we want to feed and dress a bunch of kids?

    sooo…grand total for annual support for all 7 children…


    Oh my. It appears we’re raising 7 for the price of 1. I guess we can afford #8. That’s good news, since Baby #8 is due to arrive in a few months.


  1. Megan,
    You’re right: I am not raising our children alone.
    I am a homeschooling sahm mom, which is why you don’t see daycare expenses. Since children are so cheap to raise, I don’t see a need for mothers to work outside the home. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    We have “insurance” through Samaritan Ministries, which is far cheaper than traditional insurance and is available to any Christian who attends church and keeps a moral lifestyle. I included the cost of the coverage, as well as additional medical expenses not covered by Samaritan, in my list.
    A traditional Christian family structure does decrease the cost of raising children. Interesting, huh?

    We also do not necessarily plan on paying our children’s way through college. There are many ways of obtaining an education beyond high school, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
    And just in case you misunderstood, our total annual income is not $14,400. That is my estimate of how our household expenses are affected by our children.

  2. Hmmm… I am assuming then that you are not one of 20% of the population without health care. So apparently, you are not counting health care costs like doctors’ visits,surgeries, prescriptions, etc. I am also assuming that you are not one of almost half the country trying to raise children alone, or partially alone because you didn’t count in costs for day care, which cost more than some colleges do. Speaking of college, are you planning on sending your kids? Apparently not, because I don’t see any money for savings in your budget. Most children from middle income families qualify for almost no financial aid. Typically, if you go to a state school where you live, it costs about 5-8 thousand a year. A private four year school or a school out of state costs anywhere from 15-50 thousand and that is WITH financial aid. I am glad that some of you can get by on less than 10,000 a year, but most people can’t.

  3. Hyperion says:

    The whole “how much it raises” a kid thing is a conspiracy by the Government and Big Business to drive the Economy. Stick to the Man, sister!

  4. Headmistress, zookeeper says:

    You can also get inexpensive and free curriculum materials online (lots of worksheet pages for those who are so inclined), as well as etexts.
    The library is another free resource we use often.
    We buy a lot of our books at library booksales and thrift shops, too.

    I agree- of course- those figures are so off base for us that they are hilariously funny. Using those numbers it costs us more to raise our seven children than we’ve ever *made* in any two years.

  5. Comfy,
    We don’t use a prepackaged curriculum, for one thing. We are very relaxed homeschoolers so many of our subjects are informal.
    We use our personal library, acquired over the years, for much of our science & history. Many of these are great books, purchased for less than $1 apiece from thrift stores and library sales.
    We buy nearly everything secondhand, esp. expensive textbooks (e.g. Saxon Math). Even consumable workbooks can often be found on Ebay, unused, because somebody bought them and decided they just weren’t right for their family.
    When we do buy something (secondhand) that just isn’t for us, we sell it and use the funds for another purchase.
    Really, one month’s worth of the budget (well spent in August) will buy a year’s worth of notebook paper, computer paper, pencils, and a goodly supply of crayons, markers and colored pencils for 7 children.
    In January we bought 3 Politically Incorrect Guide to…books. These are not children’s books, but the 12yo dug right in and the others will benefit from what Hubby and I learn. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Most of February’s budget went toward 3 Leap Frog videos for the beginning readers, along with a new binder, some pencils, etc.
    This month will likely be an order from CBD for 2 or 3 $7 workbooks for the 4yo and 6yo, and a used Saxon 87 teachers & 2 student texts from Ebay for the 10yo and 12yo.
    I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that much of the $50 goes toward books that the entire family uses rather than specifically toward curriculum items.

  6. T. Comfyshoes says:

    I’m trying to figure out how you homeschool even one or two children on $50/month – I don’t have kids yet so I don’t know much about this, but around here $50 will get you two, maybe three books. I imagine $50 would get you a decent amount of arts/crafts supplies, but still… Did you already have a whole bunch of educational materials on hand, or were they free, or are they just a lot less expensive than I would imagine?

  7. T. Comfyshoes says:

    I’m trying to figure out how you homeschool even one or two children on $50/month – I don’t have kids yet so I don’t know much about this, but around here $50 will get you two, maybe three books. I imagine $50 would get you a decent amount of arts/crafts supplies, but still… Did you already have a whole bunch of educational materials on hand, or were they free, or are they just a lot less expensive than I would imagine?

  8. SickAboutIt says:

    Anonymous is right – the problem isn’t buying new toys (at least for us), it’s daycare that’s the killer. We are paying $300 a week (there’s $15K/yr) and that’s average for our area (low-$250, high-$350). I’m paying more to send my kid to daycare than I would to send her to college…

  9. aussietigger1980 says:

    That is brilliant! I love it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing!

  10. CappuccinoLife says:

    Kim, my husband said I need to study under you! How do you keep your grocery/household spending that low???????????? I am getting too close to $300 most months and there are only 4 of us, baby and toddler included. How do you do it!?

  11. I’m guessing that some of that price comes from steep day care costs, after school lessons, home add-ons/upgrades, private pre-schools and elementary schools, fast-foodlike treats etc. Expenses that not everyone has, but throw off the average anyway.

  12. After reading articles like the one you mention, I always come away from them scratching my head and wondering where on earth do they get those numbers?

    I agree children aren’t really that expensive. They don’t need every new, expensive toy out on the market, nor do they need designer clothes. It’s really not that hard to be careful with one’s money and live frugally.

  13. GrannyGrump says:

    I’ve often wondered who calculates that “How much it costs to raise a child to age 18” business, because I raised two kids and their estimate for one is more money than I’ve probably made in my entire life.

    Thank God for hand-me-downs from kids’ slightly larger friends, and for Goodwill (a fur coat for $3? Sign me up!)

    And I got my granddaughter three toys she absolutely loves for a total cost of $1.75. Yup. $1 for the riding car, 50 cents for the castle, and 25 cents for the little toy piano.

  14. Ash,
    I agree about the medical bills – I think we’ve been very blessed as well, though our children have had 3 minor surgeries between them.
    But I also think it’s good to see the cost of raising normal, average children *without* the exceptional cases factored in. Most of us shouldn’t expect that it will cost $15,000/year unless we really want to spend that much. We make lifestyle choices for our children as well as for ourselves.
    On the topic of lifestyle, Hubby and I buy most of our clothes secondhand as well, because there are others things we’d rather spend our money on: Java Chip ice cream, good coffee, a trip to the movies for the 9 of us…
    Regarding haircuts, children are a perfect training ground. If you do bad job, people will just assume they cut their own hair, right?

  15. Laura Ashley says:

    If any one here has ever been to Goodwill or the Salvation Army I’ll bet you have seen just how many toys they have. Good toys too. I bet you could take $30 and find enough toys (including bikes) for a child from 0 to 10 years old.

    One problem I have is my sonโ€™s shoes. He wears a double extra wide. He isn’t over weight or anything, but his foot is just fat. So we have to go to a special store and spend nearly $50 on a pair of shoes for a 3 year old. And we have to do this several times a year.

    If I could cut hair I think that would help. (or long hair on boys come back in style) I know that many women cut their sonโ€™s and daughter’s hair and that saves a lot.

    One area I have been extremely blessed in is medical bills. We have had almost none. A fellow waitress from work had a son that had a heart transplant at 2-years old. The total cost of this is nearly a million dollars. Thatโ€™s right- a million. Even though his father had a good job they had to go on Medicaid and get the government to pay for it. I guess they could have asked their church for help, but very few churches are โ€œout of the redโ€ much less have a million dollars laying around.

    My guess is cases like this raise the average a bunch!

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