As a part of a promotion, I received a book in the mail yesterday. I will read it and give it a proper review later, but something immediately grabbed my attention on the back cover:
“The average family will spend between $11,000 and $16,000 during a new baby’s first year, and more than $200,000 before a kid’s eighteenth birthday. Unfortunately, a second baby only doubles your costs, with little economy of scale for each additional baby.”
Um, hold on a second while I a.) stare at the text in disbelief b.) snort and chuckle c.) question whether the author/publisher knows about how to save lots of money on babies d.) all of the above.
The book in question is The Wall Street Journal. Financial Guidebook for New Parents by Stacey L. Bradford.
Again, I haven’t read it yet — I’ve just seen the back cover. The crazy statement is also present in the introduction.
I’m hoping the author has something useful within these pages — possibly some good info on 529 plans, estate planning and other Wall Street Journal-type info.
So let’s talk about how a second child could cost as much as a first baby.
- Use disposable diapers for both children.
- Formula-feed only. For the second child, you’ll replace some bottles and rubber nipples since I am guessing they wear out (right?)
- Put both children in daycare from a young age on.
- Had a boy the first time and having a girl the second? Get entirely new wardrobes for each child.
- Buy a second crib, and put your eldest child in a crib-converted “big-boy bed.”
- Make sure all baby gear is purchased new for the second child.
In contrast, here are some things that we are doing for our little girl. She will barely be a blip in our budget. And Johnny was only a sorta-blip, himself — so yeah we’re going to be money ahead once you consider the tax break.
- Use cloth diapers for both children. Most of our cloth dipes from Johnny can be used for Baby Girl. I will buy a few extra, and I also needed to buy some tiny diapers since we didn’t start with Johnny until he was 6 months. Total cost? Around $100. And they have resale value! And I can also use them for #3! Alternatively, you could work the drugstore deals and get disposables for fairly cheap.
- Breastfeed the baby until beyond 12 months. I had some struggles in the first month with Johnny and I thought it would be great if I could make it to 4 weeks, and then my goal was 2 months…and then it got a lot easier and the next thing I know, he weaned at 18 months. The kid managed to get by without formula and he only had one bottle…ever. I hand-expressed milk for him to have while I had surgery. He drank from a bottle that I got for free from Motherhood Maternity. He hated the bottle, and I’m not surprised since we introduced it so late. Anyway, for us breastfeeding was pretty darn cheap and convenient.
- I’m a homemaker. I think that’s my job title of choice these days, since “stay-at-home-moms” do not stay home. We go all over the place! So yeah, I don’t pay anyone to watch my kiddo. That’s cheaper. And fun!
- Our second child is a girl and I’ve already heard from THREE people who want to send me some clothes for her. Ok, sure, thanks! I also have some gender-neutral items from Johnny that she can wear. Baby clothes don’t have to be expensive anyway, thanks to yard sales, thrift/consignment and hand-me-downs.
- Johnny is in a double-sized bed that we previously used as a guest bed. We will use his crib for Baby Girl. He could have used the crib as a “big boy bed,” but for one, he doesn’t like it. And two, he’d need to be evicted in time for Baby Girl anyway, so we might as well skip the toddler bed and just go to a size that will contain him until he’s oh, 6’2″ or so.
- Our baby gear with Johnny was intentionally gender-neutral. My Baby K’tan is black and I will possibly get another color just for fun. I’m thinking green. Our pack n’ play is neutral (and honestly, who CARES if it wasn’t?!). Our umbrella stroller is grey. We don’t have an infant seat yet but will be getting one for Baby Girl. It’ll be a neutral pattern.
It really and truly doesn’t have to cost that much to have a baby. I can’t speak for what it costs to raise a teenager since I’m obviously not there yet, but I am still skeptical of the $11,000+/year price tag.
I don’t want numbers like this to discourage people from becoming parents. It’s just so misleading!