Many couples today are falsely led to believe that they can't afford to start a family. We’re afraid to live without luxury vehicles, beach vacations, and Apple watches. The truth of the matter is not that children are too expensive; it’s that, as a society, we have our priorities backward.
Children are not, in fact, very costly. Of course, they can be if you as a parent make certain decisions that strain your dollar. But, really, children need very little in the way of material things.
There are some costs you can’t avoid. With any child comes the costs of delivery and postnatal care, doctor’s visits, diapers, and food (if you’re breastfeeding, this cost will be drastically reduced).
Of course, you will also need clothing, a crib/bassinet, a car seat, a stroller, and various other baby items. Important to note here, though, is that many of these things can be bought second-hand or borrowed. Brand new and top-of-the-line is just not necessary.
Brand new and top-of-the-line items are just not necessary.
You also need far less than retailers will lead you to believe. Check out any baby registry, and you will feel overwhelmed by the number of things that they say you need for your little one. I promise you don't need a wipe warmer, expensive crib bedding (which isn't even considered safe!), a baby food processor, or even a changing table (a dresser with a changing pad works just fine).
Beyond the registry items, there's the question of childcare for those who aren't already set on choosing the stay-at-home mom life. “Daycare costs more than I make,” you’ll hear many women say. It’s true that childcare is expensive, with the average cost of daycare in the U.S. hovering close to $1,000 a month for infants. Oftentimes, it actually makes more sense for a mother to stay home with her child than to continue working. This is certainly a sacrifice worth making if you're able to do so. If not, there are other options such as seeking the help of family members or working from home with the assistance of a mother’s helper.
Kids Want What’s Free
Parents often feel that they have to indulge their children, buying them expensive toys, taking them on expensive outings, and enrolling them in every costly extracurricular. Kids don't need any of this. What they crave more than anything is your love, affection, and attention. Sure, they might light up momentarily when you present them with a new plaything. They will be truly happy, though, if you nurture them, listen to them, and spend time with them.
What children crave more than anything is your love, affection, and attention.
Children are also very content entertaining themselves with simple things. Give a kid a cardboard box and free reign with his imagination, and the possibilities are endless. Send your child outdoors to play with friends, and she will return home in the afternoon rosy-cheeked, grinning, and begging to play again tomorrow. This isn't to say that you should never spend money on a special toy or outing; these are not necessities, though, and should not be a reason to write kids off as “too expensive.”
How To Prepare
Before starting a family, you and your husband should financially prepare for having kids. Start by making a budget with your spouse and cutting out any unnecessary expenses. Make sure to put money in a savings account for any unexpected (and expected) costs that will pop up once life with littles starts. If needed, determine if you will leave your job and stay home (and consider how that will impact your finances so as to adjust accordingly). Understand your health insurance (what they will cover as far as prenatal and postnatal expenses and how your payments will change once adding a new member).
Most importantly, know that it can be done. You don’t need to have X amount saved, make X amount annually, have already purchased a home, or completely paid off your debt. You just need love, trust, and the willingness to put everything else second.
Ultimately, there is sacrifice involved with having children. They don’t have to be as expensive as society now makes them out to be, but they certainly aren't free. And you and your husband will have to sacrifice in more ways than one to raise a family. That may look like eating out less, doing without that vacation to Europe, choosing to live in a less-costly area, or even giving up your career temporarily to stay home with your child(ren). All of it is worth it, though.