This morning I read a facebook status that said raising one child to the age of eighteen costs an average of $220,000. I guess if you factor in loss of wages/child care/utilities/sports/classes/etc this might be true, but I don’t think raising a child has to be as expensive as most people think.
You know those endless lists of things the baby stores provide to “help” you prepare for your new little bundle of joy? Completely unnecessary unless you like to shop and have the means to do so. I’ve had four kids and I’ve whittled my list down to the bare basics by this point. If I were to have another baby I would need:
Cloth diapers and wipes
A baby toiletry kit
A dozen baby gowns and/or sleepers
A dozen little tshirts
A package of socks
A couple of hats
Several packages of blankets
A good quality carseat
And that’s it. No need for a fancy stroller or nursery furniture. And because I save baby clothes I can strike those off the list. Except socks. We never have socks. The house fairies eat them.
Clothes- I love secondhand clothing- why buy new when your kids will probably ruin it anyway? And over the years I’ve been gifted with large bags of clothing from friends with older children often enough that I’ve only had to buy about a quarter of the stuff my kids wear.
School- The same goes for our homeschool materials and supplies. I’ve only had to purchase a few workbooks here and there. We have bookshelves full of books from friends and boxes full of craft supplies. We purchase yearly memberships to places like the zoo and stick to free and low-cost field trips. I average less than $40 a month on homeschool projects/field trips.
Food- I have mastered the art of frugal cooking. Up until we moved to Missouri, I spent about $50 a week to feed six and sometimes seven people. During the summer of 2009, I managed to feed us all for $25 a week for seven weeks while my husband switched jobs and we waited for a paycheck. Now we can afford to spend more on luxuries and we certainly do- but I know if I had to, I could strip the food budget down to $50 again.
Space- We need less than you might think. Our babies sleep in our bed so there is no need for a nursery, and the middle littles like to share a room- even now that we live in a large house, Patrick and Willow are still sharing a room by choice. We’ve lived in some tiny places and had to get creative with space for Hannah over the years- in several apartments she has transformed large closets into her own personal space.
Lifestyle- I stay home so we don’t have the cost of child care. We have always been a one car family, which cuts the cost of fuel/insurance/upkeep. We don’t take fancy vacations. We don’t have cable. We actually like being together- a fun night for us is a “camp out” in the living room with a big pile of mattresses, blanket forts and bowls of popcorn. For fun we go to the park. Patrick and Willow have been to the movie theater once, but they know where all the best playgrounds are in our area. The huz and I occasionally splurge on going out for a nice dinner.
I love our family, and I don’t regret our decision to have four children (and perhaps one more) even during our poorest times. We made it work and we are stronger for it. I’m not advocating for anyone to make the same choices we have, I’m just saying that you can live without many of the things people think are “necessities”.