Recently I came upon an article about the high cost of raising children. I am a mom of four. I know a little about the costs of raising these tiny ones. But if I truly knew how much children would cost us before we had them, I might have just gotten a dog. Scrap that. Dogs are expensive too. I’d get a plant. A cheap, replaceable plant.
Oh, please don’t get me wrong!! I love my children to bits and cherish all the good with the bad and I would not exchange them for anything in the whole wide world. Not even an expensive dog. Or plant. 🙂
Set The Record Straight
Although I absolutely got where the author was coming from, she only has one child, and most probably made the same mistake so many non-parents, or parents of one child, makes. I’ve heard dozens of parents (especially the Dads!) say that they won’t be having a second child as having one is already making them broke! 🙂 So I decided to write this to set the record straight.
I was a working mom until we had number three. Baby Nr3 was quite sick during her first year, and the day I was to return to work, baby was so sick and had to be admitted to hospital. This happened 5x in seven months. She could not be in daycare, so we made the decision to keep her at home instead. I became a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM). We had to change her (and our family’s) diet, had doctors’ fees, medicine, physio, and many other new costs to fit into our tight little budget, but we made it happen. When Baby nr4 arrived, we had already settled into our beautiful and frugal lifestyle, and only had to make small adaptations.
>>Sidenote, Baby Nr4 was our little gift that we did not expect. We had, by then, already given away all maternity clothes, baby clothes, baby toys, baby EV.RY.THING.
Now here’s the thing: With your first pregnancy, you really have no idea what life is going to be like with another member in the family. You prepare as hell. But even if you go to all the classes, read all the book, listen to every single story your mother, your friends, you mother’s friends tell you…you really still have no idea. So you buy everything. You prepare as much as you can. (Sometimes not so within your budget..) You save as much as you can afford, because Aunt Lisa reminded you about the high cost of nappies – and that you can’t just buy no-name nappies, it has to be the highest priced nappies on the market for your sweet newborn’s soft and precious little behind.
Thank goodness for babyshowers and “nappy-braais”!!!! (Did your baby-daddy have one? It’s a must. We feel like they’re more included, we also have more nappies and they can braai. It’s an absolute win for all!) #jealouseyes …because my hubby refused to have one.
Baby Nr 1 had a whole Facebook Album dedicated to the progress of Baby’s room, and every single thing you’re buying (or gifted!) to make it perfect. (Yes, I did that. Again, don’t judge me. You probably did the same.) We had “just in case” of everything.
Second Time Around
My point is, for your first baby you buy everything. Hopefully you get to use it all. Most likely, you don’t. But that’s also OK. Because here is where it changes for baby number two: You have so many things left over from your first baby’s first few months…maybe even years. AND this time you’re a little smarter, and do not put 10 packs of size 1 nappies in your Baby Registry. You learn and adapt to what worked for you the first time around, what didn’t work at all, and which new thing you’d like to test out on Baby nr 2.
Yes, you get new things to make this one feel as loved as the firstborn. 😉 But you do not spend nearly as much on the non-essentials. And you know what? Same goes for Baby nr3. And four.
We passed things down like it was going out of fashion. Yes, it certainly helps if you have the same gender babies. But you also realize that unless you’re doing a photoshoot everyday, or have people coming over to judge you and baby and your parental dressing skills, baby can pretty much wear anything that will keep him or her warm and safe. So go ahead, dress her in that cute blue onesie with the firetruck that says “Go get ’em, big guy!” Keep the cute hairbands and the 4 pink dresses for when you’re going out, if you must.
Count It Up
If you count up the cost of baby number 1 – and let’s say for argument’s sake, it was R10 000 – Baby number 2 will not double your cost to R20 000. In my own case, baby 3 and 4 did not multiply that first number by three and four. I promise you! Yes, for sure you will be spending more because you will forever have another mouth to feed, body to dress and schools to pay for. But even schools (most schools, even private ones) make special arrangements for parents with 3 or more children in the same school. (Sometimes they even offer discount on only two children!)
Our eldest is in Grade 1 this year. Number two will be in Grade R next year, and is currently at a pre-grade R preschool. Number 3 started going to playschool half day a few months after number 4 was born. All four children are on our medical aid (although, on Discovery, the cover all our children, but you only pay for up to three children – SCORE!). All four our children eat three meals a day. 🙂 All four need snacks for morning snack time and afternoon snack time. All four my children wear clothes. We love hand-me-downs, and sometimes, within our friend-circle, we do a Swop-Shop.* But we also also buy them what they need.
You’d think we need millions to do this, right?
If your first child cost you R100, add child number two, and you might have to fork out R150. Add child number three, and you already have most things, but you want to get a few things extra, so now you’re at R200. Silly numbers, but I know you get the picture. And this also greatly depends on the lifestyle, family dynamics and preference of your family. But you honestly still do get smarter and wiser every time.
Let’s Break It Down
Just to make sure it’s not just me and my opinions, I asked a bunch of people from a variety of backgrounds and economic situations with 1, 2, 3, or 4 children to count up the cost of what they spend on their children. A recent study in South Africa, estimated that we spend about R256 a day or R7785 a month per child. WHAT?! Um noooooo! Not this family.
We did not do a detailed, count-every-single-cent survey, but I asked them to look at what they spend on
- school/creche fees
- meals (monthly grocery budget and divide by family members)
- medical aid
If they had more than one child, I asked them to just add it up, and divide by children (As my 7 year old does not have the same needs/expenses as my 11month old baby). This what we found:
Family with 4 children average spend per child: R2133
Family with 3 children average per child: R3057
Family with 2 children average per child: R3275
Family with one child: R4825
It’s not an exact science, and again, it depends a lot on each family’s lifestyle, family dynamics and preference. This was just a quick study looking at the same basic expenses in about 20 families. And it clearly shows what I am trying to bring across. You will spend more money with each child, absolutely. But you also spend less per child when you have more than one child. The average cost drastically goes down with each added child.
In conclusion, we can not get away from the fact that we will be spending mucho money on our little ones. Everything gets more expensive with each passing year. Kids cost money. We can prepare financially for them as much as humanly possible. (Look out for our next post on HOW to save for your child’s future!) But if your biggest worry is that you won’t be able to afford more children because of what you’re spending right now, rest assured…you’ll be able to make it work. It gets easier.
And having children is still easier to keep alive than plants 🙂
*Swop Shop is a day spent with friends with similar aged children, where we all bring our too-small clothes, arrange it by age, and just swop your preloved ones for new (to us!) clothes. If you’re not too keen on clothes where you’re not sure where it came from, this will work brilliantly for you. You also get to save a TON of money, and you see your child’s favourite hoodie on your friend’s son two months down the line.
** First published on MonaLisa Mamas blog.