Can I afford to have children right now?

This is a question that many of you have probably asked yourselves over and over, I know my husband and I have. The problem is, this is not a simple question to answer. The painful truth is that if you don’t discuss the financial aspects of having a child (or multiple) you and your partner could end up in a financial hole leaving you unable to provide the best for your little ones. The most recent numbers to come out of the U.S. department of agriculture state that the average child will cost you around $245,000 throughout their life so that’s close to half a million dollars for 2 and a million dollars for 4. These are huge numbers and obviously need some serious consideration before you commit to having a family. This is especially true if you are thinking about a large family.

Planning is absolutely vital 

Although, the above numbers are a little alarming I am certainly not suggesting that you need to calculate out 18 years of costs for your child or children. However, preparing for your new arrival(s) is extremely important. There are a number of items that you will need to make large one time purchases for. There are also plenty of on-going costs that you will need to budget for too. If you map these out into a spreadsheet or even just on a piece of paper (if you are not overly computer literate like me!), this can really give you a great insight into what your initial spend will be when your baby comes along. Most importantly, it will alert you to how much your monthly and yearly spend will increase post arrival of your pride and joy.

Key items to budget for – one time costs

When it comes to initial purchases, the problem is there are so many different products out there that you “could” buy it becomes a little overwhelming. Especially if this is your first child. What I like to suggest is to focus on the “must haves” first. Then if you still have some budget left over then you can of course treat yourself and your little one to any other items you think will make your lives easier.

Of all the purchases that you should make before your baby comes along, a baby car seat is probably the most important of all. If you plan to travel anywhere with your child by car then you will need one. Not only I this critical to your child’s safety, it is also the law in the United States so you must comply to avoid a fine or possibly worse. You can also check the most up to date laws and regulations around child passenger safety here. When budgeting for a seat for your baby in the car you will need to set aside at least $150 for a decent quality product. You can of course spend a little less that this and you can most certainly spend a lot more than this too.

Other products that you will need to purchase for the early days of your family growth are a sterilizer, a cot, bottles for milk, a breast pump(if you plan to express milk), a stroller and possibly a baby carrier(I found these a little more convenient for quick trips so I didn’t have to fold and unfold the stroller). Obviously, the cost for each of these items can again vary massively so you will need to budget according to your personal circumstances.

On-going costs and what to plan for here 

Once you have taken care of the early one-time costs you will need to approximate the on-going costs too. The key ones in the initial few years are diapers, formula milk (if you can’t or don’t want to breast feed through to 2-3 years), nursery/kindergarten costs, clothing, child-care (if you’ll be back to work post maternity leave), toys/learning aids, extra holiday costs of your little one. Again, as above, the costs of all of these items will depend of course on the brands that you actually buy. The best thing to do is visit your local store and cost out a large pack of diapers, milk and any other items that you feel you would purchase and total them up. Remember, a newborn will happily work their way through 10-12 diapers a day, possibly even more. Your little one will also need feeding every 1-2 hours for the first few months so if you’re not breast feeding you will need a lot of formula to keep them fed properly.

When it comes to the later years, clothing, kindergarten and extra holiday costs become more of an issue. It’s easy enough to price up the kindergarten and vacations. Most Kindergarten websites will have the costing so you can lift from there. For the vacations what I like to do is just get a few quotes for the normal holidays I like to take, this means you can then budget easily for them.

As you can see from the above there’s lots to think about but the key to not getting too overwhelmed by it all is to plan, plan and then plan some more. If you are organized and you budget well, you absolutely CAN afford to have the family you so want. I wish you all the very best with it.

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