3 Ways My Budget Has Changed Since Becoming a Parent

by Christy Bieber | Published on Aug. 1, 2021

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Parent holds their young child up in their kitchen. Both smile.

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Having a baby can change your budget in major ways.

Becoming a parent has, unsurprisingly, prompted some pretty major lifestyle changes. And some of those changes have to do with the things I spend money on. In fact, my budget has changed in several important ways since I had my son almost two years ago.

Here are some of the biggest shifts in my spending patterns.

1. I'm spending more money for kid's activities

Unsurprisingly, before I had a child, I didn't spend any money on children's activities. But it's been very unexpected how quickly these costs have ramped up since my son was born -- especially as he's still relatively young.

Between gymnastics, music classes, and swim lessons, I've added several hundred dollars per month to my monthly budget -- and that doesn't even include outings such as visits to zoos or aquariums or children's museums.

Of course, I don't have to spend money on these activities. But I feel they enrich my son's early education. And, perhaps just as importantly, they give us something fun to do together so I don't get stir crazy in the house chasing him around all day. That alone means that paying for these activities was well worth adjusting my spending habits.

2. I've cut my dining out budget dramatically

Before having a baby, I enjoyed going out to dinner, and my husband and I budgeted enough to go out once a week to a nice restaurant on Saturdays.

My son doesn't have the patience to sit still for restaurant meals, though, and I've found it much easier to just cook at home and give up the fine dining until he gets a little older.

Since it's a lot cheaper to cook at home than it is to eat out every week, I was able to redirect a good portion of my dining out budget which has made it a lot easier to pay for the added costs associated with my son's activities.

3. I'm spending more for childcare

Childcare is important for any working parent. While I didn't have a lot of options during the pandemic, I did have someone come to stay with my son a few hours a day before the pandemic, as well as for a few hours a week throughout most of the pandemic. And I expect to ramp up my spending in this category in the near future.

The reality is that good childcare can be very expensive, but it's also essential -- both so that I have time to work and so I can enjoy time out once in a while. And while I budgeted for this before my son was born, I underestimated just how much the costs would be. So I had to make some adjustments.

I've been able to make these modifications to my budget because I realized early on that I hadn't planned my spending properly. I made adjustments quickly before I ended up in credit card debt by cutting in some areas even as my spending on other things expanded. And I'm sure I'll need to make some additional modifications as he gets older.

The good thing is, I revisit my budget regularly, and I track my spending so I know when my expenses are changing and can work that into my financial planning. While these steps are important for everyone, they're essential for parents since children's needs can evolve so quickly -- and the personal finances of a family may need to evolve with them.

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