I always knew kids could be expensive, but wow -- some of the costs I've incurred are just outrageous.
There's a reason why I made a point to heavily pad my emergency fund when I was pregnant with my first child. I knew that raising kids is an expensive prospect, and I wanted to be ready with a more robust savings account.
But through the years, some of the kid-related costs I've encountered have really taken me by surprise -- and not in a good way. Here are a few of the worst offenders.
When my son was an infant, I took him to a nearby daycare center so I could work full-time. The staff was great and the hours were flexible. But the cost was insane. At one point, I was paying well over $350 a week, and while that at least included breakfast and lunch for him, it really ate into my budget.
2. Summer camp
I figured that once my children were old enough to attend school, I'd start saving money on childcare costs since I'd only need to pay for care outside the home during the summer. But then I saw how difficult it is to afford camp where I live. For a full-day program with a swimming pool, the price tag is generally $4,000 to $5,000 per child. It's possible to spend a little less than that, but then you give up the pool, which I feel bad doing. And since the cost difference isn't so substantial, I'd rather spring for the aquatics program.
3. Extracurricular activities
I'm a big believer in letting my kids try out different activities and see what is and isn't a good fit. But, man, some of these activities are so incredibly pricey. Gymnastics, for example, costs about $200 a month, but that isn't even the worst part. For the tournaments they do, you need to buy expensive leotards and getups that cost almost as much as your monthly tuition. Thankfully, my daughters have opted out of that for now, but I still spend a small fortune on martial arts, soccer, and the other stuff they're involved in.
My family does a lot of hiking and exercise, so my kids need quality shoes. But at $50 or more a pop, footwear is a hard thing to spend money on -- especially since younger kids tend to outgrow their shoes in the blink of an eye. Thankfully, my kids are past the stage where they need to size up every four months, but shoes still constitute a big chunk of my budget. Incidentally, so do socks, which are generally just a couple of dollars a pair, but are practically disposable in my household.
5. School supplies
I never expected school supplies to be free. But I am surprised at how much money I have to spend on them. In addition to shared classroom supplies, like tissue boxes and wipes, my kids seem to need everything from glue sticks to colored pencils to dry erase boards and markers. All told, I'd say I spend several hundred dollars a year on mandatory supplies -- and that doesn't count extras, like crafty stuff for my kids to draw with on their own time.
And there you have it. Raising children is hardly an inexpensive prospect. The good news, however, is that if you save well before you have them and budget carefully once you do, you may find that your costs are more than manageable -- and that the love you get from the human beings you raise more than makes up for the hardship of having to shell out all that money.
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