This Expense Was My Biggest Financial Surprise as a New Parent

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  • I thought I was prepared for the expense of having children, but a big cost surprised me.
  • I didn't realize that kids needed so many clothes to sustain multiple outfit changes per day. They also outgrow clothes very fast.

New and expecting parents may want to read this. 

When I had children, I was prepared for a lot of the expenses that I would face. I knew childcare could be very costly, and I was aware that I might need to take some time off of work and I don't get paid leave since I'm an independent contractor. 

But, there was one big cost that took me by surprise -- and that continues to shock me to this day. Here's what it was. 

I never expected to spend this much on this children's item

The biggest thing that surprised me after having kids was just how often my children would need to change their clothes and how quickly they would outgrow the clothing I bought for them.

See, before my son was born, I bought around 10 to 14 outfits for him, thinking he'd wear an outfit a day and we could wash around once a week or so since we'd be busy with the baby. The problem was, my son ended up going through eight to 10 outfits per day sometimes because of spit-ups and blowouts and general messiness. So I had woefully underprepared for how large his wardrobe needed to be.

I also didn't really think about the fact that the clothing I was buying was for 0-3 month babies. That meant in just three months time, I would have to buy another entirely new wardrobe that was large enough to enable him to change his outfit multiple times daily. Then, with the next size being 3-6 months, I'd have to do it again and again. In fact, the way the sizing works for babies, I ended up needing to buy five different wardrobes just in his first year alone. 

While the outgrowing of clothes has slowed down some, my son still needs multiple outfit changes some days -- especially now that he's in preschool and comes home messy. So, I still end up spending much more than I ever anticipated that I would -- even though I try to buy at consignment sales whenever I can. 

Kids come with all sorts of surprise expenses

While the sheer number of clothes my kids needed was a surprise, luckily I was able to shuffle some things in my budget and pay for their large wardrobes without ending up in credit card debt. 

The fact is, though, it’s impossible to plan for what being a parent is like -- or for what parenting will cost you -- until you actually have kids. In fact, as my children grow, I'm now prepared to be hit with tons of other surprise expenses because I know that I can't possibly anticipate everything.

That's why it's so important to have some wiggle room in your budget, and also to have an emergency fund in case the surprise expenses that creep up aren't just a few extra clothing needs. In fact, I now have a dedicated savings account that's solely for "unexpected kid costs" in addition to my standard emergency fund for other expenses that may crop up. 

By taking steps to be financially prepared for whatever my kids end up needing, I can ensure that raising children doesn't cause me to go off track on my other important financial goals.

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