Home » Living & Life Style » Having a Child Changed Our Financial Lives

childHaving a child can change your life in any number of ways, not the least of which can be financially. As my wife and I are currently on our second child, we’ve realized just how important having the financial backing to have a child can be. Kids can be costly even when you think you have a variety of ways to cut expenses. While we are reasonably responsible when it comes to our finances, we are often surprised at the kid costs that crop up and the ways those costs have altered our financial lives.

Learning about all those baby costs

For many parents these days, you don’t just walk into the hospital and have a baby. There are all sorts of pre-tests and doctors appointments that led up to that special day. I still remember going to 3-hour birthing classes after work for several weeks before we had our first child…and they weren’t free.

While insurance may cover many of the expenses involved in the health care aspect of a baby, there can still be thousands of dollars to be paid leading up to and including the birthing process. Our first child cost us about $5,000 in associated health care expenses, and our second child around $2,700. Plus, there are those items like clothes, diapers, wipes, formula, bedding, furniture, toys, breast pump supplies, and a litany of other items that can add extra thousands of dollars to the cost of having a baby. Like owning a home, it’s often hard to know exactly what will be needed, and how much it will cost to care for a child until you’re actually there.

Buying a house when all we needed was a home

Soon after we had our first child, we bought our first home. It kind of felt like the two should go together. We realized soon thereafter though, as we settled into our home, that they don’t necessarily have to correlate.

That itch to start nesting in a home of our own cost us big time (to the tune of about $100,000 when we eventually sold several years later). We bought as the housing market in our area began to collapse, and as we settled into a home that was much larger than we needed, or frankly wanted, we began to realize our mistake. We didn’t need a house for our baby; all we needed was a home. Whether apartment, rental home or whatever, we didn’t need to buy space, we needed to be a family, and a larger home doesn’t necessarily equate to better parenting or greater family values and relationships.

Finding new ways to cut costs

When you go from living on your own as a couple to having a little one running around and racking up all those new expenses, it can take time to figure out new and creative ways to reduce some of those extra costs.

Some of the things we did were to start using store brand diapers, wipes and formula, which helped us cut our costs on such items in some instances by as much as 50 percent, saving us upwards of $360 to $720 a year. We also learned to shop resale (resale shops, Goodwill Stores, and garage sales) for many of our clothing needs where we could get many lightly worn outfits for our child at just pennies on the dollar compared to what they would cost in a resale setting. And we learned not go too crazy buying toys or fancy baby foods since babies can be quite particular about what they like or don’t like and those tastes can change quite regularly and rapidly.

So while we’ve manage to adjust our financial lifestyles to fit around our children, it has taken a little time and a bit of trial and error to figure out just how to meld family and finances.

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