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Making babies is easy, but paying for them?

by J. Money on Monday, October 19, 2009

J. JuniorThe talk of baby making has entered the BudgetsAreSexy household, and I’m starting to get a little nervous. Not so much about having one or making one (that’s the fun part!), but about the costs they suck up (the not-so-fun part). How much do babies go for these days?

And that’s not a rhetorical question either, sorry – I really haven’t a clue :) If I had to guess, purely out of thin air, I’d say $10,000. And I’m not entirely sure if that means hospital bills, yearly costs, “per baby” or what. I’m as stupid as they comes to baby finances, so I’m hoping some of you will enlighten me. All I know is that they’re expensive.

I plopped “how much do babies cost?” into the google, and the results were all over the place as you might expect. Some forums say they cost $800 a month once you get ‘em going, and others say you’re fine with $400 a month. There’s probably too many variables to get an accurate figure for my exact personal situation (like daycare vs. home watched, insurance coverage vs. not covered, baby 1 vs. baby 2, etc, etc) but anything you can share would be very helpful.

I did try out a nifty Baby Cost Calculator though! You go down this huge list of selecting what you will and won’t need, and at the end it pops out an average cost for you. According to OUR results, it says it’ll cost us $4,119.00 the first year – or roughly $343.25/mo. It doesn’t account for the hospital bills OR what you’d get for baby showers and presents and all that stuff, but it’s a start.

Either way, I’m pretty excited to start a new adventure in our lives. We’re not sure when this will all come about, but God willing we’ll be able to produce healthy & happy little J. Juniors all over the place :) And you better believe I’ll be blogging all about it.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frugal Babe February 24, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to add our experience. Our son was born at home with a midwife, whom we had to pay out of pocket, as our insurance doesn't cover homebirths. We spent about $3500 on that. As soon as he was born, we opened a 529 account, and have been putting $100/month into it. We also pay about $100/month for his health insurance (we're self employed, so we pay for our own insurance). We spent $250 on an organic crib mattress and another $250 on a Britax carseat. Beyond that, our expenses have been extremely small. I breastfed and we never bought formula. We use cloth diapers that I made using old t-shirts and fleece sweatshirts. They are not only super-cute, but very inexpensive – I think we've spent about $75 total so far on diapering for 22 months, since I got all the fabric at thrift stores, and we don't use a dryer (I hang them up to dry, which is free). Our son eats the same food we do, and spends his day playing with all sorts of random stuff like pots and pans. He loves books, and has received lots as gifts. All of his clothing comes from thrift stores. Other than the college fund and the health insurance, our monthly expenses for him are probably under $30, including food (he's almost two, so food isn't breaking the bank yet – I'm sure that will change!). Good luck!

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2 J. Money February 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm

WOAH!!! That is awesome :) Esp the "making of the t-shirt diapers" – haha…def. cute if you had like old school band designs on them and such. Appreciate you leaving your experience, we need all the help we can get! Like "starting." Any day now it's possible. haha…

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3 Kevin I June 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

I know this is an old post, but recently linked so it’s totally in-bounds. Our daughter is 15 months old and was a lot less expensive than I had anticipated. Maybe we are in an odd situation but I’m not sure. Sorry in advance for the long post, I just want to be as thorough as possible in case any of it can help :)

The baby showers covered a good deal of the necessities furniture and stuff wise (I don’t know if that is atypical, while we have a lot of friends, they aren’t people of means so I think that sort of balances out right?). Anything we didn’t get sales and yard sales were a great way to supplement it. Modern, safe, Car Seats are plentiful at yard sales as kids out grow them really fast.

The hospital bill is easy enough to figure out if you have insurance. In our case it ended up being our deductible plus twice my wife’s out of pocket. Between the pre-natal check ups, post-natal check-ups, delivery (cesarean) and first year of baby check ups it added up quick. Financial me wishes it could have all happened the same year, but since it was a July-March pregnancy, we had to pay the out of pocket twice. Without insurance I’m not quite sure how to approach it outside of calling the doctors you’d consider using and asking them for some ballparks. If they are snippy and unhelpful that could actually help in the selection process :) but either way for the financial planning end it’s important to plan to pay for a cesarean. Whether you planned for that or not anything can happen last minute and it’s not always under your control. If it goes smoothly then that’s bonus money in the bank, if it doesn’t the sweet relief of preparation!

Insurance or not remember they can break it down into payment plans and it helps to know how much you need to pay to show “intent”, I don’t know if it differs state to state but for us (NJ) it’s $25. As long as we payed $25 a month on each individual bill, they couldn’t get us with fees or send it to collections or anything. I was just getting on track financially when the baby bills hit so unfortunately I had to pay in installments. I snowballed it ($25 on each bill but all available extra cash on the small ones) and burned through it in about 6 months. Even though our hospital and doctor didn’t charge any sort of installment fees or what not they did give a sizable bonus (I think it was like $400) if you could pay it all off in the first two months and financial me is kicking myself that I wasn’t ready to take advantage of that.

Our daughter straight refused to breast feed. It drove me nuts budget wise, her formula ended up setting us back between $100 and $150 a month at the beginning and $80 near the end (it goes up as they start out drinking many small meals of it, then turns to a few large meals of it, then goes down to a few small meals supplemented by the much cheaper baby food) but we sprung for nicer formula. Thankfully barring some sort of special need they’re only on formula for the first year. Our daughter is 15 months and is on table food exclusively. Once they hit table food it’s awesome because some of that grocery budget magic can start to pick up as you buy higher quantities of things.

Diapers are an x-factor. You can cut corners by asking for them at the shower, and also finding people with babies one size ahead of yours so you get their extras as they grow. Target store brand diapers actually turned out to be my favorite all around. I think we payed anywhere between $40-$100 on diapers each month (like formula it goes up and then back down) but because of the shower and hand me downs I don’t think we started buying diapers until about four months in.

Invest in a few good quality durable toys every-time they pass a developmental stage (and pad it out with toys from yard sales) and a few durable outfits each time they grow a size (just do more laundry and get the rest hand-me-down if you can find it). These are the two easiest places to save money because the kid is not going to use all the toys you want to buy them or be able to wear all the outfits you want to buy them either. Less is always much more here.

What I found most interesting is how terrible those numbers may sound, your fun budget automatically goes way down during the stages these kids are that expensive. We didn’t get to eat out or go to the movies as much, less trips and events. One video game that would usually last me a week started lasting me months. Netflix was a lifesaver and so was the dollar menu at Wendy’s when we were too tired to cook. With most of our free time we just wanted to sleep or read anyway at that point. As you use less and less diapers and formula your free time starts going back up and your fun budget comes back so it’s sort of this natural give and take with the budget if you’re smart enough with it.

Thankfully we didn’t have to factor in daycare, I work weekend hours so have Mondays off, was given permission to work from home on Fridays, Grandparents took her Tuesdays and Thursdays and I go in late on Wednesdays so my wife took less hours and came home early to meet me in the middle. My wife is now a nanny so she can take the little one to work with her. This whole situation is obviously unusual, but I think it’s worth mentioning because when we first got pregnant this seemed impossible and not something that could be worked out at all, but we found a way. Everybody does. Professional daycare centers are really expensive. There are child-care co-ops, community and religious center programs and my favorite, people who watch an extra kid or two as their own personal finance side hustle. There is going to be a way that works, you just have to keep an eye out.

It really is true that it takes a village to raise a child, especially financially. The larger network of family or friend you can rustle up, the easier and cheaper some of this stuff gets. A big family, religious congregation or community group is a lifesaver in this situation as the chances of finding more people with hand-me downs or connections to cheap childcare increases.

I’m sure a lot of this stuff sounds scary and not worth it, like not even needing the fun budget as much. But honestly, you don’t mind it as much as you’d think if you go with the flow. One of my favorite musicians, Jonathan Coulton, summed it up best in an interview he did about becoming a parent:

“I was having a conversation with a friend who had recently become a parent, and she reminded me of something I had forgotten about since my daughter was born. She was describing this what-have-I-done feeling – I just got everything perfect in my life, and then I went and messed it all up by having a baby. I don’t feel that way anymore, but the thought certainly crossed my mind a few times at the beginning. Eventually you just fall in love and forget about everything else, but it’s not a very comfortable transition. I compare the process to becoming a vampire, your old self dies in a sad and painful way, but then you come out the other side with immortality, super strength and a taste for human blood. At least that’s how it was for me. At any rate, it’s complicated.”

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4 J. Money June 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Dude! Wow, thank you :) And that is freakin’ hilarious – a Vampire?!! hahahaha…..that is all kinds of awesome. And kinda makes sense too :)

Really glad people are still dropping notes off here because I lost ALLLLL the ones I had before (30-40+) when I converted over from Blogger to Wordpress :( There was such good info in there that I was hoping to come back to once we were ready to roll! Oh well, but yeah – this is GREAT info man, thank you! Esp on that cesarean stuff – makes sense if it can be a total last minute thing as you mentioned.

In fact, I might even use this as a “guest post” here on the site later if you’d be cool with that. I bet a lot of people would find this useful :) And when we finally procreate I’ll let ya know! Thanks again man, much appreciated.

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5 katie May 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I can’t even tell you how much it has “cost” to have my babies….

I had JUST turned 20 when I had my first one. I was in the Army. I think I had to pay like $11 for staying in the hospital overnight. With the second child (still in the Army) I didn’t have to pay anything for staying overnight.

I know I bought a crib off of a friend of mine for $70 – and it “housed” both of my babies.

I guess since I was so young when I had them, I just never knew any different. I will say that when I had my first child, my take-home pay was $1300 a month. But – all the bills got paid, everyone ate, diapers were always there (as was toliet paper for me, YaY!) always had money for gasoline and yadda yadda yadda.

I think the biggest thing in your world is that you have had all these years WITHOUT children, so you will feel the impact in your budget with having them. I didn’t even have a “budget” until my oldest was 7 years old – lol.

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6 J. Money May 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Haha, glad you finally got one together! Thanks for sharing your experience with us :) Wish I still had all the others up here too, but they got wiped away during our Wordpress conversion… y’all def. have a lot of insight!

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