Who’s Paying for This Kid?

First, I’m going to apologize to those of you who tune in to my blog for things other than childbearing and child-rearing because those seem to be the hot topics here lately. But I can’t help it. Not only do I have baby on the brain, not only is it impacting my marriage, not only does it consume all my thoughts right now, but it seems like everyone I know is either pregnant or, more commonly, thinking about starting a family.

Chris and I were married at the age of 21. YEARS before most of our friends were even in serious relationships. Which means when we had our first baby, we were YEARS ahead of any of those friends again. Not that we minded. Chris and I have always kind of done our own thing. It doesn’t bother us to be different than others. And it has put us in the unique position of being the “experts” on the subject of having kids among some of our friends.

Chris and I as the experts. On parenting. I know…scary thought.



Anyway, in the past couple months I have been asked at least five times by five different good friends how Chris and I prepared financially to have a baby. When they find out that we spend $1,000 a month on daycare alone, you can see their eyes widen and hives start to break out on their chests. None of the couples could fathom ever having an extra $1,000 laying around for daycare, not to mention all the extra expenses that come with adding another person to your family. And so, each couple has asked us very politely, “How the heck do you pay for all that?!?!?”

First of all, I should tell you that $1,000 a month for daycare in our area is pretty high. We knew that. But we felt like if Bean was going to spend all day there, we wanted it to be the best we could possibly afford. So, while it strains us to keep him in such a nice center, we feel that is worth the strain. But even cutting the cost of daycare down to, let’s just say, $750 a month, it’s still a huge expense. And if you don’t need a daycare, there is still the cost of insurance, diapers, food, supplies, savings, and all the other little oddities that children require.

In short, kids ain’t cheap.

But I’ll tell you just like I told our friends, I don’t know one family who was financially ready for kids when they got pregnant. The truth is that (don’t freak out here…) kids cost so darn much there’s just no way to prepare!!! I don’t know if there’s a correct amount of money you should have in your savings account or if there’s an appropriate figure on a paycheck stub that says you’re ready. But I do know that when you say you are “prepared” to have children, what you really should mean is that you have a plan. You may not have it all together yet. You may still be working out the details. You may still wake up in cold sweats of panic in the middle of the night. But there IS a plan. That’s how we prepared financially for children. We made a plan and then we figured out how to stick to that plan as we went.

It would be a lie to tell you that we never had to cut back or cut down or cut out a lot of the expenses. Over the years since we were first pregnant with Bean, our spending habits have changed profoundly. We can’t simply just up and go out to eat, dropping $50 on a random Tuesday night meal for the two of us. We can’t simply drive away for a weekend because food, hotels, and gas all add up. We can’t splurge for no reason on things like ping pong tables and iPhones. But, it’s also not like we don’t ever get to do those things now because we have Bean, and soon little Gracie. We still get to do those things, it just takes a little more planning and strategy now. It’s not as convenient anymore to spend money.

And, you know, that’s not such a bad thing. Having Bean taught us not just how to be parents, but how to create, manage, and stick to a family budget. It taught us how to prioritize savings. It taught us to value things like health insurance and retirement plans. It taught us to look at finances not just as a day-to-day task, but as a long-term plan that we needed for our family. We needed to learn those lessons. We just happened to learn them because we had a baby on the way.

The funny thing about cutting back for your children is that you don’t even really notice it happening. I know that when we found out the cost of daycare, Chris and I about died. Where in the world would we find an extra $1,000 a month???? We didn’t have that kind of money. But little by little, we changed our spending habits and we cut out some of that extra stuff we had in our lives that we really didn’t need and by the time Bean arrived, the money was there and I couldn’t even remember what I had given up to make that happen. Because I was giving things up for my child, it didn’t feel like giving things up or sacrificing or even compromising. It just felt like we were sticking to the plan. It felt natural – stressful at times, but still natural.

Don’t get me wrong. There were times when it was really irritating and there were even more times when tightening our belt felt like tightening a noose around our marriage. I remember when we first got to Florida and I was unemployed and we were living in a terrible rental house barely able to pay our bills. For Chris’s birthday, his family sent money, like they always do. And Chris decided to take that birthday money and buy an iPhone for himself. He, of course, talked to me about it first, but then I just felt like a total loser saying to him that I thought he should put his birthday money in our savings account. But it had to be said. Here I was clipping coupons and driving all over town to find the cheapest groceries and he wanted to buy an iPhone! We had a huge fight about that one.

It’s not always easy to cut back and it’s not always painless. But what you get in return for that kind of drastic change in your spending habits makes it totally worth it. Sure, we can’t go out to eat every weekend, but this past Friday night Chris, Bean, and I sat on our kitchen counter eating pretzels, popcorn, and hot dogs for dinner. Then we sat on the couch and watched Nanny 911 while Bean brought us just about every book from his bookshelf and sang us every song he knew. There was no bath. There was no bedtime. And when Bean was just about to fall over asleep in the living room, Chris and I sat together with him next to his bed and took turns reading to him until he fell asleep. To me, it isn’t a sacrifice to give up a $50 dinner out somewhere to spend that kind of time with my family. It’s just part of our who we are. I’m happy to do it and, even more, I’m proud that Chris and I have been able to make changes like that so that our family can have what it needs.

So, if money is what is holding you back from having babies, let me tell you what I so eloquently told my closest friends:


Money comes and goes. It always will. But you plan for the unexpected and you celebrate the expected. And then you cross your fingers, pray like hell, grab your partner’s hand, and jump in. It’s only money, right?


Today I am grateful for my mom.

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43 Thoughts to “Who’s Paying for This Kid?”

  1. Wow. Daycare is $1000 a month! That’s crazy.

    I obviously have no babies.

  2. LOVE this post!!! I have 2 boys, wanting to try for a girl 🙂 this post is just perfect…. and you could not be more right!!! I tell people all the time, we sacrifice a lot and things ALWAYS end up working itself out!!

  3. Liz M.

    Love this post! I pay about $175 a week for both my girls so we are paying a pretty penny as well, but my girls love the facility and the people. And you are right, when it is for your kids, it’s not a sacrifice, it’s just what you do. And I would eat Ramen for a week to make things happen for my kids. Thanks for such a great post and wonderful blog.

  4. Dessi

    LOVE THIS POST!!! My hubby and I are really wanting to start a family and some people question if we are ready/how we will pay for it. And we have already realized that if we wait for the perfect time and the perfect amount of money, we will never have kids! We are emotionally ready and we have each other and that’s good enough for me!

  5. I love this post.. NOW If I can get my mother on the same page as that! I always tell people you can never have enough money to have a kid these days! I say its the love that goes around that matters and the fact that you are totally ready for kids! ~Nicki

  6. Thank you for this post! Not only for the budgeting tips for having kids, but the glimpse into you and Chris’ relationship with money. My husband and I are so similar (to the point of him getting money for his birthday and wondering what to spend it on and me pointing out that I put birthday money toward our family, shouldn’t he? Yeah, that was a fun fight…). Thank you Katie (and Chris!) for sharing.

  7. LOVE this post, i have forwarded it onto my bf who is hung up on the cost of babies thanks, hope it does the trick. x

  8. Andrea

    So true! We pay the same for our son, too. It is straining but he goes to a Christian Academy and that was worth it for us. That’s why I would consider myself an “extreme couponer” now!

  9. Jon

    Here in the (north) Boston area, daycare averages around $1400/month, high as $1800 and as low as about $1100.

    Also, don’t forget about college! We started saving for our son the day he was born, and I spent several hours researching the estimated costs of college in 18 years. Which I found to be about $6000 a year for a 4 year public college, assuming you start saving at day one. Ouch!

  10. Erin R.

    Yes! If you waited till you had “enough’ money to start a family, people would never have kids. You just have to adjust and prioritize.

    Also, here in MD, a good daycare is about $1500/month for the 1st year 🙁

  11. Amy

    Thanks for this post Katie 🙂 I don’t think I can say it any better than the lovely commenters ahead of me… but this subject is something that has been on my mind & heart lately– thanks again for sharing this!

  12. Your last paragraph are words to live by. So true… As far as moms giving money for birthdays/ christmas…my mom gives us money with the stipulation that we HAVE to buy something we WANT and not something we NEED…otherwise it would all go to bills.

  13. You are so right Katie! There is no perfect time to have kids. But when you know one is on it’s way you just make it work. Both of our kids go to private school, costing about $2000/mo. We make huge sacrifices to make it work. Would we like to live in a nicer neighborhood? Of course. Would it be nice to drive a car thats not 12 years old? Definitely! But, we know what’s really important. Vacations can wait, they need the best education they can get right now.

  14. Meredith

    omg…daycare is (#9, near where I live) ~$1400……per……..month…….

    oh sorry, I just fainted there. And this is why having babies is hardwired into hormones, otherwise, given the economic expense, no one would EVER have kids….or maybe that’s jsut me.

  15. I hear ya on that day care cost. I’m outside of Chicago and $1000 a month is pretty common, hence the reason I became a stay at home mom. And you’re right, with one income and 1.75 kids we have cut back a ton but it doesn’t really feel like it.

  16. Michelle

    We’re in Charlotte, NC and we pay $1200 a month for one pre-k full time daycare kid and one before and after school daycare kid. It’s ridiculous, but what else can you do? We’re so excited that the youngest will be out and in kindergarten this year – then it will just be 2 after school daycare kids! Anyway, we were told prior to having kids and have since told anyone who asks – if you want to be ready, you’ll never be ready. Just go for it and it will all fall in place.

  17. You’ll never be fully ready – you can’t be. You can never imagine what it will be like, how your lives will change. You will never have enough time, you will never have enough money. So if you love your partner and you see your future with kids – go for it!

  18. This is comforting in ways you will never know. We are looking at our budget, our “big city” prices and wondering how we will EVER fit the expenses of a child in. ..but it sounds like it can be done 🙂

  19. Bec

    I bet $1000 is pretty average around the country. I pay $600 / month for one child to go to a babysitter (AKA – non licensed in-home daycare) and I live in a small town of 1200 people.

  20. Before we even thought about having a baby, we tried to plan out a budget as best we could, feeling very proactive and prepared. After Sullivan arrived, we discovered no amount of planning could have prepared us for this. But as you said, we just started going out less and our bank account grew. Sully is starting daycare in 3 weeks and I know it’s going to be rough at first but we’ll adapt and move on.

  21. I found that while having a baby sure costs more (diapers, formula, cute clothes, etc) you find that you don’t spend money on stuff you used too like expensive dinners or idle shopping. It balances out!

  22. Love that last quote! I’m moving FAR AWAY to be with my husband after we are married in December, and I won’t have a job right away. Good to hear that you’ve dealt with that, and triumphed! I’m also looking into working university admin or getting a teaching certificate and I’m 21! looky there…. so much in common 🙂

  23. I’ve always heard if you wait until you can afford to have kids, you’ll never have them. But affording a kid (or two or three) is as expensive as you make it, there are plenty of ways to save money (hand me downs, craigslist, breastfeeding, etc). Babies don’t need every gadget out there.

  24. Kristi

    I LOVE what you said about getting married young and doing things differently. I got married at 21 and had my first baby at 26. My closest friends have just recently gotten married (I’m now 33). There have been pros and cons to have done things at a different age than my ‘old’ friends, but the ‘new’ friends I have made along the way have been a blessing.

  25. Totally agree. You can plan financially all you want, and still be shocked at SOMEthing. And let me tell you, reading all your baby stories is putting babies back on my brain 😉

  26. Alyssa

    This was such a great read for me. We are 30 years old and have been married for 5 years. In the past year we have figured out how to find the $$ for daycare. We figure the rest can come from tightening up our budget and giving up things like $50 Friday nights. It’s been a HUGE stress for us. We can’t afford for me to not work and we couldn’t afford daycare for the longest time. We finally figured it out and are hoping to just make it work! 🙂 This gives soon to be parents hope that we can work it out.

  27. Lindsey

    I 100% agree with you – if you wait to be financially ready, you’ll be 65 and retired. Your kids won’t care or notice if you’re financially ready – they just need you to be emotionally ready.

  28. Shelley

    GREAT post, Katie. Isn’t it amazing what you don’t miss anymore? Oh, and I laughed out loud when I saw the photo accompanying this post. Your belly looks like it’s holding a giant Silly Putty egg. LOL

  29. Trish

    Honey, you hit it on the head. It doesn’t matter how old our children are…we do what we have to do..plain and simple. On another note, you look great…I have a picture of myself at about 8.5 months pregnant..with a plate of food balancing on my belly and a big ole piece of fried chicken in my hand! Sweet memories!

  30. KC

    So last week I took a pregnancy test (I was late), and it came back positive. POSITIVE! My husband and I were planning to wait until 2014 due to financial reasons to start trying for a baby. I guess God has other plans for us. Luckily the panic subsided rather quickly and we couldn’t be more excited. I loved this post because it makes us feel like we can really do it, we can make it work financially for us!

  31. You are so right… My boys are now 23 and 20 and the bottom line when my husband and I were asking the same question… “When will be able to afford to have a child?” The answer then applies today… “If you wait until you can have a child, you’ll NEVER have one!”

    We believe that God provides for the children we have. I cannot tell you how a couple making virtually NO money managed to raise two boys the way we did/continue to do today – but there was always diaper and formula money and yet, no one starved or never saw a movie and we still managed to take our annual family vacations.

    The bottom line is trust… Trust that everything will work out and it does!

    (Another) Terrific post!

  32. Sorry, my link is incorrect for my comment…

  33. Great post!! And so very true! I have thought many times about how we just made it work. Q-Tip was a surprise…although we were planning on having a baby one day…so we didn’t really have much prepared. But…we made it work. Even through all the unexpected expenses of Prevacid, EXPENSIVE formula, and even this formula thickener stuff we had to use…it all worked out.



  34. La.

    This is so true. I remember all the bills floating in from the hospital and oh my goodness, I thought they would NEVER end. They are so expensive it is ridiculous. But it’s so worth it. That photo of you guys is priceless! (I haven’t commented in a long time!)

  35. BFF Emily

    Well, the bad news is that this bacon-flavored baby formula I found (http://store.baconsalt.com/Bacon-Baby-Infant-Formula–WAITING-LIST-ONLY_p_84.html) will set you back a whopping $19.99, but the good news is that it’s out of stock anyway (duh) so maybe by the time little Gracie gets here, 1) it’ll be back in stock and 2) it’ll go on sale. (Note to J&D’s: I totally agree – everything should taste like bacon. So if you could, please up your supply of baby formula and knock it back a few bones. Thanks! Mgmt.)

  36. I totally agree with you Katie! If my husband and I waited to get married and have kids, we’d be too old to enjoy them or not have them at all.
    As I said to him when we decided to get married. I’d rather have no money, a small house, family and the man of my dreams then wait around for life to happen. 😀

  37. I thought babies were expensive – until I had teenagers. My grocery bill alone would make you go pale!

  38. Great post! Thanks. We’re about to start paying $1000/month for daycare…UGHHHH And I was seriously worried even though we’ve been “planning” for it for 9 months. It’s scary but everyone does it so it must be doable!

  39. Kathy Z

    I’m outside Chicago and expecting my first in 4 months. Daycare for an infant starts at about $1000/month here. We could make it work, but we definitely wouldn’t be having a second one. Thankfully my mother-in-law offered to watch our little one. Which is really, really helpful.

  40. Jayne

    The money thing has been in our minds too. But I can see it better now. There is no such things as “enough” or “prepared”. Just the willingness to make things happen and total faith in God. I think that’s the bottom line. I won’t be so jittery when it comes to having kids. I hope.

  41. Halcuri

    I feel your pain. We also paid $1000 a month in daycare until we had #2 and now we pay $1900 – we got a little break with having two. Even though it would be cheaper to put my 3 year old in preschool next year, we just love our daycare so much. The financial sacrifices are many, but as you mentioned, you just make it happen. Somehow the Lord provides. And I am so grateful that he does!!

  42. perel

    This is my first time reading your blog, and I love it! I am also expecting and I agree 100% with what you’ve written! Well said! Take care of yourself and may you have an easy smooth rest of pregnancy ( to me too!)

  43. Peggy Farfan

    Amazing post!!! I am going through a really tough time right now because of daycare! I have an angel for a babysitter, my son Ethan is only 2 1/2 months and I had to go back to work quickly the babysitter is charging me $1400 a month, she is certified and is a true professional. My husband thinks this is outrageous and is making this so difficult! I go to work without the worry, I have a peace of mind knowing that Ethan is in safe, good hands. I am not budging from my decision, but i know this might end our relationship.

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