When babies are born, saving on their expenses is fairly easy.
If you’re able, you can breastfeed to save money instead of buying formula. You can buy used clothes at garage sales or consignment shops. You can buy used baby gear like strollers and high chairs. You can make your own baby food when the time comes.
When they’re toddlers, children still don’t eat that much or cost that much, unless you have to pay a significant amount for day care.
At this stage of the game, you might fool yourself that children aren’t that expensive. My husband and I wanted three children, and we had them within six years. The last two are only 17 months apart. Now that the kids are older (the oldest is just about to turn 13) we’re facing a myriad of expenses.
Turns out, the older kids get, the more expensive they become.
There are many expenses that are taking us by surprise.
Two of our three kids have small mouths, cross bites, and crowded teeth. Our oldest has been in braces for a year and a half now, and even though dental insurance paid part of the treatment, we were responsible for $3500 out of pocket. We are just a few months shy of paying that off and getting the oldest out of braces, and now it’s time for the middle child to start orthodontic treatment.
Our youngest two are still lighter eaters, but our 13 year old? Watch out. In the last 10 months, he’s grown three inches and gained 18 pounds. In the nine months before that, he grew five inches and gained 22 pounds. This kid is an eating machine, regularly eating at least double what his dad eats at every meal.
The 13 year old with the massive growth spurts? Groceries aren’t the only budget category affected. He also grows out of his clothes and shoes in just a few months. We bought him dress shoes for church, and he outgrew them in three months. Luckily, they were my husband’s size, so now he is wearing them. My son had to buy a size up from his dad. We’ve started buying his clothes at Walmart and Target because he outgrows them so fast. Why spend a lot of money when they’ll only fit him a few months?
When our kids were little, we used to save money on clothes by buying used, but it’s hard to find used older boys’ clothes. Most boys are hard on their clothes, so there isn’t a lot available used.
Of course, we know have bigger expenses coming up soon.
We don’t plan on buying our kids cars, but we do plan on handing down our oldest vehicle to our children. Our 13 year old is already saving for the expenses that go with having a vehicle like gas and insurance.
This is the scariest expense of all, especially since we’re not in a financial position to help him very much. He does have a college fund that he contributes to every week, and we match his contribution. Right now the plan is to have him attend the college my husband works at so he can get a 75% tuition reduction.
The college expenses will come right when our younger two children will be in their early teens and eating an enormous amount of food and growing out of their clothes every season.
Sure, raising babies and toddlers is not that expensive, but beware, large expense are just a few short years away.
How did you handle the increased financial pressure that comes with tweens and teens? Were you surprised how quickly the expenses added up?