Managing the Cost of Children

Managing the Cost of Children

Managing the Cost of Children

Hello everyone!  Hope all is well.  Today I want to touch on the cost of kids and one way my wife and I try to manage the cost of children.  How?  Being frugal while designing the nursery and consignment shopping.

Raising children can be expensive, we all know that.  Our first kid was born in mid-2014 and, according to the US Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), the average cost of raising a child born in 2014 is just over $245K!  While their estimates vary widely depending on where you live and how much you earn, the figures are staggering.  And this excludes the cost of college.

Similar to many families, my wife and I wanted to have a house to raise our kid in, so that was step one.  In that house we wanted to have a nice nursery.  Decorating and furnishing it was step two.  And while not needed immediately, as our family grew we knew we would want an SUV to safely haul them and their stuff around in.  That was step three.  Children are expensive…and this was all in preparation for a kid!

With all this said, we tried to manage the costs as best we could, wherever possible.  Unlike some folks, we had recently moved to North Carolina, a ways from family back in the Midwest, and didn’t have any friends nearby that we could cheaply buy a bunch of gently used kids’ stuff or hand-me-downs from.  We were mostly on our own.

We painted the nursery ourselves which was a pretty good cost saver, rather than hiring it out.  We’ve actually painted most rooms in our house and have never hired out for that job.  My wife chose a soft yellow, grey and white color scheme.  We weren’t going to find out the gender of our baby so wanted to keep it neutral.  And honestly even if we would have found out we were having a boy early on we probably would have still gone gender neutral for the room.  No one wants to come back a couple years later and repaint for the second child.

For furniture, we had an old blue La-Z-Boy rocker chair that was handed down from my wife’s grandparents.  This was perfect for the nursery, except the color, so we bought a white slip cover for it and called it good.

Managing the Cost of Children

We were also on the lookout for a dresser and changing table on the cheap.  We ended up finding something great on Craigslist, where else?!  It was a nice set of wooden furniture for $80, not bad.  We just had to clean it up a bit to work in our nursery.  So we sanded it down, primed and painted it a nice white.  How’s it look?

Managing the Cost of Children

Given what seems to be constantly new regulations on cribs, including one earlier in 2013, we wanted to make sure we had the safest crib possible.  Plus, he’ll be spending lots of time in it without us nearby, so we bought a brand new crib and nice mattress.  We didn’t skimp here, although we ended up finding a great price for the crib we wanted online, no sales tax and free shipping to boot!

In terms of décor, we have had time to add things bit by bit. We painted some white canvases using the paint we bought for the walls, my wife found a cheap shower curtain from West Elm to use as the window treatment and also found a steal for pillow covers to add more design.

All-in-all, I think we pulled together a nice little nursery on the cheap.  What do you think?

Managing the Cost of Children

The other major area we have successfully saved some coin on is clothes.  Kids’ clothes are not cheap!  And they grow out of them super-fast, sometimes so fast they only wear an item once or twice.  So we chose to do most all his shopping at the consignment store.  Granted, friends and family have bought a lot of nice clothes as gifts which has been very nice and helpful.

For us, shopping at the consignment store has meant getting five pairs of pants, five shirts, and five pairs of pajamas for $30 instead of buying the same brand new for $60-$75.  This definitely adds up over time!  Consignment shops can also be great places to find baby carriers, toys, books, strollers, etc.

How have you been managing the cost of children?  Anything you found to be particularly helpful or a good resource?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for taking a look.

The Green Swan

Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach

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38 Comments on "Managing the Cost of Children"

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Jon
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Nice post! As a father of a 14 and 16 year old, I can say that you are off to a great start. Focusing on value without compromising safety is smart. As your child grows older, you’ll see that the costs go up and up! For us it was piano lessons first – then a piano. Then travel sports and all of the spending that entails.

It’s all good stuff, but buckle up and enjoy the ride! Be smart with your money but make sure to let the kids have some fun too, they grow up very fast. Oh, and then there’s college. I’d recommend putting $500 per month away starting now – although I’m sure you’ve already started. Good luck!

Brian @ Debt Discipline
Guest

The nursery looks great! Nicely done. We have swapped kids clothes with friends and family over the years to save cash. Kids grow so fast and out of their clothes, so having some friends and family with younger and older kids than yours makes it easy to keep the circle of clothes swapping going.

Believe Fire
Guest

Nice looking nursery you have there!

We don’t have any kids yet, but like you guys, we plan to wait to find out the gender. D has this master plan to wait so that all gifts of clothes or toys are gender neutral and can be used for future children too.

Obviously we have no experience, but we believe raising children doesn’t have to be nearly as expensive as the statistics show. We’ll have to see how this pans out though; we might be singing a different tune in a couple decades!

Mr. SSC
Guest
Nice nursery! We went with a new crib too, and our youngest is still using it as a toddler bed. it converts to a twin frame as well, so it has gotten 5 years of use, and is looking at a few more on the low end of things! It looks just like yours, so hopefully yours is convertible too. We lucked out with Mrs. SSC’s best friend having a boy and then a girl almost 6 months before our boy and then girl. 🙂 They got a lot of hand me downs from her husbands extended family and we’ve gotten them from her. We pass them along as we are done with them or ship them back, but that’s a big savings. We also… Read more »
Stockbeard
Guest

Nice looking nursery!

Not sure about your SUV thingy though. Aren’t these things over-expensive, and the safety aspect of them overrated? The easiest way to transport your kids safely is to walk and/or take public transportation, assuming you live in a well supported area.

But if you badly need a car, I don’t think an SUV will protect you more. That sounds like some commercial statement that’s not matching statistics. Googling a bit on the topic let me found several studies showing that SUVs are actually less safe than compact cars, statistically. So, I’d be curious to know where you came up with the idea that an SUV would be safer.

amber tree
Guest
Tht is indeed a nice nursery! job well done. We have 2 kids, 2 girls. The way we keep costs under control 1- get from friends and family 2- do not say no by default to second hand (even clothing, under the condition it looks good) 3- pass on from older to younger 4- resell stuff you no longer need (or give away to friends and family to keep the giving going) 5- assess if no brand items are usable as well (we found diapers than work well for us, no leaks, cost 25pct of branded diaper) Some itmes we did not save on: core elements that add safety. We had special mattress protection so the baby could still breed when it turned from back… Read more »
The Personal Economist
Guest

Nursery looks fabulous! I admit I spent too much on the first kids bedroom!
I agree kids don’t have to cost a lot. The challenge in our household is that we have a moved into a house (from a 2 bedroom flat) to give us more space and a yard, at the same time as I did not work for a few years and now work part time (and I’m the breadwinner). But I would not change it for the world, and the kids need love, the most valuable thing you can give them is your time.

Martin - get FIRE'd asap
Guest

Nice work GS. I’m long past all that baby stuff. In fact, sleepless nights and poo’ey nappies are all a distant memory.

Great job on the DIY nursery and furniture. It’s amazing what a pot of paint and a bit of effort can yield, and what it can save too.

How long before the big day?

Michael @ Financially Alert
Guest

Wow, that looks really nice, GS! The white looks incredible against the yellow and gray.

I’ve been pretty lucky with hand-me-downs from my sister as she has kids just a couple years old than us. That saved a huge amount of $$. Otherwise, I would have been fine getting some things used. You really do blow past a lot of the items in a blink of an eye!

Amanda @centsiblyrich
Guest

Looks great! We have been known bring new life to furniture as well! It’s amazing what a little paint can do.

Though our kids are older, over the years, we have saved buying clothes, some toys, bikes, furniture, etc. all second hand. Kids go through their “stuff” so quickly and don’t always treat it nicely. We also limit paid activities to one or two at a time – this can really add up and I’m of the opinion that kids need down time to just play and learn.

Alexander @ Cash Flow Diaries
Guest

Those are great tips. Its amazing how much money you can save from consignment stores.

So what made you move from the midwest to the east coast? I would imagine the cost of living is way cheaper in the midwest.

Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope
Guest

The nursery looks awesome – great job! For our most recent baby we grabbed a dresser that was out at the curb – NEXT DOOR! No issue with transporting it 🙂 We (Mr. Smith) sanded and painted it, and it looks perfect.

Garage sales are a great way to score baby stuff for cheap – with prices that are even better than the consignment store.

Linda @ Brooklyn Bread
Guest
Ever since I discovered chalk paint, I am obsessed with paining furniture. It is amazing the new life and style you can breathe into second hand furniture. Or old furniture that you are bored with. Second hand for kids clothes is definitely the way to go. I have saved all of my older son’s clothes for my younger son. They are 4 years apart so I have three enormous clothing bags with chalkboard labels that I can write ages on and cycle through. My kids are 4 and 8, so I have a 5, 6 and 7 bag of clothes under my bed. Whatever survives my little one gets sold at my “stoop” sales, where I sell everything for $1 each. I get rid of… Read more »
Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor
Guest
Looks great! We have relied on lots of hand-me-downs, garage sale & Craigslist items, and gifts from the baby shower and haven’t spent much on our kids thus far. I’ve heard from older parents that it’s not the early years that are expensive, but the school activities and mandatory fees (even in public school), sports or other lessons, food costs of teenagers, etc. I’m sure we can still come in far under average spending, but I’m realizing I don’t want to withhold certain experiences from my kids entirely because I’m frugal. So we will be paying for preschool next year, and at some point sports or other lessons, within reason. We don’t want to do the over-scheduling thing, either. I may try to barter coaching… Read more »
Izy Berry
Guest

Cute nursery! Kids seem to be really expensive. I’ve been living in Guatemala for over a year now and while I’m a long way away from having kids, it’s gonna be more expensive to have them here if I choose to do so. For a decent school, we’re looking at around $500 USD per month, per kid. Ouch.

I will enjoy the child-free life a little while longer.

Mr. PIE
Guest

It gets tricky as they age. Sports equipment is a biggie. Our two boys do baseball in spring and skiing in the winter. That is a conscious choice we made to commit to significant expenses for skiing as it aligns with something we love to do as a family. Not getting sucked into the plethora of sports is a tough decision but there has to be some balance. Including in the bank account!!

Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions
Guest

Wow – your nursery furniture looks amazing! I can’t believe how much some folks spend on furniture, clothes, etc. for infants and toddlers. As someone who was making a good salary, we often used consignment shops and “hand me down” furniture when the kids were young. Yes, the costs go up as they get older – so having money put away is important – but the mindset you already have will take you far! Ours are in college and heading there next year – and we are “FI”. It can be done on less than six figure salaries for sure!

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[…] months back, I detailed how Lucy and I went the frugal route in furnishing our son’s room to help manage the cost of children. In that post we also detailed the US Department of Ag’s annual estimate of the cost of children, […]

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