… of course that depends. How many times have you heard, “If we were in a better financial place, we’d have more”? What exactly does that mean? When pressured a little bit more into what that really means, you realize that that was just the short cop out response. No actual dollar figure was ever mentioned, or location preference; nothing tangible as far as being measurable. So how do you really afford a large family if you want more children? What is your measurement? And if your spouse isn’t into having more children because they have been deemed “too expensive”, well then, perhaps they are, or perhaps there’s more to discover about children and how much they really cost once you put a figure to it.
Children cost money.
They cost money because every single human being costs money in order to have the basic necessities of life: food, shelter, and transportation (okay, and internet). And if you are thinking you can opt out of transportation – there are still public transportation costs, bike costs, or any other apparatus you may think of. There are transportation costs involved, no matter how minuscule. Now, let’s say you add another human being to your family. And let’s assume you have the shelter secured. Transportation costs involve a car seat.
A one-time payment, especially if you get one that supports them from birth to toddler, will most likely be your most cost-effective choice. Not really that big of a deal for a $300 seat expanded over 5 years. Literally, that’s just $0.17 per day or $5 per month. Um, that’s not expensive. Sure, you will need to get more as the children come; however, just consider the recommended usage guidelines for how many years car seats are good to use.
On another note, you can choose what type of transportation works for your potentially growing family. Sure, you could rack up some debt and buy a new car every few years, or you can save a few, not only on using cash to purchase your vehicle used, but also save on your insurance by opting out of full coverage. Consider getting something used enough to not have to pay a hefty price tag, but that’s also reliable enough to not need monthly repairs. Then, consider how often you have to go out. Gas isn’t cheap… well, maybe this week it is. But if it’s not, combine your errands into one day instead of driving around town three to four times a week.
The house: To rent or buy and when to upgrade or expand. Get creative. Some families, to get the most house for their dollar, live outside of the city. Usually living in the heart of a busy city will vamp up the cost of living quick. If you are okay with a little commute to get a home to accommodate your growing family, then do so.
It’s where your heart is, the work is only temporary. Remember, even if the home starts small, adding on is an option – grab a friend, YouTube, and someone who knows what they are doing and save on contracting jobs by learning to do most of the work yourselves.
Are you raising a family or out to get your child into every sport possible so you can decorate the car with your child’s team spirit badges? Sports are expensive; choose one and enroll them all. Most family-owned establishments are great at working with you to obtain your business and consider the costs to fit your budget. Not all the kids may like it, but they’re together, it’s on a set day of the week and you got a discount. If you know you have that one child with an amazing talent – don’t hold them back. Perhaps just nurturing that one child’s gift is enough. No need to feel guilty if the others just don’t have it.
This isn’t about “socializing” your kids. It’s giving them a little something to do and expanding on some of their gifts. If you burn yourself out by trying to make every child’s sporting event – not only will you run up a mighty bill several times over, you’ll burn yourself (and gas) out pretty quickly!
Buy in bulk. For everything. Make use of the Buy 3 Get 1 Free specials. Don’t buy by the pound, rather, make purchases by the bag. Meaning, instead of looking at the $1.99/lb for oats, consider the 50lb. bag of oats for $48. Avoid buying excess snacks, sodas, chips, and junk food. That will ring up your grocery bill faster than your electric bill going up in the winter. Alcohol as needed, parents – okay reality check – a couple of $10 bottles of wine per month is seriously doable (or a bottle or two of sparkling water if you don’t drink).
Do you really need that? Consider what you want versus what you need. Often, people are amazed at large families because, well, they’re not dressed in rags and they actually do look halfway decent – thinking you must spend an arm and a leg. Even though the 3-year old dressed herself, she passed inspection because she’s so darn cute, people assume clothing all these kids is stupid, crazy expensive! Little Johnny needs shoes, but he doesn’t need the Air Jordans. Nike is nice, but the gently used, comfortable pair from the “Wear it Again” store works just as good.
Plus, you know people; you have friends and neighbors and older cousins. People know you, and do you know what happens when you have lots o’ kids? People are generous! You know, the ones that have just one kid and too many clothes that they have already outgrown.
More times than not, you’ll find yourself dreading the offer of “You need more clothes, I’ve got another bin that we hardly even used!” That’s a great problem to have. Large families with friends and family rarely have to spend a small fortune (or small paycheck!) to dress up their tribe.
Consider co-sleeping and forgo the crib. This alone will save you $100’s – then when your child is ready, get them a toddler bed. Change the baby on the bed or floor; seriously, that’s where you’ll end up 95% of the time anyway – eliminate any “unnecessary” furniture (unless it’s donated… take that for sure!) Use cloth diapers versus disposable (or again, buy bulk boxes of disposable diapers rather than a single pack). Do your best to breastfeed instead of relying on expensive formula – or if you must use formula, make your own.
Forgo Disney Land for a local camping trip or small day trips to local areas. Many expenses come from wanting to do elaborate $1,000s of dollars worth of vacation extras. Those deals that promise so much for a family of four just won’t work for a family of 6 to 10 or more. Instead, choose local attractions that you can get a group discount for. If you are really the sporting, outdoorsy type, take the kids camping. Teach them some survival tips, or learn together as a family. You can rent camping gear and “rough” it at a very accommodating campsite next to a beach. Really, the idea of a vacation is to spend time with your family, get away from the norm of the home, and chill. You don’t have to spend a lot to do that.
Budget as new expenses come up.
There may never be a time when you are “financially ready” for a large family. Again, what does that really mean to you? Do you want to eat out every other day and forgo the $300 car set for your sushi rolls and mocha lattes instead? It really comes down to choices. Choose what you do want to spend and what you will buy new, used, or up for grabs by donations. As the children come into your lives, you’ll realize what is priority and what isn’t, and your finances will naturally match – you know, that mysterious place of “being in a better financial place” people keep talking about.
Remember… they don’t all come at once. Well… not usually, anyway. There was that one mom…
For most, families begin with one child.
A couple years later, perhaps another baby (or even twins); and guess what? Just do that over the next 10-15 years or so and you’ll have yourself a nice little village. They gradually grow with you. Surprisingly, they don’t stay little, needy, and “don’t turn your back on them”3-year-olds for long. That little one you have now that has you second guessing if you want more will grow up and will be your reprieve when you need a date night. That’s right… built-in babysitters and future best friends. Now go have some fun and make a baby (or at least have fun practicing)!