I spent the entire day Sunday working on year-end household finances. It probably shouldn’t have taken that long but I’m a bit on the obsessive side. As part of that, I created a report to see our top 10 expenses of 2014. Calvin’s school was our #1 most expensive item. Our mortgage was our second most expensive item1.
There’s definitely some truth in the idea that kids cost as much as you’re willing to spend on them. Or, more precisely, every child is going to cost a base amount and then, depending on the family’s situation, you decide how much more you’re willing to spend on them.
When Jaeger and I decided to have another kid one of the first things we did was a very basic look at whether or not we could afford another child. The quick answer is, “yes, of course.” However, our question wasn’t really about whether we could afford the base cost of a kid but whether we could afford the kid with the lifestyle we’d want to provide the child. However, we re-shifted some priorities and decided we could probably make it work.
With Calvin, we actually didn’t buy a lot of superfluous stuff. For first time parents I think that’s a pretty good start. However, almost everything we weren’t given we bought new. Because I had gotten rid of most of Calvin’s baby stuff we started from scratch with baby 2.1. However, this time I decided to exploit the power of Craigslist. With the exception of the car seat I was ok with most of the expensive stuff being used. So, I figured out exactly what item/brand I was looking for and setup an RSS feed to look for them. It worked really well. Baby items really do have a relatively fast turnover. I was able to get the following things on Craigslist, all half or more off the new price:
- BOB Revolution Stroller, infant car seat adapter, BOB Travel Suitcase, and BOB Weather Shield2
- A good baby swing that can swing back and forth and side to side3
- A boppy and a brestfriend breastfeeding pillow
- A frame stroller for the infant car seat
What I could not get:
- Mini-crib — If I had waited long enough, one might have come up but they aren’t as popular in our area as full-sized cribs. That said, I wanted a mini-crib this time so it’d take up less space and Calvin was crawling out of his crib before he needed the full-size crib he was in. Happily, my mom bought 2.1 a mini-crib as a Christmas present.
- Addition BOB Accessories — Most people seem to sell their BOB accesories with their BOB. Possibly I should have held out for an all inclusive bargain but I still did relatively well. The two things I wasn’t able to get for a reasonable price on Craigslist are the handlebar console and the sun shield. I’ve added those to our registry.
The church is going to have a baby shower for me so I’ve added a fair amount of stuff to the baby registry. I’ll evaluate what else we need to get after that. I suspect we’ll get a fair amount of clothes. Other than that, the only important things I’ll really, really need are bottles, diapers, a baby monitor, and possibly formula4.
Though, of course, baby stuff isn’t the most expensive part of having a baby. It’s the daycare costs. I’m hoping to continue working 32 hrs/week after 2.1 is born. I’m not sure if this is practical but I felt so much more me when I went up from 20 hrs/week to 32 hrs/week. In any case, most daycares require you to pay for full-time care whether or not that’s what you need. If you’re very lucky you might find a daycare that will let you enroll your child for just 3 full days a week but I prefer working smaller chunks all 5 days.
Jaeger and I have visited one daycare, I visit another one tomorrow, and then have one more at the end of the month to look at. In addition we’re considering an au pair. The cheapest of these options would cost around $1300/month and the most expensive option would cost around $1700/month.
The au pair is a very new idea for us. Given we’re hoping to go live in Asia for a couple of years after 2.1 turns one, it might make sense for us to have a little cultural experience ahead of time. From one perspective, an au pair could provide more flexible childcare options. However, there’s a lot more unknowns with an au pair in terms of costs and expectations. I’m still researching this option.
Looking at Calvin’s one-year costs, I think we’re in a reasonable position. I’m really hoping I can successfully breastfeed this time and cut out most of the formula costs as well as the breastpump costs5. The diaper costs are still going to exist. In the long run, cloth diapers, even expensive ones, are less expensive than disposable. However, I have committed to doing things the easy way this time. If we have an au pair, I’ll probably go with cloth diapers. Otherwise, I’m still debating with myself. The infant car seat I bought can take a significantly larger baby than Calvin’s did so hopefully I won’t have to buy a convertible car seat as soon. We already have the strollers, crib, co-sleeper, and Boba baby carrier6. I’m going to skip the crackpot therapy this time.
I finalized our budget for 2015 and managed to find money for everything that’s necessary. Now I’m hoping we don’t have any huge unexpected costs to deal with.
- Terrifyingly, groceries was our 4th most expensive category. I’ve always had trouble keeping the grocery bill under control. ↩
- The weather shield was a particularly good deal, $5 for what looks like a brand new shield, they run $50 or so new. ↩
- Calvin was never into a swing but you don’t know until you try it. ↩
- Though I won’t know about the formula till after the baby is born and we see how the breastfeeding goes this time. ↩
- Insurance will pay for a very good personal breast pump but not a hospital-grade rental. However, if breastfeeding doesn’t work for me this time, I’m not going to pump much past one month. If it does work for me, presumably the personal breast pump will work well enough once my milk supply has been established. ↩
- The Beco was lovely but when Calvin was three I bought a Boba carrier, which has a higher weight limit, for Hong Kong which should work fine for an infant too. ↩