Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Having a baby - links to other blogs

Here are some great blogger insights into the financial aspects of having a baby.

Home Finance Freedom asks, Is Your Baby Cost Free? and points out the gross overspending we do on our children (although 1 coat for 2 kids is a bit much). I disagree with the idea that a book and an encyclopedia CD-ROM constitutes a decent preschool education. Do parents forget that kids go to school to learn basics like math and science, and come home needing to learn a whole new set of principles like personal finance, morality, business ethics, etc. Learning doesn't stop when the schoolbell rings. 3:30 is not "sit at home and watch TV for 3 hours" time.

Memorable quote

Spending to provide a healthy, happy child is different from spending to use a child as a billboard for the parents’ ostentation.

Does it really take $1,000,000 to raise a kid? I think the mountain of "stuff" is only part of the problem. As All Financial Matters reveals, some parents spend mountains of money on parties and celebrations. Why? Because they want to build "memories" for their kids. The problem is that a "mermaid theme party" at a public pool is commercial and artificial. That's a pretty lousy memory, mom. Want a lasting memory? Take your kid to a national park and spend the birthday trekking around the wilderness (yes even 5 year olds can do this - your kid isn't going to dissolve as soon as he steps off the pavement). Memorable quote

what people spend on their children should be based on their budgets, and that they shouldn’t go into debt just to give little Johnny the best that life has to offer.

Do already have a Baby on the Way? Get Ready to be Shocked. A total cost of raising a baby to the age of 17 is more like $250,000. I assume that's the average. There are a great many different expenses when having a baby. The most expensive that I can see? Health insurance (barring any medical problems). My health insurance costs would nearly double if we added a 6 pound blob with a mouth to our family. The most expensive initial costs I think is the "gear". Stroller, crib, 'running' stroller, changing table, etc. My solution is to just get it all used. But be careful, I've wandered around garage sales looking at baby gear and some parents are nuts for what they are asking for their used baby stuff. Maybe they shouldn't have bought so much junk in the first place? Memorable quote

your baby has passed the stage requiring formula or breastfeeding, the next step is upgrading to baby food. Making your own is a great way to save money

Thrifty Mommy has a bunch of great tips, such as 25 ways to save money with a baby.

The biggest saver that I can think of is just to buy everything used, and accept handed down items. Hit the garage sales for baby clothes, disinfect them well, and have your own garage sale when the baby outgrows them. You may be able to break even! Look for used furniture, not necessarily baby specific.

Be organized. Some parents create a system to organize their baby items like diapers, towels, bibs, toys, etc. Others just throw them in plastic bins or worse, on the floor. I'd be willing to bet the parents who organize things end up utilizing what they already have more and thus spend less. (PS: Creating a system takes far more time and effort than keeping up with a system, so make a plan before the baby comes)

Any other money saving baby tips?


J at IHB and HFF said...

Hello. My "Is Your Baby Cost Free?" article meant to remind people of the baseline although I expect that parents will buy some extra coats, books, and toys when they can. I am not sure if we disagree about education; parents should teach broadly including ethics and an encyclopedia set (compendium of human knowledge including ethics) that costs $1k in print in an incredible bargain on a $50 CD-ROM.

Thank you for the feedback.

Jim said...

As far as I know, it still costs money to have a baby. Sure you'll have to buy the basics to take care of them, feed, clothes, etc. They grow, and outgrow, up very quickly though and need other things later. Would you consider the costs of what it takes to operate the home as part of that $1M figure? Think about how much per month expenses run for shelter, electric, heat, water, things the baby also needs just as much as you. The $250k figure for raising a baby to 17 might be accurate, but what if you go beyond that and setup an ESA for them to go to college? You're funding something they won't even use until they're out of high school. By saving the money very early and letting compound interest help, getting them in college is not an out of pocket cost anymore.

Buying stuff for kids used is great because they grow out of it at some point. Wasting money on big birthday parties and things that bring temporary happiness is not a good use of money. Some of my most memorable parties were at home with my friends in the backyard, not Chuck 'E Cheeses (or Showbiz Pizza as I used to know it). My wife and I are not ready for kids yet financially or emotionally. She is getting done with school to get a career going first. I think if we had kids she would put this off and it might be difficult to get back in the game. We also promised her older sister who recently got married she would have kids first since we got married before her. They're ready though, and we're happy for them.