Since I’ve started my quest to retire early and become financially independent, I’ve had to look closer into our budget, something that I hadn’t done much so far in my life (my motivation used to be “make enough money that I don’t have to care about it”, and that kind of worked up to a point, but only because I’m very frugal by nature and my wife was controlling the expenses).
I always assumed our kids were costing us an arm and a leg. When discussing with other parents, it’s always overwhelming: daycare costs, hospital bills, food, clothes, diapers, the occasional trip to Disneyland, and of course, the dreaded college education.
The USDA have a full report from 2014 where they explain how much families in the US pay per child on various items: housing, food, clothes, etc… This can be summarized with the infographic below (source USDA)
There are lots of things to be discussed about those values, and each one of them could be an article on its own.
But I digress. What none of these “children are expensive” infographics is showing you is the money you’re not spending thanks to your children. And I feel that’s unfair.
What really needs to happen is to compare the lifestyles of people with children, and those who don’t have kids. I don’t know about you, but I can barely remember the last time I could eat out with friends, or go to a night club for a night of crazy money spending. This isn’t because I grew old or tired of these things. It’s because I have kids, and I don’t have a choice but to be home for them every day. And guess what: it turns out spending an evening with my kids is as enjoyable as a night out (although it’s definitely a different kind of enjoyment). My kids are easily saving me & my wife $100 a week because we’re not going out anymore.
It does not stop here. I found that eating healthy is in general cheaper than eating crap. For comparable calorie intakes, it’s much more affordable to eat good vegetables and fruits, than a preprocessed ready to eat microwavable “chef recipe” from the store. Having kids forces our family to try harder at eating better and having in general a more balanced life. It turns out that such a life is less expensive.
You might think it’s sad that I had to give up on my nightlife, and depending on your personality having kids can have that depressing effect on you for the first few years, but that’s not my point. My point is that parents who complain about how much their kids cost, and infographics that explain these costs in huge details both fail to factor in the things you actually save.
When I take everything into account, I think my kids are helping me save more than what they cost me. How about you?