the cost of children

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We have this neighbour who adores Clementine. Whenever he sees her, he grabs her, plays peekaboo, throws her up in the air, cuddles her and she just loves it. Yesterday he saw us coming in and came over to help. While he was goofing around with the little one, his friend said to him, "You know you can have one of these, right?" To which our neighbour replied, "Nah, I want a big house and a nice car before we have a baby."

If I had a penny for every time I heard something similar! One of my husband's friends said that he wouldn't have a baby until he had x amount of money in the bank, and it was a large sum. So many people seem to let money hold them back from starting a family, and I can't understand it. It's not as if the baby is going to bust out of your womb demanding to see your latest bank statement or requesting an SUV to be chauffeured around in.

Now, I'm not completely naive. I live in one of the world's most unaffordable cities; I know that money is important, I just don't think it's the most important. When my parents had me, they didn't have much. We lived in Cartagena where they worked as English teachers and tour guides. They certainly didn't let money, or lack thereof, stop them from having a baby and they didn't let having a baby stop them from living an adventurous life. Similarly, my husband and I happily had a baby while living in a funky little apartment, knowing that we still wanted to travel, and not being sure where we would end up living.

I've noticed that here in Sydney in particular, people are obsessed with home ownership and private school. It's something my husband and I have talked about at length, but I still don't get. Where I grew up in Vancouver, everyone went to public school, even the rich kids. If we waited until the day we could buy a house in Sydney and afford to pay private school tuition for two kids, we would miss our chance to have children. No exaggeration.

When you start talking about the cost of raising children, all sorts of figures get thrown around. Again, we're not immune to this and the fact that we're a bi-cultural family puts a big strain on us. We know that two children will most likely be our maximum as we need to be able to travel back and forth between Canada and Australia. But, I think that having a baby doesn't need to be the huge financial drain that everyone says it is. Most of the big tickets items we needed for Clementine (e.g. bassinet, stroller, crib, playpen, carseat, swing etc) we bought used, borrowed from friends or received as gifts. I even wrote a post about it here. Cloth diapering has saved us a lot of money, as has breastfeeding.

Apart from travel, our lifestyle costs us less now that we have a baby. I hardly ever buy clothes anymore, and we rarely go out. We use our car far less than we used to because my husband cycles to work and I find life easier when I stay in our neighbourhood. We gratefully accept hand-me-downs and our social life revolves around visits to the park or the beach. I'm glad we had our daughter when we did, fancy house or not.


  1. It's crazy how expensive some cities can be. I've also found that having a baby has totally changed my frame of mind about money. Everything is for her now.

  2. Oh this! It's such a thing, isn't it?!

    I can't speak for others, and boy there are many with the opinion you wrote about above, but for us? We had our first when my husband was in his 6th year of university and I'd only been teaching for a year...we didn't have much but we had enough - and you're so right - babies don't come out demanding expensive things.

    Almost 6 years and 2 more kids later I'm so happy that we are at where we are at. There isn't ever a perfect time to have kids, very rarely do the stars align! Kids are an adventure and I'm so glad we had ours when we did :)

  3. There isn't a right time financially or career wise... I spent way too much when number 1 was on his way (I just had NO idea and wanted to be organised!), now I love the minimal approach. I get nervous as the kids birthdays come around... I just don't want a whole lot of play with once or not appropriate how am I going to get this out of my house without anyone noticing items. We live as a family of 5 on SO much less than we did as a no kids double income family 6 years ago!

  4. I wonder if people who wait to have their kids will wonder why they bothered to do so once they have them?! I wouldn't recommend doing it how Nick and I did though... building a house whilst pregnant (both times) and moving into a construction site with a one-year-old! It was tough, but we're just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (meaning the house is nearly finished three years later).

    I guess everyone has different ideas of what their life should look like... and once kids arrive it all goes out the window! We're planning on having at least one more and hopefully we'll still be able to travel with them. I suppose we'll just have to make sacrifices other places.

    In conclusion, Yay babies! Happy days, Linda. x

  5. it's so surprising to me when people say they can't have a child because of money. i agree that if you wait until you have x amount of money, you'll most likely miss out on the chance & i'm of the mindset that the struggle is part of the fun! figuring it all out. we had been married for 4 months when we learned, to our surprise, that i was pregnant. we were both full-time students & extremely poor, but hey, we figured it out & i wouldn't change anything for a second. if anything, having our son made my husband & i both grow up & graduate a lot quicker than we would have! really great post :)

  6. We had friends give us baby stuff hand over fist! My mom works for a drug store retail chain, so she buys us a couple packs of diapers or wipes every time she visits. I don't think we've bought hardly any of them since my daughter was born!

    I will say, we wanted to be out of debt before having our daughter so we worked hard to pay that off and have a good emergency fund in our account before she was born. But there's always going to be some financial goal. I would say get out of debt, just because it's a good thing, and hopefully your kid will arrive after that.

  7. My husband and I were married young and had our first baby before our first anniversary even came around.
    We have never, ever once regretted the decision we made! Everyone thought we were crazy at the time, but it's funny how life works itself out. We never lacked for anything...even when we were young and broke, all of our needs (and so many wants) were always met. We made life work and found happiness in the small things...which were really the big and important things in life. It's funny how your perspective changes once you hold that baby for the first time.

    Now that we are grown up, our friends are just having their first or second child...and we have kids old enough to babysit for them! Haha.

    Thanks for your encouraging post. :)

  8. We are also bi-cultural (Bosnian-American) and have two children. Our home is an adorable small ranch, we drive used cars and bike a lot and love hand me downs. We travel a lot with our kids so we choose to give them experiences vs. materialistic things. No amount of money can ever pay for health and happiness. This is a great post, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  9. Love costs nothing to give - this is all a child needs. Everything else is optional!

  10. Ah, this is too true. I completely agree with Mrs Oliver. "Love costs nothing to give", and that's exactly what parents need to give their child.

    Money is helpful, but it isn't everything. :)

  11. yes! its amazing what our society has changed from wants to needs over the years. but really, love is all you need! xx

  12. Oh this is so wonderful and true!
    If anyone wants children they should try and have them there and then.
    A baby does really not care about the house or car. In Germany EVERYONE goes to public school too,
    and I really don't get why anyone should pay for education, as I have been growing up that way.
    I do understand though that for other people their own lifestyle is more important than having kids and it's a very personal choice in the end. PS How cute is Clementine???

  13. I think I need to show this to my husband lol.
    Thanks for sharing.

  14. I can't tell you how much every time I read your blog I feel like we live parallel lives. I'm am Ottawa girl, but lived in Vancouver for years before moving to Australia. Now I'm here permanently because of my Aussie partner, and we're on the cusp of having children. We're aiming to get pregnant later this year, and so I just love reading your posts about being a Canadian mother in Australia.


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