It wasn’t long ago that I became a dad (father just seems to formal). It’s happening all over again. It’s not exactly the standard definition of Irish twins, but they are close enough… and happen to have enough Irish in them from both my wife and I.
Let’s get to the money though shall we? This isn’t Lazy Man and Parenting. The USDA has a good Cost of raising a Child Calculator and the cost of raising Little Man was going to be about $29,250 per year. According to the calculator, having two kids is going to push it to $46,800 per year. While the calculator
The big components of that is child care and housing. Let me cover each and compare our situation with the averages:
Housing (Calculator estimate of $17,200)
We don’t intend to buy a bigger house. As they are both boys, they can share a room for a while. In fact, I think my brother and I shared a room until he went to college. At some point, we’ll sacrifice the guest room.
That’s not to say that we won’t buy a bigger house at some point. We all know plans change and 1800 square feet might be a little small for two big boys when we can afford a bigger place. However, if we did buy a bigger house, that isn’t exactly money down the drain. There’s value in the equity of the house. It might even lead to making us money if we downsize later on in life.
What I’m intentionally leaving out here is the wear and tear on a home with two boys.
Child Care and Education (Calculator estimate of $12,560)
The calculator’s child care costs are almost exactly what we’d pay in the first year. This is surprising because in comparing it with friends using our military status is a huge savings. When I looked into it in Silicon Valley, which didn’t have the military savings, it was closer to $22,000 per year per child. Maybe the USDA calculator assumes an early high cost with it decreasing when they get to school age. If that’s the case, it makes sense as we’ll be see those same reduced costs bringing our annual average cost down.
Transportation (Calculator estimate of $5,120)
This is going to be an interesting one for us. We’ll need to get a bigger car bring the kids around. We bought a Subaru Forrester when the first kid arrived. We have a small SUV with 125,000 miles on it. We were getting ready to move on from it anyway, so it could almost be looked at as a marginal increased cost… just buying a different type of car. Of course that bigger car will cost us more money in gas, which fits under the transportation umbrella.
Now what that car might be is a whole different article.
Food (Calculator estimate of $4,040)
Not much to say about the cost of food. We can save a little money on formula buying through the military commissary, Wal-Mart, or stacking CVS coupons (a game my wife likes to play). We’ll also breast-feed, but that transfers the food costs to what my wife eats (darn law of law of conservation of energy).
The Savings is in Sharing
Having another boy, especially one so close in age, seems like it is going to save us some money. The first thought is that we’ll be able to recycle all the clothes from Little Man. That’s an immediate savings. The cloth diapers that we invested in with Little Man really start to pay off on the second baby, so that’s a bonus.
For some time, we’ll be able to reuse the same toys. Even better, we’ll avoid buying all that American Girl Crap. I’m sure at some point, they’ll develop their own tastes. Until then, it’s going to be a savings to have them share the same Thomas the Tank Engine toys.
Just like when Little Man arrived, there’s going to be a lot of changes. I’d be lying if I said that I know how it’s all going to play out. Like most things, you anticipate the best you can and then make the appropriate adjustments as new information comes in.
Lloyd C says
Congratulations! There’s nothing like being a parent and it’s certainly an enigma how something that takes so much work and can be very trying, can be so joyful at the same time.
I’ve been reading your blog and subscribed to your feed for several months now, and your posts are definitely an inspiration.
I appreciate your outlook on your housing frugality. However, I had a question about your vehicle situation as you felt you needed a bigger vehicle than a Subaru Forester for 2 small children? Of course, everyone’s situation is different and you know your needs – but that seems counter to your frugal thinking on your housing situation. Maybe you can expound…
FYI, I have three boys (4, 2, 6 months) and we have one vehicle – a Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix equiv). I looked around at getting a larger vehicle when #3 was on his way, but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to spend at least $5,000 for a decent, second hand minivan or SUV. In the end we replaced our oldest boy’s car seat with one of these (http://goo.gl/Z5eMSb) which was recommended by our doctor who had 4 boys and 1 girl himself. These car seats use a steel frame and are narrow than most other car seats. We can fit this along with the infant carrier and a “normal” car seat three across the back seat. When the baby outgrows the infant carrier (soon!), we will just get a second of these car seats. For us, $500 in car seats sure beats $5,000 to replace a car that has been so reliable and I believe has at least another 2 years of good reliable life left. We will have to get a new vehicle at some point definitely and will probably go bigger, but hopefully just because our old one is wearing out and not because we lose focus on our financial goals!
I am with you on the American Girl hooplah!
Keep up the good work – enjoy your blog a lot.
Lazy Man says
Thanks for the comment Lloyd.
I’m going to be addressing the car thing in another article. I’m aiming for Thursday on that one.
As a little bit of a teaser, our 75 pound dog who kind of counts as 2 kids as far using up car space. He won’t sit in a car seat that easily. Also if there is a squirrel or something of great interest on the other side of the car he’s going to try to get to it. So with the Forester, you can put him in the cargo area, the kids in the back, and me and the wife in front. Then you have to figure out a place for the double stroller, which is either on the roof (tough in winter and to get on and off easily), or in the back with the dog (possible if secured well). That leaves nothing for luggage. As they get older, the boys may want to have friends come over which could require more seats.
There’s more, but I’ve already given away enough of Thursday’s article.
At the peak of the costs, we were paying $1780/month for two kids. Iowa has low cost of living in general, but we happen to live in one of the higher cost areas (and day care, in particular, is high in the city where we live). The number has dropped a bit as the kids get older (since babie are most expensive), and our oldest just started school, the before and after school program cost replaces the day care cost – a nice savings.
Lazy Man says
I’m counting on the before and after school program to bring down the average cost a bit. I figure we’ll be our peak as soon as we get both kids in and it’s about $1100 a month. The military really keeps that down a lot.
Congrats! I think having all of these kids no longer makes you a lazy man though.
Lazy Man says
Martin, I’m not sure if my part in having the kids counts as work ;-). All kidding aside, yes, it’s a ton of work.
Lloyd C says
Haha… yes, a 75 lb dog does change the picture a bit. I can’t imagine trying to fit him in as well!
Anyway, looking forward to hearing the rest of the story about the car in the article. Transportation costs are always a quandary – since there seems to be no way around it and yet it’s like pouring money down the drain (other than the fact that it enables us to get to our jobs to make an income, but it also enables us to get to the store to spend it too!)
Kostas @ Finance Blog Zone says
I agree with Lloyd, and look forward to reading your rationale behind the car. With two younger children, the Subaru seems like it should be large enough to comfortably and affordably fit the family.
one thing i can say: as the parent of 3, nothing worked out the way i planned. be prepared for things to be the opposite of what you anticipate, do not assume that because you’ll have two boys that their interests or talents will be similar, and just be happy if they are healthy and normal. congratulations!
in re american girl: don’t make gender assumptions. my daughters much preferred the magic attic and magic treehouse collections and their male friends loved playing with our dollhouse. and the pokemon cards. and the piano. and the full art studio.
Lazy Man says
My son loves a pot from the dollar store. When he’s old enough we are going to be all over Bobby Flay’s Easy Bake over (or whatever it is called). It is the mother-in-law who would start the American Girl habit if it were a girl. Sure she might not like it, but probability wise it’s far more likely that girls will buy American Girl stuff over boys.
Congratulations! How far apart will they be? Our youngest two are 17.5 months apart, and it was challenging at first, but now they play together.
Lazy Man says
They’ll be 15 months apart. I’m not looking for any challenges ;-).
I too am still wondering how they get the average day care costs. Perhaps day care is especially sensitive to the cost of living of different areas, e.g. costs well above average in cities and well below average in rural areas. That would cause the average to be as per the USDA reports while you, writing in the Bay Area, and me, reading in the Seattle area, see much higher costs for that.
We too are expecting our second and while our housing costs won’t go up, that’s only because we bought a house big enough for the number of kids we planned on.
Lazy Man says
I think day care is especially sensitive to the cost of living in different areas. The day care providers have bills to pay in such cities as well.
“My son loves a pot from the dollar store”
ROFL! Classic. Congrats LM!
Lazy Man says
The pot serves a duel purpose as now I can make all sorts of puns such as, “I got my kid addicted to pot.” He also loves these plastic clappers, so I also “gave him the clap.”
You’d think such puns would get old, but they don’t.
Nightvid Cole says
You seem to be in denial about the issue of housing costs.
The fact is, most of the money spent on housing is gone forever, even if you own. Moving to a bigger home increases your utility bills, property taxes (Which will also increase due to the kids when you start paying attention to good schools), maintenance costs, repair costs, and insurance premiums. This is money you will NEVER see again.
Mortgage interest, plus foregone dividends on the equity you have, minus property appreciation (Or “Capital cost”), is also 100% unrecoupable, just like rent.
So don’t argue that just because you can get *some* money back for the house, that it isn’t an “expense”, because the fact of the matter is, only a small amount of what you pay is actually recoupable. The rest of it is gone, and is thus equivalent to rent.
Lazy Man says
Nope, no denial here. All the money isn’t 100% unrecoverable due to potential property appreciation.
I don’t think I argued that house isn’t an “expense.” In fact if you read my most recent articles, it is our single biggest expense.