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Ways Kids Are Expensive That I Never Thought Of (Until I Had Them…)

March 2, 2011 · 46 comments

in Life, Personal Finance

Quite often, I hear of people saying that are waiting to have kids until they can ‘afford them’.

Well, I kind of did the opposite.

My husband and I both graduated from college at 23, got married a week later, and I had my first child at 26.   I had a ton of student loan debt, we had 2 car payments, a house payment and were not saving nearly as much as I would have liked.  (At least we did not have credit card debt.)  I didn’t care though, I wanted kids young (by today’s standards) and that was that.  By the age of 30, I had 3 kids, and quit my job.

Throughout the early years, the expenses were pretty standard.  Diapers, clothes, doctor visits, etc.  But as the kids got older, so did their expenses.  I recently revealed they attend private school, but I am not talking about that kind of expense.  I am talking more about how the ‘maintenance’ of my kids nickel and dime (and quarter) me.  Here are some examples:


  1. Travel Soccer. I am such a liar.  When my kids were little I said “they will not play travel soccer.  I don’t want to sit out in the cold and the rain, and it just seems like a waste of money”.  Well, both of those may be true to a degree, but my kids loved soccer, and almost had to play travel soccer if they wanted to play competitively.  (All the decent kids usually leave the rec leagues by the age of 8 or 9, so if your child has skill, it can be hard to stay in the rec environment.)  Needless to say, travel soccer is not cheap.
  2. Sports ‘gear’. I had no idea basketball shoes cost so much money.  After the debacle with my daughter’s recent sprained ankle, I also have invested in ankle guards too.  A recent trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods resulted in a $220.00 expenditure as I bought ankle guards for all the kids and new shoes for my daughter (that fit).
  3. Medical Tests/Exams. My kids have had some sports-related injuries (but fortunately not too many).  My daughter broke her arm in gymnastics, needed an MRI for her knee from basketball, and my son recently suffered a stress fracture in his spine (although I think a lot of the cause of that was a go-cart incident at a birthday party) and got a bone scan, to the tune of $600.00.
  4. Sports Camps. I did not know that when kids get to high school, they are forced to go to several sports camps that are usually out of town and require overnight fees.  Between my two high schoolers, I probably spend about $1500.00 on summer camps each year.


  1. General Medical/Dental. Our insurance has covered less and less over the years.  The copays have increased dramatically, and barely any prescriptions are covered in the formulary.   Our dental insurance covers next to nothing, and also has a hefty deductible.  We spend way more on medical expenses than we did when the kids were little, and they aren’t sick nearly as much.
  2. Gas. I drive my kids to many places (yes, much of this is because they are in private school and their friends are not in the neighborhood, and there is no bus to take them to school).  Regardless, gasoline has gotten quite expensive, and I put a lot of miles on my car every year.
  3. Food. I knew that kids would increase my food bill.  However, 3 teens eat a lot more than I expected.  Not only that, but I really try to feed them as healthy as possible, so buying enough fresh fruits/vegetables and such has really inflated my grocery bill.  Not to mention the extra cost at restaurants.
  4. School expenses. This is not tied to tuition, but various expenses I  have to pay for occasionally.  For instance, I recently had to provide dinner for the boys and girls high school basketball teams.  That set me back  a couple hundred dollars.  (No way was I going to cook for 40 teenagers.)  The kids need money for supplies for projects all the time, it goes on and on.
  5. College. OK, everyone knows that college is a possible future expense for their child.  However, I had no idea how ridiculously high college tuition would be by the time my kids were old enough to attend college.  I gave up a long time ago thinking I would have enough money saved in the kid’s 529 accounts to fully fund college.  (Not to mention their funds took quite a hit when the stock market tanked.)

I am sure there are many more unexpected kid-related expenses we pay for each year that I am forgetting.  However, now that I look at what I wrote, I never really thought about how much it costs overall  for my kids to play sports.  Well, maybe I knew what it cost, but I didn’t realize how much I would actually save if my kids didn’t play sports.   I do feel that for my kids, it has been worth it to play sports.  We have had a lot of great times together traveling and going to different games.  I also feel that sports can teach valuable life lessons, and also (hopefully) helps keep kids out of trouble.  Or, maybe I am just justifying how much I have spent on sports…

I often wonder how old I would have been when I had my first child if I had waited until we could ‘afford’ them.  The thing is, I could not have planned for many of the expenses we have had, as I had not learned yet how to predict the future back in my 20s (or 40s). On the other hand, many of our expenses are made by choice.  If we didn’t have the money, they wouldn’t be participating in all the activities they are.   One thing I am grateful for is that my kids are into ‘trendy’ anything.  Clothes are bought on sale, and the kids really don’t care about what store they are bought from.  (At least for now.)

If you have children, did you wait until you were financially secure?  If you plan on having children, are you waiting until you have enough money saved up?

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