Author Topic: Child-related costs as kids get older?  (Read 907 times)

dphngbr

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Child-related costs as kids get older?
« on: August 10, 2017, 09:08:17 AM »
Question for those of you with older kids:  how do your child-related costs change over time?  Right now our kids are young (6, 4, 1, one on the way) and I don't have a good sense of how -- or if -- our spending is going to change as more kids enter school age or their teens. 

If it's relevant, we are in an area with great public schools and don't plan to go private; kids are in 2 activities max (one sport, one arts) starting at age 5ish; kids start preschool at age 3, which we pay for out of pocket for 2 years; we have an au pair (fixed cost regardless of number of kids, will probably have one forever because both of us work); we historically have used our vehicles for 10+ years after we buy them; and our house is big enough to accommodate all kids until they go to college.  Summers are mostly spent at the neighborhood pool (flat rate for the summer regardless of number of kids), with maybe 1 summer camp for a kid that has a strong interest in something.  All tech devices (computers, phones, etc.) are shared or will be shared -- no kid is getting their own computer or phone unless they pay for it.  We make 90% of meals at home, so I recognize the grocery bill will go up as kids get older/bigger at least. 

So based on this, will our costs increase?  Decrease?  Stay the same?  I feel like I can see food and activity fee expenses going up a bit, but what else am I missing? 

Like so many questions, this one was prompted by vague concerns by my parents.  Ha!  TIA. 

shawndoggy

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2017, 09:28:07 AM »
Ha, well I can only say that I read in your post many of the misconceptions that we all have at the beginning of the adventure about how "we're going to do it better than everybody else."

Turns out your kids will turn into their own selves, with hopes and dreams and foibles and interests that are going to be different than yours, and if they are lucky, you'll be there to encourage and nurture their pursuits, and if you are lucky they'll invite you in to become a part of their interests.

Me personally, I was an anti-school, anti-social skateboarder in HS who didn't participate in much of anything.  My kids turned out to be completely gung ho school spirit kinda kids who were at school related activities constantly.  My son wrestled in HS ... a sport I never ever had any interest in.  Like at all.  But he LOVED it, and in season we traveled all over with the team.  In the off season he went to a private training gym and did regional/national tournaments.  Which isn't to say that that's what your kids will be doing, but it's an expense I never in a million years could've anticipated when he was 5.

depending where you live, I really don't know whether the "no phone" thing is all that viable.  I know that at my kids' public high schools in a state where we come in last in most anything (i.e. NOT early adopters), much teacher student communication actually occurs via text.  In addition to the social disadvantage (haha they'll tell you all about it when you get there), I can really see not having a phone being an academic disadvantage too.  Which doesn't mean that the kid shouldn't contribute to the cost... just saying that they are so ubiquitous that not having one would be tough if you live in a middle class or above school district. 

Mpenny1001

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2017, 11:45:20 AM »
By the time you have more than 1 child in upper elementary/middle/high school you will likely need multiple computers.  I have a 13 year old and since 4th grade 100% of her textbooks and about 95% of her homework has been online. Communication from the teacher is done via email or Infinite Campus, and group project meetings are done via Google Hangouts.  Some districts provide devices, but some don't.  Since you'll have multiple kids needing devices at the same time, you'll need to plan on more than one being available.

I agree with PP that your children may need phones, although certainly not fancy or expensive ones.  Many of my child's activities don't have a specific end time, there are no public pay phones around any more, and a cell phone is the only way for her to let me know it's time to pick her up.  She has one friend whose parents don't believe in children having phones and so this friend will use my child's phone to contact her parents.  This is totally fine with me, but it's a hassle for me when I pick my kid up, and then feel like I can't leave the other kid there with no way to get in touch with her parents if she needs to.  Now, you could have a couple of shared family phones that your kids take with them on outings, but you're going to have multiple kids being in different places at the same time so you probably want to plan for multiple shared phones.  We found basic Tracfones worked just fine for texting and calling.


formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2017, 11:58:24 AM »
My kids are 8, 10, and 11. In my experience, costs keep increasing.

The two oldest have their own phones because we do not have a home phone, and we occasionally leave them home alone for an hour or so.  We use ting, and they have no data, so at least the monthly fee is not that high.  In middle school, they need some kind of device for a lot of their homework; my oldest was required to do a certain amount of math homework online each week, and she was asked to bring a phone or tablet to school several times per month for in-class activities.

All three of our kids have their own computers (built by my husband from mostly used parts) because he and the kids like to play Minecraft or World of Warcraft together.  (I take them to the library.)

Activities can get very expensive, depending on your children's interests and skill level and your willingness to pay.  Even activities during school hours can be expensive - our district charges rees to be in band or the theater program.

My oldest, for example, does math club competitions through school ($25 per tournament; 8 tournaments a year), is in recreational volleyball ($250-500 per semester - if she joins a club team, that is an additional $700-$1500 per year), and joined the band in school ($150 flat fee per year plus $25 per week in private music lessons; the school provides the instrument).   I also let her sign up for running club at school = $20 per year.  So this one kid costs me about $2k a year in activities for just one sport, one arts, and one academic activity per year. 

The middle kid is mostly uninterested - we pay about $80/semester for her to play recreational soccer.  Plus the cost of cleats, because she outgrows those every semester.

Youngest kid chose only one activity - tae kwan do = $150 per month + extra if he participates in tournaments.

Gas consumption went up as we ferried children around more - although we're starting to be able to carpool now.

These are family priority choices - you may choose differently than we did.

Braces are an expensive nightmare.  Plan for at least half of your kids to need them, and then it will be about $4-5k per kid.

Water bill went up - the girls love hot showers.

We give allowance for chores (outside of the "you live here and must do this list of chores"), and we give more as they get older.

If you take vacations or do local activities like museums or zoos, it gets more expensive when they hit the age for "adult" tickets (usually around 12) and also when you need two rooms instead of one.

Does your local school district have a strict dress code or uniforms?  That increases costs, because then you need "school" clothes AND play clothes.

Shoes.  The two oldest wear women's sizes.  Their feet are still growing, so we have to buy new shoes for each of them 3 times a year.  Luckily, I found a Nike outlet where I can buy tennis shoes half off retail.

There are definitely personal choices you can make to keep costs down, but those depend on your family priorities.
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snacky

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2017, 12:25:51 PM »
I'm finding that as my kids become pre-teens I can't find clothes or shoes for them at the thrift store any more. My sources of hand-me-downs are drying up. My 11 year old got his first ever brand new pair of shoes this year, and my wallet groaned.

My older kid suddenly displayed a passion and aptitude for music, and I couldn't tell him not to pursue it.

I want him to be employable as a teenager and young adult so I'm keeping him in swim lessons. He will do fine as a lifeguard in a few years.

His friends used to be neighbour kids, and they all played in front of the house. Now his friends live farther away and they are more interested in doing actual activities. Transportation and activity costs are creeping in.

I could say no to many of these things, but why? Kid is smart and social and enjoys his life. Why would I limit that to save a few dollars? But financially, I miss the days when he cost almost nothing.
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Alf91

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2017, 05:55:38 PM »
I find the biggest expenses right now (tween-age) are food, cell phone, and activities. That being said, it's nowhere near what daycare costs when kids are little.

CindyBS

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2017, 08:13:27 PM »
Definitely activities.  If you can avoid travel sports, that will help.  My kids are not sport kids, so there is no issue there. 

We spend about $1,300 to send 2 kids to sleep away camp each summer.  Its a lot of $$, but they truly value the experience and talk about it year round.  (we value the week alone too!)

Teens and pre-teens eat a lot.  The gagdets/electronica can get pricey - but you can give an older kid a more expensive gift (or even split the cost with them) as a christmas/holiday/b-day present and nothing else.  Little kids have a harder time with that.  You can't really give 1 younger child 1 gift and the other children 3. 

We like to split bigger purchases with them.  Also, my kids will tell grandparents and other relatives "I'm saving for an XYZ and for my birthday please give money towards that". 

I really support the idea of allowance too because that cuts down on the gimmies - especially for straight up crap like vending machine tattoos.  Make them spend their own money on that stuff. 

mm1970

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2017, 11:16:10 AM »
Kids are 11 and 6.

Costs have generally gone down.  Once you are out of preschool, it dropped by half for me.  After school care + enrichment classes + maybe a sport + summer camp = approximately half of full time preschool.

For the older kid, it's gradually crept up a bit.  Sports means bigger baseball glove, pants, helmet.  Luckily he's not good enough to be on a traveling team.  That can be pricey.  Summer camps get more expensive because of variety.  Programming costs more.  Sailing costs more. 

Other school costs are donations to the PTA, field trip costs, etc.

Laura33

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2017, 11:44:13 AM »
Well, the good news is that as kids get older, costs become more optional. 

When they're little, you either pay for daycare or sacrifice one income; they need diapers; if you can't/don't breastfeed they need formula; etc. 

When they're older, sure, you still need the basic food/clothing, but they can stay on their own, AND they can earn their own money to pay for things.  Activities, the type of food/clothing, phones, hobbies, school trips -- all that stuff is optional.  You can keep your costs down as much as you want by just saying no or making them pay for it. 

That said, pay attention to shawndoggy, because just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you will *want to* when you get there.  E.g., I was extremely anti-phone for kids -- and then our after-school babysitting fell through when DD was halfway through 6th grade, and she was coming home to an empty house, and I wasn't comfortable with that.  So we got her a phone.  E.g., I was also VERY strongly anti-kid-car, as sort of the epitome of entitled twit-ness.  And yet I just gave DD my old car, so she can start driving DS to their shared religious activities, and so she can pick him up from after-school activities when he can't take the bus.  None of this was remotely "necessary" under any possible meaning of that word -- but I was still happy as a clam to spend that money given our specific circumstances. 

Beyond that, if/when your kid gets really, really excited about something, it is hard to say no when you know you have the money in the bank to cover it.  I didn't have many choices like that growing up, because we didn't have money -- I played the violin, not the cello, because my mom owned a violin already; I did swimming, even though I hated it, because that's what was super-cheap through the local Y.  So for me, it is a priority to give my kids more opportunity to do things they really, really love doing.  So we have set limits (e.g., one activity at a time), and we start with the cheap/free things, but I am not going to say no unless it is truly ridiculous (e.g., private flying lessons are not exactly on the list).

But, to repeat:  that's all completely optional.  You can make any choice you want, and you can be as frugal or spendy as you want within those choices.
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dphngbr

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2017, 11:52:51 AM »
Thanks to everyone that has contributed -- this is exactly what I was hoping for!  Great food for thought.  Hope everyone has a terrific weekend. 

ZCademy

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2017, 06:27:19 PM »
My "kids" are a girl, 21 and a boy, 16.

Thankfully, due to a generous and wealthy relative, both kids have trust funds for their higher education.

The genders are important ... around middle school age, my daughter began having a huge interest in style (Goth, then her own individual style). She got big into thrift store shopping ... but you can't buy pre-owned hair dye! Though she was on a much tighter budget than her friends, it was a fair bit of money.

She also developed a great interest in becoming a professional musician. As music was her only extra-curricular activity, I was ok spending on lessons ... and we found a little old instrument maker who almost gave her her instrument.

She's now 100% independent, earning a living as a hair & makeup artist and playing as a very talented amateur. Though her expenses seemed high at the time, it was exactly right.

My son is a lot cheaper ... his activities are a non-competitive dance group, which has low expenses, and Boy Scouts. While Scouting can be expensive if you go on every trip, he doesn't ... his choice. It's certainly a lot cheaper than being goalie on a travel hockey team! [I have a friend who would spend about $10k a year on her goalie, and another $10k per year on her daughter's competitive dance stuff. I don't think my two have cost me $10k for their entire time as teens.]

My son doesn't care about clothing (still wears hand-me sideways things), is happy with the iPad a relative bought him ... we're going to get him a good bicycle, but even that isn't that expensive.
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Pigeon

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2017, 09:18:00 PM »
My kids' activities were pretty expensive.  I've got one who is a violinist, so there were instrument cost, fees for participating in a competitive regional orchestra, juried musical festivals, private lessons, some costs associated with her school performing groups.  She also took TaeKwonDo.

My younger is also musical, with similar costs for music.  She also participates in the school musical, and there are some costs involved in that.  She also takes dance lessons twice a week, and there are costs involved with equipment and recitals.

My kids had far too much homework for us to get away with only one computer.  I had thought we would be anti-cell phone.  If I'd gone that route, they would have had no friends.  It's how kids communicate and plan events.

Clothes are more expensive.  My kids aren't terribly fashion obsessed, but they need to have decent looking clothing.


cchrissyy

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2017, 09:31:40 PM »
My kids are 10, 12, 14

they are dramatically cheaper since the $$$ preschool years turned in to $ after-school childcare years and now they are "here is your bus pass" years.  nobody has any expensive sports/classes/hobbies

in the summer, I do spend a lot on camp, maybe even as much as the $$$ preschool used to cost. but it is only one season, and it's not like they go non-stop. it's more like, one week on and one week off, and there is always somebody home with me and somebody away at camp, and somebody visiting grandma's house.

LiveLean

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2017, 02:04:08 PM »
Our kids are 14 and 12. To me, it comes down to three major things:

1. Money we've spent to date on daycare: $0
2. Money we've spent to date on private schools: $0
3. Money we will spend on private colleges or out-of-state public universities: $0

Sure, we spend on vacations and summer camps -- not glorified day cares, but camps where your kid goes and sleeps somewhere else for a week such as a sports or Scout camp - along with significant costs for sports and Scout activities. Braces, thankfully, cost less than they did when I had them in the '80s when adjusted for inflation. Having boys instead of girls also is probably at least a 20 percent discount for any number of reasons (hair, makeup, clothes, etc.)

If you can avoid those three budget-killing line items above, it's not nearly as challenging as some folks believe.
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Pigeon

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2017, 03:00:04 PM »
Having boys instead of girls also is probably at least a 20 percent discount for any number of reasons (hair, makeup, clothes, etc.)


I think this is very much a YMMV and depends on the individuals in question.  My teen daughters are pretty low maintenance.  They buy little make-up and ask for very little in the way of pricey clothing.  Between us, dh and I have over two dozen nieces, nephews and grand nieces and nephews.  Some of the most brand conscious kids are male, both for clothing and sporting equipment.  It's very trendy for boys to be far more into grooming than they were when we were a kid.  I trim dds' long hair about every six months, where as some of their male cousins get salon cuts every month or so.

Laura33

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Re: Child-related costs as kids get older?
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2017, 04:35:41 PM »
Our kids are 14 and 12. To me, it comes down to three major things:

1. Money we've spent to date on daycare: $0
2. Money we've spent to date on private schools: $0
3. Money we will spend on private colleges or out-of-state public universities: $0

. . . .

If you can avoid those three budget-killing line items above, it's not nearly as challenging as some folks believe.

We are very, very happy that this fall will be our first year in 16 without daycare costs.  But I wouldn't trade those costs for anything, because that particular budget-killing line item "bought" me the ability to work at a job that paid decently 16 years ago, and that pays much, much better now.  The best financial option is not always the one with the lowest out-of-pocket costs.

We also did "private" (Montessori) school for a few ES years, because we thought it was better designed to managing my DD's ADHD than a school that expected her to sit quietly at her desk for 6 hours.  Again, I do not regret what I believed to be a worthwhile investment in our kid until she was mature enough to manage a regular public school environment.



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