Author Topic: Cost of three kids??  (Read 1728 times)

firelight

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Cost of three kids??
« on: June 27, 2017, 05:38:48 PM »
Asking for my sister who is middle-of-the-road frugal but spends reasonably well where it matters to them. Two incomes, two kids, no debt, rents now and is not looking for early retirement. She would love to FI but is not called to it (yet, I'm working on her!!)

Here is her question:
We currently have two kids (kindergartner and toddler) and are thinking of third. However none of our friends have three kids. Everyone we speak to say kids are very expensive and they decided against it for the good of the two kids they had. My husband is fine either ways but I have this longing for a third kid. Both of us have one sibling each so our parents prefer  we have only  two because they are worried how we'll manage three.

With both our incomes, we can manage daycare for two and after school care/activities for one and still save for house and retirement. However, if we were to go down to one income, we'll have to be more frugal and cut out more expenses/activities for kids.

If we go for a third kid, would we be shortchanging our two? How much does it cost for one more kid for education and normal activities like swimming, sports, etc? How did parents with three kids decide (other than religious reasons)?

Some friends have said having more kids means lesser inheritance to kids later and hence less freedom for kids to make their choices in life. Is this true?

The internet also says three or more kids, when they are babies, have very less cost but when they go to school and start participating in activities, their cost increases substantially even if the activities are not high cost ones. Like swimming at $100/kid/month, karate at $150/kid/month, etc. Adding in related equipments and instruments would increase the cost even more.

I am very confused and don't want to have a third kid if it's bad for my two. I'm close to 35 and need to decide soonish one way or the other. Please help me decide.

PS: not her question but mine! How much did each additional child affect your journey to FIRE? How many years did they add? In hindsight, is there anything you'd have done differently?

sokoloff

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2017, 06:41:24 PM »
If you and your husband can agree that you'd prefer 3 kids over 2, have a third kid. It won't "harm" the other 2 in any meaningful way. I come from a family with 3 kids and we had a great, middle class life. My wife and I have 2 kids and they'll also have a great life.

Here's a case where I'd put money in the back seat and decide how you'd like to live your life and act accordingly. Three kids are more expensive than two, but you know that. ;)

Lepetitange3

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2017, 06:57:45 PM »
I have four.  Not for religious reasons.  Like your sister I felt "called" to it.  Husband was neutral.  My children are 17, 8, 4, and newborn.

  Here's how we got there: the 8, 4, and newborn are our biological children.  I have trouble with getting/staying pregnant so that split is not deliberate.  We adopted the 17yo when he was 13 because I had always wanted to adopt.   So I had the 8 and 4 year old then adopted the teenager then we decided to try one last time for a set period because I felt like I still wanted one last one.  Husband and I agreed that if I got pregnant and it stuck we'd have last child and if I didn't, I didn't and we'd call it.  I got pregnant and now have the newborn.  Happiness abounds. 

Managing 2 vs 3 vs 4 has never been an issue.  Actually I find more kids to be easier.  Hubby was 1 of 2, in the oldest of 7 (my parents are religious) so YMMV.  But I find they play with each other and take some of the load off me.  Also the 8 and 4 yo are great helpers with the newborn.

I switched to working from home when I had children.  This does lower income.  I FIREd after having the newborn.  That being said, I would say observationally, the third child is less expensive Jan the previous two, I believe statistical studies bear this out as well.  My children are happier being less scheduled.  Everyone gets one activity.  Also it's "fair" in the sense that the kids have to wait on one another as one child is shuttled to and does said activity.  So each kid gets their one thing.  I let them pick what activity at a certain age.  I live in a beach area and we have a pool so no one gets to choose anything until they swim competently full stop.

I would say my kids are happier to have more of my time and to have each other to play with and annoy all the time (I hear the 8 and 4 literally giggling over the baby monitor tot heir room instead of sleeping like they should be right now).  Activities come and go, even ones you're passionate about.  Good siblings and family bonds are forever.  Both husband and I have siblings, obviously I have a lot.  What I missed out in activities as a kid (and I did still do some), have more than been made up for by always having someone to play with, to talk to, and now as an adult to spend time with etc.  I would not trade a million whatever lessons as a kid or any increased inheritance for any one of my 6 siblings.

Seeing as how this is a frugality website, I think you'll find most of us don't believe in automatically gifting any number of children with large inheritances.  You don't do any of your children any favors by giving them the impression they won't need to work hard for their own adult life choices.

My additional activity costs haven't been very high because my children share interests.  Ie: the 4yo of wants to do the activity the 8yo does.  That part depends.  Like o said, I grew up in. A big family, we each got an activity.  A lot of us liked the same one.  One brother wanted to do lacrosse, my parents got his gear second hand.  He did it and was fine.  Eventually he earned enough $$ to buy his own new gear because he loved it so much.  This brother is now a very high earner who has no debt.  He learned a good life lesson early because of the activity cost I would say.

I would go ahead and try if that's wht you feel is right for you.  Your kids will be happy either way.

In terms of FIRE, having the last newborn made me realize I actually could FIRE and pull the trigger on it instead of coasting in a job I disliked for a few more years for no reason.  But I have multiple income streams.  If I hadn't, I would say one additional child might have set me back a year or two but no more than that as long as I maintained my previous habits.

Apologies reply is so long but I think I covered everything you asked!  Hope it helps!!

tooqk4u22

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2017, 07:59:08 AM »
I have three and the costs are more but mostly because of optional things such as activities, desire to pay for college.  Day care is more if you need it.  My kids fight and play and argue and love...probably no more or less than two or four kids would.

One caveat is that travel with a family of five can be more obviously for flights but also for hotels as most (not all) have occupancy limits or simply for your own sanity wanting more space so at times it involves suites or two rooms or bigger online rentals etc. 


jillinsandiego

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2017, 09:45:27 AM »
I have three: 16, 7, 5 (divorced and re-married, hence the 9 year difference). The biggest frustration for me is travel, as a previous poster pointed out. It's gotten better with the growing popularity of airbnb and vrbo, but if you have to have a regular hotel room at all, it is a big hassle to have 5 instead of 4.

When it comes to activities and even childcare, I've actually found an abundance of sibling discounts out there. So, yes, it costs more for 2 or 3, but not necessarily 2x and 3x. Soccer? $10 off each to add additional siblings. Before/after school/summer care? 10% off each additional siblings. For health insurance, most plans are the same for 1 child or many. We also try to limit each child to one activity at a time, both for financial and sanity reasons.

It may add additional years to FIRE, but not too many in our case (probably two years for us, since we will at least stay put in our current home until the youngest finishes 5th grade). We had intended to probably have a third, although she came along a year before we planned to try. It was a huge relief since I'd been through the miscarriage thing before #2, and trying for months sucked.

little_brown_dog

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2017, 09:54:37 AM »
Honestly id go for the 3rd kid as there is a big difference between “little Johnny can now only engage in 1 or 2 sports a year instead of 3” and “a third kid means we won’t be able to save for retirement/college/etc or will mean living paycheck to paycheck.” Generally I think having more siblings only hurts existing children if they seriously curtail the family’s financial stability and economic prospects. But having to have a well resourced childhood vs an extremely well resourced childhood due to an extra sibling is unlikely to affect the kids much financially or emotionally at all. I have 3 siblings and I wouldn’t trade any of them for a bigger inheritance or a paid for graduate level education.

Jrr85

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2017, 10:43:49 AM »
Sounds like your sister has let other people cause her to completely lose perspective.  The reality is that the kids will be fine either way because they won't know any different.  If she has another kid, if later on you ask the siblings if they would trade the experience of having a little brother or sister for a 50% increase in inheritance the chances are really good that the older brother and sister will view the question as a no and not even close, unless your sister has a reason to think they might end up with a dysfunctional family.

On the same token, if she doesn't have another kid and asks their kids later on if they were unhappy because they didn't have another sibling, extremely likely that they will say no (although the answers would likely be much more mixed if they were asked something more like "would you have liked to have another sibling"). 

Unless the costs of another kid would effectively push somebody out of the middle class, the money just doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  I guess the only caveat I would have is that if you live in a place where public school is not an option, paying for private school through high school is a huge deal and can knock an otherwise responsible middle class family off track.  But even then, I think the answer is move somewhere else (unless there is something compelling like a sick parent you have to take care of where you are), not have fewer kids.

But I am admittedly biased in favor of larger families and especially for the type of people worried about the advantages they can give their kids to have larger families. 


Mr. Green

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2017, 08:24:10 AM »
Inheritance shouldn't have any bearing on children's life decision choices. Children are typically in they're 40s, 50s, and 60s when they receive inheritances. I would expect all their major life decisions have been made long before that.
FIRE, Take Two.

frugalparagon

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2017, 03:26:23 PM »
Book recommendation for your sis: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids.
I blog about Mustachianism during the child-raising years at frugalparagon.com.

And I tell the real story in my journal, https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/still-living-well-in-the-living-room-but-what's-my-next-move/

MBot

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2017, 06:23:21 PM »
We are expecting #2 and hope to have 3.

I was the oldest of 6. My husband is the youngest of 2.

One reason that hasn't been mentioned yet is that it's nice to have two siblings that can help when a third runs into health trouble or makes bad choices. Both my mother and my husband only had one sibling, and sickness and bad situations are tough when you are the ONLY sibling available/possible to help.

Certainly not our only reason, but it is one for me.

MDM

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2017, 06:52:04 PM »

Bird In Hand

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2017, 08:52:47 AM »
Basic costs will go up with more children, though the parents can control the extent with judicious choices.  As mentioned, some things like air travel can be much more expensive as you increase the headcount.

In my experience, managing two children was more difficult than one...until they became best friends -- now they entertain themselves together which is extremely convenient for us parents.  Managing three is harder than two, especially if one parent is watching them alone, and especially if that parent is hauling the kids along for errands like grocery shopping.  However, with good parenting, good luck, and lots of patience, the kids can start to become helpers instead of hinderers as they get older.

Others pointed out that this is more of a "what do I want our lives to be like?" kind of question, and the finances are secondary.  Personally, I think the family relationships/bonds/experiences/memories are worth a lot more than $$ or super early FIRE.  And those potential relationships/bonds/experiences/memories increase exponentially with more family members.  Up to a point, obviously -- one probably doesn't want to live in extreme poverty just to have a huge family, some parents will lose their minds and end up divorced trying to deal with more than 1-2 kids, etc.

Chesleygirl

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2017, 08:56:33 PM »
A

The internet also says three or more kids, when they are babies, have very less cost but when they go to school and start participating in activities, their cost increases substantially even if the activities are not high cost ones. Like swimming at $100/kid/month, karate at $150/kid/month, etc. Adding in related equipments and instruments would increase the cost even more.

Consider the YMCA or rec centers for some of these activities. I've found some karate, dance and swim schools schools to be in the business of financially exploiting parents, tacking on all kinds of extra fees and charges, in addition to the already expensive tuition. Also some of the require that you sign a contract and those are definitely the ones to avoid.

ender

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2017, 09:30:14 PM »
Also, if you plan on staying home or not working, the incremental costs of an additional kid is considerably less. You can also reuse many things you already have for the others.


ChpBstrd

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2017, 02:51:19 PM »
The cost of a kid is largely parent-defined. Our has cost us less than $10k/year on average, plus an $8k college savings nugget on her first birthday. Decisions about extracurricular classes, fashion, number of toys, and private schools are the parents' call. Some minimalists such as MMM and folks from the Simplicity Parenting school of thought would say the vast majority of what the "average" family spends is wasted, and what they really need is learning experiences plus parental time, love, involvement.

Cassie

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #15 on: July 11, 2017, 03:02:02 PM »
I had 3 kids and did not base the decision on $. We wanted that many. I don't think the 3rd made a big difference in our finances. They are long grown but when we stayed in a motel room we got a roll away bed for the youngest. We did not fly with the 5 of us but either drove or took the train which was much cheaper when traveling. 

acroy

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2017, 03:08:23 PM »
We have zillions of kids and they make life fully awesome.
They are not particularly expensive. C'mon we live in an incredibly rich society, a kid doesn't eat that much or need that much. cheaper than a pet horse ;). Some parents do manage to spend mega bucks attempting to provide unicorn-laced fantasy childhoods. Screw that, give them a good education & good experiences, and train them up to be mature rational adults of good character.

Best job in the world. When ours are gone we'll start fostering or something.
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dphngbr

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2017, 03:55:41 PM »
I recognize this is a forum geared towards frugality, but really the question your sister needs to answer is...does she WANT more kids?  Because if she does, the consequential decisions that follow will all seem worth it.  If not, then those decisions will feel like burdens. 

I have 3 (6, 3, 1) and one more on the way.  I honestly haven't noticed a major increase in household expenses with each child after the second.  We do do things differently than many of our 1-2 kid peers, but none of these have felt like major sacrifices.  Our kids share rooms, and will for awhile -- no way around it.  I hung onto my 5-seat wagon as the family car for as long as possible, because new skinny carseats are still cheaper than getting a van or SUV.  (With the 4th, I'm going to have to get something that seats more!)  I found a full-day preschool option for my busy second child to avoid having to find additional (and frankly more expensive) activities that he could do at school anyway.  I cook almost every dinner, and make enough for leftovers for lunch the next day.  We've used nannies or au pairs instead of daycare, because the cost is fixed regardless of the number of children.  Travel is more of a challenge for sure (especially airfare because it just is), but vacation rentals work better with young kids anyway, and kids really don't care if they're on an air mattress vs. a real bed.  I am the crazy baby carrier lady (I've sold all my strollers at this point) because it's easier to chase older kids while carrying little kids.  We camp a lot.  And I am not adverse to telling my kids to go out back and play with chalk or water guns (BY THEMSELVES) when they are being a bit much.  :) 

Are there things that I would like to do but are just cost prohibitive because of the number of kids?  Sure, but there aren't really that many.  Overseas travel is not in the cards right now, but I wouldn't really want to attempt that with 2 under 2 anyway.  Same with skiing.  I'm having trouble thinking of anything else. 

In terms of future finances, we plan on fully supporting our children's educations, but that's it.  (After seeing the mess inheritances have caused in my family, I have no interest in creating that kind of drama for my own kids.)  Of course many people have other rules (e.g., my husband's parents were willing to pay for state college tuition, and he had to cover the extra.) 

I'll second the PP's link to the bigger families thread -- I got some great ideas on there, like enrolling kids in sports/activities that take kids of multiple ages at the same time (e.g. karate, swimming, music), sticking to sports at clubs, and generally not over-committing to too many activities per week.   

Best of luck to your sister.  We love kids, so the decision was easy. 


Chesleygirl

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2017, 03:56:16 PM »
Hope my kids will get part time jobs when they are teenagers.

dphngbr

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Re: Cost of three kids??
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2017, 04:06:26 PM »
And to directly address the cost of activities question:  yes, the cost of activities go up with each child...but since time is finite, the total amount of activities you can possibly engage in remains the same. 

Many activities cost little/nothing except time (ha), like Scouts, music and reading at the library, school plays, school band, etc.  There are often economical alternatives to many activities (the Y, the neighborhood pool, DIY music lessons from YouTube).  And if anything, having more kids has made me REALLY selective about what is worth my family's time.