People are always waiting for "the right time" to have babies. To save up "x-amount" of money, to accomplish so and so goals. Let me save you some time and let you know right now...
There will never be a "right time."
It's one of those things where you just gotta dive in head first and trust God that He's got you. I mean, use wisdom and all, but the stars aren't all going to align before the time is "right."
And let me clear some misconceptions because in MY EYES and in my experiences with 5 kids (going on 6) so far.... Kids are not that expensive. But it can really depend on your parenting style and lifestyle choices. Neither way is right or wrong but if you want a little peek into my thrifty life and how having 5 kids (+ 3 International teenage boys living with us at the time of writing this) is NOT overwhelming or expensive, read on.
Many things play into the cost of having kids- clothes, food, toys, activities, childcare, schooling, etc. And its really your choice within those things that can make or break (the bank.)
For instance, let's just start from babyhood. Although I choose homebirth for many other reasons, another factor to consider (depending on the state you live in and your insurance), it is significantly more affordable for us than care and delivery at a hospital.
And you know when you go into a store to create your baby registry. You don't need ANY of that crap. Seriously... these are the baby items we physically have in our home.
1. Baby clothes (most likely hand-me-downs, from second-hand stores or ridiculous clearance sales.
2. A crib (with some bedding, but nothing fancy.)
3. A pack-and-play
4. A carseat
5. Some toys (you don't really even need to buy these though, anything goes into those teething babies mouths so there are most likely a lot of doable things laying around your house that would make a darn nice "toy." Old cellphones, anyone? That 80's scrunchie in the back of your bathroom drawer? The widdled stick from the backyard? All fair game.)
6. A diaper bag
You don't need those fancy playmats... just use a blanket on the ground. It will do. You don't need all those seats to lay them in and all the gadgets to keep them occupied. I'm not saying its bad to WANT all those things. I'm just saying they are not a necessity. There are really very few things you NEED to care for a newborn baby. All those toys and huge carriers are overkill. And for my own baby carrier, I grabbed fabric at JoAnn's for $3 on clearance and learned how to wrap my baby onto me with YouTube videos.
Now, let's continue on the journey. I exclusively breastfed my babies for the first year of their life. Meaning, they don't each much else food besides my booby milk for an entire 12 months. Money saver right there, baby! Once I begin integrating food into their diet, I don't make special custom baby food, I don't buy the expensive baby food jars.... I just start giving them the exact same food the rest of us are eating for each meal. Simple as that. No extras.
Depending on your circumstances, you may have to add childcare into your costs here but even then, nanny vs. daycare can make a big difference. I stay at home with my children. HUGE money saver there. For the first 7 years of our marriage, we lived off of one income. In the past 3 years, I have built businesses from home and have been able to bring in residual income that way as well (which I totally love and am intensely passionate about.)
We are entering those school years now and your choices here are going to play a big part in this as well. If you choose private school, you may have some incredible extra expenses. And possibly very worth-while expenses. In our family, we homeschool and we save in multiple ways: tuition, school expenses, uniforms, school supplies, etc. I do order a new curriculum each year for them but it is something we work into our budget.
You may want your kids in lots of school + community activities and that will also add to your outgoing expenses for your children. And if that's you, rock it! That's awesome. In our home, we like a really low-key lifestyle. A more simple "old-school" way of life. We enjoy almost every evening at home as a family and have very laid back weekends, if possible. We really cherish our family time and value it so we don't add too much to our schedules. Because of this lifestyle choice, our kids are not in many activities. They get to choose one activity in the summer (which is normally in the morning and runs for 2-4 weeks) and that is it. They don't have other groups they are a part of. We aren't in a homeschool co-op. We don't have weekly appointments we must attend. We don't make this choice because of the money saved, but it is a perk. We make this decision because our priority is family time. And no, we don't feel like they are missing out on anything because what is important to us is building a firm foundation in our family and faith and we are fostering an atmosphere for that.
Let's venture into entertainment. I'm always jumping on FREE events (which are everywhere) and I am quick to grab a good deal when it comes to events and fun things for us to do. We don't go to a movie unless it is a matinee. And the little ones sit on our laps so it's even less tickets we have to pay for. Groupon always has some great deals for fun kids events. Check out Eventbrite to find free festivals near you. I decided to splurge and get Valleyfair Theme Park Season Passes for our whole fam this year. Reason why... I got 2 free season passes for our 2 preschool aged kids. And I locked in tickets at the lowest price of the season. We will get to go ALL SUMMER LONG as many times as we want (and the total season pass cost will be paid for within 1 single visit to the theme park.) Being frugal doesn't mean not having fun. It's just being strategic and wise about what you do choose to do. We go out to eat with coupons and on "Kids eat free" days. It sounds like a lot of work but it just feels like second nature to me.
Photo from My Darling Depictions
Then there are trips, vacations, medical expenses. Some are unforeseen and some are choices you make. You can do a close short camping trip or a faraway cruise. It just depends on your preferences, stages of life, and desires for your family life.
Want to dive into clothing? I normally won't look at a rack at Target unless it says 70% off (or more.) But mostly, I shop at Goodwill. But only on Tuesdays (tag day) and Thursdays (toddler day.) On Tuesdays, I shop for things for the house and décor or clothing for myself. I only get things that are the color tag of the day and are 75% off their tag price. Meaning, I pay between .25 and $2.00 for any piece of clothing. And there are some freakin' awesome namebrand high-end stuff there too. You just need to find the right Goodwills. On Toddler Thursdays, all kids stuff is 50% off. This is when I go get the kids clothes they need and shop for birthday and Christmas gifts.
You see, the Target right next to my Goodwill sends all their clearance rack items straight to Goodwill. So whether it be household décor, clothes or toys, there are BRAND NEW Target items still in the packaging all over my Goodwill and all with jaw-dropping prices. I can still get really nice things for super cheap. I also always bring a bag to donate to Goodwill so I get the 25% off coupon which I always use if my items don't qualify for the deal of the day. Because I shop for birthdays and Christmas all year long, there are no huge costs when it comes around to those celebration days because I already have gifts in the garage waiting to be wrapped up.
There is no way that is right or wrong but it is possible to live life inexpensively with kids. If you want to know my views on college, click here.
This is our current season of life. Our oldest child is 8 years old so things might change in the future. We may have more activities. Our life might look a little different. But I have the tools and resources to make the best financial decisions we can for our family. Because I would never want the excuse of "kids are too expensive" to stop me from bringing life into the world.