Recently I read a really great article by Mr. MoneyMoustache about raising kids on very little money that really stuck with me. If you've ever brought up having kids with your friends or family I can almost guarantee someone has said "Kids are so expensive! Are you sure you've thought about how much it's going to cost to raise one? Or four?!" It was one of those statements that either kinda bothered me or made me feel very naive.
So that's why I practically shouted "YES!" after I read this article.
"In earlier times, parents considered themselves lucky to have enough food from their own farm’s harvest to feed their children. Even more fortunate parents had time to allow their kids to attend the one room schoolhouse and get a job that paid more than farming. Public schools improved and work modernized, and pretty soon every kid went to school. Women dramatically increased their participation in the workforce and with perfect timing, consumer culture dramatically expanded the material desires of these parents to allow the increased family income to be poured into more luxury spending disguised as necessities – instead of more leisure time.
And now, here we are, when today’s parents believe they need a 7-passenger SUV for the “safety” of their children, they need to take trips to Disneyland for family entertainment, and they need to put their kids into exclusive private schools and even fancy preschools, as well as horseback and violin lessons from trained professionals in various surrounding towns, in order to keep them ahead in “the increasingly competitive world out there”. By pure coincidence, all of these needs happen to be very expensive ones that clever entrepreneurs and companies are making a lot of money from.
Did you ever notice how you never see a strong international trend of parents spending more time with their kids, or people canceling their TV service and reading more, or local parks and natural areas becoming increasingly flooded with parents playing with their children? Hmm.. why is this? Is it because we’ve learned that these activities are not good for our kids so we have wised up and replaced them with organized and expensive activities?"
Isn't that interesting?
Personally, we haven't found Iris to be expensive at all so far. Our main expense for her is the cloth diaper service ($20 a week). Clothes are either thrifted or hand-me downs (I love hand-me downs!!), she eats what we eat (I do buy extra fruit for her every week though), and for entertainment we do free (maybe kinda boring to most) things like going to the library, hanging out together at home, going for walks, visiting with friends/family, or we might go to the Early Years Centre. It's great!
Now I'm not saying we have no brand-new clothes or toys in our place, because hello, grandparents and aunts and uncles! Ha! We see those as treats Iris wouldn't necessarily have if not for them.
I'm of the mindset that kids are as expensive as you make them, but that's just me. I'm curious though about how other people feel about how expensive their kids are.