Are Kids Really Expensive? YES! A Humorous List from a Mother of 4
Are Kids Really Expensive? YES!
As parents of 4 young children, we are learning first hand the expenses of children. Sure, we knew that diapers, saving for college, cars, and family vacations would get expensive, but there are many many other ways that children can stretch your budget.
I've compiled a list of ways kids can cost you. Some are surprising. Most are humorous. All are real.
I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts about my list and welcome any additions.
A List of Why Kids are Expensive
A start of my list of why kids are expensive. In no particular order.
1. No matter how spill-proof sippy cups are supposed to be or how OCD you claim to be about not letting your children eat or drink in certain areas of your house, expect permanent stains on your carpet and your favorite pieces of furniture. Babies spit up and children break the rules when you're not looking. Study up on the cleaning aisle at Meijer and definitely invest in scotch guard. Even then, one of your kids will find a way to leave a grape jelly sandwich on your favorite couch and another one of your children will do you the favor of sitting on it and smearing it to a point beyond cleaning.
*Part of Murphy's law is that the couch that you've had for 20 years and even grandma's generation finds out dated will never be touched, therefore prolonging the chance of you ever getting to reupholster it or buy another new one. Children will most likely target your new (and only) white chair in your master bedroom or your 3x5 designer rug that is tucked in a corner.
2. Your children will find rocks, keys, sticks, and other various abrasive objects to throw at or slide against your car. Scratches on cars will happen and are always followed up by the phrase, "oops" from your children when you ask them about it. If you choose to ever resell your car, you're going to have some considerable expense in locating and purchasing those itty-bitty bottles of paint that exactly match your car's specific color.
3. Molding smells left in your cars from unidentifiable sources are, of course, from your children leaving banana peels, milk cups, or yogurt and spaghetti in your backseat. Since you are afraid to look in your backseat often, you find out about these left foods after they start rotting and mildewing. You are disgusted and will need to spend money on air fresheners, cleaners, perhaps even a full detail of your car.
*also noteworthy here: You will wonder why and how your child(ren) brought things like yogurt and spaghetti into your car. Honestly, these details are not worth discussing. Answers from children about such things as this are always along the lines of, "I thought it was a good idea." And they really mean it when they say it.
4. Batteries. Way too many toys and devices require batteries. Since your children will never learn how to turn these off when they are not in use (why bother), you will be replacing them often. Most cool toys and devices require size C or size D batteries, lots of them. Even when you buy these in bulk, they are dang expensive.
5. Closely following the topic of batteries, let me also mention screwdrivers. Yes, screwdrivers. Toy manufacturers often hide batteries behind little doors which require a screwdriver to open. You will need to purchase many screwdrivers of various sizes, mostly smaller than the size of a pencil head if you want to have any chance of having the right tool to help you get to the batteries when they need changing.
6. Each child requires at least 17 band-aids per week for the first 12 years of his or her life. Doing the math, well, that's a whole heaping ton of band-aids. Buy boxes of The Incredible Hulk, Toy Story characters, or Mickey Mouse branded band-aids and you can pay twice as much. Although, according to my children, "fun" band-aids definitely make boo boos feel better faster.
7. Expect your water bill to increase drastically once you have children. From the time they are infants, you will be doing laundry non stop. You will also be running your dishwasher more frequently because bottles have to be sanitized after each use and older children like to use 5 cups per day. Apparently, it's just too big of a hassle to rinse a cup of milk out and reuse when desiring juice as your next beverage. Leaving water running is also a major cause of water bill spikes. When a child washes his/her hands, they need an amount of water equivalent to Lake Superior.
8. No matter how hard you try, McDonald's, Wendy's and other genius companies will make sure your child recognizes their logo and all products they sell by age 2. You will fight the urge to pull into McDonald's and you will discuss healthy food choices with your children, but you will not be able to completely avoid the purchase of chicken nuggets and french fries (and a Coke for yourself) from time to time.
9. Children find ways to break toilets. Since having children, I've gotten to google topics like, "how to fix a toilet" and spent many hours acquainting myself with the inner workings of this complex, important feature of my home. There are only a few parts that make your toilet do it's thing, but believe me, kids can find ways to break the ones which are the teeniest and hardest to fix. While you are working on fixing your toilet, your children are off running free in the house, probably rubbing avocados on your computer keyboard (which will also cost you considerably to fix). Skip the "do it yourself" and just hire a plumber. Perhaps find one with time in his/her schedule to check in on you weekly.
10. Overfilling bathtubs can do major damage to drywall and ceilings. Your child was, no doubt, having a fun time playing submarine in the bathtub and completely forgot to turn off the water, even when it overflowed on to your tile and leaked through the ceiling of your second story bathroom into your kitchen. This has caused some of the flooring in your bathroom to need to be redone and has warped or caved in part of your ceiling. Enter drywall specialist, flooring specialist, and miracle painter (how else are you ever going to get the ceiling pattern and texture to match on the repaired part?).
And the list goes on....
11. Count on a few middle-of-the-night or holiday ER visits. Your child will not need stitches during regular business hours. This would be easily taken care of at the doctor's office and probably fully covered or mostly covered (sans a small co-pay). However, your sweet darling will require immediate stitching at 5:07pm on a regular business day or on Christmas Eve at 10:50pm. Sit down when you open the bill from the ER for these visits, but perhaps count on these visits costing the approximate amount of one month's house mortgage payment.
12. Birthday parties can be expensive on 2 counts: when you host one, and when your child is invited to one. When your child has a birthday party, you are usually paying out expenses for food (pizza for 30+ people), decorations (balloons, banners, prizes for games, favors or take home party bags, etc.), entertainment (games, rental of bounce houses, rental of play spaces ,clowns, horses-- ok, maybe not horses, but we've all been to some pretty over the top children's parties lately). Oh yeah, you are also responsible for giving your child a great gift to top it all off. These only happen once a year, thankfully, but average expense of a children's birthday party in suburbia America: $300 (no kidding).
After you've spent a big chunk of a week's paycheck on your child's party, don't forget to budget for the parties he or she is invited to. Bringing a gift is usually expected. With a super popular child such as yours, you will be buying gifts for all 231 close friends of which he/she is invited to party with.
13. Breaking things. Lamps, mirrors, windows, just to name a few. Our 7 yr old has broken 4 lamps to date. All of them accidents: falling on one, a ball hitting another, knocking one over while trying to turn it on, etc. Common. Unavoidable. Just go ahead and include a special place in your budget for these incidentals.
14. Removal of Stickers. This is a real concern. And expense. And time and energy sucker. Here's how it rolls out: For basically anything positive your child does: smiles, eats sitting down, brushes teeth with toothpaste instead of glue, picking up just one toy to clean, pooping, going to the doctor, etc. he or she is rewarded with a sticker. Stickers are supposed to be a good reward for behavior or for sticking out things like getting a shot or having to open their mouth for 5 seconds for the dentist. . Somehow, your child will get many many stickers. So many, in fact, you will lose track of them.
I get it; they are a simple way to reward or reinforce. Stickers are cute, can be bought cheaply in bulk, and are very fun to receive. Most children get super excited about stickers. But there's is a dark side to stickers. Here's how the sticker expenses roll out: Your child will be given a sticker, either by you or another well-meaning person. Happiness will set in on your child and he or she will begin searching for somewhere to place this important sticky item. It's where the sticker is placed, and the removal procedures that are costly.
Everything is cute about stickers until you are the one who finds where your child has chosen to glue the sticker. Usually, the first place of choice is clothes. Not an especially bad idea except for the fact that these never get removed before laundry day, causing 1 of 2 problems: either the sticker survives the wash and then is somehow near permanently stuck to the clothing with the help of the heat in the dryer, or the sticker falls into nearly 1,239 small parts that must be picked one-by-one off of all the other clothes that happened to be near it in the dryer. Next favorite choice of adhesion for the precious sticker: somewhere on your car. Apparently kid stickers are made with super glue because when I've found these on the back window of our van, on the back of my bumper, or the side of my sliding door, these are nearly impossible to get off. The amount of goo gone it takes is atrocious and often the scraping methods lead to some sort of scratches being left on a sensitive surface (and then we're back to the expense of locating and purchasing those teeny weeny bottles of paint that perfectly match your car's color).
Sometimes, with a little creativity, your child can think to put these on your iPad screen or your big portfolio cover to that project you've worked on and perfected for your boss, or perhaps even your butt. All can lead to near hysteria by even the most patient of folks. Enter "anger management" classes on your speed dial or "summer camp" to your expense tab.
15. Buttons. While buttons on clothing will surely disappear or pop off, this is not of the greatest expense. Sure, it's annoying to search to find matching buttons to that favorite sweater or quickly sew a new button on the pants of your child before his debut as the ring bearer at your sister's wedding, but the buttons I am talking of here are buttons that are a part of a bigger, more expensive object. Say, your car for example. Or your, gasp, electronics.
Our oldest was able to dismantle many keys on our family laptop. Even more amazing than the speed at which he was able to pull these off (literally), was his precision in picking the most used keys to break. He targeted the space bar, the vowels, and the enter button. After trying our best to reattach, we gave in an had the entire keyboard replaced. Expensive.
How about your iPad or your phone? Yes, many are now touch screen activated, perhaps even more tempting for those little fingers to pound away at. In approximately 1.2 seconds even your 6 month old can call Australia (via roaming charges) or push so many areas of your screen at once that you must have your phone reactivated or deactivated. Sometimes my little ones like to fire off random texts to say, my husband's boss. Annoying and stressful, and yes, can be expensive too when you consider the bad habits you take up to calm your nerves after such blood pressure peaks.
Microwaves, stoves, buttons on your car's control panel: Consider the buttons most likely to cause expensive damage to such things to be pushed most often, and with the hardest force. This will win you a trip to repurchase an item or a massive hunt to replace something. And don't forget, while you are at it, you might want to purchase that more expensive insurance plan for incidentals such as fires, smoke coming from microwaves, water damage, etc.
Outwit, Outsmart, Outlast: A Pre-emptive Approach to Avoiding Some Expenses
Outwit, Outsmart, Outlast used to be motto for the popular television show "Survivor". As a parent, I have adopted this motto as well.
Pre-emptive measures can, at times, help you in avoiding some of the above mentioned expenses of children. This list is in no offers assurance of actually working with real children, as real children do find ways to break things regardless of any measure of sanity laid out beforehand.
You may want to try these just in case.
1. Buy insurance for everything. Obviously the big stuff: cars and homes need to be covered. Try also to find insurance policies that cover "wreckless acts done by wreckless immature children".
2. Take a look at your at appliances such as refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, washing machine, and dryer. Try to imagine your children climbing on top of them, slamming their doors repeatedly, and using them as scientific adventures (i.e. "I wonder what a 2 liter pop would do if we microwaved it for 5 minutes" or "I wonder if I can dry all my tennis shoes at the same time"). An extended warranty on these is more like an "assurance plan" than an insurance plan...and what I mean by that is that you are assured you are going to need the plan to pay for repairs. Consider the warranty cost a prepayment for repairs that are sure to happen.
3. Start a savings account the second the children are born. Start with $50 a month or maybe even a quarter. You'll need every penny of your investment on "incidentals" such as those listed above in the section about how children are expensive. Also you must be ready for surprise costs like replacing their retainers after they throw them away in a trashcan 2,000 miles away from home during a family vacation.
4. Give them an allowance. Then, make them help pay for the careless acts they are involved in (if age appropriate).
5. Mandate they get a job (once they are of age, of course). Then reinforce personal responsibility by holding them accountable to assist with "over the top" expenses.
6. Show personal restraint and model personal responsibility yourself. Want to teach the importance of personal accountability: the taking responsibility for "owning" mistakes? Model it. Say you are sorry and then think before repeating a behavior in a similar circumstance. Take the time to discuss accidents that have happened and brainstorm ways to avoid them in the future.
Now it is Your Turn to Humor Us
After reading my list, please take the time to comment about your "kid expenses". Maybe you'd like to share a brief humorous story or maybe you'd like to top off my list by adding a few of your own.
I know there are more expenses out there....
Also, please feel free to vote on the survey below. I am oh-so-curious about the highest ranking expense.