- It’s easy to budget for your family when your kids are babies. But as I’m finding out, it gets a lot harder as they grow up.
In our house, it all started with school. My oldest daughter started kindergarten this year, and in some ways, the move improved our monthly cash flow. For example, I went from paying for two kids in full-time daycare to only paying for one. That was nice.
Bills, Bills, Bills
But then the bills started rolling in. Where she once ate lunch at daycare, I now have to buy special lunch food to send with her or fund her school lunch account. She prefers to eat at school, which is fine, but that costs me an extra $50 every two months.
Another expense I never thought about: book fees. So far, we’ve paid around $200 in book fees that I didn’t budget for because I didn’t know they existed. You live, you learn.
But that’s not all. She recently came home with a flyer for a Karate class her school is participating in – $20 for two lessons. And there are all kinds of special “days” at school that may or may not result in additional spending – funny hat day, sports jersey day, snack day, show and tell.
And now that our kids are older, they want to get involved in things. So far, we’ve put our kids in gymnastics class for a monthly cost of around $125.00. It’s totally worth it , of course, and my kids love it, but it’s also just another bill to pay. And I know it’s just the beginning. From what my friends tell me, sports in grade school, middle school, and high school can be crazy expensive. Trust me, I’m already bracing myself!
How Much Does the Tooth Fairy Give?
Just a few days ago, my daughter lost her first tooth. Let me rephrase that: I pulled it out (because she asked). Where one minute she was staring at the bloody stump, the next she was fantasizing about her payday.
“How much money is the tooth fairy going to bring me?” she asked. “Do you think I’ll get a toy?”
“The tooth fairy gave $1 when I was little,” I told her, adding that inflation could mean she gets more. She went to bed that night in a hurry, excited to see how much money she would rake in.
My husband gave her $5. Why? “Because it is her first tooth,” he explained.
You’re probably reading this and thinking what an awful parent I must be. “Who complains about their kid’s gymnastic lessons?” someone will say, or “Who begrudges their children’s lunch money?”
What a cheap bitch I am, except I’m not.
I like to complain about it – to marvel at the way my children’s stories unfold – but the truth is, this is the best money I’ll ever spend. Nothing has brought more joy to my life than having children. Nothing really mattered until I held them in my arms. I would do anything – pay anything – to make my daughter’s lives better in any way that matters.
And if that includes paying $25 for a Daddy-Daughter dance at my kid’s gymnastics school, so be it.
My kids are getting expensive, but they’re worth it. So instead of fighting it, I’ve decided to make my peace with it and enjoy the time we have. All I can do is budget for these little expenses now and prepare for them the best I can. And with proper financial planning and a little bit of sacrifice, we can afford to save for all the things that matter and treat our kids to some activities that will mold their little minds.
Because one day my children will be grown-ups with their own families and homes. I might have a lot more money then, but I’ll never get them back.
Do you think kids get more expensive as they get older? How have your expenses changed?
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