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Having babies and raising kids are expensive. Will you be able to afford to have kids? If you are a planner, you’ve probably had a little concern on the matter. Although we have a big family and I’m a wanna be planner, money never was a reason we did or did not choose to add to our family.

Recently, I was asked how we afford so many kids. The person said, “So, ya’ll are like millionaires, right?” 🤣🤣🤣

On the contrary, my dear boy. We are certainly NOT millionaires. Well, we might be closer if we didn’t have 8 kids, but we’ll take the 8 kids any day! The truth is, we’ve never had an abundance, and even had serious financial struggles back in 2009 where we barely lived paycheck to paycheck.

Affording Kids – The Numbers

According to the USDA article published in Feb. 2020…(ya’ll ready for some crazy numbers?),

“Based on the most recent data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, in 2015, a family will spend approximately $12,980 annually per child in a middle-income ($59,200-$107,400), two-child, married-couple family. Middle-income, married-couple parents of a child born in 2015 may expect to spend $233,610 ($284,570 if projected inflation costs are factored in*) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17. This does not include the cost of a college education.”

Say what??

If someone told me that when I started having kids, I’d be doubting our financial ability to raise even one child, much less 8! And the number does not even include college costs. For the record, I’ve never actually calculated how much it costs a year for us to raise a child, so I can’t say that this number is ridiculously off, though my gut says, “get real!”

The estimate would put just kid raising at $104k a year for us. Nevermind that our yearly income is less that that. For reference, let me add that we do not have debt, financial assistance of any kind, or state or federal aid in paying for college.

Somehow I feel that while the factors listed (for food, shelter, and other necessities) as calculated are legit, they are somewhat inflated.

Related article: First Steps to Get Control of Your Finances

Can You Afford to Have Kids?

Affording Kids – Our personal experience

We get the question, “how do you afford all those kids?” A. Lot! This is what we do personally to help us do what we do.

Because I had never done any kid-raising calculations, I decided to do a little figuring myself.

Now granted, we drive older vehicles so that we don’t have car payments. Our house is older and small which means our mortgage is less. Hand-me-downs and consignment store finds help us keep everyone clothed, and when that’s not an option, we shop smart–catching sales, using coupons, and buying more reasonably priced brands.

As for groceries, I make as much as I can from scratch. We have a garden to help supplement, and we have chickens for eggs.

Christmas and birthdays look far different for us than they used to. We set a budget, and we stick to it. We do not buy without a very clear plan, keeping money (and our limited inside space) in mind. Truthfully, there have been seasons of handmade gifts and really tight budgets for both Christmas and birthdays.

We don’t do vacation much anymore unless it’s the occasional camping trip or visits to see family.

We stick to a budget and don’t spend more than we have. Because we went on a financial freedom journey several years ago, we do not want to go back to being in debt. It was a long and often difficult journey to get to the place we are financially, where we finally feel freedom from debt despite our larger-than-normal-sized family!

Related article: How to Save Money When Your Are Broke

The reason I’m sharing this is so that you understand the full picture. The bottom line is that we have to sacrifice so that we can afford “all those kids.” And it’s work. Never think that it’s easy financially to raise children. Either you spend $12k or more a year OR, you work at cutting the costs which in essence has it’s own costs.

Breaking it down

According to my very quick and inattentiveness to detail…

…(meaning, I took our monthly budget, multiplied by 12 to get the yearly budget. Then I divided that number by 10 because there are 10 of us to get our individual “cost” per year. I didn’t factor in that the two adults in my house–my husband and myself–possibly could cost more each year. I just divided it equally. It might be different if we had car payments and other debt, but because we don’t, I think our cost of living is probably pretty even across the board.)…

…my number per child is $8,010. That’s $4,970 LESS than the average middle-income family. And almost $100k less than the average amount to raise a child to age 17. ($97,440 to be exact)

Related article: 10 Sure Ways to Dig Out of the Financial Hole

Now, I’m no financial expert, but the numbers look a bit ridiculous. Granted, smaller families can spend more money per child, and probably do a times, simply because they have the freedom and wiggle room to do so.

The point is, you can raise a child on less than $12k a year, and while it can be challenging, it’s very doable. Don’t let the numbers scare you. In fact, I advise you to not look at the numbers when it comes to deciding whether or not to have kids. Don’t let whether or not you think you can afford kids ultimately determine whether or not you choose to go for it!

However, if you are a planner and a number cruncher at heart, know that you can make it work on far less money than the average/estimates I’ve seen. Take heart. You don’t raise them by the year. You raise them by the day. One day at a time, one box of diapers, one feeding, one pair of shoes, one outfit…at a time. You have time to figure out the long term, and no doubt you will.

Remember that children are a blessing, and you’ll never regret having them even if sacrificing for yourself to provide for them is necessary.

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