Friday, December 31, 2010

How Much is That Baby in the Window?

This week, someone sent in a Facebook question to Dave Ramsey, which he answered on his radio show. The question was something like, "My wife and I are thinking of having a baby, but we've heard they cost about $1,000 a month. What do you think about this?"

Dave said a baby could cost a thousand dollars a month if the baby was in daycare. Without giving a specific dollar amount, he answered that he didn't think having a baby really cost that much more a month. Besides, he said having a child is the best investment you'll ever make. 

Here's what I would add to what Dave didn't say.

Dear Sir,
If you wait until you can spare an extra thousand dollars a month for a child, you'll probably never have one. You'll save your money, but you'll miss out on priceless riches that cannot be measured.

A baby can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you choose. Babies do not need designer nurseries, designer cribs, designer clothes, designer strollers, designer shoes. They need lots of love, which is free.
Certainly there is the initial expense of having the baby. Obstetrical fees and hospital costs for a normal delivery average around $10,000. If you have insurance, many of those costs will be covered. If you don't have very good insurance, or no insurance at all, make no doubt, it will be expensive. But that's where saving comes in. Many people balk at those costs, yet do not hesistate to spend more than that on a vehicle. I'd take the baby any day.
You will receive, as gifts, many of the large and small items you need. The rest can be borrowed from friends, purchased inexpensively at the store, or found in great condition for even less at a garage sale or thrift store.

If you shop sales, clearance racks, and nice second-hand or thrift stores, you can find great clothing for mere dollars. I have found nearly brand new Sketchers tennis shoes for my son for $1 at the thrift store; other shoes and boots I've picked up on clearance at Target for $3.24 (yes, I remember the exact number!).  In fact, with hand-me-downs and gifts, many months have passed since I've spent any money on clothes or shoes.

As far as feeding a baby is concerned, breastfeeding in the early days is free. Formula costs more, but there are programs to help with the cost if needed. Jars of baby food are really not that expensive. Mashing up a tablespoon of the sweet potato you're already eating for dinner, or the banana you're having for breakfast, is even cheaper.

Sure, diapers and wipes are an expense. But there are always diaper coupons out there (especially if you register at the company's web sites--they'll send them to you) and sales. Maybe you can skip going out to eat for one meal to make room for the $40 a month (or less) you'll need for diapers.
Of course you'll want to provide a rich experience for your child. But fancy ski vacations, trips to resorts, and buying tickets for lots of events are not a necessary part of child-rearing. Playing games together, running in the yard, talking over dinner, camping in the summer, sledding in the winter, and reading bedtime stories each night are the memories that warm a child's heart and create a childhood to remember. Oh, and they're all free.
So sir, please don't think you're not financially ready to have a baby. You'll have nine months to save up money, if you need to. And then you'll discover how inexpensive and yet how rich babies really are.
Share a blessing you're grateful for at Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!


  1. AMEN! My sister-in-law the other day said she would have a baby if my in-laws wanted to pay for it. (They were asking her when she was going to have a baby.)When will people realize they are missing out by waiting until they can afford it?

  2. Somehow when you trust God with family size, He allows you to afford each child as they come. I'm pregnant with #4 in 4 years, and we have learned that no, we cannot afford them, but God can. We're not rich like a lot of these people with lots of kids are. We just know that a lot of things that other people think are "necessities" in life, really are just wants.

  3. Beautifully written! We couldn't 'afford' the three we have - but we have never gone without. And we wouldn't trade our babies for any dollar amount!

  4. True. Daycare will be the single biggest cost factored in to that $1000 figure. In fact, depending on where you live, I would argue that it could be even more (one more reason for mama to stay home-at least while the children are small). There is one thing, however, that I hardly ever see mentioned in this type of rebuttal--the ongoing cost of health insurance or health care. We found that the most expensive part of having our daughter, aside from the initial investment in her birth, was due to the fact that we are paying out of pocket for insurance for our family since my husband is self-employed and I quit my job to stay home with her.
    This isn't an argument for not having a baby. We are hoping that I will be pregnant again soon and encourage those on the fence to move forward whenever possible. We have trimmed away a lot of what many people consider necessities because we believe that children are such a blessing. We will probably never send them to camp, take them to theme parks, or play non-school funded sports. But I do want to point out that there is more to the cost of having them than the admittedly negligible (if you breastfeed and borrow) costs of just clothes and food.

  5. Hi K--
    Yes, you're right. As I mentioned in the post, ob fees and medical costs just for pregnancy and delivery (a normal birth) are easily $10,000. Monthly insurance premiums do add an additional cost; however, my experience has been that policies for children are not too horribly expensive (we previously paid our own premiums, except for my husband's). Now, however, to save money, we made a decision to cancel my insurance. You can read more about that in this post, "Having a baby without maternity insurance."

  6. Another huge money saver is using cloth diapers! Even if you get the most expensive variety, you'll save money overall compared to using disposables. Especially since you can use them for the next kid(s). These days, cloth diapers are super easy and super cute. Extra bonus- fewer plastic diapers filling up the landfills! :)

    Other cost savers: For some people, home birth is a great option. Even if you are uninsured or your insurance doesn't cover it, your costs for the midwife are often about the same or less than a hospital birth. Circumcision? Optional. Baby well visits are great, but they are scheduled around the vaccine schedule. If you do your research and work with your pediatrician for an altered vaccine plan (fewer vaccines and/or farther apart,) you don't *have* to go as often.

    Our insurance doesn't have preventative care, so baby well visits aren't covered. That isn't why we have an altered schedule, but it really helps to not pay for as many check-ups! And yes, yes, yes! to second-hand baby clothes/shoes! The few things we aren't given, we buy used. Also other baby gear! And making your own baby food too! I love it!

    Babies really are as expensive as you make them, unforeseen medical needs aside.