We have successfully survived a full year of being parents! Still waiting on the certificates, but we are no longer newbies and I am finally confident enough to call us a family pursuing FIRE. Most of you are probably here to see the first year child costs broken down, and you will, but let me answer all the boring “what is it like being a parent” questions quick:
Q. What is it like being a parent?
A. Good 90% of the time.
Q. Is it really as hard as they say?
Q. Do you get to sleep?
People are always surprised when I answer with “It’s good most of the time” – Kids ain’t easy, and from time to time, a sequence of events will happen that you never thought was possible (ie. my kid just kicked a diaper full of poop out of my hand and it went all over the kitchen table and floor. Poop and kitchen do not mix)
Anyway, back to the Family on FIRE part. It has been tempting to write about being a family that is pursuing Financial Independence over the last year, but I felt like an imposter. I didn’t feel like our experience was worthwhile until we had at least 1 year of kid-raising costs under our belt while simultaneously building wealth.
Now that we are a year in, everyone is alive, and we still stacking up cash, I am opening up the door to Family on FIRE posts. Gotta buck the “FI people don’t have kids” stereotype (seriously, this one annoys the hell out of me).
Make sure to stick around for all the fun things we experienced in year one after the numbers 🙂
First Year Child Costs
For anyone that says “Kids don’t have to be expensive,” I call you wrong. While you can save on things like clothes, toys, and furnishings, the cost of insurance and child care alone pump kids into the “expensive” category.
Month by month charts for our biggest costs below
1 – First Year Child Costs: Formula
We were lucky to be able to use breast milk for the first 7.5 months, which saved money (although this comes at a different cost that you will see later). After breast milk, we moved to the Target brand formula which is significantly cheaper than the big brands. We also took advantage of frequent sales/promotions (spend $100 get $25 gift card – pretty much buy 5 get 1 free) to keep the cost down.
We do have a really good eater/drinker so there was not a lot of waste. She rarely left a bottle unfinished and by 10 months was eating a lot of normal food that cut down the milk intake. Going from formula to whole milk at a year was awesome!
Total Formula Cost: $270
2 – First Year Child Costs: Daycare
The lost wages when Mrs. AE was on short-term disability then unpaid for 6 weeks were significant over the first 3 months. I often see people saying that the cost of having a kid was reduced by a parent staying home, but the lost salary can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored.
While $8000/year sounds like a lot to pay for child care, it is about half of what the large daycare centers cost. We are lucky to have family that runs an in-home daycare our daughter goes to.
Total Child Care Cost: $12,300
3 – First Year Child Costs: Medical
After about 47 rounds of incorrect billing, we finally sorted out the total cost of our delivery. Came in just under $3,000 (out of pocket) counting the deductible for both my wife and daughter.
We did have an early emergency room visit that was $150, and a few other doctors visits that required a co-pay and some prescriptions. All vaccines and check-ups were 100% covered by our insurance.
The baseline is how much our insurance premium went up every month for a family insurance plan ($125)
Total Medical Cost (including insurance increase): $4,755
4 – Total First Year Child Costs
Child Care, Medical, and Formula totaled $17,325 for the first year.
I do need to call out that I left all the preparation costs leading up to the baby (crib, bottles, one million other things) out of these numbers and focussed only on the delivery through 1st birthday.
Misc First Year Child Costs – $125/Month
This would have made a boring chart so I just bulleted it out.
- Clothes (minimal because we share clothes with friends, but we do buy some ourselves)
- Pain Meds (Teething)
- Toys (You can find crazy good deals on Amazon)
- Bottle Nipples (increasing flow as she got older)
- Diapers (about $25/month average, switched brands depending on what was on sale)
Car Seats – $400
We did have to buy 2 new car seats part way through year 1 when she grew out of her infant car seat.
Total First year child costs total: $19,225
There are some tax savings, but we will call that a wash with the first birthday party 🙂
A few methods we used to reduce first year child costs:
- Share clothing with our friends, we have bins of clothing being passed around our friend group. Everyone adds in their own clothes as their child grows out of them.
- Share toys, kids only play with certain toys for a few months, we pass them back in forth and keep the rotation going
- Coupons and bulk sale shopping, primarily for diapers and formula
Unfortunately, the most expensive parts of raising a kid are a lot harder to reduce. Specifically, child care, unless you have a family/friend connection it is hard to deal with.
First Year Child Experiences
Now that we have covered the money side of the equation, I want to provide some helpful charts that give a glimpse into our experience raising our kid for the first year.
Assuming other parents can relate, and for the first-timers, people that are expecting or anyone planning on having kids, you might want to take some notes
5 – Diaper Changes Per Day
Needs very little explanation……some days you feel like a baby changing assembly line. We started with the changing table upstairs and moved everything to the main level. It would be a good way to get your steps in if you are wearing a fitbit though.
6 – Diaper Changing Difficulty
3 step process for diaper changing success:
- Preparation: have the diaper unfolded, with the tabs out, and 1 more baby wipe than you will think you need
- Distraction: once that crazy baby strength starts developing, a distraction is your only hope
- Speed: practice makes perfect, the quicker the better for everyone involved.
Babies are a lot stronger than I would have ever imagined from day one, but once they realize they have an opinion on getting changed – it’s on.
We are still firmly in the “battle every diaper change” stage. Hoping she grows out of soon.
Bonus tip: Once you have the diaper off, put it out of leg/arm reach
7 – Average Hours Uninterrupted Sleep
Something interesting that I learned, when you hear “we slept through the night” it actually means we didn’t have to get out of bed to tend to our kid. Not that you actually SLEPT through the night uninterrupted.
Even on the good nights our kid will still wake us up and put herself back to sleep after 5-15 minutes of rolling around and talking.
8 – …..Is my Baby’s Poop Normal?
When they can’t tell you if they are not feeling well, you have to use what evidence you can to figure out what is going on with their health. Quite a few times the color/consistency combo pushed us into the GoogleSphere to figure out if we needed a doctors visit or extended baby poo monitoring.
That weird spike at 11 months was a white one that freaked us out but was caused by too much yogurt 🙂
9 – Hours/Day Mrs. AE was Tethered to the Wall
I warned you earlier that breast milk comes at a price, and that price was paid by my wife in the form of being plugged into the wall to pump for about 4 hours/day.
I obviously had baby duty during this time and helped as much as I could with cleaning the 37 things that go along with pumping and using bottles. But I will forever be thankful because pumping is a ton of taxing work.
10 – # of Times Watching Moana
We limited TV/Screen Time and rarely watched the movie from start to finish, but our daughter got really into Moana and that was the only show that could capture her attention. She LOVED the colors and songs.
Thankfully it is a pretty good movie (is there anything The Rock can’t do?), but after 5 times a week for 3 months and you start busting out a kids song from a cartoon at work without even realizing it.
I should have created a book chart, thankfully she enjoys that more than anything on the TV right now – we are in 20+ books per day territory of late.
11 – Missing Baby Socks
Adult socks go missing at a stable rate, but holy hell do baby socks have a way of disappearing. The kicker is they go missing in the laundry, but also get pulled off and discarded in vehicles, strollers or couches.
Thoughts on the first year child costs? Anyone else tracked their numbers for comparison? Were our first year child costs higer or lower than you expected?