My wife and I always knew we wanted at least two kids. After having two kids, we know two is the perfect number for us. We’re very blessed and are thankful for our family. Since my wife is a teacher, she was able to take off a lot more time than many (while still retaining her job) when each of our kids was born. With our daughter being born at the end of my wife’s school year, she took a full 5 months off and went back to school half-time. When our son was born, she took off a full school year to take care of both of our kids.
I’m very grateful that I was gainfully employed during these two periods as my wife was able to bond with our kids during their most precious months and years; however, I did come to learn that kids are not cheap. Even with our families graciously helping out with babysitting, we’ve spent a lot on childcare, diapers, and health insurance.
My wife nursed both of our kids, so we thankfully saved at least $2,000 per year during each of their first two years. When my wife returned to work, we started spending $24,000 annually to send both kids to day care and preschool. I estimate we spent over $34,000 annually with a 2 and 4 year old on food, diapers, medical insurance, transportation, activities, vacations, clothing, utilities, daycare, and more. We definitely underestimated these costs when planning to have children, but have been fortunate to have enough earning power to afford these things. I know we could have spent a couple of thousand dollars less per year, but we chose a good preschool and set reasonable budgets for our other expenses.
For the first years of our kids lives, most of my wife’s after tax salary has essentially gone towards the cost of raising our kids (although we split the costs differently). This helped me understand why my mother didn’t work when I was a kid as the cost of having others watch your children can sometimes be greater than (or close to) what you earn.
Fortunately, my daughter will be starting kindergarten this year at a public school and we will only need to pay for after care at roughly one-fifth the cost of her preschool. While I cherish our kids at this special age (3 & 5), I am looking forward to my son going to kindergarten in two years so we can reduce our expenses and focus more on saving for college and getting out of the rat race! We pay the year upfront for a small discount, so this expense surprisingly doesn’t feel as painful as a mortgage that you see every month.