Are Children Expensive or is it Their Parents?

Everyone’s situation is different, but I keep reading about how expensive kids are and wondering why I’m not agreeing. Granted, my child is turning four-years-old, and I have yet to fully experience the upcoming costs of schooling, sports activities, and all the rest; but I still have difficulty understanding why some parents think their children are expensive. I’ve come to the recent conclusion however, that it’s not the kids, but often the parents who are the ones who are choosing to incur or accept excessive child rearing costs.


In the old days, a parent typically stayed home with the child or children, thereby eliminating the need for childcare. Now, in our world of the “essential” two income family, people have kids, then immediately have to send them to a pricey daycare provider so that they can go back to work in order to pay for the pricey daycare provider. Then they that say kids are expensive. Huh?

If you’re scratching head, join the club. That doesn’t mean the child is expensive, it means that maybe there should have been a bit more planning somewhere in the parenthood process. Although I fully realize it’s not always possible, I’m still a big believer in at least one parent staying at home with a child during their formative years before they head off to school.

Before my wife and I ever had a child, there was a ton of planning that went into the process. Of course a lot of things can change in the process, but I eventually worked it out so that I could work from home and raise our child and buy a home all at the same time. It wasn’t easy, there was plenty of sacrifice involved, and I’m not saying that everyone could do this, but it makes having a child a heck of a lot cheaper and it’s certainly not the child who is expensive if the parents decide to work and in turn send him or her to daycare.

Living up to Expectations

Just about every holiday or birthday that rolls around in our extended family, I see this. Fancy toys, holiday treats, big birthday bashes with friends and family. All this for a one or two-year-old who doesn’t comprehend a thing that is going on around him or her.

So much of the hullabaloo that goes along with holidays and birthdays for the little ones is not actually for the little ones; it’s for the big ‘Ëœuns. My little guy at that age could have been just as happy with a roll of paper towels to shred for his Christmas present as the pricey, store bought trinkets that were laden upon him. But parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles just can’t resist splurging to impress others or to keep up with the Joneses or just to have a party to get everyone together and socialize.

Again — not the kids’ fault for the costs — the parents’.


Once again, I question whether it is the kids or the parents who make school expensive. Sure, kids ask for the newest backpack or latest trends in clothing (not that the parents have to abide by their wishes), but attending school doesn’t have to be costly unless you’re talking about private school or the property taxes involved to support the area school district.

I know of a particular family that chose a section of Chicago in which to live where the elementary and middle schools were pretty good, but the high school was terrible. They ended up having to send four children to private school for a portion or all of their high school years. This made having kids extremely costly, but the kids didn’t tell them to buy their home in that school district, and the parents could have moved (it probably would have been cheaper considering the costs of private schooling), but they didn’t, and therefore they suffered financially due to “the children” but really because of themselves.


Eventually, just about every child is going to hit that stage where he or she feels the need to fit in and just won’t have you buying their clothes at garage sales or giving them hand-me-downs (even though you might be surprised what you can find at garage sales and resale shops these day in terms of quality clothing).

But when they are younger, most kids I know couldn’t care less about the type of clothes they wear. Yet we dress them in all sorts of expensive costumes to parade them in front of friends and family. I’ll admit that it’s nice to have a few fancy outfits for special occasions but 95% of the time, kids are typically just out there being kids — getting dirty, playing hard and growing like weeds. Yet many parents must buy new, new, new, and have the best of the best when it comes to clothing that might only be worn a few times before it is donated, tossed out or given away.

I’m not complaining since I reap the rewards of such actions. I’m simply pointing out that before we say kids are “costly,” I think we often need to step back and take a look at ourselves. We should consider our own lives, actions, and decisions and how they add to the cost of having a child and whether it is indeed the child or the parent that makes kids expensive.

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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. For financial advice, readers should consult a licensed financial advisor. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is at the reader’s discretion.