What Are You Going to Sacrifice When You Have Children?

My aunt used to tell the story of the cute little girls that lived next door to her in their subdivision.  There were 4 of them, and they were born in quick succession.  The oldest was just 6 when the youngest was born.  Having the girls so quickly stretched the family budget, and when the father was laid off, well, it wasn’t long before they missed payments, and then their home went into foreclosure, and they were forced to move.

If you’re contemplating kids, you likely know that they’re expensive, but, hey, your parents raised you (and your siblings, if you have them) and got by just fine.  You can do the same, right?

Yes, but not without sacrifice.

CNN Money recently estimated that it would cost $241,080 to raise a child to the age of 18.  (That doesn’t include college expenses!)

They also published an article about ways that 5 families afford their kids.  Which got me to thinking, what do people give up when they have children?

My husband and I knew we’d have to give up some of our free time when we had kids, but we didn’t fully realize the financial implications of having kids.  We have given up the following to afford our kids:

1.  Technology.

We have laptops, sure.  But our technology reach doesn’t expand much beyond that.  I would love an iPhone or an iPad, but the money just isn’t in the budget.  We do have cell phones, but they’re just cheap Trac Fones with pay as you go minutes.

2.  Professional hair care.

I have been cutting my husband’s hair for the last 11 years.  He’s been coloring my hair for the last 8 years.  I cut my own bangs and splurge for a professional hair cut about twice a year.

3.  New vehicles.

We bought a new minivan when our first child was born.  That vehicle is now 9 years old and has 120,000 miles on it.  No upgrades yet.  Also, my husband rides the train rather than paying for another vehicle.

4.  Dinners out.

When we just had one child, we did still eat out.  Now, however, eating at home is much cheaper than taking a family of 5 out to eat, so that’s what we do.  We only eat out when we travel to attend conferences.

5.  Date night.

Gone are date nights that consisted of going out on the town.  Instead, we either have date night at home or wait until grandma is in town visiting.

6.  Vacations.

Besides attending conferences, our last vacation as a family was when we just had one child, and he was 3 years old.  Hopefully in a few years we’ll be able to start taking more vacations.

7.  New furniture.

We bought a new couch before our children were born.  Considering the myriad ways children can destroy furniture, we prefer to stick with used (and old) until the kids are teens.

I’m sure our experience isn’t unique.  Whether or not you realize it when your baby is born, you will sacrifice financially to provide for him or her.

If you’re a parent, in which ways have you sacrificed financially for your children?