The Green Stork

The Green Stork

The Green Stork

Hello folks! Thanks for visiting The Green Swan. I have some delightful news to share today…Lucy and I are expecting our second child! We are 14 weeks along, everyone is doing well and healthy and things are going positively. Lucy is due early April which is the same month our son was born in back in 2014, so there will be about 3 years between the two.

The common questions we’ve gotten so far is what the sex will be and what we want the sex to be. So let me just head those off right away…we plan to wait to find out until birth. We did that for our son and it was such a memorable and magnificent experience to be able to be the one to personally share with my wife the sex. And we have no preference at all what sex this one will be. While we aren’t sure if we’ll have a third at this point (we’ll see how well behaved the first couple are 🙂 … ), we would both be perfectly fine with either a boy or a girl.

Personally, I’m one of four boys so that is definitely my comfort zone and I know how great it was growing up with brothers. On the flip side, having a daughter would be special for me. I think the Father / daughter relationship is neat especially seeing how great of a relationship my wife has with her Dad.

Needless to say, there is a lot of excitement in our household lately. And what goes great with special news of being pregnant…crunching some numbers!

The Cost of Children

Any parent knows that children are expensive, but how expensive can be largely determined by the parents. In a post a few months back, I detailed how Lucy and I went the frugal route in furnishing our son’s room to help manage the cost of children. In that post we also detailed the US Department of Ag’s annual estimate of the cost of children, which was pegged around $245K.

However, for the sake of record keeping and my own natural curiosity (and maybe to remind him what he owes me when he turns 18 🙂 ), after our son was born I started to keep a tally for how expensive he was. While this isn’t 100% accurate because there are a few estimates I’ve had to include (primarily food), it is in the right ball park. Note that Year 3 is only tallied to through August 2016 and so represents only 5 months of his third year.

Cost of Children

A couple things to highlight from the chart above which may look unusual:

  • The healthcare related charges were pretty big in year 1, but this wasn’t all pregnancy related. Toward the end of the first year he had numerous ear infections and we ended up needing to get ear tube surgery. The delivery related charges were on Lucy’s health plan which I don’t need to get into all the details, but it was not a high deductible health plan. The charges simply represent the deductible and out of pocket charges, not her insurance premiums. However, once he was born we put him on my policy which is a high deductible plan which turned out to bite us in the butt when he had the ear tube issues which ended up being all out of pocket for us.
  • Diapers / wipes charges may look huge in year 1 and step down significantly in year 2. No, we did not stop changing his diaper regularly. What we had done was pre-buy a boat load of diapers which carried into year 2. And he isn’t potty trained yet (although progress is being made). Over his 29 months of living, diapers/wipes have averaged $39 / month or $463 / year.
  • I was interested to see how much the clothes/toys/misc category and the Furniture category have dropped after the first year. This represents some of the initial infrastructure of having a kid, things like car seats, bottles, plates, thermometers and all the random stuff. It certain did mount up and a lot of it I categorized as miscellaneous. I don’t think we actually spent a ton on clothes and toys. As a matter of fact, we were gifted a lot of clothes and toys and the ones we bought we typically did so at the consignment shop.
  • The food is simply an estimate. He was cheap in year 1 as mother’s milk was his primary source of food until he was 1 (although we introduced some solids around month 5 or 6). Our household food expenditures actually went down about ~$500 in 2014, the year he was born, primarily due to less dining out. So while buying him food from the grocery store certainly costs money, we may have more than offset it by dining out less ourselves. However, in 2015 we saw our food expenditures increase about $800, most all of which were grocery store purchases. So $500 for the little guy in year 2 and year 3 may be a low estimates.
  • We got junior in a few activities in year 2 and rotated him between swimming and gymnastics. We will again this Fall and Winter, although we take the summer off since we are able to use our neighborhood pool.

And it isn’t fair to the little one to count all these expenses against him and not give him credit for the tax benefits he offers. So I’ve netted these out of the total costs. The tax benefits we have been able to take advantage of is the Child Tax Credit, the personal exemption, and paying up to $5,000 per year of daycare with pre-tax dollars.

Now that we have another on the way, and considering we have a good idea of the costs we can expect to incur for his/her first few years, we can certainly budget appropriately. For the next one, we may not need to incur the same level of “start-up” costs that we did with kid 1 and we can maybe get away with some hand-me-down items as well, so I would expect these costs to be slightly less. And hopefully we won’t have to go through the same extent of healthcare related costs for #2 either! I guess in about three years from now I’ll be able to compare and contrast more.

Has anyone else tracked the cost of children closely? I’d be curious if you’ve experienced similar spending levels or not. Feel free to leave comments or questions below!

Thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan

Work Harder, Work Smarter, Retire Earlier and Find Your Beach








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  1. Well congratulations to both of you. I reckon the second one will be a breeze since you’ve already learnt many of the new-parent lessons from raising Number 1. A boy and a girl would be perfect really. It’s only my opinion but I reckon once you have one of each there’s no real reason to keep adding to the clan……unless you want to of course, but then of course that financial independence goal is going to keep stretching out by quite a few years with each one isn’t it.

    Anyway, great news and no doubt we’ll all be following along with you both as you count down to the big day.

  2. Congratulations JW, wonderful news for you both. Hopefully #2 is easier for Lucy and easier for you guys seen as you’ve already done it. It’s good to see that you guys have really budgeted out the numbers – even though you know you can cover it. Nice work 🙂

    We haven’t had any children yet, though we’re doing our best at that, as I’m sure you know. It’s going to be pretty expensive though.


    1. Thank you, Tristan! It’s always nice to have a handle on the expenses.

      I wish you guys the best of luck as you continue to try. It’ll be expensive but totally worth it.

    1. I was thinking of you and a few other readers who I know are expecting or recently had a kid when putting this post together. Glad it helps. Thanks Mr AE!

  3. Congrats! My family did lots of hand me downs with neighbors for clothes. I did get a big girl bed, and my parents upgraded my sister when my brother was on the way, so you may have that misc for your first.
    P.s. April is a great birthday month. 🙂

    1. Yeah I think we will, thanks Jacq.

      Yes April is a great month. Although I think the birth stone is diamond which may result in a mother’s ring being expensive with two born in April!

      1. My brother and I are April, my sister is July. I got over the birth stone thing a while ago. Best of luck!
        When your 1st gets older you could celebrate at a baseball diamond, minor league game! 🙂

        1. Nice. My mom and my son are just a day apart, she almost got the ultimate birthday gift.

          Good idea with the baseball diamond, I like it!

  4. Congrats. Not sure about your day care situation but that was the big kick in the pants for us with the second child. It grows roughly linear since any discount you get for the second child is offset by inflation from the first ones expense rate. Look for the food bill to take off as well. Our 4 year old now eats as much as I do.

    1. Yeah the daycare bill will hurt for sure. I don’t think we’ll be getting a discount with ours, not sure they offer much of one if any at all.

      I’m interested in watching our food budget, it already amazes me how much our first eats. We used to get buy with all sharing meals but not anymore.

      Thanks for the comment, FTF!

  5. Congratulations to you both, that is wonderful news! As you pointed out, we found that the expenses and stress level with the second child were much less than the first. You have a lot of the infrastructure items already and you also know what to expect.

    We didn’t have child care expenses, but my wife decided to stay home with the kids which ended up being a much larger expense! It’s all worth it though, you just have to decide what’s right for you. Expenses may start picking up again in a few years depending on activities that they get involved with. Team activities like soccer or baseball are generally less expensive than individual activities like gymnastics or piano.

    Enjoy the ride, it does go fast!

    1. Ah those are good tidbits to know regarding the expense on activities. That makes sense, thanks for sharing. I wonder if we can get buy with used and hand me down equipment for some of the activities as well.

      Thanks, Jon!

  6. Congratulations! That is so awesome. I think that extra kids defiantly become more affordable. So many things are able to be passed down (like the crib.) Although if you have a girl, there will be a temptation to go crazy with the cute girl clothes. =) Maybe leave that to the grandparents.

    1. Haha yes I’ll try to leave as much of that as I can to grandparents. And I can tell how much they enjoy shopping for the grandkids anyway so I’ll let them go wild :)!

      If we end up with a boy it’ll be pretty perfect since we have so many clothes already and the timing of the seasons match up with the first. We’ll see though.

      Thanks, Ms Montana!

  7. Congratulations! It’s such an exciting time! We spent significantly less on child #2, even though we had to buy girl clothes (we purchased them second-hand). We used the same furniture, toys, blankets, sleepers, etc. from the first child and also realized which expenses were completely unnecessary from the first. Our son also had medical expenses his first year that we didn’t have with our daughter, so that helped!

    1. Ah very nice to benefit from all that with the first. We feel the same way and how to have a fair amount less of expenses. And hopefully less healthcare!

      Thanks, Amanda!

  8. Great news!

    We did not know the sex for the first and decided to know it for the second! It was a secret for everybody else.

    We never kept a log of all baby related expenses. I do recognize some categoris like daycare. In our case it was 6,6k per year till school.

    1. Thanks! The first go around I wanted to wait and convinced my wife to do so. This time I’m anxious to find out but she wants to wait…

      Is that in USD? Not a bad rate compared to many places in the U.S.

      Thanks for sharing, ATL!

  9. Congratulations to you and your wife! We have a 3 year old boy and just had another boy back in July. I haven’t track the costs closely…do sleep deprived parents have the time?? LOL. Since we have 2 boys, we didn’t have to get any clothes, plus many of my older son’s clothes were hand-me-downs from friends and clothes from a thrift shop or clearance.

    1. Nice, hand me downs are huge savings. Maybe we’ll be able to do the same if we have another boy. And yes, the sleep deprivation in the beginning is tough…!

      Thanks for stopping by, Andrew!

  10. Congrats JW! My knowledge about how much children cost is low to non-existent, but looking at your numbers, it seems cheaper than I thought! Or maybe I’m just totally naive about how much children really cost?

    1. Well not sure really myself either, but I think it will continue to climb. But then perhaps in high school they get jobs and pay for some of their own discretionary items… And perhaps contribute in other ways like mowing and vacuuming! 🙂

  11. Congratulations, JW!! We only have the one daughter who is 6-years old and haven’t tracked the expenses too closely. However, as it sounds like you already know, the cost of raising a kid isn’t as high as I thought it would be.

    Sounds like you need a girl to shake things up a little! 😉

    — Jim

    1. Haha yeah a girl would change things, that’s for sure. And I know my grandma is hoping for a girl… Hey family is pretty dominated by boys. We’ll see! Thanks, Jim.

  12. How exciting! Congrats and hope that the pregnancy continues to go smoothly for Lucy.

    Costs definitely decreased from one child, to two, to three. You have a lot of the toys and furniture already. I will also point out that it’s great to have a boy first when it comes to clothing. Our daughter used a lot of her older brother’s clothing. It’s easier to put a little girl in a plain t-shirts or sweatpants, than trying to find girl clothing to pass down to a boy without scalloped edges, lacy details, or sparkles.

    Can’t wait to find out what the green stork is delivering to you!

    1. Thanks, Harmony! Good point on the clothing, I suppose it us a lot easier to pass down boy clothes to a girl. Come to think of it, my wife has an older brother and I know she still got a lot of hand me downs. Thanks for the comment!

  13. First of all congrats on the awesome news! So exciting!! Having kids close in age allows for so much play time together as they age. We have two boys (9,7) and they do great together….most of the time….

    Our day care expenses were running at $2k per month at peak before the school years started. Partly due to our part of the country and also an early drop off with later pick up. You are fortunate to have such low costs.

    Kids do get more costly as they age with sporting gear, sport lessons, clothes and of course they eat like hungry little chipmunks….all the time! Our eldest eats like an adult yet is as skinny as a beanpole with his supercharged metabolism.

    1. Thanks, Mr Pie, we’re very excited. And I agree, we didn’t want much more than three years difference in age.

      With daycare we do get a slight discount from an arrangement the provider has with my employer so that’s nice. Some other places we looked at though were higher, it can be shocking sometimes.

      I’m bracing for the continued increase in costs, I can imagine the grocery bill will increased significantly and yes, the activities too! Good times though!

      Thanks for the comment!

  14. Congratulations! We don’t track our kid related spending particularly, although Little Bit probably costs us a fair amount each year. Fortunately her activities now at 6 (theater class and girl scouts) are less expensive than daycare/preschool. (Also, living in a good school district helps.) She does eat more, though….no more “Cook for two and each of us give her a bit off our plates” approach to dinner.

    1. Thanks, Emily!

      Good point, it’s nice the activities typically come more after daycare is done so that cost should be offset.

      I miss the days of sharing off our plates! We are basically at the cook for three stage already.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Congrats! I’m surprised to hear you’re waiting to find out the sex, considering how much you are planners. 🙂 But that will make the day you meet them that more special. What a blessing!

  16. Thanks for sharing! My first bun is currently baking, should be here within a month or so. We’re also keeping the sex a surprise, which does seem to catch most people off guard! Maybe it’s because they know I like to plan everything in my life out. 😉

    Very interesting to see the first few years of costs laid out. We’ll have to think hard next month about what we want to do with health insurance – we are on a high deductible plan now, but of course both open enrollment and the “special enrollment period” for having the kid are coming up next month, so we’ll have an opportunity to change that, if we want. Not sure which route to go, since I love having and being able to contribute to an HSA, but I also know that there *could* be significant health costs in baby’s first year. Decisions, decisions!

    1. Congrats to you as well then! I look forward to hearing boy or girl. Not many folks wait to find out so it’s always fun to meet another.

      Yeah the healthcare is definitely something to think about and no matter what you end up deciding at least you’ll be prepared. To be honest, I’m not sure we’ll do it any differently this time. Who knows what healthcare expenses may pop up and when, but I think we are comfortable with the risk and higher deductible plan. But it’s all about being comfortable you’d be able to swing a big expense if you had to.

      Thanks for the comment!

  17. Congrats! We are 10 weeks along with baby #2 and just started spreading the news a couple weeks ago. Family has given us a lot of hand-me-downs (plus shopping at consignment stores). Of course if this one is a boy, somebody will have to do some more shopping.

    The labor & delivery were the biggest expenses for us, so far, since our insurance doesn’t really cover that as well as others. Another way we save money (& help the environment) is cloth diapers. Although it’s probably only doable with a stay-at-home parent as they need to be routinely washed.

    1. Congrats Josh, that’s awesome!

      That’s too bad about the L&D costs. I think we are fortunate my wife has good health insurance options through her work. Although the premiums are higher, it protects more against the unknown such as a high risk delivery.

      Thanks for sharing that pointer on the cloth diapers. We went the disposable route obviously, but thought long and hard about it. We went the disposable route simply to avoid the extra work since we were new parents and not entirely sure what we were all in for. It’s been expensive, but we’ve been ok with it.

      Thanks for the comment!

  18. Congratulations!!! Hopefully the cost for your second child won’t be as much, since there are hopefully a few hand-me-downs. Let us know once your little swan-ling gets here! 🙂

    We don’t have kids yet, but my sister-in-law and working mom of one, Picky Nikki, added a blog to our site about her childcare costs. Basically, having kids doesn’t have to cost as much as people say it will. The biggest expense is the cost of labor, but even that can be negotiated with insurance and medical provider/midwife.

    1. Thanks! I’ll certainly let you know when the time arrives.

      Oh interesting, thanks for sharing. I’ll check out that post. I agree though, from my experience, it doesn’t have to be super expensive.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mrs Picky Pincher!

  19. Congrats on the exciting news!!

    Definitely a good idea to let the kiddos know how expensive they are! Actually, there’s probably a lot of good learning built into a conversation about that… I like your spreadsheet. Those daycare costs are sinus-clearing! Woo.

    One addition to the spreadsheet: What’s the cost of all those hours of lost sleep the little ones impose on us?!?!


    1. Thanks, Libre! I know, always good to have that in my back pocket and to let them know someday. I’m sure there will be some interesting lessons :).

      Good point, I’ll have to add a line item to tally that up! I think the labor rate in the middle of the night is time and a half!

      Thanks, Libre!

  20. Congrats on the amazing news!!!

    I have not personally tracked our expenses nearly as a closely above. I have a general idea but that’s probably insufficient. I probably should start tracking more closely so that we get a better idea of what he is costing to raise. Especially since we would like to have more kids in the future.

    I remember in a previous post that you talked about where to live overseas. With your wife pregnant does that factor into your analysis at all in terms of a new location?

    1. Thanks, Mustard Seed. It takes some extra time, but I’ve always enjoyed tracking things like this so I can look back on it.

      Yes, it will definitely factor in but I’m not sure how much yet. It’ll depend on timing with the overseas move. I haven’t heard back from them yet, although that’s not surprising since I knew it would be a show process. We’d prefer to have the baby in the U.S. So hopefully it continues to drag a bit, honestly. The other thing would be her finding work over there which would be ideal, but not a must. Lots at play there and things to think about.

      Thanks for asking!

  21. Big congrats! I also did not have a preference about our children’s gender, especially with our second, but people seem to have a hard time taking that for an answer sometimes.

    I really love seeing how you’ve tracked this. I started out tracking expenses but lost track. We really have not spent a whole lot on our kids–almost everything they have is hand-me-down, secondhand, or gifts. However, I can see how they will start to cost more as they begin sports, do more activities, have school-related costs, and eat more! The parents’ choices still make a big impact on controlling costs, though.

    1. Thanks, Kalie! Yeah totally, and for me at least it’s not worth getting into that mind game of preferring one gender and then having it turn out the other.

      Thanks! It is tough to track. I had to go back through 2016 to update it just for this post. But I’ll try to keep up with it. Totally agree, the cost of kids can definitely be controlled!

      Thanks for stopping by, Kalie!

  22. Congratulations! That is so awesome. I love that you’re announcing the pregnancy and then in your very next breath you’re nerding out on the numbers. 😀

    Girl or boy, I bet he/she will be awesome, and having an older brother isn’t a bad thing no matter what the sex turns out to be. As a (girl) child, I always preferred playing with Tonka trucks, Hot Wheels, trains, and legos, so even if you end up with a baby girl, you don’t need to switch gears and deck out the whole house in pink doll castles and the like. You might save a whole bunch of money at the toy store.

    1. Haha thanks!

      Yeah looking back on the first kid I am glad we ended up with a boy. Both my wife and I had older brothers. I know Lucy’s brother played rough and helped toughen her up which isn’t a bad thing.

      And good point, nothing wrong with girls playing those toys. We probably won’t need to buy a ton either way.

      Thanks for the comment, Yetisaurus.

  23. Have five kids and rumors of the high cost of children have been greatly exaggerated. The more you have the cheaper they are due to hand-me-downs etc. Just like anything else you learn how to save money on various things and get better at managing the cost. We love having a big family and that is why I consider myself a wealthy man – relationships!

    1. Great point! I’m one of four myself and loved having so many siblings. Especially considering how close we still are today!

      Thanks for the comment!

  24. Congrats on the new gal/guy! You’ve got some serious willpower if you’re able to wait up until the birth to find out the sex! Was pretty much the first question I had and just waiting until the 20 week mark was painful lol!

    Although we’re only 2 years in so far, the costs haven’t been all that high. I don’t track as closely as you do, but eyeballing your numbers, they look pretty familiar with the exception of healthcare (free in Canada). Daycare is by far and wide the biggest expense, and that evaporates in a couple years once they hit school. Furniture is a one time cost, and we’ve also leaned a bit on relatives and hand-me-downs there. Garage sales and Craigslist are awesome for cheap toys and books and stuff.

    1. Thanks!

      Although I’m not as crazy about waiting this go around, it was pretty special waiting and being able to announce the sex to the room. It was quite a memory!

      Well done managing the costs for your little one! We’ve both been thinking about that similarly and that has helped make a difference. I’m sure you are looking forward to the end of the daycare bills as much as I am!

      Thanks for the comment, Mr SLM!

  25. Congratulations! I haven’t tracked our expenses that closely but I can tell you that things have increased dramatically in the last couple years when my kids reached school age (now 7 and 8). Clothes and shoes are so much more expensive now. The hand-me-downs and gifts have decreased significantly, used clothes are harder to find, and big-kid sizes just cost more. Also food costs are quite significant now. My kids together eat approximately 1 to 1.5x an adult portion so I cook enough for 3-4 adults. We don’t have daycare costs because I am a SAHM and those would decrease when school starts (but before/after care is still shockingly expensive).

    1. Thanks, Cindy! And I appreciate you sharing that interesting perspective. You make some great points that are worth thinking about. Thank you!

  26. HUGE congrats!!! My hubby has only brothers and we have three girls and a boy. It was definitely a huge adjustment for him learning how to deal with girls but he adores the relationship he has with the girls. BTW, great job on cutting expenses in year three. Congrats again!

    1. Thank you, Laurie!

      Oh wow I’m sure that was an adjustment for your hubby! I couldn’t imagine, but I may be there myself soon.

      We have focused on managing costs, but keep in mind the third year is only five months so far for him.

      Thanks for the comment, Laurie!

  27. Congratulations, JW! I have two daughters. Father – daughter relationship is special. I was paranoid about budgeting when we had our first daughter. I had an idea of expenses when the second one arrived, so I didn’t sweat much.


    1. Ah that’s nice, I bet it is!

      That’s exactly the same way I’m feeling now as well, not overly considered how expensive the second will be.

      Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  28. Last week, I worked out that when I was single, I spent $31k on general living expenses. Today, our family of six only spends $64k. So basically, each additional person has a very small effect on the bottom line, unless you have to factor in childcare.

    1. Yeah that’s a great way to look at it and pretty initiative to manage the family expenses that low considering such a big family.

      Thanks for sharing!

  29. Congratulations!! Hoping for the best. I had a high school economics teacher who said and he and his wife doesn’t want or is planning on having kids because of the cost of raising a child but personally, raising a child is worth so much more than money and is something that money can’t buy and I’m planning on having kids at some point in my life. I hope inflation doesn’t prove me wrong and make the costs skyrocket 6-10 years from today, ha.

    1. Thanks! I’ve heard people say that I’ve jest too but couldn’t tell if they were joking. I’d not it’s a shame, but it’s also not a surprise how having kids has become much more of a financial decision compared to prior generations.

      Thanks for the comment, Finance Solver.

  30. Congratulations! I never tracked our spending very closely as it related to the kids, even though i thought it would be neat to see how close the predictions are to reality. Then he turned out to be a horrible sleeper and that went out the window as my brain was in a fog for the next 18 months or more.

    I think like you saw, our expenses would drop year to year as well. No formula was a huge part of that, and having Mrs. SSC’s best friend have a boy and then a girl 6 months before us each time, we got to reap the benefits of their hand me downs for a lot of clothes, whew!

    1. Thanks, Mr SSC! That sounds like a rough 18 months. I don’t blame you at all for letting the tracking go by the wayside!

      That is awesome the timing worked out so well for both your kids to take the hand me downs from your neighbor. How perfect is that!

  31. I’m late to the party, but allow me to offer my own congratulations!

    I didn’t think baby #2 was nearly as tough of an adjustment as baby #1 was (no duh, right). Baby #3 threw us for a loop though. #4 was nothin. Thankfully I’ll not be able to report out any further than that!

    Congrats again you two! Very happy for you.

  32. I came back from a vacation last night and went through my required reading this morning to see the happy news. Wow, that’s fantastic! Congrats and best of luck! Thanks for keeping Social Security alive for the rest of us, because I think Mrs. ERN and I will “only” have that one little Mrs. ERN. I think….
    Yes, tracking expenses for the little one is hard. I haven’t even tried because a lot of baby expenses are mushed together with the other expenses (diapers within the Costco grocery bill). But your numbers seem pretty intuitive. Of course, daycare seems to be the big wildcard (very location-dependent): Where we live it’s definitely more expensive.

    1. Thank you very much, Mr ERN!

      That’s true about tracking expenses, for us groceries is the tough one since they mushed together. But we buy clothes usually from the consignment shop and diapers/wipes/toys etc often from Amazon so it’s easier for us to break out.

      Thanks for the comment!

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