Are we being fed a big lie about raising kids?

Yes, I think we are.

Every year or so, someone writes a piece on how expensive it is to have kids. The latest story from the US says middle-income couples will have to spend around US$250,000 to raise a child to the age of 18. The writer lists 20 things that are cheaper than a child – like, a ticket to outer space – and says it should be “perfectly acceptable to refuse to have a child simply because you can’t afford to do so”.

Well, yes. But…

I have two young kids, and I swear, they actually save me money. A few examples.


My husband and I used to go overseas to visit family every few years. We don’t do that anymore. We had an overseas holiday planned a couple of years ago, and then, after a hellish flight interstate, my husband begged me to not put him through the torture that is long-haul travel with kids. We cancelled the holiday plans.


I used to be a very sociable social drinker. In fact, my boss guessed I was pregnant when I was only a month along because she saw me sip something non-alcoholic at the pub. It was a huge personal sacrifice, but I gave up alcohol when I was pregnant and hardly drank any when I was breastfeeding. I must have saved heaps of money. (And maybe my liver too.)

I missed this.


Once, my husband and I might have gone to see a play on a weekend. Now, we go to a playground. Once we might have gone to a music festival. Now, we go to any free community event that involves a petting zoo. Once, eating out meant trying a cool new restaurant. Now, it means anywhere with a kids' play area. Money in the bank.

Okay, I'm only half serious. Of course, my kids cost me money. But I'm a bit dubious about these articles that give the impression you have to be fabulously wealthy to afford kids. An Australian report a little while back claimed it cost the average middle-income family $812,000 to bring up two children. That's scary. And off-putting.


The experts who come up with the cost of raising kids are making some pretty big calls. They're assuming middle-income couples will buy a bigger house once they start having babies. But it's not like you're going to throw the house away once the kids leave home. You're going to sell it for a nice profit, then move to a cute little cottage in a seaside town, right? Sheesh.

The truth is, raising kids doesn't "have to" cost anywhere near these estimates. There are obviously lots of things you need to spend money on, like food, clothes and health expenses, but there are other things you really don't need to spend money on.

I know my kids haven't hit the costly high-school years yet. I'm sure I've got a lot of unexpected expenses ahead. But I also know I bought plenty of things they didn't need when they were young. They barely needed any toys when they were babies - they just wanted someone to carry them around, or get down on the floor and play with them. I probably didn't even need to buy some of the bigger items I thought were vital, like a bassinet.

It's easy to get carried away with buying toys for your kids.

Look. It's 2015, not the 1950s. If you don't want to have kids, don't have them. You don't need to justify your decision to anyone. You don't need a reason to "refuse" to have a child. But I would hate to think anyone would be put off having kids by stories that make it sound like you need to be a millionaire to even think about it.

How much do you think your children will cost you?

Want more? Try:

"Having a baby is a good thing, right?"

"I'm teaching my daughter to marry for money."

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