It's 2023, the economy is wild, and I know we're alllllll feeling a financial strain. That said, there's one group I've been most curious to hear from: parents. So I recently turned to our very own BuzzFeed Community and posed a question: What financial changes have you made in your life since having kids? Here are some answers:
1. "I spend $26,000 a year on childcare. JUST childcare. We obviously also have to feed our kids, clothe them, and entertain them. I have no regrets about choosing parenthood, but damn, my life would be different if I had over $26,000 in extra money every year. I'd probably travel more and have a nice car that isn't covered in stale goldfish and discarded toys."
2. "Our daughter has two different disabilities; you don't want to know everything we've had to change financially. I will say that we are in way more debt than I ever planned. However, this is a deliberate decision to give her a better quality of life. I would do it 100 times over. We will also continue to go into more debt for her well-being. Money comes and goes, but raising a happy child will lead to a brighter future for everyone."
3. "I've found that having kids affects how we use our time way more than it does our finances. Sure, things like childcare, clothes, etc., have caused us to adjust some things financially, but less so than I expected."
4. "Before kids, we just bought what we wanted without any thought. Now we only think about what the kids need. If I need a new pair of shoes, I usually end up using that money toward the kids' things instead. We now save money not for vacation, a new car, or home improvements, but for the medical therapies and equipment my child needs. Insurance doesn't cover all the therapies, travel, food, and hotel. Basically, if everyone needs something, the kids get it before we do."
5. "Mostly it's just planning better for things I know are coming by setting aside money — things like school registration, play tickets, pictures, homecoming dresses, etc. I even have an envelope hidden in a desk drawer with small bills in it because too many times, there has been a last-minute, 'Mom, it's Donut Day tomorrow, can I have $2?'"
6. "It's not as if we were rolling in cash before kids, and it's definitely tight now, too, but the biggest thing I notice is that the money we do have goes to the kids first, and we go without to provide for them. Sometimes I think of 'all the money' we'd have if it was just the two of us, but then I remember that we just pissed it away then on unnecessary things. At least now our money goes to something meaningful: tuition, sports fees, etc., not just another handbag that I'll never wear."
7. "Honestly, my kids aren't really the reason our financial situation has changed. It's more of wanting to give them the things I never had as a kid (like an actual house, clothes that aren't only hand-me-downs, etc.). Having kids doesn't have to be expensive if we make food at home and find activities we can go out and do together for free, like picnics, days at the park, or the pool."
8. "Childcare is crazy expensive, even for children who go to school for six hours a day. We spend $20,000 annually for our almost 5-year-old to attend full-time daycare. Our first-grader goes to before-school and after-school care in addition to six hours of school. His childcare is about $14,000."
9. "Everything requires a budget...literally everything. If you want to go on vacation as a single mom with three boys, plan on $250–$300 per day in food alone; that means breakfast, basic lunch like pizza, and something simple for dinner. Three kids in summer camp is $9,000 — and it's a town-sponsored summer camp, plus one sports camp per kid. Need a sitter? Plan for $25–$30 an hour."
10. "I had a baby 14 months ago, and my oldest is 6. For the baby, we can afford barely any new clothes; he wears hand-me-downs from his big brother or from friends. This Halloween, we bought a PJ onesie as a makeshift costume because it was cheap and he can wear it for a few more months. We've reduced going out to eat as a family to two times a year. The kids will now get one gift each for Christmas, and we asked our relatives to just gift them clothes instead of toys."
11. "My beautiful daughter was born in February. My husband and I lived in an apartment we were renting before she was born, but after I had her, we just couldn’t afford it anymore, so we moved out. We now live with my mother, my grandmother, and my mother’s partner, all under one roof, in my mom’s apartment."
12. "If I buy clothes for myself, they are fast fashion. I don't buy myself nice underwear or bras anymore. I started using the cheapest shampoos I can find, and even cut down on skincare and makeup. Yes, my hair has suffered, but my skin has improved! But I always look as if I don't take care of myself. And I have done that gladly so my kids can participate in after-school activities, but boy, do I long to look a bit more put together again."
13. And finally, "I’ve stopped buying nice toilet paper. It’s a pain in the ass, though, because (sorry if this is a little nasty) I get really bad diarrhea, so nice TP would be nice to have. But little cuts like that are a sacrifice that helps my kids get tutoring, which is really helping them. So I endure ❤️."
If you are a parent and have recently had to make financial adjustments (big or small!), feel free to tell us all about it in the comments below. Or, if you prefer, you're welcome to share in the anonymous Google form. Your story may be featured in an upcoming BuzzFeed Community post!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.