The largest sources of cost for children are:
– Child care
– Education/extra-curriculars (later)
– Medical expensives (both at birth and ongoing through the child’s life)
– Food & clothing (and other material goods)
Depending on where your priorities lie these buckets can be as large as you want them to be and you can always throw more money into them. However some of them are quite difficult to do for little unless you have a great support network.
E.g. Child care – hard to get around unless one spouse can be supported by the income of the other or family members can be relied on to provide care on a regular or even full-time basis.
Medical is another one where if your child actually has medical problems, you’re pretty limited in how to lower costs but you never know if your child will have medical issues/high costs or not. You can prepare with purchasing good insurance, but that’s about it.
Education, material goods, extra-curriculars — this is where I think posters on the Bee have way higher target costs/spending than the average family. Is it desireable to be in a neighborhood with good education system? Of course. Is it an absolute MUST to meet the needs of the child? No. Is it desirable to be able to provide your child with ample clothes, travel experience, enrichment activities, etc? Yes. Is your child guaranteed to be a failure in life forever without them? Obviously not.
For me, the bare minimum to have a child would be:
1. Income to afford child care until the child(ren) goes to school
2. Income to afford a generous health insurance policy
3. Income to maintain a modest standard of living while still saving for retirement and having an emergency fund to cover loss of income for 6 Mos minimum (pref a year)
I woud love to pay for my children’s college/university education but I’m not going to forego children entirely if I cannot. However I wouldn’t want to raise a child in an environemnt where I was worrying about losing my house/affording food/meeting basic material needs.
FYI – Husband and I are fortunate to be able to afford a high standard of living and so we do thnk about buying houses in the ‘right’ neighborhood and affording luxury extras of summer camp and travel BUT I fully recognize that they are luxuries and not requirements for having children.