Back 2 the Future: Baby, you’re so money.

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Categories Childcare, Feeding

In trying to decide what to write about this week, I came across an email I’d sent my sister in May 2005, when my twins were almost 9 months old and my daughter was not quite 3. The email was 316 words of me freaking out over our family finances.

We were paying for part time child care for three kids, at the time. I’d taken a pay cut to have more flexible hours, and we’d bought a house and a minivan to accommodate our bonus baby.

Is it just me, or is money is a weird, big thing among families with multiples? Obviously the budget is tighter with each additional child, but also many multiples families are paying off fertility treatments and/or massive hospital bills from complicated pregnancies and premature deliveries. Then there is the gear – the more expensive stroller, the additional car seats, the second crib. The diapers. Oh, the diapers.

 Email excerpt:
“We are all out of money in both our accounts and we don’t get paid until Friday AND I haven’t even paid our bills yet except the direct withdrawal ones.”

Maybe (quite possibly) I am defensive. When we were on WIC (holla!) last year after my husband lost his job, I felt embarrassed cashing in three kids’ worth of food vouchers at once. Don’t breed ‘em if you can’t afford to feed ‘em, right? With each additional child I have felt an increased obligation to prove that we are financially solvent. I would like to prove it by dressing all four kids in adorable matching outfits from Gymboree, but alas, we are nowhere near that level of solvency. I’m just proud when my kids wear underpants that weren’t pre-owned.

Email excerpt:
“Where does all this money go?? I know we are spending a crapload on groceries now that the twins are eating solids and we are buying diapers for everyone… I spent nearly $300 on Saturday and I didn’t even get that much. What the hell??? How do people live? I just hope the boys start eating regular food soon, but right now if I give them anything even as big as a pea they start gagging.”

Because discussing money is uncomfortable, and because we know how lucky we are to have our babies, we gloss over the fact that we can’t pay our bills. We joke about hospital bills and the cost of daycare and diapers, but the same cuties that push the family budget into the red make it nearly impossible to answer, “Hungry and scared,” when someone asks how you’re doing. Because we’re lucky, and we know it.

Our financial situation has improved. We have one in diapers and one in pull-ups overnight, but we’re done with formula, baby food, whole milk, and sippy cups. But I wish I’d looked into assistance programs back then, when the babies were so small and expensive. I didn’t think we qualified, based on our income, but I didn’t know that childcare expenses are also figured in. Lesson: It’s worth a call to your local WIC office, if you are struggling. Also, hang in there.

 

Jen is the married work-from-home mother of 7-year-old Miss A, 5-year-old boys G and P, and 3-year-old Haney Jane. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.

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20 thoughts on “Back 2 the Future: Baby, you’re so money.”

  1. I think finances is one of those things people are afraid to talk about. I am very open about the fact that we barely made ends meet the first year my boys were born bc our expenses were insane, and we are a two income household. I simply don’t understand how other families do it.
    .-= LauraC´s last blog ..Christmastime is here =-.

  2. I think it would be helpful for people to be more out about how hard and difficult the finances are. At this point there’s such a sense of shame in it, and a sense that it’s “other people.”
    It’s not other people. It’s your next door neighbor. The person across the table in the break room or meeting. You.
    My husband and I are incredibly lucky right now. We have no debt other than a single house note and a single car note (our second car is paid for already). We feel like we’re struggling all the time to make ends meet. The price of formula and diapers for twins was intense, and then baby food. Now we’re in milk and regular food, and it doesn’t feel a whole lot cheaper. If we’re struggling and doing as well as we are, how do other people do it?
    How do you have two jobs and pay for childcare, two cars, etc. etc? I know that when I worked for years in the retail industry I watched many coworkers struggle without gas turned on (no hot water or heater in winter), with emergency medical costs (health care was impossible to afford even if it was offered), with lining up friends and family to watch their kids (if they were lucky enough to have a support system, otherwise half or more of their paycheck went to childcare) so they could pay regular bills.
    The current stats say that the vast majority of people are anywhere from a week to a year away from complete financial disaster if there is any break in income.
    So why is it still shameful to say that we need help? Why is it near impossible to meet even basic needs like food, clothes, shelter, healthcare and childcare?
    This isn’t a political website, so I’ll refrain from getting political, but I cannot help but plead for empathy and sympathy towards anyone who needs help, including ourselves.
    .-= Janel´s last blog ..Fight. =-.

  3. GAH! Yes, multiples are expensive. I remember being in crazy pain from thrush when my boys were seven months old and desperately wanting to quit nursing, but feeling like we couldn’t afford formula. I talked to my doctor about it and she suggested Target brand formula w/ their monthly coupons. Still a lot of money, but nowhere near the name brands. I quit nursing the very day I had that conversation with her.

    The reason I can dress my boys in cute coordinated outfits (if I have the energy to get them out of their pjs :) is the generosity of our neighbors, friends, co-workers and family. We had a lot of showers before they were born and then we’ve had so many nice hand-me-downs since then, that I have bought them very few clothes. And our parents bring diapers every time they come visit. We are very lucky we have so much support.

  4. I’m so glad you raised the issue of finances. I can’t tell you how often my husband and I say to each other, “How do other people afford to live?!” We are a two-income family, we have a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old, and 11-month old twin bonus babies. We only have them in childcare/preschool in the mornings (I work from home, so I work during afternoon naps and into the wee hours of the night after everyone goes to bed), and we still are paying $1200/month in childcare. And health insurance premiums for our (healthy) family are about $500/month. Fortunately, we use cloth diapers, so after the initial investment, we have been able to use the same stash for several years. We live very frugally, and it still seems like we had way more money when we were both full-time grad students living on tiny stipends while also paying tuition than we do now. It’s crazy! It’s a relief to hear that others share our experience.

  5. WIC was wonderful when we had it. I honestly don’t know how we would have financially gotten through the first few years without it. When I was pregnant I was on bed rest for 23 weeks. I had to go on short-term disability and, as the higher income earner in our house at the time, it was a huge hit to only receive 2/3 of my pay. Everything went on credit cards…. medical copays, car insurance, you name it. We’ve made a huge dent in what we owe, but I’ll be so happy when it’s all paid off. Without that debt I probably wouldn’t have to have a part-time job, but we do what we do to survive.
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Toddlerisms =-.

  6. “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do to get through” has been my motto. Fortunately, I have been able to return to my part-time job in the last couple of months. Between that and WIC, we can eat decent meals again! :) Fortunately, I quit defining myself by income bracket a long time ago…just figured out that I’m the same person, whether I have money or not! (duh) Too bad it took me 30 years or so to understand that. But I’m rich in babies! Oh yeah, and “I wouldn’t have it any other way” is my other motto. I have myself convinced of that anyway, and that’s all that matters! ha ha! Thank goodness for our extended families who won’t let us go hungry or cold or naked! (and I think they are usually using their own credit cards to do it!) Don’t know what we would have done without them or WIC for these last 2 years…yikes! Only wish I had gotten WIC sooner too….I felt a little ashamed to do it too…but once you realize how much it helps you do a fundamental thing like FEED YOUR CHILDREN…you get over it.

  7. Thanks for bringing up a difficult subject. We’re fortunate that we’re comfortable on our two incomes, but the money factor plays a huge role in our choosing not to have any more children.

    My husband’s in the army, and we’re the only enlisted family we know with kids who aren’t eligible for WIC, primarily because we’re the only army family we know where the wife has a full-time job. I heard the mind-boggling figure that each soldier in combat duty costs the government $0.5-1 million a year. Let me put it this way; we military families don’t see that cash.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Brenda =-.

  8. Hi, my name is Viv and I am a soon to be recovering Gymboree addict. I think that you just nailed the reason for my addiction, and now that I know why I have this problem, I am hopeful that I will be able to heal myself. Thank you.

    *Of course, I’ll start after the girls wear their Christmas dresses, which in my defense, I only paid $6 a piece for.* 😉
    .-= Viv´s last blog ..Lemonade is just water and sugar, this is way better =-.

  9. Oh, good post.

    Most of my friends who have more than one child will admit to being closer to broke than ever before. But even the singleton mom on my block is making her own laundry detergent to save a few bucks every month, after being laid off immediately following unpaid maternity leave.

    We are a single-income family. I used Target generic formula and saved about 60% off name-brand cost, and thank God for the friends who gave me diaper cakes instead of hooded towels.

    I didn’t realize that every well-baby visit would mean two copays on a high-deductible insurance policy, and we have had so many problems dealing with medical insurance and hospital bills despite having a complication-free pregnancy and no NICU stay. And I do worry about our future insurability, especially as our twins are the result of (out of pocket) IVF and there are years of infertility codes on our medical records, plus an emergency C-section.

    It is a relief to see others write openly about their experiences.

  10. Very interesting discussion! We are comfortable because of our crazy jobs but our crazy jobs mean we don’t see our kids so I am considering finding a new one that will mean a HUGE, HUGE paycut. It’s hard to find things that I can cut from our family budget – including the Nanny for which we pay another person’s entire salary!
    .-= Mommy, Esq.´s last blog ..The Esqs Catch a Break =-.

  11. very good post. Certainly, kids (and especially the more intense hit of multiples) can be taxing on the family finances. Thanks for being open about it. More of us struggle than probably actually talk about it!
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Gang Of Five =-.

  12. I found out recently that we qualify for energy/heating assistance this year, due to our low salary one income. I went as far as making the appointment with the youth and family services department, but couldn’t actually follow through with it. I was so worried that it would somehow be on our permanent record and would prevent us from gaining something (who know what) in the future. Plus, although we’re definitely living check to check, we’ve not yet been in the red (thankfully) and I was worried that by us taking the assistance, it would mean someone else who’s really not making it wouldn’t get what they desperately needed. Still not sure if I made the right call. We’ll see soon enough…

    Thanks for the post and for those who commented about your experiences. It helps to know that we’re not alone in this boat, though I certainly wish the boat was much less crowded.
    .-= reanbean´s last blog ..Itsy Bida =-.

  13. Thank you for this post. As you know, we are struggling. It could be worse, but ya know, it could be better. I too go to the grocery store and wonder where all the money goes. I get nervous when I see how much food 2 boys consume in one sitting (when they’re not on a hunger strike, that is).
    .-= Momlissa´s last blog ..Review of Ecostore USA products =-.

  14. What a great post.

    I am so OUT about money, it’s scary. Probably because I had a huge shock after having the twins. Budgeted for about half of the actual expenses so we have quickly gone through our entire savings account in the 4 months of the twins’ lives. Hopefully things will improve (that’s what they say…) and the finances too!
    .-= Leigh from 123 blog´s last blog ..Back to work – part 4 – new working hours =-.

  15. We went from a family of just the two of us to a family of 5 in 15 months … the financial shock after all the IVF was staggering.

    We had been married for 10 years prior to that … with both of us in good income jobs. We owned our house and two paid off cars … oh and did I mention that we were in our 40’s?

    Like I said … financially it was a shock … the money seemed to to be decreasing at an alarming rate.

    I honestly don’t know how younger couples are doing it. Being a parent over 40 has had many negatives … but I am extremely thankful that I am able to be a stay at home mom and that I don’t have to count every penny.

    I can’t express enough, my hope that things get easier for everyone … just having multiples is stressful … then adding in money issues and having to work … my heart goes out to everyone in this situation.

    I hope I was able to express my support for everyone … (I’m not the greatest writer).

  16. I can relate. I just started back at work and most of my paycheck is going to my 4 year old’s school and a nanny for the twins. People keep asking if we were going to do at home or center care – how could we afford TWO center care slots for 6 month olds? I would be losing money every time I went to work.
    .-= nonlineargirl´s last blog ..Christmakwanzaaka =-.

  17. We got hit really hard financially after our twins were born because we moved to a larger home. There was not enough room in our 2 bedroom townhouse for the 5 of us. My DH’s parents helped us with the down payment for the new house but we still owed $15K on the townhouse after it sold which went directly to the credit cards which we had so diligently paid down while I was pregnant so I could stay home with our 3 children. My DH is too proud (and libertarian) to take advantage of any programs like WIC or fuel assistance. He did not want our sons to even be a part of Early Intervention. We are using credit to get by, and gratefully accept the wonderful hand me downs and gifts we get from friends and family, and buy generic diapers. Thankfully we are done with formula. I pray everyday that we can coast like this until things get better. What makes me feel better is donating the toys and clothes that we no longer need to others. I don’t feel right selling them even though we could use the money. If we stick together and help each other out hopefully we can all make it through this.

  18. Our work schedules are what make it possible for us – now wee only pay for 2 days of child care per week for our twins. I used store brand formula and still use Wal Mart diapers only which is a big savings. In fact, Wal Mart is my new favorite store just because of the savings. We are only getting by because of our low child care costs. If we needed child care 5 days per week, we could not afford it.

  19. Great post! Yes yes yes!

    We have noticed a huge increase in kid-related costs and general budgeting stress. Babies and kids cost a LOT! Food is what is killing us — even the littles ones eat a lot, and sometimes its expensive stuff! We’ve also noticed a big increase in water/sewage bills (extra laundry, baths and washing cloth diapers, I think?). And then all sorts of incidental things, clothes and gear, outings, blah blah blah. Not to mention the bigger house and house related costs! Its overwhelming!

    I know we have been pretty lucky so far and our issues are not TOO bad, but its still a worry and something I did not expect when I found we were having twins…
    .-= Kristin Hutchinson´s last blog ..Two Years Ago… =-.

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