| Home | Numbers | I Like |

Monday 24 April 2017

The Cost Of Having a Baby

I find this picture totally
unrealistic - babies don't sleep!
A few of the readers have been asking me to do a post on what it cost us to have our baby. They/their partners are expecting, and I guess they want a gauge of what kind of financial damage they are in for...

So this post is my best shot at answering that - bearing in mind that all this happened around 9 months ago (enough time for another baby :)) so the memory is getting a little foggy...

Having a baby costs money, and quite a lot of it - that is something we can all agree on.

How much money? Well that is something that, right now, before reading any further, we can all agree to disagree on.

Every parent and each baby is different (thank goodness!) There are some things certain parents won't compromise on, and everyone's views on what is "essential" for a baby is different. So you may find that some of this may not be applicable to you and your situation. You may also ask how is it that we could go without x and y. Each to their own and all that...

I think another thing we can agree on, is that having a baby is something that you can make as expensive as you like. While I believe that there is a lower limit on how much you can spend (there are necessities) there is pretty much no upper limit. I mean you can really go guns blazing - think Ferrari prams, Gucci outfits and some people believe that a Mercedes Benz ML class SUV is the only vehicle worthy to carry their spoilt brat child around in.

Needless to say, we tried to do this baby thing as cheaply as possible, while at the same time making sure we weren't depriving our son - I think that this is the balancing act that all expecting parents will need to perform.

I must say, I noticed quite a few similarities between planning a wedding and preparing to have a baby. For instance, there is a lot of new vocabulary to be learnt. Leading up to our wedding my vocabulary expanded to include words and phrases like "candelabra", "bomboniere" and "Holy shit that's expensive". While preparing for the arrival of Junior there were also new words and phrases to learn like "Compactum" and "Muslin Blanket" and again "Holy shit that's expensive".

I noticed that the products and services related to both weddings and babies seem to be marked up way more than usual - you see there is a shit load of money to be made in both industries. Thankfully there is another similarity between babies and weddings, and that is, in general, there is a lot of time to save and prepare for them (unless we talking about the shotgun variety).

With babies luckily there is a full 9 months before the arrival of your money leech bundle of joy. So use the time wisely!

Okay let's get into it...

Baby Stuff

So the first "category" of expenses is obviously all the stuff that is for the baby itself.

Leading up to the birth of Stealthy Junior, my wife and I drew up a budget of all the items that we thought we would "need". We then went around pricing the stuff and putting together an estimate of what everything would cost.

I managed to dig up our budget. While I can't guarantee that it is the complete list of everything we bought, it is probably pretty close.

The table below is taken from that budget. There are columns for what we estimated we would pay, what we actually ended up paying, and some comments on each category.

Cot, Compactum, Camp CotR10000R3000The cot and compactum we picked up off Facebook at a bargain - this was a lekker saving for us. Just needed a new coat of paint, so maybe I should add like R100 and a few hours of my time to the price...
The camp cot was given to us by my sister in law.
Pram and Car SeatR4000R0We were really lucky and a friend of my wife gave us her old pram and car seat. One of them fancy makes too. Winner! 
Car ClipR1300R1300Seeing we saved quite a bit on the pram and car seat, we decided to get a clip for the car which the car seat can just click in and out of. This saves a tonne of time not having to undo and redo seat belts all the time. Although, to be honest, R1300 for a piece of plastic...
Decor, shelving, bedding, changing mat, curtain etc. for NurseryR6235R4673Because we were converting my man(ish) cave into a nursery (talk about growing up) there was some handy work and furniture we needed to get. We manged to save some by buying second hand, and some of the stuff was also passed on to us by friends and family
Baby ClothesR2000R1500We found some really decent second hand clothes. But we also had to buy. Maybe something to consider - when your baby is young, they grow so quickly, so what is the point of having a R500 onsie when they gonna wear it like 5 times. Consider going for the cheaper stuff (you know you have done well when the button breaks as you taking it off for the last time :))
Breastfeeding stuffR1700R1700Things like breast pumps, and more personal items which I won't mention here :)
Baby MonitorR1500R0I do not think we would have ended up getting this (or maybe we would have settled on a cheaper one) but fortunately we got it as a gift.
BlanketsR800R400Some were given as gifts at the baby shower.
Bath, face clothes, towelsR410R410Bought all of these.
Bottles and bottle sterilizerR1000R0The ones we wanted were given as gifts at the baby shower. Having said that, our son didn't like bottles...at all... so we have spent quite a bit since then trying every make of teet known to man kind. And of course he has now settled on the ones we originally got. Typical...
Medical kit, and thermometerR250R250Basic medical kit with things like nail clippers, medicine dropper etc. And a thermometer is kinda important too.
Other stuffR600R600These are things like extra pillows and burp clothes (I recommend 2 per room!)

In my view there are two types of "having a baby" costs:
  1. Capex - These are sort of the one off costs. The capital outlay for the "project". 
  2. Opex - These are more the running costs of the "project" Things like nappies, food, toiletries etc.
So you will notice that I do not have any of the Opex costs in the list above, even though we did stock up on things like nappies before the arrival of Junior (I recommend the Baby Expo for this by the way...)

Since some of the items ended up as 0 cost because of the baby shower, I should probably add the cost of the actual baby shower in. Problem is I do not recall what we ended up spending on the baby shower - my wife's department :) But I will guesstimate it as around R1500 - I will add that in to the actual spend.

So we budgeted around R29 795 (let's call it R30 000?) and spent around R15333 (call it R15 500?)


Of course the above list does not include medical expenses. I cannot remember what excatly everything cost, but I will run an estimate.

Starting out, there was the blood test - I am a serious doubter of the reliability of the pee on a stick method for finding out if you pregnant or not. If we went solely on that we would have around 25% of a baby. So we went to the GP and got a blood test done to be sure. So the usual Doctors consult and cost of the blood test - I am guessing around R500.

Then of course there are the Gynae visits - I think we did around 9 or 10 of these. The going rate at our Gynae was R750/visit. We don't have a PMSA, so we paid this out of our own "medical savings" which we had been building up for around a year before. Of course your Gynae visits may be paid out of your PMSA if you have one (but I am not sure how many medical aids will allow you to rack up a R7500 bill over 9 months without you having to put in anything out of your own pocket? Not to mention all the "hidden" levies and the "oh we don't cover the wooden stick and 2 ply toilet paper your Doctor uses" type expenses that medical aids sometimes get funny about.)

Then there are also certain blood tests leading up to the birth. I don't remember the exact cost of these. I will guess around R500 again.

The entire hospital stay was covered by the medical aid, but I think there was a couple of hundred rand we needed to pay in - I don't recall exactly how much as the few weeks after Junior arrived were a bit of a blur consisting of a whirlwind of lack of sleep, too much coffee, and pure elation. So I wasn't really paying attention to stuff like that (maybe a tactic of the medical aid :-P). I will again use my "go to" number - R500.

Then, due to our son being breech, we also had to take him for 2 expensive scans at a specialist (just a precaution, and everything turned out ok.) These were R950 a pop, and again would have come from our PMSA if we had one (and there was still anything left in it), but came from our own medical savings stash - which at this point was looking quite slim (thankfully it has recovered a little since then).

My best guesstimate of all the medical stuff: +-R11k (would have been less if we had a PMSA).

Other Stuff

There are some expenses which we only figured out as we got closer to our due date. These weren't part of our original budget. I list them below:
  • Maternity wear - I must say I am super proud of how the missus did with this one. She manged to use a lot of her existing wardrobe in innovative ways. But we did need to get her some maternity wear as well (especially since there was a wedding we attended while she was about 6 months along.) We went into some maternity shops and were horrified - we could not justify the cost of some of the items, especially since it will only be wearable for a couple of months! I guesstimate in total we spent about R1 000 on maternity wear.
  • Potions and spells - My wife also wanted a host of creams and lotions for after the birth - and I know better than to argue with a pregnant lady. So whatever she wanted I naturally nodded my head :) I don't recall exactly what all we bought, but I think there was Lavender Oil involved. I will use my default estimation of R500.
  • Vitamins - Our gynae recommended that pregnant women take a pregnancy multi-vitamin. So these came to about R2 000 over the course of the 9 months.
I think that was about it....

So total for the "Other Stuff" = R3 500

The Grand Total

Adding up all the categories from above (check my arithmetic) I get:

Baby StuffR15 500
Medical StuffR11 000
Other StuffR3 500
Total Of All The StuffsR30 000

So like I said - having a baby is expensive! (Even breaking up the spending over 9 months results in more than R3 000/month). But I think we did quite well keeping the cost to R30k - to think some people will spend that on a pram!

Also worth mentioning, is that I am pretty sure I have forgotten some stuff. So maybe add 10% to this number? Which brings me to another tip  - while prepping your budget, there are bound to be some items which you thought you wouldn't need, or forgot about. So maybe a good idea to add in another 10% to your budget for "just in case"?

And of course all of the above is at last years (2016) prices, you may want to throw in an inflation adjustment to make it more relevant.

So, How To Save Money?

R30k is quite a lot of cash - in fact it would have been a full TFSA contribution last year. But it could have been worse! Two things stand out for me in the cost reduction department.
  1.  We bought a lot of stuff second hand. When it comes to second hand for babies, a lot people will refuse point blank. But the truth is, you can save SO much money this way, and after a few months you can't even tell the difference between second hand and new anyways. Besides, trust me, our son has no idea that his crib is second hand, or the baby grow he is wearing, or his car seat. (Although with a car seat, just make sure it hasn't been in a previous accident - we were lucky in the sense we got ours from someone my wife knew). On a related note, gratefully accept hand me downs and gifts. We were given so much stuff mahala, and we are super grateful for it!
  2. Don't be afraid to use your resources. I remember on more than one occasion having some DIY braais/paint parties. Invite some muscle over, light up the fire, do some manly DIY and then drink some beer (in that order - I don't recommend doing the beer before the DIY :)). We mounted the shelves and got the couch fixed for our baby room like this. Much cheaper, and a lot more fun than getting someone in and paying them.

Anyone Else Willing To Share?

Are there any new/soon to be parents willing to pitch in a more or less cost/expected cost for their baby? I am very curious to know how we did relative to others, and it might be helpful for some readers to get some other people's perspectives on this. If you want to share, throw your estimated/actual expenses into the comments below. (Maybe it can turn into a "how low can you go" competition? :))

Cost of having a second baby - scarier
than being home alone!

Having a baby costs a scary amount of money. But what is more scary, is that my wife is starting to talk about a second...

Till next time, Stay Stealthy!
 - ~ - ~