kids are expensive

We’re back on the budget.

Just over a year and a half ago, the husband and I swapped out date night for Dave Ramsey’s 13 week course on financial smarts. Since we spent the first ten years of our marriage making enough stupid financial decisions to warrant a new method, this came at just the right time.

But with my pregnancy this past year and the man being gone so much, our monthly reckonings dwindled, and my debit card found it’s way down more and more store payment strips. It wasn’t that we were overspending, just blind spending. That is a very dangerous place to be. I started to get so anxious about it that I went on a spending spree. I kept hoping some store clerk would tell me, “Stop! There is no more money! Give me that card and go back to your car!”

I realized the only solution was to head back to my envelope system–cash only. This week we sat down and reworked our antiquated budget. It was shocking. How do so many parents do it? How is there money for piano, and preschool, and basketball, and baseball and karate–three kids in one or two things a piece, each year, is absolutely killing us.

I would be happy to keep them all home with the pumpkins (except for piano lessons, that’s a must), but two of the three oldest are so darn social. Harrison couldn’t care less about what sport he plays, just that there’s a team to socialize with.

I know the rules, I know the answers, I know we shouldn’t overbook our kids. And I don’t feel like we’re overbooked, but even on a moderate level everything is so blasted expensive. Preschool this winter is going to kill me. June is almost three and there’s nothing she wants in the whole world more than a ticket to preschool. (Okay, she still wants to poop her pants more than she wants preschool, but just slightly. I’m crossing my fingers for that to change.)

Oh, how I wish I could send my kids out to the field with a stick and a rock so they could learn some good old fashioned hand-eye coordination free of charge. Unfortunately, juveniles who carry sticks and rocks around are kind of frowned upon in today’s world.

On the plus side, our five-year-old would be happy to live in his bedroom and study butterflies and Africa for the rest of his life. Thankfully, the study of Africa is free. He’s so happy to not participate, we feel obligated to make him participate. It’s a horrible place to be, trying to decide whether we throw him to the coaching wolves or just let him stay home forever and mold. We’ve decided to gently shove him into one activity a year. Hey, the kid needs to get some sunshine somehow.

America is awesome for opportunities. Unfortunately, we’ve also mastered overkill.



  1. Haha, the pooping comment made me snort.

    Dave sounds like a buzzkill.

  2. I hate to tell you this, but it only gets worse as they get older.
    However, when they are older, they can help more around the house. Unfortunately, just because they are capable of helping more around the house, it doesn’t always mean that they WILL help.

  3. Also, spending money was way more fun before we went to Financial Peace University, sometimes, being responsible stinks.
    The plus side is that we made the kids watch the videos, and now when they want something, we either tell them “it’s not in the budget” or “CHEETAH!!!!”
    They actually do get it. They may not like it, but they do get it.

  4. My baby is a senior in high school…… advice? Do the best you can…because one second they are little running around on a soccer team and the next minute they are graduating from high school. Try not to worry, find ways to make extra money without leaving your babies, make good choices on where to spend your money…..but don’t drive yourself crazy.

  5. What?!?! I have to find balance in something other than my life? Like the budget and scheduling my kids? Great, now I have more stress.

  6. People do it because they live on credit, not the envelope system. I have to admit, I look around at people and wonder how the heck they do so much and buy so much and still live like they are rolling in the dough. Credit, woman, credit.

    Bryce’s new thing? Pay off the mortgage! Do you know how stressful that is?! I think we need a budget talk so he can see there’s not thousands of dollars left over when the little darlings are involved in school stuff, sport stuff, and doing annoying things like, say, outgrowing clothes. Arrgghh.

  7. Totally relate. I feel like most of my money goes to gas just to get the kids to their darn things! Stupid country living.

  8. You have been a great inspiration for me to try to live DR’s principles. This summer we especially were forced to do it. However, my husband isn’t always on board…but I’m trying!

    And I wonder, too, how people do it. I suppose it’s one of two things: They have no debt, or they have a ton. If we had no debt, with the exception of the house, we’d have a lot more money every month. I’m embarrassed to say just how much, but a lot. I think we’re on track to have it paid off in 3 years from now, but in the meantime, life just keeps getting more and more expensive.

  9. Yeah, I have so much debt that I am going to be paying it until the great grand children come to visit. Sometimes, I really hate responsibility.

  10. One major blessing of moving to our new house is the school district. They just started a Title 1 preschool and since NO ONE knew about it, we got in! My kindergartner went to 1 year of preschool, then took a year off because we simply couldn’t afford it. His education suffered, despite my best efforts. But his new elementary school offers all-day kindergarten for the kids who need it. So not only do we have free preschool, but my oldest will be completely on par with his peers. *Blessings.* So, look into Title 1 preschools in the area, or peer-mentoring ones.

    We’ve done cash only for quite some time and it is HARD. HARD HARD. Not a fan.

  11. A few months ago I got tired of the fact that we were constantly in the weeds financially, even though we are making really good money right now, so I took over the bills and insisted we move to an envelope system. It has been SO. AWESOME. We’re current on everything, we had money to pay cash for a car when my husband’s car broke down, and are making progress on our boatloads of medical debt. We were even able to save enough money for a trip to Disneyland in a few weeks – the first trip we’ve taken outside of the Wasatch Front in YEARS. All in all, I give it an A plus.

    But oh I TOTALLY feel you. There are so many opportunities I want my kids to be able to have, so many things I think they would probably love to try, but we just can’t afford a multitude of monthly lessons for three kids (I don’t even want to think about when the baby is old enough for that kind of stuff). Right now they aren’t enrolled in anything – not even paying for piano lessons (I’m teaching them myself, which is great for the budget, but oh so painful for my brain). I’m hoping that at some point in time we’ll be totally financially healthy and will be able to afford ONE thing for each kid.

    I feel all financially responsible about that, but at the same time, I feel like a crappy mother who is not affording her children opportunities they deserve to have. Like there are less talented kids who will make it further in life SOLELY because their parents have money.

  12. I have this Love/Hate relationship with Dave Ramsey. He’s a freaking bully who got us out of debt.

    We have ZERO credit cards in our house. Not a one. If we don’t have cash, then we don’t buy stuff. Period.

    . . . I just erased 3 whole paragraphs because apparently I have A LOT to say on this subject and rather than hijack your comments, I’ll write my own post.

    Can’t wait to see you and your envelopes this weekend!