QOTW: Which expenses surprised you the most as a new parent?

QOTW: Which expenses surprised you the most as a new parent?
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No two parenting journeys are alike, but if there’s one thing dads and moms everywhere can agree on, it’s that taking care of a baby can be expensive :money_with_wings: Between endless diapers, top-of-the-line strollers, and clothes they’ll grow out of in three weeks, even the thriftiest families find that the costs of a new baby pile up quickly :flushed:

Baby showers and hand-me-downs can help mitigate the costs, but for many parents, a tiny new member will require some sacrifice and financial trade-offs.

Which expenses were you most surprised by as a first-time parent? :baby_bottle:

Is there anything you wish you’d spent less money on? :moneybag:

Let us know the financial impact of your first baby, and what - if anything - you would have done differently.



Child care is a huge expense, obviously, but it wasn’t really a surprise. What we spend on take out and delivery shot up pretty abruptly in those first few months, though!

We got all kinds of hand-me-downs, which helped enormously early on. But as our daughter got older, we went totally overboard on educational toys, games, equipment (chemistry sets, electronic kits, microscopes, etc. etc. etc.). Watching her sell all that stuff for pennies on the dollar at a garage sale a few years ago was painful. On the other hand, she used the money to buy herself a Nintendo Switch, so she’s happy. :joy:


Probably the cost of food, once they start eating solids. Especially if you go for convenience (and I did) with the little pouches, etc. You wouldn’t think a baby would be expensive to feed, but the increase to my grocery spending said otherwise.

In general, I am definitely surprised by how tempted I am to spend overall. My resolve to avoid unnecessary purchases for myself is much stronger than my resolve to avoid those kinds of purchases for my kids.


Our first born was colicky and had a tough time sleeping. We definitely spent much more on “solutions” than I expected — noise machines, weighted swaddles, sleep suits, etc. Most of the products were busts. Still, we kept buying, thinking the next one would help him (and us!) make it through the night.


I have a strong memory of those Costco runs for diapers and formula. Just the relentless, every-other-week 3-digit total on that cash register. Yikes. It’s a great day when potty-training succeeds!

And @aoshea, I hear ya on the food bill. I probably shouldn’t give you a preview of how much teenagers can eat. I just marvel at — and miss having — the kind of metabolism that can down 800 calories of snacks and then ask, “When’s dinner, I’m starving?!”


Oh, yes. I vividly remember my brother downing 15 plate-sized pancakes on Saturday mornings. A friend’s teenager regularly ate whole loaves of bread in one sitting. Both were string beans. As opposed to the rest of us, who just have to think about dessert to gain 5 pounds. :expressionless:

We had pretty good health insurance, but we were in the pediatrician’s office a lot…and that was with a basically healthy kid (plus a fretful first-time mom).


I was actually (pleasantly) surprised how little our expenses increased with a newborn. Having clothes handed down from family and using cloth diapers helped a lot.

Once my kids were in school things changed! (School-aged girls are not always super excited about clothes handed down from cousins! :grin:)

And yes, teens are hungry, hungry humans! We didn’t eat at fast food places when my girls were little and when middle school rolled around they definitely went through a phase where they were obsessed w/ trying every place in town. (Thankfully, the novelty wore off quickly as they realized they were accustomed to better quality food!)

During the high school years, ours was the house all the kids flocked to, in part because we live on the beach, but mostly b/c we always had lots of home made food, (turns out that can also be a novelty for some kids!) That did get expensive, trying to feed flocks of ravenous teens. However, looking back, I’m convinced we ended up saving money in the long run b/c they never went to the malls, and were quite content hitting the beach w/ bags of food they swiped from the kitchen.

Technology got expensive, buying computers, etc., but both girls got after school jobs and were expected to pay for their own phones.

Our eldest got into equestrian sports and that was ridiculously expensive. I don’t like to think about how much we spent during those years! :woman_facepalming:


@aoshea goodness, this resonated with me:
“My resolve to avoid unnecessary purchases for myself is much stronger than my resolve to avoid those kinds of purchases for my kids.”

Like Cori, we saved by using cloth diapers, but I couldn’t resist tiny outfits, even consigned or thrifted, so our firstborn in particular had way more than she could wear. Otherwise, childcare was such a surprise. A dinner out went from costing $75 at the restaurant to $75 plus $12/hour for a babysitter. Plus the daycare when I was working. That all really added up.

We’ve often had marital disagreements over how much or what they should get as gifts at birthdays, especially as they get older. I feel like maybe our kids could work a bit to earn more of the higher ticket things they want; he likes to give them the things he either loved himself as a kid or wishes his parents had splurged more on.

And as for the food. If my 11 year old eats like this as a teenager, I’m going to need at least two side gigs.