3 Surprise Expenses That Shocked Me When I Had My First Kid

When my daughter Tavia was born last September, I knew she would add to our monthly budget. Various outlets have put the figure differently, but according to The Motley Fool Ascent’s research, it can cost roughly $310,605 to raise a kid from zero to 17 years. That’s about $18,270 per year, or an extra $1,522 monthly. Where we live (Portland, Oregon) that’s a conservative number, as daycare can cost more than $2,100 monthly for an infant.

Now, we were (mostly) prepared for the conventional costs: diapers (cheaper at Costco), clothes, doctor’s appointments, baby wipes. But since Tavia was our first, several necessary expenses blindsided us. Like these three.

1. Water bill

Our water and sewage bills both increased more than 30% after we had Tavia. Some of this usage comes from bath time, which we do twice weekly. But most of it derives from other water-intensive activities that we hadn’t planned for, like washing bottles and laundering cloth diapers. At this point, we do a load of laundry every other day — not cheap, especially in the summer.

Although you have to use water, you could get creative to mitigate high bills. For instance, you can take showers at your gym or wash bottles at your daycare. You could buy a small baby tub to avoid filling up the entire bathtub and steer clear of high water-usage hours like mornings and evenings. Finally, you could also pay your water bills with a credit card that earns extra rewards for utilities, so long as your water company doesn’t charge a processing fee.

2. “Nursery” medical bill

This one was very shocking. And, from what I can gather, I’m not the first parent to have experienced the notorious “nursery” charge on their hospital bill.

First, some context. Before we had Tavia, we enrolled in hospital indemnity insurance, which is supplementary coverage that helps you pay for hospital stays. Since Oregon has one of the highest inpatient hospital stay costs in the country, we knew we needed help to cover the bill. Fortunately, our insurance company paid for a large portion of my wife’s hospital stay — even more than what we were expecting. I think we even opened a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate the day we got the check.

But we were naive. Or, rather, ignorant. A couple of months after getting my wife’s hospital bill, we got a second hospital bill — this one for Tavia. The hospital charged us $2,175 for our baby’s stay, which was designated “Nursery charge.” Not only that, but my wife’s lactation consultations were also charged under Tavia’s name. All in all, after Tavia’s insurance kicked in, we’re still on the hook for more than $2,600.

Now that we’ve gotten the bill, it makes sense to me. Tavia is a human being, so of course they would charge her to stay at the hospital. But because we didn’t budget properly for it, we’re reaching into our emergency fund to cover the surprise cost.

3. Toys

Me before we had Tavia: “Toys make kids materialistic; we’re not going to buy them.”

Me after Tavia: “Toys foster imagination!”

Really though — we didn’t expect to buy many toys. We had a few items on our baby gift registry — like a piano that plays a few tunes, keys on a ring, some expandable tubes — but not many. After Tavia showed intense interest in toys at a friend’s house, however, we gave in to buying her some. Although we try to buy toys where we earn the most credit card rewards, the cost does add up.

That said, if you live in a warm weather climate, or have your baby in the spring or summer, taking them outside can be just as stimulating as toys, if not more. Tavia loves the outdoors, especially touching grass and seeing waterfalls. But since we had Tavia in Portland’s other season (rain), her toys helped her (or rather us) get through the gray season. They’re not a necessary expense, but we’re happy to spend a little extra just to watch her play and learn new things.

I could add other expenses to this list, like food, doctor’s visits, and medicine. Likewise, I’m sure parents with 1- or 2-years olds are thinking, “Oh, just wait, it gets more expensive than this.” All in all, if you’re expecting your first, building an emergency fund now can cover you later. You might think you’re ably prepared, but with all the surprises babies bring, it’s prudent to have a plan B.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top