Having a Third Baby Should Not Be a 'Bargain'

Having children is expensive, especially if you live in a city (I do) and have to consider the costs of private school, housing, and a generally higher cost of living. If one child is expensive, it stands to reason that two would cost even more, right? Of course.

Writer Laura Vanderkam actually wrote in USA Today that the math on that is simply off and that even though more than one child is expensive in total, the per child costs actually go down significantly with each child. This is so true that Vanderkam says, "The third kid is cheap." Wahoo!

For someone who is contemplating a third child, the article does give me pause. The arguments make good sense (and cents). Babysitters don't charge three times as much for three kids; housing costs and electricity costs don't double. But school is the rub. And when you live in a city, it will always be true.


The fact is, the more kids you have, the less money you have to truly give them all the best education. Moms of multiple children may say this is fine, but I don't agree. As we are preparing to put our first child in kindergarten, I am very grateful that we only have two. The $25,000 a year private schools we are looking at for our child don't offer tuition "discounts" for more than one child and there is no way we could afford $75,000 a year in tuition. That isn't a "bargain" any way you look at it.

The fact is, when it comes to children and "affording" them, it's as much about individual family values as anything else. Personally, even though I understand the math suggesting it is a better "use of money" to have more kids, I know I could not afford to give each child what I want to give them in life if I had a third.

I also believe in providing my children with college tuition, and for a private school, that will look like about $180,000 per kid or maybe more. If you believe children should pay for their own school, then that's OK, but I know that I can't do full college tuition right now for more than two children.

Those things are important to me. They may not be important to you or to someone else and that's fine. I don't judge. But the only way I would have a third is if I knew I could afford private school if we needed it, summer vacations and camps and extracurriculars for three, and saving for college tuition. Right now, that isn't feasible for a third child.

The third child is only a "bargain" if you want the baby more than you want those other things.

Do you think a third (or fourth or fifth) is a bargain?


Image via Bes Z/Flickr

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