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

baby first year


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jalaz77 jalaz77

In your situation no. You are determined to send them to a private school AND pay for their college education? 2 may break you with those wishes. We have 3 and it did not get more expensive since our DD started K at a public school, our middle DS is in preschool and baby DS is daycare 3 days a week since I work 3 12 hr shifts a week. So for us no. We are contemplating a 4th but would require us to finish a bedroom in the basement which in the long run will benefit us when we put our house on the market. So really it depends on where you want your

money to go and a private school or full paid college tuition is not it for us. Kids can get scholarships, grants and loans with help from parents. Hate to tell ya college is getting more and more expensive every year!

nonmember avatar Mrs. Clark

I don't see anything wrong with three children. I come from a family of three girls. My parents sent us all to private school growing up until highschool. My parents worked all the time to give us all the financial and material things they thought we "needed". We went shopping every weekend. We all got new cars for our 16th birthdays, and u know what? We were all miserable. It's great that u want to do all those things for ur kids, but I gaurantee if they had to choose between seeing mommy and daddy on the regular or going to fancy private school and getting a bunch of stuff, they would pick u. I'm about to have our third child. No we can't afford private school for our children (thankfully we live in a great district), but my kids are a lot happier than I was as a kid. It would be great if all financial ducks lined up in a row when it came to children, but unless ur a teenager or just flat broke and can't afford to feed urself, I personally don't think u should base having a third child for material purposes. Jmo.

nonmember avatar Robin

You keep implying that if you live in a city, you MUST send your kid to private school. Private school is a choice, not an urban requirement. Plenty of people live in cities and have their kids in public schools where they're getting a fantastic education. It's insulting to all the public school teachers in the country that you seem to think the only way to educate your child is to spend $25,000/year on tuition. How very elitist of you.

orang... orangetree

Snobbish much?

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

You live in a city with some of the finest public schools of any city in the US, including schools that people will commit fraud to get in to. The only reason you feel the need to send your kids to a public school is because because of status. Kids aren't expensive, lifestyles are. If you think that impressing people with your bank balance is more important than family then that's your choice but never forget that it is a choice.

fave82 fave82

I went to private school for grades 1-12 and although I made some amazing friends and have some great memories it was an insane waste of money. I loved my grade school more than my high school.. soo overrated.

nonmember avatar Akalish

I think you need to move.

Yesterday you wrote an article about how seemingly every person in your neighborhood hates kids. Now you insinuating that you are sending your kids to a 25k a year private school because you have to when realistically you live in Massachusetts which consistently rates as the highest or second highest state for public schools. If the neighborhood you live in has a bad school system, and some do, it would likely be a better investment to move to better district which could possibly have more kid-friendly neighbors.

amysa... amysangelsfcc

Get over yourself already!

nonmember avatar jice

To me the child is worth more than money. If I couldn't afford a proper school for my children I'd rather homeschool than limit the number of kids I have. We're due with our third any day and I already can't imagine life without him/her.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Oh yea I was going to say this is part of the reason my hubby and I live in a 150,000's population Midwest city/town, so we can have more kids and be able to afford it. Priorities.

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