How To Budget as a Parent of Multiples
Raising kids is expensive — but is it twice as expensive with twins and three times as expensive with triplets? In today’s “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with Rachael Burns, CFP, financial planner and founder of True Worth Financial Planning — who is also a mom of twins — about how budgeting for multiples differs from budgeting for a single child, the extra expenses parents of multiples should be prepared for and smart ways to save on these costs.
How does budgeting for multiples differ from budgeting for a single child?
When you’re having twins, it doesn’t mean you need to multiply all your costs by two. Some items you must have two of — car seats, cribs, high chairs, etc. — but for many other items, you can get by with just one. The likelihood of both kids needing/wanting to use the same thing at the same time is low.
There are some economies of scale when you have multiples. You can buy pricey items like diapers or formula in bulk, or make large batches of homemade baby food and store it in your freezer. The amount of stuff that can accumulate in your house is overwhelming, so you need to strategize.
What categories should parents of multiples ensure they include in their budget?
Child care will probably be the largest expense you’ll need to budget for. You need to consider your work situation and be realistic about how much help you need. If they’ll be in daycare, make sure there’s a sibling discount. You may be surprised how affordable an in-home nanny is when you have multiple children. You can also participate in a nanny share with friends or co-workers to save even more.
Twins go through an unbelievable amount of diapers, especially when they are babies. This is an opportunity to save a considerable amount of money. Calculate a target per diaper price (aim for 15 cents or less), so you can quickly evaluate any sales or coupons. Stay away from the name brands. Cloth diapers can save a lot of money, but the extra time and effort required might be overwhelming for twin parents.
What extra or unexpected expenses should parents of multiples be prepared for?
Even if you’re planning on breastfeeding, consider the possibility that you’ll need to switch to formula at some point, which can be a considerable expense.
You may find that you need a roomier car to accommodate two kids and all of the associated gear. If that’s the case, you’ll need to determine what kind of price range you are looking in, whether you’ll be selling your current car and how this will fit into your overall budget.
What other financial advice would you give to parents of multiples?
Find a local parents of multiples group. This is a great place to find lightly used kid items, and it’s also a great place to resell these items when you’re done with them. Find a friend whose kids are just a few months older than yours and get their hand-me-downs, and find a friend whose kids are a few months younger so you can offload your hand-me-downs.
Follow twin parents on social media for quick tips.
Consolidate your kid shopping into as few stores as possible, and concentrate on the ones that have the best rewards and the quickest free online shipping.
See if your employer offers a Flexible Savings Account for dependent care expenses. This will allow you to pay for daycare with pretax dollars, which is essentially a 20-30% discount on daycare, depending on your tax rate.
Be prepared in case you need to extend your maternity leave due to health issues for you or your kids. Twin births tend to have more complications, so have a plan in case you or your babies need extra time before you can go back to work.
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