It’s a question that’s often on the minds of anyone who’s ever looked at the high cost of raising kids today: how do parents make it work? Well, we wondered too. That’s why we’re asking parents around the country for a peek into their financial lives: what they earn, spend, save, and invest as well as what financial headaches they face, what tricks they’ve learned along the way, and what, if anything, they have figured out. Will the answers we receive get the a-okay from financial advisors? Not always. Are they honest looks into families trying to provide for their kids? Absolutely. Here, Roger, a 33-year-old father of one in New York City, explains what a month of spending looks like in his world.
I’ve lived here for ten years. Eight of those were without kids. During that time, finances were always a concern – What kind of place can we afford? What neighborhood can we live in? Are we idiots for spending so much on rent here when we could be spending so much less? Now, that we’re parents? Pfffft. It’s so much more expensive. We’re fine. But no matter what this city never makes it feel like enough, you know?
I’m in finance. I’m an analyst. I make about $95,000 a year. After taxes and other deductions — subway, 401K, insurance, — this breaks down to about 4,700 per month split between two paychecks. My wife works in advertising for a startup. She makes $85,000 a year. After taxes, that works out to about $5,000 split between two paychecks a month.
We rent. Our apartment costs $2700 per month. Utilities bring it up to $3,000. That’s not counting things like a parent’s two greatest allies — Amazon Prime and Netflix — as well as HBO Go and Hulu. Those add up to another $200 per month. We don’t have traditional cable, however. Internet is $55 per month. Oh, and a gym membership is $12 per month. Gotta love Planet Fitness.
We order everything from Amazon. Deodorant, toothpaste, sunscreen, cleaning supplies, binkies, sippy cups, diapers — you name it. Our Amazon Prime bill this month was $345.
This is where a lot of people roll their eyes: My wife’s company has in-office daycare. We know, we know. It’s the single greatest bonus any company could offer, save for free health insurance. We wouldn’t know what to do without it. So she takes him into work every day and can visit him at lunch. It’s really wonderful and I know how fortunate we are.
We don’t have a car. Public transportation all the way. And Uber. A pair of 30-day metro cards cost us $242 total, because this city keeps jacking up prices. And, let’s see, sometimes we take cabs because, well, toddlers are not easy to take on the subway and we’re often running late. This month we spent, woof, almost $400 on Uber.
Because my wife is in fancy startup land, she gets free lunches, too. I know. That — and the fact that she feeds my son at daycare from food she gets at work — helps us cut down on groceries big time. I pack my lunch every day except Friday, when my office orders pizza. Usually a salad. But we still have hefty grocery bills, but, all things considered when it comes to grocery store/bodega/Fresh Direct bills? We spent $708 this month.
Weekends, we are pretty routine in what we do. I mean, that’s the way it is when you have a toddler. Now that it’s nice out, we wake up early and my son and I go to the park with the dog, get breakfast together, and then head over to the local bookstore for a kid’s hour. Then it’s home for snack and nap. It’s pretty standard stuff and I’m sure not to spend much. Sunday, we take him to a tumble class which costs $85 for an hour. But my kid’s so much fun that we do family activities together or just hang home. We give him playdates and a lot of time with other kids but we don’t want to fall in with those weird Park Slope-y parenting groups that talk about how much kale their kids eat and talk shit behind one another’s back.
Every other Saturday we get a sitter so my wife and I can go out with friends. I hate the term “date night“. We spent $150 on a sitter for both nights — $75 a pop isn’t bad. We also spent, let’s see, $177 on dinner with friends on those two nights out. Neither my wife or I are big drinkers.
I budget everything religiously. We use just an excel spreadsheet and we use Minted, too — nothing fancy. My wife and I sit down at the end of the week and go over finances, religiously. What did you buy that was $34.25? Where did you take an Uber on Thursday? Why is there $200 missing? It’s the only way to stay sane.
That was the most of our spending this month. It was a bit high. But, blame the nicer weather. We try to save as much month-by-month as possible. We have retirement accounts through work and a generalized “rainy day” savings account as well as a few investments here and there. No, I don’t own any damn Bitcoin. Are you crazy?
Right now, our biggest goal is to get a bigger apartment in a few years. We’re hoping to have another kid but need to wait until we’re in a better way. I mean, we’re in a fine way right now. Everyone says NYC is expensive, and it is. We’re doing just fine.
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