Cash Flow Then and Now




It is widely recognized that having and raising kids is expensive. From healthcare to childcare, clothing and toys, most parents make adjustments in their spending budget during planning for having kids and once children arrive.

Because I am analytical, the idea of comparing household budgets from 2003 to 2013 was a really interesting project. (My first child was born in 2007 and I had no plans to have children back in 2003.)

Budgets are stored in spreadsheets (not unlike business or project budgets) but many families use software and online tools like Quicken or Mint to do the same exercise. Really interesting findings.

Pre-kid budgets are filled with numerous entertainment budget line items. in 2003 there were budgets for going out to the movies and dinner. (When was the last time I as a member of a couple with 3 kids 5 and under went to a movie theatre. Did I go at all in 2012 or 2013? Not sure.) Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Red Box are more common today anyway for all lifestyles, with or without kids.

Travel, including overseas vacations and cross-country trips to see family had big budgets in 2003. The speedometer went from 60 m.p.h. to 0 by choice. (I say that I will start to venture out with kids when a) all are potty trained, b) they can go all day without a nap and c) each can carry their own luggage.)

Dining out or taking out. Few fine dining experiences for my family of 5 these days. Take out once or twice per week is as close as we get to a restaurant. We avoid fast food for our kids and try making simple home cooked meals instead. Our grocery basket is fuller and the kids grow.

Education, both for daycare/preschool and saving for college are the biggest new line items in our household. My husband and I work full time and early childhood education is our priority. Our childcare expenses run year round. In 2003 I had completed paying of my graduate school loan by contrast.

Saving for our retirement. Yes, both then and now. Fortunately a lot more saving then, plus the effects of compounding interest and a few good years in the stock market.

Pet budgets for grooming, boarding, vet care, vitamins, and fancy food are now gone. While we mourned our dog Fluffernutter’s passing in 2011 and miss him greatly, we don’t miss the bills. We’ve elected to wait to get another dog until our oldest is at least 10 years old and can help us care for a dog.

What other changes have you made in your household budget?

If you’d like to see the highly usable budget worksheet write us and we’d be glad to share it with you.