Raising kids gets expensive, and quickly.
The average American family pays over $11,000 just in the first year of a child’s life, and nearly $250,000 by the time they’re 18. And while most of the incurred expenses prove worthwhile, not every toy, class, or experience warrants its price tag.
So how can you decipher when it’s worth it to splurge?
Business Insider asked parents with children of all ages to weigh in on the financial side of having kids.
Not every parent went into their reasoning, but every family is different, and it makes sense that every expense would be valued differently, too.
Below, we’ve anonymously included 16 things they say are totally worth the cash:
• “A good babysitter [or] a regular part-time nanny for both working and stay-at-home parents is so worth the investment in your time and sanity. I’ve seen parents struggle through with two-hour windows of time away from their kids here and there, (it’s hardly enough time to go grocery shopping, let alone shower and go for a run) or evenings where you don’t get your first alone time until 9:40 at night. Having help five to 10 hours a week to pick up from school and help with dinner, tubs, and the occasional load of laundry is priceless.”
• “Life insurance gives me peace of mind knowing if something happened to me or my partner, there would be financial resources available to help care for our kids.”
• “Child care. It is expensive but well worth the cost for me to know that my child is getting great care in an environment that encourages her development. As a parent, that is pretty priceless.”
“I used to think child care was just a fancy babysitting service. My daughter and son are exposed to many more activities and peers than their stay-at-home cousins. When we’re all together the differences are quite clear.”
• “I think it’s worth it to spend on a few well-chosen extracurricular activities. My son does fencing and takes music lessons. I think these are worthwhile because they teach him focus and help him learn different skills and interests.”
• Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
• Summer camp
• Music lessons
• Family vacations
• A breast pump. “It gave me more freedom as a mom, and I couldn’t have continued working (and earning for my family) without it.”
• Nursing pillow
• Good bottles
• A baby bouncer
• A decent mattress
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
• “College tuition and spending money on educational resources, tutoring, and private school was totally worth the money.”
• Studying abroad