30 Women On How Their Finances Changed After Having Kids

The mat-leave-induced strain on your bank account is tough. And as the kids grow, so do the money woes. We want to know exactly how diapers, formula, ballet lessons, and soccer camps (not to mention the promos for stupidly overpriced but totally irresistible kid clothes that show up on your Instagram feed at 3 a.m. when you’re exquisitely vulnerable) have disrupted real moms’ bank accounts. Here’s what they told us.
“My daughter gets all my spare coin. PERIOD.” — Jaeda, 40  
“My parents were immigrants to Canada, and I grew up with an acute sense of how hard they worked to provide for us. If I wanted something, I had to work for it. My partner and I have a pretty comfortable life and we worry about how I’m going to instill those same values in our daughter. She sees me ordering things online and obviously has no understanding. Recently there was something we didn’t have and she turned to me and said, ‘Just order it.’” — Katy, 34
“I’m not a second-hand/haggler type of person, but wish I had been. Especially upon my son’s arrival — there’s so little need for everything to be brand new. I have a sporty kid, so I’ve gotten smarter about what I spend money on, like experiences (camps, adventures, trips) instead of things. I also make sure that I am a priority in my budget.” — Tanya, 40 
“My partner and I come from different financial backgrounds: He grew up with a lot of money, and I didn’t. When we talk about having a second kid, he’s inclined to just wing it. He says things like, ‘People have babies all the time — we’ll figure it out.’ That’s not how I feel. I know what it’s like to feel embarrassed because you have holes in your socks or you can’t do things that other kids can. It is not something I want for my own kid.” — Rachel, 38 
“Groceries, kids’ clothes, takeout, and vino: That is where all our money goes. Oh, and lattes!” — Emily, 35
“Girl, I’m broke! I spend a lot on daycare and extracurricular activities (swimming, soccer, YMCA membership). But I also enjoy dressing my son in nice clothes and shoes. I find myself looking for deals more than before and being aware of cost. People told me how expensive kids were, but I never realized it until becoming a mother.” — Akilah, 39 
“I always thought I’d have two children, but we have done the math and it’s just not something we can afford. I never imagined I would have to make this kind of decision. Over the past year I’ve been slowly making peace with it. Finances have definitely put a strain on the relationship. It’s been a tough couple of years, and we are just completely strapped.” — Marie, 39 
“I’m on mat leave so I’m home all day. Up until recently, I was living in the States, where you could buy everything on Amazon and it would get there in five seconds. Here, I’ve taken to scratching my browsing itch on Facebeook Marketplace. It is absolutely amazing the things you can get there — “second-hand” items that are in perfect condition and often still in the box because it’s a gift from a baby shower. I bought a swing the other day for $20, which is amazing. I don’t want to spend $100 on something that’s ugly and that I might hate. My partner and my mom are basically full-time UPS people picking up my purchases and bringing them home.” — Lindsey, 40 
“I will talk myself out of spending $10 on something for myself but will blindly spend hundreds for whatever my son wants or needs.” — Bernisha, 36
“I didn’t think I would be one of those people who gets sucked into buying clothes for my baby. But I’m less keen on places like Old Navy. I was looking at their summer clothes for three-year-olds and already the girls’ stuff is so much shorter and tighter than the stuff for boys. That is so crazy and gross!” — Abby, 36
“Everything is more carefully thought out — like, "Do I really need that silver sequined jacket?" *Abandons shopping cart.* I spend more money on groceries than I ever have and eat out way less. Also, I’m paying off debt and saving more than I ever have. We even met with a financial advisor, which I'd never done before becoming a parent — it’s the best thing we ever did. It's now all about future planning needs and less in-the-moment wants.” — Gail, 42
“I spend WAY more on my daughter. I even neglected my holey panties and worn-out bras for two years. My spending habits reflect my priorities now — anything that helps me be the best me or anything that supports my family.” — Meghan, 36
“Other than all of my money going towards cute little clothes? The first few months after my daughter was born we spent a ton of money on Skip the Dishes. We would spend our whole day thinking about the baby and the baby’s needs and then 9 o’clock would roll around and we would realize we hadn’t eaten dinner. And I had no motivation to cook late at night, especially after a long day with a new baby. But once our baby started eating solids and the same food we were eating (and once we looked at the credit card), we knew we had to be more conscious of the kind of food we were spending our money on. But yeah, most of it is spent on baby clothes.” — Abbey, 26
“Shopping with two kids under the age of four is a living nightmare for me. So I do a lot more online shopping. I used to go to multiple grocery stores to get all the sales but usually just pick one now, because it's not worth the hassle. I also try to buy a lot more second-hand stuff, because kids grow out and move on from things so quickly that it's hard to justify buying something brand new. That being said, my kids have way more toys than I'd like to admit.” — Chelsea, 29
“Any outing without kids is like $100 more because of the babysitter, so we go out a lot less.” —  Felicidad, 35
“Uh, all I buy is baby clothes. Who needs to eat?” — Dese'Rae, 36
“I’m even thriftier than before. I check on Facebook marketplace before spending a dime. I love a good deal on baby stuff!” — Kayla, 24
“People say diapers are so expensive, but I used to go out and buy rounds of shots for people, so I’m okay with spending $30. I couldn’t believe how little money we spent in those first few months and then all of a sudden, you get to daycare and it’s so insane. We can’t afford to buy a home because a huge chunk of our combined income goes to daycare. My husband has actually considered quitting his job. It’s like sending a kid to private school.” — Kate, 36
“I don’t want to go out for dinner anymore. It’s about how I spend my money but it’s also how I spend my time. I don’t know if that’s being a mom or being older. I just find that some of the conversations I use to have with my friends where we’d go over something in the most minute detail… now it’s like, ‘He doesn’t like you — move on.’” — Melissa, 44 
“If I do spend on myself, it’s more self-care focused. I’ll go to the higher end acupuncture place because I feel like I’ve earned it.” — Maria, 37 
“Kids sneakers are shockingly expensive — like, the same as adult shoes. My four-year-old picked out these sneakers the other day. They were super rad, but when we got to the cash register and they were $80. That is just crazy.” — Indira, 39 
“We moved into a new apartment so our son could have his own room, so that basically doubled our rent. There is a lot around cost that I just didn’t think about beforehand. We opened an RESP the other day. That was one of those moments where you want to pat yourself on the back, like, good for me, this is the responsible thing to do. I don’t imagine we will be in a position to pay for our son’s schooling — rates are predicted to be triple what they were when I went to university — but we want to help as much as we can.” — Katie, 36 
“Formula is fucking expensive! Everything is so expensive. $400 for a two-year-old’s soccer just seems so ridiculous, but then you feel like you’re not doing enough for your kid if she’s not doing all the activities. Which is ironic because she would be extremely happy to sit in a blow up pool from the dollar store.” — Ash, 35 
“I think as a first-time mom it’s hard not to want to get all of the cute baby stuff — the toys, the outfits. With my second, the temptation just isn’t there. It’s like you understand how much of a waste most of that crap is. And the other thing is that my husband and I have seen the repercussions of perhaps overindulging our first kid, so this time around we’re trying to avoid that for our second. Because she’s going to be perfect. Right?” — Lindsay, 40
“All of my sons toys are from Value Village or hand-me-downs. I don’t like clutter, so the less stuff we have the better. I do a lot of borrowing and returning so that my house isn’t overrun with kid stuff. I would say that not being on Instagram makes a difference. I don’t feel the need to keep up. I don’t need to buy, like, those blocks that say how many months the baby is or whatever.” — Alanna, 36 
“We prepared for saving for education, diapers, and all of the big-ticket things. What kills me is all of the little expenses: It's money for the field trip, money for the sitter. We go through it so quickly, and I feel like, 'Where did it all go?' I definitely tip more at restaurants now. I guess I feel guilty about how much mess my kids make.” — Nat, 34 
“Our son’s RESPs are in a lot better shape than our RRSPs. That’s an example of where our focus is. I would say I’ve cut down a lot on skin care and travel, which were my two main areas of spending before I became a mom. We’re just not able to take trips in the way we want to with a two year old, so we’re taking a break. I hope we’ll go back to it when my son is a little older.” — Holly, 38 
“It’s crazy how much time and money I spend in the grocery store. I have two boys and my husband, so we go through a lot of food. I can tell you the price of grapes, apples, bread. I never thought I’d be that person, but here we are. A trip to the grocery store can also be one of the only places I get time to myself, so maybe that’s part of it.” — Kelly, 36 
“When I went back to work after my first mat leave, I bought myself a Prada purse. I won’t be doing the same when I go back after the second. I’m usually carrying a diaper bag anyway. I think overall, it’s about saving for experiences that we want to give our kids. We would love to buy a cottage so we can spend time together.” — Aleks, 34 
“The cost of daycare was equal to our mortgage. It’s funny, because when our daughter started junior kindergarten and we just had to pay for before and aftercare, suddenly we were rich. Then you realize all of that extra money is going to go towards swimming lessons or whatever it is. My husband and I joke that even if we wanted a second kid, there’s no way we could afford it. We’d have to live on crackers and peanut butter.” — Sandy, 43 

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