A note from Alice: Today, we have a featured guest on our blog! Lauren is a talented financial blogger. She shares wonderful secrets to balancing time and money on her blog. Today, she’s revealing to us how to prepare financially and save money for a baby as well as which gender actually costs more! She would know. Her little bundle of joy is scheduled to arrive soon!
Does a baby girl or boy cost more to raise? According to a survey by MoneyTips, Americans overwhelmingly believe it costs more to raise boys than girls. But which gender baby costs more than the other, really?
Are you going to find out the gender of your baby? You’ll be asked this question on a weekly basis from now until you have that week 20 ultrasound. Over 60% of parents and future parents do wish to know the sex of their baby.
Maybe you’ll find out with a big gender reveal party. Or maybe, less ceremoniously, your doctor will read your DNA test results over the phone. Perhaps you’ll choose not to find out until your baby is due!
But there is one very important reason to know the gender of your baby: to help plan for the costs of your child.
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Baby Boy or Girl, Which Gender Costs More to Raise?
How much does it cost to raise a baby?
In the US, raising a child from 0 to 17 years old costs, on average, $233,610 according to the US Department of Agriculture. This doesn’t include the costs of a mother’s pregnancy or college.
As staggering as this number is, it’s even more shocking to think that babies can cost more or less depending on gender. In fact, MoneyTips found that it may cost over $17,000 more to raise a girl, than a boy, in their first 17 years.
Before you double down on saving for your daughter, I’ll add a warning about this statistic. Every child, parent, and family are different. Choose to be diligent about the costs of your new baby, and your bank account will thank you. Ignoring your budget for a baby can set you behind years in your financial goals.
Consider what each monthly amount (saved or spent) can mean for your yearly budget:
- $50 per month = $600 per year
- $100 per month = $1,200 per year
- $200 per month = $2,400 per year
So, what costs should you consider? Let’s break them down by gender!
The statistics in the following sections come from the survey completed by MoneyTips.
Costs of raising a boy
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails… that’s why little boys are less expensive, right? They love to be outside and playing in the dirt, so the entertainment cost of a son is pretty low, right? Nope.
Surprisingly, little boys can cost more than girls in their sports and activities. But, parents spend less on their school supplies and clothing.
Some of the common budget areas are below, as well as some additional expenses you may want to consider, that affect families raising boys.
Boys cost of food
The American family spends $200 per month per child feeding boys. Boys and girls are roughly the same, for most families.
However, it’s worthwhile to note that families who spend more on food per month, either $250 per month or $300 per month, are more likely to have boys.
Anecdotally, I’ve heard many boy moms mention that sons are very expensive to feed in their teen years. This might contribute to the slightly higher skew in monthly food costs for boys than girls.
Boys cost of school supplies
Most families spend roughly $20 per month on school supplies for their boys. This is notably less than what most families spend on girls. However, about 19% of families spend more than $50 on school supplies each month for boys.
School supplies are an expense that will be heavily weighted in August and January when kids go back to school. However, to avoid a big hole in your budget, you may want to save up during each semester and the summer.
Boys cost of sports & activities
Most families spend roughly $50 per month on boys’ extracurricular activities and entertainment. This spending amount is the same as girls, but families of boys are more likely to overspend in this category than families of girls.
Many parents have quipped “I’ll just send my boys outside with some balls, and they’ll be entertained for hours.” But don’t be fooled. Almost 20% of families spend over $100 per month on their boys’ activities. And more than 5% spend over $200 per month.
It may be wise to balance a more expensive activity, perhaps a sport with lots of pricey equipment, with a less expensive activity, like biking around the neighborhood.
Boys cost of clothes
Most boy families spend $50 per month on clothes for their boys. Still, 20% of families spend $100 or more on clothes for their boys each month.
This is another category where families are spending more per month on their girls than boys. Boys may have simpler items that are easier to mix and match, or they may have fewer outfits all together.
More costs of raising boys
Boys have a few things you may want to consider saving up for or integrating into your budget.
It starts at birth: You may choose to have your son circumcised. Because this is a medical procedure, your doctor or hospital may charge for it, and, should complications arise as a result of the procedure, those will be additional costs. Be sure to ask your doctor what additional costs you will incur.
On a less frightening note, but also medical, if your son is active in sports and outdoor adventures, they may be more likely to get injured. This is where a good health insurance plan and savings for your deductibles will come in handy.
My husband reminds me that as a child he was very rambunctious. While boys and girls can be equally destructive, it might be wise to add a little extra to your emergency fund once you have children.
Additionally, if you have dreams of your child being a sports star, keep in mind that private sports lessons and club teams can be very expensive. You may want to set aside a fund for that activity before having kids. Statistically, the longer your child stays in sports, the more expensive it will get, each year.
Costs of raising a girl
Sugar and spice and everything nice—and the girls family budget shows it! Girls are, for most families, more expensive to raise than boys. Overall, they come in about $80 higher per month, or $960 per year, more expensive than boys.
Interestingly, I noticed that there were several categories where families were more willing to spend more on boys than girls (sports and school supplies). But there are others that girl families are much more willing to spend (clothing!).
Let’s break each category down as well as some additional expenses you may want to consider that affect families raising girls
Girls cost of food
Most families of girls spend roughly $200 per month on food for each of their daughters. This is the same as boys, however, 30% of families of girls are likely to spend $150 or less on food for their girls.
As mentioned, boys may tend to eat more food, and often more protein (which is generally more expensive) as they get older. The USDA can help you manage your budget (both boys and girls!) with their grocery game plan here: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget.
Girls cost of school supplies
Most girl parents spend $50 per month on school supplies. Comparatively, most boy parents spend $20 on school supplies.
However, while 19% of boy families spent $50 or more on school supplies, girls come in slightly less at 18% spending $50 or more on school supplies.
One great way to help manage the costs of school supplies is to shop ‘a year ahead’ as the clearance section fills up with “Back to School” items. Ask a mother with a child in the grade ahead of yours to see what classroom supplies you should purchase.
Girls cost of sports & activities
Most parents of girls spend $50 per month on their daughter’s extracurricular activities. However, 20% of boy families spend $100 or more on their activities, compared with just 11% of girl families.
As a mother, this one surprised me. I’m not sure if ‘traditional’ girls’ activities cost less than boys, or if girls are simply sitting out.
A few ideas you may want to sign up for that are may appeal more to girls are: dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) classes, fine arts classes or groups. Of course, all sports are great for children’s development both with their motor skills and mental capacities.
Girls cost of clothing
Most families of girls spend $100 per month per daughter on clothing. This is $50 more than most families of boys. In fact, 8% of families of girls spend $200 or more on clothing for their daughters.
Generally, my research did not support a ‘pink tax’, the idea that girl clothes are more expensive than boy clothes. I reviewed several major retailers for similar items and outfits, and was not able to find a substantial difference.
If the actual cost of similar clothing is not different, the difference in spending could come from two sources: First, it may mean that parents of girls are purchasing more clothing and accessories than boy parents. Or, it may mean that parents of girls are more likely to upgrade to ‘designer’ clothing than parents of boys.
More costs of raising girls
Girls have some expenses you may want to consider adding to your family budget.
Starting at an early age, many moms emphasize girls’ fashion. Who can resist the tiny baby booties and jackets? If you know that you have a propensity for perusing baby clothes and accessories, add extra in your budget. Enjoy the time with your daughter, but make sure to plan for it!
This may continue into her teen and young adult years, dresses for dances (and weddings, if you choose to contribute) are expensive. And she may choose to change her style as she explores her personality.
As your daughter develops, she may become interested in fine arts or sports. These may require private coaching or group classes, as well as expenses for equipment and supplies.
Some ways to reduce your costs
Many expenses are the same for both gender babies, like child care and medical care. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t smart ways to stretch your dollars on your child.
The best advice I’ve received when it comes to managing my budget for a new child is to think twice about whether or not I’ll actually use the item. The best way to save money is to never spend it in the first place.
So, do your research before making purchases. And avoid making purchases when you’re tired or hungry and therefore, more likely to make quick or impulse decisions.
Here are a few more ways to save money on new babies:
Buy gender neutral baby and toddler gear
According to the USDA, first children are the most expensive. Each subsequent child gets less expensive, which is largely due to being able to share the costs—like children sharing rooms, or using hand-me-downs. This is good news for parents who want multiple children.
If you’re planning on having more than one child, it’s smart to consider buying big-ticket baby items in neutral colors. That way, if your next baby is the opposite sex, you won’t feel pushed to buy all new items. Things that might be good to purchase in neutral colors are:
- Car seats
- High chairs
- Pack ‘n Plays
- Nursery furniture like the Crib, bassinet and changing table
Black and grey are always appropriate and easy to clean. White can be bleached. And, yellow, navy blue or mint green can be used for both girls and boys.
Avoid buying “new” when possible
When shopping for your children, you want them to have the best, you are a great mom after all! Some items are best to buy new, but there are some items that are safe and less expensive to buy used.
Items that pose a safety risk for your child, like car seats, should be purchased new or from a very trustworthy source. Otherwise, feel free to shop thrift stores, online resellers, or accept hand-me-downs.
This starts with maternity clothing. Many postpartum moms are happy to shed their maternity wardrobe in favor of their ‘old’ wardrobe. Maternity wear is expensive, and this is a great opportunity to make mom-friends and create a hand-me-down chain!
Other items that work great used:
- White linens & baby clothing (like these fantastic burp clothes and onesies by Gerber) they can be bleached, then washed with sensitive skin detergent)
- Plastic items (can be disinfected easily)
- Swings and Bouncers (your baby may only like one of these, so avoid spending too much, if possible)
Buy items that “grow” with your child
Many items you’ll buy for your child will be useful for just a short period in their young lives. Some things you can’t avoid, like bottles, and others will be ‘optional’, like bouncers or swings.
There’s also a third class of item, where you can purchase baby gear that will evolve with your child. This may be a good option to get more useful life out of one purchase. Things that might fit this:
- Cribs that convert to toddler beds (Like the Dream On Me crib in this category on Amazon)
- Pack ‘N Play’s that double as bassinets or travel beds (Graco has a fantastic versatile Pack N’ Play with over 3K reviews and close to 5 solid stars on Amazon.)
- Car seats that convert to booster seats (Graco’s 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is fantastic. It’s an Amazon featured item with over 2K reviews and nearly 5 solid stars)
- Baby carriers that are rear and front-facing for multiple ages
Some of these items may cost a little extra up front, but do your research to make sure that the multi-purpose item does not cost more than the individual items.
A note from Alice: I LOVE Lauren’s tips here. We were super frugal with our baby and followed a lot of her suggestions here! Check out one of our very TOP posts on Cape & Apron: How To Prepare Your Home For A Newborn: The Only Checklist You’ll Need To Prepare For Baby and take a look at some of these money-saving items:
I’ve put together an in-depth list on Amazon of everything in this post. Check it out here:
Which gender baby is less expensive? Boy or girl?
Statistically, girls are slightly more expensive. Over 18 years, they’ll cost $17,280 more, on average. Of course, unless you’re having twins, you won’t be able to test this for yourself.
And, realistically, every family’s situation is going to be different, and every child is going to have different needs. As a parent, if you do your best to manage those needs in a cost-efficient manner, you’re sure to have a happy baby, and stay on your budget.
Lauren shares her secrets to optimize the balance between time and money. She knows what it’s like to win that battle and be at peace with your finances. She has paid off $38,000 in debt and now is investing and building a secure financial life for her family. Lauren is currently expecting a bundle of joy, so she’s very familiar with the financial planning that needs to be done to bring home a baby!
Want more from Lauren? Join her for the $1,000 Savings Challenge to jump-start your baby fund!