My Best Parenting Advice: Those Unexpected Toddler Expenses by Blythe Lipman

images-12Just last week, Samantha Gregory, who launched in 2008, asked me to blog for her about Those Unexpected Toddler Expenses. Here is what I shared with readers.

You made it; your baby has graduated into toddlerhood. And now you’re looking forward to a year with fewer expenses.  Soon diapers will be a thing of the past, the baby food mill can be put in storage along with the Exersaucer, bouncy seat and baby swing. And watching your little bundle of joy run around like a whirlwind makes your heart smile. But wait, he’s not that steady on his feet and just knocked over your favorite flower vase. That will be $35 to replace.  And is he rubbing his ear? Not another ear infection.  He just finished his medicine. Sound familiar?

The 2013 figures from the Department of Health and Human Services (based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey) calculate that the basic annual cost of raising a child is $4,020, which doesn’t sound so bad until you add the cost of raising that same kid to age 18 and figure in the 30 year average inflation rate of 3% which brings us to an average $234,900 for those earning between $59,410 and $102,870.

Yikes…these numbers are pretty scary. And they don’t even include those surprise expenses during the toddler years. Here are just a few that could rear their ugly heads.

Unexpected Food Costs – You want your toddler to eat but he is so picky. And when he doesn’t like something, he refuses to eat. But you’ve already used this week’s food money. Now what?

Don’t get into the habit of preparing a second or third meal for your toddler when he won’t eat.

Continue to offer him a variety of foods, but have one stand-by. In my house if my little ones wouldn’t eat what I made they could have yogurt. All that extra food costs money.Let him help you prepare the meals.

Mixing the mashed potatoes and tasting, pouring the salad dressing on and just being a part of the process can tickle those toddler taste buds!

Unexpected Medical and Dental Bills – According to WebMD toddlers can get an average of nine colds per year. But what about those chronic ear infections, head lice and unexpected trips to the ER? And that trip to the dentist for a chipped tooth. These all cost money. Think about the following:

When your toddler needs antibiotics, ask the pediatrician if it’s okay to use generic.  They are much less costly

If your toddler will be on a medication long term, ask the pediatrician if he has any samples. Or contact the drug companies as many times they will have coupons or will work with you to lower the cost.

Make sure you understand your family’s medical and dental insurance coverage, including trips to the ER.  One unexpected ER visit can mess up your budget for months.

Unexpected Repairs – You probably feel like your washer and dryer are already working overtime. And what’s that humming noise coming from the refrigerator? All your appliances need to be in tiptop shape when you have a toddler.  Here are a few tips to save your wallet:When you buy a new appliance, consider purchasing the service plan if it’s in your budget. It could be a lifesaver in the long run.If you are buying a second-hand appliance, don’t hand that money over until you plug it in and see that it’s in good working order.If you’re going to hire a handyman to fix a broken appliance, make sure to check his references. An “I can fix anything” neighbor could spell disaster in more ways than one.

Broken Toys, Knick Knacks and Valuables – Your toddler’s favorite lovey is lost and she can’t go to sleep without it. The wheels just fell off your son’s fire truck. And Grandma’s picture is smashed on the floor. That extra money to replace these things just isn’t there. Here are a few suggestions:

If your toddler won’t go to sleep without her favorite blue bear, do yourself a favor and buy another one, just in case. Check or local toy stores for the best prices. You’ll save yourself a lot of extra heartache and sleepless nights if you have a replacement. And remember to take the replacement on family trips.

Rotate your toddler’s toys on a monthly basis so if something breaks you can pull out a surprise from last month. Old is new and fun and it’s easy to re-direct most toddlers to other activities.Toddlers are fast, compulsive and will knock things over. So put those valuables out-of- reach. It’s expensive to replace them and many can’t be replaced at all.

Having a savings is tough for most of us in this day and age. But putting away even $5 a week will add up and help when those unexpected costs arise. Toddlers grow up fast so enjoy every minute. Because before you know it, he’ll be asking for the keys to the car.

My Best Parenting Advice: Those Unexpected Toddler Expenses by Blythe Lipman