We have all heard how it costs in the hundreds of thousands to bring up a child to adulthood these days – around $250,000.
As a parent of two toddlers, though, I wonder if it’s on the low side. None of the surveys really take into consideration the destructive power of toddlers.
What about that latest iPhone that your child threw down the stairs? Or the broken dishes as he tried to fix a plate of food for himself? It costs money!
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After interviewing a few parents, I have come to the conclusion that toddlers cost their parents hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars every year. We’re not even talking about how much it costs to feed them, clothe them, and potty train them.
Julie Rains, whose son is in college now, said that he once decided to stick “a lightbrite up his nose on a Sunday afternoon, and I had to take him to Urgent Care to get it removed (about $50).”
Mike Gorman, a park ranger who works in Richmond, Virginia was gearing up for a big event during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Then his son “forked me in the eye… Hefty little bill, and I got to look like Rooster Cogburn for a few days.”
Destruction of Property
Jim Wang, a personal finance blogger, said his children, aged three and five, “knocked over a stroller behind our car, and I ran over it backing the car out of the garage ($30-$40).”
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Joseph Hogue secured his Blue-ray player and cable box on a shelf bolted to the wall under his TV. But it was no match for his toddler. “Trying to be independent, our three-year-old reached up to grab the remote on the shelf and brought the whole thing down,” he said.
“Thank God he wasn’t hurt, but it broke the Blu-ray player. Not really the money lost so much as a cautionary tale to position those floating shelves well out of reach!”
Brynne Conroy’s toddler had a field day in her refrigerator. She said, “My toddler turned off the fridge and freezer with that little sliding button inside that adjusts the temperature. But we didn't find out for seven hours. So we had to toss all the food. It was not fun. About $300.”
David C’s toddler “dropped a large bouncy ball down a toilet and tried to flush it multiple times. It flooded an upstairs bathroom, and we were unaware until water was coming through the ceiling below. $600.”
Farnoosh Torabi, the host of the popular So Money Podcast, said that she’s pretty sure her toddler son “threw my glasses in the trash… or out the window of our 19th-floor apartment. Either way, they're gone and I'm pretty sure he's the culprit.”
My friend Emmanuela Mujica said that, “[I’m] 90 percent sure my two-year-old flushed my emerald engagement ring.”
Cherish Dobbins had a beautiful Pottery Barn Sofa worth $3,500. That is, it was beautiful till her twin toddlers started painting all over it with washable markers while she was in the bathroom. “Turns out the markers just bled everywhere so now my sofa is a wreck. On top of that, I spent at least $50 on random products to try to get it out.”
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Mindy Jensen told me that her friend’s child “turned on the oven as they were leaving the house for a few hours.” That friend stored all her Tupperware in the oven. When they got back, she needed all new Tupperware – and a new oven!”
Jacob Wade said that his daughter “managed to dump a whole bottle of Downy Fabric Softener all over herself and the carpet in her room. “[We] could not remove the smell (and it's apparently very toxic), so we replaced the floor for our entire upstairs, plus doors and trim and paint… $3,500 total.”
Holly Johnson said that her toddler daughter “signed up for Amazon Prime and ordered a few games on her Kindle. I hadn’t set up the settings right, and the ‘one-click’ shopping was turned on. Total bill: Around $150 before I figured it out.”
Emily Guy Birken’s 18-month-old son “was watching a DVD, but playing with the buttons on the cable box. When we turned the DVD off, we discovered he had managed to purchase a pay-per-view soft-core porn film simply by hitting random buttons on the cable box.”
“The total cost was only about $5 or $6 on our next cable bill, but the embarrassment meant I was not going to dispute the charge, which would have been my usual MO.”
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As you can see, toddlers are destructive little creatures. I know because I have two of them myself. It seems like every day they are getting into something new, whether they dump out a whole carton of salt or go gangbusters breaking a dozen expensive organic, cage-free eggs trying to make pancakes. All you can really do is laugh, though, because otherwise, you’ll cry…