Money and the Two Year Old Child

Almost a year ago, I wrote a summary of the day-to-day costs of having a one year old child, and I concluded that it cost us about $40 a day to maintain our son. I thought it would be worthwhile to note how that spending changes over time, so here’s an overview of the costs of a two year old child.

Clothing: At this point, clothes last him for about six months or so. He’s currently wearing a mix of 24 month and 2T clothes, which are slightly big on him (he’s on the small side for his age, but not worryingly so – 30th percentile or so). Because of that, clothes costs are actually much less than when he was younger and needed baby clothes replaced every few months. I would estimate that overall, his clothing costs are now down to an average of $1 per day.

Food: As he has grown, so has his appetite. He now eats a bigger portion of the food prepared for dinner than he did a year ago, and his beverage consumption has gone way up. He primarily drinks water, with milk and some fruit juice. Altogether, his food and beverage consumption add up to about $2 a day, up substantially from where he was at a year ago.

Child care: Our daycare (like many) offer graduated rates, so he now qualifies for a lower rate at daycare. As a result, we now spend only an average of $16 a day on child care for him alone, though he is receiving an additional deduction thanks to his sister attending the same day care.

Hygiene: His diaper costs have gone down a bit, as he doesn’t dirty as many as he did at age one, he’s on the road to potty training. His laundry costs have also gone down, thanks to our moving to a home that has a washing machine, and his other costs (soap, shampoo, water, toothpaste) have largely stayed the same. Thus, overall, I would estimate his hygiene costs at only $2 per day at this stage, and when he’s fully potty trained, they’ll go down even more.

Entertainment & education: He has a set of about ten books that he likes to read over and over again (seriously, we read him almost all of them every single day), and it takes some time to add a new book to the rotation, so we have not been buying him nearly as many books as before. Most of his other toys are gifts from his family or homemade (he likes playing with pots and pans, for example), so his entertainment costs are actually lower than a year ago, once again, at roughly $0.50 a day.

Child health care: This has held pretty steady, with insurance costs staying the same and his copay staying the same – it’s still an average of about $5 a day.

His future: I have doubled my commitment to his 529, so this has increased the money we’re putting away for his future to about $7 a day.

Totaling up all of the costs, a fair estimate of our daily cost for our two year old child is $35 a day, cheaper than the child cost of just a year ago. Meanwhile, our two month old costs substantially more than that, primarily due to higher child care costs and hygiene costs (she goes through diapers at about three times the rate of her big brother). Obviously, we could make many additional choices that could reduce these costs, but breaking it down makes it clear which areas you could reduce for your own child.

After a few years’ worth of these estimates, I plan on plotting the data. My belief is that the valley will be between the ages of three and five, and then start rising again after that.