Monday, May 24, 2010

Do Double Blessings Mean Double The Expense?

When my husband I got married, we knew early on that we would most likely need help getting pregnant. Having decided we needed ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies), we knew that having children would already be more expensive for us than for most people. We were not lucky enough to have insurance that covered our treatments and had to pay out of pocket for everything. We were lucky that we only had to go through three rounds of IUI and got pregnant after one round of IVF. All of that luck cost us about $25,000.

One of the things that happens when you decide to use ART is that you begin to look at having children from the perspective of both a financial planner and a gambler. For example, at our clinic, the fee for IVF decreases based on how many rounds you pay for up front.  So, if you pay for three rounds, the cost for each round is less than if you buy each round one at a time. But, of course, should you get pregnant on round one (as we did) and have bought 2 or 3....that one round gets mighty expensive! So, when one gets pregnant with twins, the first thought is "Wow! How lucky! I got two for the price of one!". Because of the expense (and invasiveness) of these procedures, I would be surprised if there are many women who choose to implant only one embryo, if more are viable, knowing that they will have to go through it all again should that embryo not "take".

Two for the price of one. Yes, in some ways most of of us blessed with twins end up saving some money on only going through pregnancy, labor and delivery once. But, financially, there is so much to carrying, delivering and parenting multiples that I was completely ignorant about. Women pregnant with twins require a greater amount of prenatal care and many times end up on bed rest for at least a part of their pregnancy. I ended up having to stop working early in my pregnancy because I could no longer, physically, do my job. The risk of delivering prematurely is higher with multiples. Premature babies not only have the long stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) but often have more frequent doctors' visits afterwards (with 2 times the co-payments) and many have to see Physical and/or Occupational Therapists as well as any other specialists depending on their conditions. All of these doctors' visits add up. 

Once you bring the children home, I highly recommend having some sort of postpartum care available to you. No matter how well-prepared you think you are, you will be so grateful to have a well-rested, knowledgeable, non-hormonal person in your house to help out for as long as you can afford it. Other than family, the options range from baby nurses, nannies, night nurses and doulas. All of them will have their pros and cons, depending on what you are looking for. We decided to hire a doula and ended up hiring two and having 24 hour care for 3 weeks, then 10 hour a day help for the last week. It may sound like overkill to some; but to this first time mom, with no baby experience, no family near by, and a husband who had to go back to work after a few days, it sounded like a dream come true! I felt so well-prepared, so confident and so ready to take over when these two amazing women left our house after a month. It was perfect for us and it was VERY expensive. I estimate it cost around $10,000. 

So, now your babies are home. If one of you decides to stay home to raise the children, you ned to factor in the loss of income. If you both decide you need or want to work, there will be the cost of a nanny or day care. Many nannies who have twin experience charge more than nannies of singletons. For daycare, you are obviously paying for two spots. Then there is all of the baby gear you have to buy: bottles, diapers, cribs, highchairs, car seats etc, etc. All of it times two! I would also suggest putting some money aside for therapy for mom (or mom and dad)! Raising twins will put an enormous strain on even the happiest of couples.

Having made it past all of this, the thing that hit me like a ton of bricks was school. Preschool here in LA can be as expensive as my top-notch university was a few decades ago (and just about as hard to get into)!  And don't even get me started on how to pay for college!

So, you're expecting twins? It's time to get creative about how you're going to afford it. Here are some ideas that will hopefully get you thinking:

  • In lieu of a baby shower, ask friends and family who want to buy you gifts to create a "doula fund" instead. Explain to them how important it will be for you to have help after the birth. $5000 would be great.  $8 - $10K would be better. 
  • Get savvy about how having twins can save you money. There are a lot of companies who will give you discounts when you have multiples: Huggies, Gerber, Enfamil, Johnson and Johnson, Pampers and Preschoolians shoes are along them. It takes a little effort, some phone calls and sometimes a letter or two, but once you prove you actually have twins, you will save so much money on these very expensive items. Preschoolians actually has a 40% discount! Be sure to both call AND check the websites for these companies as sometimes there are different discounts offered in different places.
  • If you are wondering whether or not to breast feed, and all of the articles and research about its benefits haven't helped make up your mind, consider the amount of money you will save on formula. Additionally, the above mentioned postpartum help will also pay off because hiring a knowledgeable support person will increase your chances of breastfeeding success while decreasing your chances of having to rely upon formula.
  • Save money on buying cribs right away. A good, sturdy bassinet will be much less expensive, last a long while and the babies can sleep side by side until they begin rolling over (this can be as long as 4 or 5 months). One of my readers mentioned that she used the Graco Twin Pack N Play which has twin bassinets. Each bassinet can hold up to 15 pounds. When you are spending money left and right during the first few months, you will greatly appreciate the price tag of just around $170 for this sleep solution!
  • You do not actually NEED two of everything. Early on it is unlikely that both children will want to play with the same toy at the same time; buy one Jumperoo and one Exersaucer. Who has room for two of each of these anyway?
  • Look for opportunities in the community to share and exchange clothes, and especially high-ticket items like cribs and strollers. WLAPOM has a "preemie closet" which loans out clothes for members whose children are born prematurely and a clothing exchange for members with children of all ages. All mothers of multiples groups as well as Craig's List will have listings of gently used items. Do a little research and you will be shocked at your savings! 
  • Finding a consignment or re-sale shop in your area for these items is also a great place to start. A couple here in LA are: Show Me The Money BabyBluebird and LA Kids Consignment Sale.
  • If a class or a shop or a website doesn't say they offer a twins' (or sibling) discount, ask for it! You may not get a lot, but $20 here and $100 there add up. Money is money, I will take a savings where I can get it!
  • One of the more difficult things about affording preschool, private schools and college is that with twins you won't be able to stagger the tuition over a few years as most families with siblings of differing ages can. You will need to start saving as soon as possible. Among the many was to save, refinancing your mortgage (if you have one) to a 15-year mortgage is often one that is overlooked. By the time your twins are ready for college, you'll own your home free and clear. If need be, you will be able to borrow against the house in order to finance at least a large portion of their college tuition. 
  • There are many colleges which offer special funding for multiples. Many have restrictions on grade requirements, ACT/SAT scores and other provisions. Be sure to check with your school of choice on the most current information. For example, as of the writing of this post: George Washington University in Washington DC offers a 50% discount for a second sibling (not just twins), Notre Dame University offers the second twin 1/2 off tuition, Wilson College in Chambersburg , PA is an all female school that offers an annual scholarship for twins and triplets. It will pay 45% of each student's annual tuition. A little research goes a long way!
Sometimes it can get really overwhelming to think about the cost of having twins and it takes a kick in the butt to realize that there are actually so many you can actually save some money and still enjoy your babies. If you're pregnant now, instead of letting it get you down, look at it as a chance to start your children off well by taking a good, hard look at how you spend money. A few tweaks here and there will pay off huge in the long run!
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1 Great Comments Made By Clicking Here!:

joy said...

wow....i wish i had all of this info when i was pregnant with my twins!
lots of great advice.
los angeles
mom to b/g 3 year old twins...

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