When you first found out that you were having twins, many thoughts and questions crossed your mind. How did this happen? How will we tell them apart? Will they be born early? And at some point, it is likely that your concerns turned to finances ... Do we have to buy two of everything? Will we need a bigger car? A bigger house? What is this going to cost?
It is a normal concern for families in these times. With economic pressures mounting, it only makes sense to consider the financial impact of having children two (or more) at the same time. When your family grows by a single child, there are expenses. When it multiplies with multiples, the costs grow exponentially.
How much does it cost to raise twins?
An estimate by the United States Department of Agriculture indicates tha the cost of raising a child born in 2011 (the latest date for which figures are available) to the age of seventeen is $235,000. That figure does not include the cost of a college education. That figure is for an average family; the report suggests a range from $169,080 for lower income families to $389,670 for higher income families. You can estimate the cost for your family by using a Cost to Raise a Child Calculator.
However, financially savvy parents are wise to further consider the cost of a college education at the end of those seventeen years. With both of the children attending college at the same time -- instead of a couple of years’ separation -- that expense can be significant. According to the website COLLEGEdata, The average cost for college in 2012-2013 is about $22,000 at a public school and $43,000 for private school. That’s per year. Per student. Parents of twins would need to budget more than a quarter of a million dollars to provide a college education for their children. (For more on estimating college costs, see About.com’s Guide to Saving for College.)
Is it more expensive to have twins?
There’s no doubt that having twins is more expensive than having one baby. However, there are also some ways that having twins would be more expensive than having two children of different ages. For example, the medical complications associated with multiple birth may increase the expenses associated with a twin pregnancy or medical care for multiples. Also, with multiples, families lose the ability to diffuse expenses by recycling clothing, toys, and baby equipment. They are not able to utilize hand-me-downs, which can raise their budget for clothing and supplies for kids. Many expenses are simultaneous, instead of spread out over time, such as the cost for daycare, diapers, auto insurance for teen drivers, or extracurricular activities.
However, in breaking down the numbers encompassed in the USDA’s estimate, there are some costs that aren’t necessarily increased for twins. Housing represents the biggest chunk of expense in the agency’s estimate. The USDA concludes that housing represents 30 percent of the total cost of raising child, spread out over a seventeen-year span. For most families, the cost of housing would remain the same whether they have one child or twins. Your rent or mortgage payment will not fluctuate because you have multiples, unless, of course, you have to move to a larger home because you’re having two children at the same time. As the report explains, “Expenses per child decrease as a family has more children. Families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than fmailies with two children.” However, that wouldn’t hold completely true for multiples, as the report attributes it to savings based on sharing and hand-me-downs. “As families have more children, the children can share bedrooms, clothing and toys can be handed down to younger children...” , But, in other ways, a decrease in costs would be reflected, in situations where “food can be purchased in larger and more economical quantities, and private schools or child care centers may offer sibling discounts.”
I'd conclude that having twins is somewhat more expensive than having two children of different ages, due to the inability to recycle hand-me-downs. When you have to buy two of everything, that is, expenses are incurred because both children have needs simultaneously, whether diapers, new bikes, tennis lessons, or a class ring ... having twins can be expensive. However, I also believe that many families with twins or multiples offset those costs by being savvy shoppers, borrowing items instead of buying them, and having access to twins club sales for good deals on used items. However, don't be misled into thinking that discounts for multiples will overcome your budget shortfalls. At one time, merchants and manufacturers may have been generous in providing discounts for twins, triplets or more. These days, there are only a few discounts and deals that provide a break for multiple parents.