February 24, 2010

Parenting: Cost of Raising A Child


Money Pile

I would never trade being a parent.  CycleGuy and I waited 8 years before BabyGirl enriched our lives.  I look back on those care-free days of being a family of 2 and am wistful for the days of sleeping in, heading out of town for the weekend just because there was a cheap airfare, relaxing with friends over a leisurely dinner, and so on.  Sometimes I miss those days and the lack of responsibility for another human being so dependent on me.  But I wouldn’t change what I have for anything.  For us, three is the magic number.  Yes it is.

Being the Type-A that I am, of course I read all sorts of random books and magazines about parenting and milestones and what to do/what not to do.  One article I came across in Money magazine discussed the costs of raising a child until age 18 (with the supposition that at 18 they head off to college and that is a separate set of expenses).  There is also a calculator at Baby Center.  I was a bit overwhelmed by the article, and being in the hormone-induced state of pregnancy I remember getting all upset and crying when I read that it would cost over $300,000 to raise a child, more if you planned on paying for college.  Three-Hundred-Thousand-Dollars?  Who do I look like, Bill Gates?

Sure, it’s all numbers and formulas and guesstimations and there are many numbered caveats that go with the methodology description.  It depends on where you live.  Hmmm, so CycleGuy’s dream of living on the beach will have to wait because it costs more to raise BabyGirl if we live there.  And, well, while I could save a bundle if we moved to a remote area and became farmers that’s not gonna happen!  It also depends on if you have other kids, do you own  your home, what are the average grocery costs, what will you do to clothe them and entertain them?  And let’s not even factor in anything ‘out of the ordinary’ such as team sports or musical instruments or homeschooling.

My mother was a single mom and while she passed away before I got married, I remember her telling the young people she worked with and befriended that if you wait until you can afford to have kids you’ll never have kids.  So true!  Having kids isn’t about spending or saving money.  Having kids is about being a parent and loving someone else unconditionally and wanting to teach them about life and having amazing and wonderful experiences.  And I didn’t need to read about it in a book.  I learned by being unconditionally loved by my phenomenal mommy who took all the lemons that life gave her and turned them in to wonderful treats that gave texture and meaning to what could have been a very difficult life raising 2 kids as a single mom.

I’m not sure what makes someone think it’s OK to question a pregnant woman about whether she can afford the child.  Uh, what’s she supposed to do?  She’s already pregnant!  Besides, as my grandpa was fond of saying “It’s none of their darn business.”  He was a slight more colorful, but you get the gist.  And he was right.  He was right then and he’d be right now.  It isn’t anyone’s business who you intend to pay to raise your child.  [please, this is not the time nor the place to discuss the government’s role, I’m not going there.]

Truly, if we waited until we amassed our $300,000+ to raise a child we’d be a very small world and humanity likely would be on the brink of extinction.  I  have yet to come across anyone who said they were saving money so they could have a family.  Once the child arrives, though, everything changes.  That’s when parents begin to think about all the money that will be needed to get Adorable Child through the teen years and, if everyone survives, then you start thinking about graduations and weddings and all that other stuff.  Somehow we manage. Yes, we find a way.

Will I spend $300,000+ raising BabyGirl?  If she has any say I’d probably spend a Million and my house would be taken over by ponies and notebooks and craft supplies and books and all things Disney.  Whether you have 1 or 10, you figure it out.  I have plenty of friends who have 3 or more kids.  I highly doubt they spend their days planning to rob a bank to pay for their kids.  Robbing a bank so they can have a few minutes of peace and quiet, maybe.  But to pay for raising their children, never.

Would I have more money if I didn’t have a child?  I’m not sure.  Maybe.  I would likely still be working full time outside the home.  Does that mean I’d have more money?  Who knows.  Do I care?  Not really!

What I do know is that, yes, it does cost money to raise a child.  A lot of money.  But I also know that no amount of money could every buy this:

BabyGirl and CycleGuy

BabyGirl and CycleGuy

Have you ever had anyone comment on your ability to afford having children?  If so, how have you handled it?  If you have any thoughts on the cost of raising children, please share them.  I’m always interested in what others think of this topic.

{ 1 comment }

Claire at Saving Money Plan February 27, 2010 at 9:02 am

Awesome article – I’m trying to put together a series about EXACTLY what people spend on raising children and I loved this!

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