The Cost of Kids (or Laughing to Keep from Crying)

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Recently we celebrated Father’s day. I’m lucky enough to be the father of two girls; 12 and 8 years old respectively. Every father’s day I greet the girls with some “Dad Jokes” that I find on the internet. This year’s joke included the following:

  • I can only handle 25 letters of the alphabet. I don’t know why (y).
  • I met Bruce Lee’s vegetarian brother today. His name is Brocko Lee.
  • Why don’t skeletons go trick or treating? Because they have nobody to go with.

You are welcome! The girls love jokes (especially my oldest she likes the dumb or dad jokes the best).  I know, I’m worried about her too!
When discussing expenses associated with kids, I often joke that I should have named my oldest Tesla and my youngest Range Rover. The way I see it I could afford to purchase those vehicles if I didn’t have kids. My mother definitely doesn’t like that joke, but it turns out I may have been coming up short on my estimate. The USDA released report on the cost of raising a child. According to this USDA report it will cost a middle-income family close to $13,000 year to raise a child. An that’s only through the age of 17! Accordingly, that doesn’t include any expenses associated with a college or higher education. That comes out to a whopping $233,610 to get a child born in 2015 through the age of 17! It makes you wonder why anyone has kids at all. You can even calculate the cost of your own kids or potential future kids with this USDA calculator. No wonder the average age of first-time mom’s keeps marching steadily upward!
Let’s break it down a little. Middle-income families they define as family that has an income ranging from $59,200-$107,400 annually. Also, keep in mind the region in which you live and your income level will significantly affect the amount you spend on children. Housing was the largest expense coming in at an average of 29% and food was next on the list at 18%. Child care and education are next at 16%. All this analysis made me wonder if people really think about the expenses of starting a family. I remember considering it after being married for a couple of years. Some co-workers were pressing me about when my wife and I would start having kids. As a side note, my co-workers nagged me about having kids much more than my mother in law! Anyway, my stock answer to keep them at bay was that we can’t afford kids. Judging by the numbers in this report, I was right! Fortunately for me, they had a response that I eventually subscribed. “If you wait until you can afford kids, you’ll never have any.” This turned out to be correct. If logic were our only guide there would be no children and we would become as extinct as the Dodo bird and video rental stores!
Of course, it is important to look at the expenses when starting a family, but it isn’t the only factor. Let’s face it!  If we let finances be the only guide to making decisions we wouldn’t be human. We aren’t robots! We still need to pay attention to the cost associated with children because it is important to be responsible but it isn’t the only factor. Also, looking at the report I find some of the expenses inflated including the biggest expense of shelter. Are we not sheltering ourselves before starting a family? After all, most people aren’t living under a bridge before they start a family. Maybe you need to find a larger place to live and utility bills will increase, but still, it isn’t a big difference in expenses for most.  As always, personal finances is about paying attention to your money, so planning ahead for expenses incurred by a family is good but it is only one of many factors to consider in the end.
Has the cost of starting a family influenced you in any way? Have you delayed starting a family because it just cost too much? Let me know in the comments below.

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