Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Costs of Raising a Child

Every once in a while, the news will report on the costs of raising a child,  according to the United States Department of Agriculture. My guess is that the USDA does these reports not because children are considered livestock, but to justify welfare programs that ensure food producers get taxpayer money and then the government has programs to feed children.

Some marriage-and-family advocates (the people who try to get everyone to marry and pop out babies) scoff at reports that it costs $250,000 (or even up to $400,000) to raise a child.

But those numbers do not surprise me. Children are very expensive.

Of course we're not supposed to talk that way. "Children are a blessing!" and "How can you put a price on a child?"

But that doesn't change the fact that it costs money to raise children.

Here are some official links that explain how the costs of raising a child are determined:

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2017/01/13/cost-raising-child

https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/crc2015.pdf

And  here's  Wikipedia, which makes it fairly easy to see the basic breakdown:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_raising_a_child


Let's be generous to people who try to minimize the costs of raising a child. We'll assume that you won't need fertility treatments, IVF, to adopt, or anything else of that sort, all of which can be very expensive, as it can be if your child has special needs, and they won't assault other kids, or destroy the property of others, all of which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Let's go over the costs that everyone is going to have when raising a child.




Housing - If you have a child, just one, you're going to need a bigger residence than you'd otherwise have. What does another bedroom add to the cost of rent? What does it add to the cost of buying a home, especially if it is done through a mortgage? Don't forget that you'll have higher utility costs, too. I think Wikipedia is FAR underestimating how much this costs.

Food - Even if all of the food your child eats is at or from home, you're talking about at least $30-40,000.

Then there's...

Clothing

Regular Transportation - vehicles, fare, gas, car seat, etc.

Health Care - general, mental, vision, dental, including insurance, co-pays, deductibles, medications, etc. etc.

Education/Child Care - Wikipedia is lowballing that big-time. Sure, that might what it is if you use public schools, unpaid tutors, and free family babysitters, but let's be realistic. Private schooling can easily be into the five figures EVERY YEAR from age five through 18.

Then Wikipedia has "Misc", which is way too low, considering it apparently has to include things like:

Furniture - crib, bed, dresser, etc.

Travel/Vacations - Your children, at least for most of their childhood, are going to need their own seats on airplanes, buses, trains, etc. So if your roundtrip flight costs $400, for you and your spouse it would be $800. Adding just one child  makes it $1,200.You'll need bigger motel/hotel rooms, or an extra room.

Activities - Sports, clubs, music, camps, etc.

Entertainment - And not just entertainment for them. Entertainment for their friends, too. Toys,  birthday parties  (have you seen the parties kids now have?), holidays, costumes, gifts, movies, theme parks, on and on it goes.


Endless Little Costs - Toiletries, for example. There are a million little things you don't even think about. What if your child wants a pet??? Want to have your child professionally photographed?

Yeah, so it's easily $250,000.

But WAIT! There's MORE!!!


There's prenatal care. Driving to appointments, waiting around for appointments, hoping the doctor doesn't get pulled away for a delivery, vitamins and medicines. Maternity clothes. And this is without complications.

Then there's the delivery.

Kids break things, lose things, wear things out.

Do you want to save up for or pay for your child's college education? That's tens of thousands of dollars at least! What about if your child gets married??? Are you going to pay any of the costs for that?


But What About...?

Now, people will say a lot of things are not necessary. They will say things like:
"We didn't have much when we were kids, but we had love! You can have a one-bedroom place and sleep in the main room on a couch that converts to a bed, and your kids can stay in the bedroom. And you can drive an old car. And you can buy clothes at a thrift store. And you can have simple birthday observances or become Jehovah's Witnesses. And you can homeschool. And... and.. and..."
Is that the way you really want to live? Constantly struggling and unable to do nice things or travel? And rich or poor, you might have to deal with "child protective services", but it is more likely if you're poor.

Yeah, hugs from your kids are great. They're wonderful. But your kid can turn out to be a serial killer. And if you think your kids are going to take good care of you when you're old, you're either going to be unfairly imposing on them or you obviously haven't been to a convalescent home where plenty of people who raised children are never or seldom visited.

It's also not just the hard expenses of raising a child. The $1,000 you spend on an expense for your child when they are, say, six, could have been invested and yielded you many thousands of dollars for your retirement.

For guys, the biggest expense of being a father is having a wife. A wife is legally entitled to half of your earnings, at least where I live. And then there's paying for two legal teams for a divorce, paying alimony, "child" support (which can run well into their 20s) and going back to court over and over again for disputes about custody, visitation, alimony, and child support. It also costs a lot of money to get married in the first place.

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