Raising Your Quarter Million Dollar Baby

Magicians have nothing on me.  Or at least the money in my wallet.  The cash can disappear as quick as it takes to say, “Dad, I need some money.”   Every time I get 20 or 30 bucks, my kids take it.  Doesn’t matter what it’s for.  It’s gone.  Poof!!  Time for yet another trip to the ATM where money magically appears.

Parents know that kids aren’t cheap.  But maybe not as expensive as you think (at least compared to people who don’t have kids).  I came across one of those statistics that caught my attention.  The headline might read:  You’d Be 14% Richer If You Didn’t Have Kids. It came from bundle.com:

“I’m just looking at December food spending, where married people with kids in the $75,000 to $100,000 income category have spent about $60 more on groceries than married people without kids… which is not so much more.  Overall, in 2009, married people with kids spent about 14 percent more on everything, total (not including mortgage and rent), compared to married people without kids.”

Just $60 more a month?  I don’t believe it.  Not when I catch my three boys and their friends guzzling milk straight out of the carton.  Not when I find my three boys and their friends with hands and mouths full, coming out of the pantry, when I come home from work.  Not when I hear my three boys and their friends in the kitchen fixing a five course meal at two in the morning. No, I don’t believe it.

And I choose not to believe that 14% figure either.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my boys (and their friends), and wouldn’t trade them for any amount of money.  But they’re expensive.

I found a statistic to back that up.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that families who make at least $70,000 a year or more will spend an average of $269,520 to raise one child from birth to age 18.  Notice that does not include college.  Want to add that?  The figures vary, but according to the College Board, tack on at least another $7000 a year at public institutions and $26,000 at private ones.  Those are 2010 numbers, so don’t expect that to go down as your child gets older.

I remember when my kids were young.  For Christmas my wife and I would go to “Toys R Us”, get a cart, go up and down the aisles, and fill it up with toys.  It was quick and relatively cheap.  Now they’re teenagers, and the “cart” is filled with “toys” like iPhones, Xboxes, laptops, and video games.  My parents had it much easier (discounting inflation, or course).  The average bill to raise someone born in 1960 (give or take a few years of my birth) was $34,000.  A lot less than that $270,000 bill.

But some things never change.  My dad also had trouble keeping cash in his wallet.  He  heard that “poof” sound whenever his kids were around.  And no ATMs to make it magically reappear.

p.s. Psst! Want to calculate the cost of raising your child?  Check out babycenter.com’s calculator here.

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