Child rearing costs make me long for 1800s
When I heard on CNN that the average cost to raise a child these days is $233,610, I laughed. We spend more than that each year on Legos.
It breaks down to about $13,000 a year to raise your kid, when factoring in the basics: food, housing, medical, “Frozen” merchandise, etc.
They don’t inform you of any of this in those childbirth education classes. You’re told children are “a joy” and “rewarding.” They leave out the part where the money you used to spend going to concerts or Broncos games will now go toward accessories for an “American Girl” doll, which is not as fun as going to see the Broncos, even if I do love her sequin-adored Rainforest Dreams slippers.
It was far less expensive raising a child back in, say, the 1800s, when parents were less concerned about money and more focused on avoiding being killed by plagues. Plus, back then, there weren’t ANY officially licensed Star Wars toys.
Kids were cheaper then, and less spoiled. They didn’t demand a new Xbox or cellphone. Maybe, if they were feeling particularly bold, they would ask for another cup of stew.
This $13,000-a-year figure includes organized activities, which are a huge waste, if you ask me. I can already tell my son and daughter will never make any money following a career path in ballet or soccer, but still we have to spend thousands on cleats, uniforms and lessons. The rate of return on this is so bad, I’m surprised our financial advisor hasn’t already recommended it.
Then there are the constant demands: toys, special meals, treats. It’s hard not to spoil your kids, but Marie and found a unique way to accomplish this: not having any money.
“Can we go to Bananas?” the kids will ask on occasion, by which I mean every single Saturday since they’ve been able to communicate.
We’ve learned to be very firm with them: “Maybe tomorrow.”
My wife says this to them a lot. It’s the same line she uses on me with certain requests I have.
The problem is, children have no fear or shame of rejection.
They keep asking and asking and begging until finally you give in and say “OK! Fine!” just to get them to shut up. (Again, the same tactic my wife uses for my requests).
I figure the people spending $13,000 a year on their kids must also be patronizing fine restaurants, whereas our only criteria for choosing a restaurant is whether or not it has a colorful plastic slide. Marie and I love nice meals, but only without the kids. It’s a waste to spend money at Bin 707 on someone who thinks Tyson’s frozen chicken nuggets are a culinary delight.
I’m being negative, but the truth is that kids come with numerous intangible benefits. I mean, can you really put a price on the love you have for your child?
I can. It’s exactly $1,000, which is the child tax credit for the 2016 tax year for married couples filing jointly.
Plus your kids will take care of you when you’re older.
Notice I said, “YOUR kids.” I’m just assuming mine are going to enjoy paybacks when I’m 98. (“You said you need some medicine, Dad? I’m sorry, but I’m watching the game right now. Maybe during halftime.”)
One area where children are reasonably affordable is with clothes. God blocks kids from receiving any fashion sense as a rare financial reward to parents.
I’ll admit, sometimes I’ll see my son — looking ragged in his yard sale-purchased torn pants and stained T-shirt with the shark on it – and question whether I’m being a good parent. Then I’ll remember that his entire ensemble cost 50 cents, and I’ll feel better.
Other than that, kids are expensive. Expensive, but worth it. After all, you cannot put a number on your love for your child.
But if you could, it would be $1,000 for married couples filing jointly.