Want to know the worst possible financial decision you could make? Have a baby.
Want to know the best decision Nora and I made? To have a baby. Or two.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (not sure why it’s their job to tally such things, but never mind that), the cost of raising a child increased 3% to $233,610 for a child born in 2015 (through the age of 17).
Then unless your child is Steve Jobs-precocious and drops out of college in the first semester, you need to add a hefty charge for college expenses. (I know there are non-Steve-Jobs exceptions to four years of college, including many important blue collar jobs as well as “professional video gamer” 🙂 but college is the most common path for middle class families.)
Hopefully Junior can contribute some dollars from his summer job and he’ll likely take on some future obligations (student loans), but let’s face it, the parents’ bank account takes the biggest hit. The average cost of college for the 2016/17 school year in the U.S. for tuition, fees, and room & board was $45,370 for private college and $20,090 for in-state public college ($35,370 out-of-state). Multiply those by figures by 4 and you get $181,480 for private and $80,360 for public in-state ($141,480 out-of-state)!
Most people’s next biggest expense – buying a house – is a distant second. The median and average cost of buying a house in the United States in November 2016 (the latest month with finalized data) was $234,400 and $276,600, respectively. That’s still a big chunk of change, but you have to live somewhere, so this lands in my necessity column. A far cry from the choice of babydom.
You can put a price tag on the cost of raising a kid, but it’s hard to quantify the benefits. But let’s try. Following is a reckoning, with some additional costs thrown in that officials had trouble calculating.
$10,000 – Joy and anticipation when you realize you’re pregnant
$100,000 – Pride you feel when the baby is first born and you carry her around like a fragile piece of china
$10,000 – Realization that the kid is actually pretty durable, and can withstand (and enjoys) a toss into a snowbank now and then
$25,000 – Ego boost when she reads before her peers
($15,000) – Ego deflation when she can’t bother to walk until 18 months
$10,000 – Seeing first steps
($1,000) – Seeing first steps through her dirty diaper and across the carpet
$50,000 – Hearing first “I love you”
($50,000) – Hearing first “I didn’t ask to be born” (Praying we never experience this one)
($75,000) – Realization that only private school will do for your ‘gifted’ child
($10,000) – Realization that despite many years in private school, she doesn’t have any skills that will land a free ride to college
Priceless – Realization you are fulfilling God’s plan for your life to be fruitful and all that
The Grand Total benefit of raising a child = $54,000+Priceless = a pretty good reason to have kids, despite the expense.