Fortunately for me, I’m nobody’s parent.
I know all sorts of people, most of which are my age or even younger, who have already pushed out a kid or two. And hey, that’s great. I plan on having some little Uproars running underfoot someday, mostly because having an empty little mind to fill up with whatever I want is quite enticing. But at this point in my life, I really can’t imagine being solely responsible for a little person. Besides, I’m a long way away from that step. First up, getting a girl to go out with me. And then, well, you can probably get where this is going.
Good thing I follow Man vs. Debt on the Twitter, or else I wouldn’t have stumbled upon a great article over at CNN, all about the cost of raising a kid. That’s only the one kid, not several. In case you’re wondering, the cost is $226,920 for a middle class, 2 income family. There’s no mention if that cost goes down if you make Junior a sister, so let’s assume that a typical family will pay a half a million bucks for the privilege of replacing the parents.
There’s so many things wrong with this number I don’t even know where to begin.
This number was tabulated by the Department of Agriculture. What the hell does the Department of Agriculture know about the cost of raising a kid? Shouldn’t they stick to, oh I don’t know, FARMING? Stay tuned for the next report from that department, on the status of medicare.
And hey, did you know that the cost of everything has gone up over the last 10 years? Oh yeah, this is the first I’m hearing of it too. The cost of having kids is 40% higher than 10 years ago, even though inflation has averaged 2.5-3% over those 10 years. So in reality, it costs less than 10% more to raise a kid than 10 years ago, since inflation compounds annually.
But wait, there’s more! The article does a handy job of breaking down the the numbers. The biggest expense, checking in at 31% of the total cost is housing. It costs $69,660 to keep a roof over Junior’s head. Divide that by 18 years and you get an extra $3870 per year to house a bedroom that would most likely just sit empty if there wasn’t a kid to occupy it. Or maybe you live in some sort of fantasy world where people don’t have extra bedrooms in their house.
And then there’s transportation. The report claims it costs a parent $1716 in extra transportation costs to drive to and from soccer practice. Assuming 50 cents per kilometer cost (yep, my Canadian is showing again) of driving, the kid caused the parent to drive an extra 3432 km. Apparently every parent lives out in the middle of nowhere.
There’s more that I can point out about the report, but I just won’t bother. Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.
First, there’s the problem with average, especially in areas that have higher and lower costs of living. What exactly is an average income for 2 working parents? Parents who live in New York City or San Francisco probably make far larger salaries than the plain folks of Des Moines Iowa. They enroll their kids in more expensive stuff and feed them more expensive food, since the cost of living is generally much higher in those places. Meanwhile, the folks in Des Moines are so bored that they get drunk and go out to the country to tip some cows.
Step one to get below the average is to live somewhere cheap.
You can figure out where I’m going with this. Kids love Kraft Dinner, yet their parents feed them the all organic substitute from Whole Foods (made with real goat cheese, yum!) because parents can be incredibly douchey. In Canada, every kid is enrolled in hockey, often before they can skate without falling over, because they’re the next Sidney Crosby. Most parents drive two next to new cars, paying interest on both of them, because they bow to the peer pressure of driving something nice. The bottom line is that parenting, like many things in life, costs about what you decide it’ll cost.
What’s the point of reports like this one? Is it to scare people into not having kids if they can’t afford it? Is it to encourage parents to spend on their children? I don’t get it.