Friday, August 23, 2013

Large Families are too Expensive to Raise

HAHAHA - funny people like to use this line on me. Usually Yuppies and DINKS. Maybe it eases their guilt.

"The current cost of raising a child is nearly $235,000 from birth to age 17." More in the Northeast where I live. (from

Let's start there. That means my13 kids will cost me over $3 million dollars to raise. Parents of large families know that these figures are typical government propaganda. My income over my 45 years of working probably won't be that much. For 12 kids, 1 is out of the house on her own, that works out to $167,000 per year. Way more than my annual salary.

The estimated expenses for a baby's first year are $32,000. What are these people buying their kid? Designer breast-milk from a Super Model? Gold lined diapers? A Swedish Nanny? Silk wipes for their poop-butts?

People; get a used crib, buy a decent car seat and stroller. Find a place that sells used baby clothes. Breast feed. Have your family and friends throw you a shower.

With our first kid we spent under $2,000 on her. That includes medical expenses and diapers, plus everything else. (my bride says we spent less than $200 on actual baby stuff, so throwing in some diapers (we used mainly cloth) and some medical co-pays, we probably spent closer to $1,000 than $2,000)

Here is an interesting article from MSN on why it's so much more expensive for modern parents (note its not really that much more expensive these days, it's what I call the "guilty parent syndrome") compared to in the past.

I few highlights/low-lights

Housing-1/3rd of that $235,000 is housing. This is because modern parents find it "unacceptable" for kids to share rooms. So what do they do. Buy huge McMansions so their 1.8 kids can have their own room and space. We bought an 8 bedroom (5 at the time, we added 3 bedrooms) foreclosure that cost the same or less than most 3 bedroom houses in town. Some of our older kids do have their own room, most of the kids do not.

Food-supposedly people spend more on food now cause they are eating healthier. You wouldn't know it by looking at the size of people. We are a country of fatties. Another reason given for parents spending more these days on food is the amount they spend on bottled water (50% increase in the past 10 years) and dining out more. See my post from August 5th on our food costs.

Transportation-Gas prices have doubled in the past 4 years. No arguing that. But you can drive less, combine trips, bike, walk, run etc...The article also mentions that of today's "modern" parents, 41% bought their kid their first car!? Seriously! Crazy folks. If my kid's want a car, they pay for it themselves. That includes: purchase price, insurance, tags, gas, repairs etc...

Health Care-health care costs are way up and go up every year. That is true. But I bet we spend about the same on health care as a "normal" 4-person family. The key is not being a "Nervous Nellie" parent. Don't rush your kid to the doctors for every sniffle or every time they fall down or cut themselves. We have saved tons over the years by trusting our parental instincts and not rushing to the ER for every hangnail and splinter that our kids have had. Don't be that mom that takes the kid to the doctor at first hint of a cold.

Extracurricular activities-ah, extracurricular activities, one of my major pet peeves (if it's major can it be a pet peeve?). The amount of activities that some people are involved in is mind-boggling (if you have the time and money, and that's the lifestyle you like, go for it). You know what's a good extracurricular activity? Playing outside with your siblings and friends and a stick. Play tag, catch, kickball, spud, kick the can, spin the bottle...Sure our kids do some activities. 4, scratch that, make that 3of them are playing soccer this Fall. The others are either to old or to young. (you have to be 9 to play sports at our house) And 2 of the kids may take piano during the school year, at home, if the price is right...and if my wife can talk me into it.

Technology-"20% of third-graders have their own mobile device, as do 39% of fifth-graders and 83% of middle-schoolers" Elementary and middle-school kids have cellphones! Crazy world, crazier parents. Our cellphone rule: you can get a basic cellphone when you are 15 and you can pay for it yourself. There is also a list of rules that come with the privilege of having a phone. iPods, you have to be 13 and pay for it yourself, of course. It also comes with a list of rules. Computer, we have a desktop in the kitchen for the kids to share. Computer use also has a list of rules, see my wife's blog for all the rules. College age kids buy their own laptops.

Child care-"the cost of having an infant or toddler in full-time day care runs as much as $14,000 per year". Whatever, our child care cost is $0. Next.

College-Our kids all go to community college for 2 years and then transfer to a State University for the final 2 years. Some commute, some live at school. All pay for it themselves. (Are you seeing a trend here? We are NOT our kids' piggy-banks, they are being prepared for the real world) Community colleges are around 1/3rd of the price of 4-year schools. All my kids get grants, scholarship and other aid. Between summer jobs and working during the school year they make it work. One has already graduated from school, including her Masters. 4 others are currently in college. 2 seniors, 1 junior and a freshman. See here for a fuller explanation of our college strategy.

The more kids you have, the less it costs per child. It's called "economies of scale". Or in layman's terms, Cheaper by the Dozen.

***all posts applying to my family only - your results will be different***


Ryan L said...

You should write a book...right after you learn to use "to/too/two" correctly.

Rob F said...

Ryan - that would require me to actually proof-read what I write. Plus there is the problem of my PG county education.