When I take a vacation, I buy 4 tickets, not 1 or 2. When it came to buying a house, I needed 3 bedrooms and playrooms and schools and a yard, not a chic condo in the core. When I go Christmas shopping my list is twice is long, I have more mouths to feed when I buy my groceries, I have to clothe and entertain 2 other people for the better part of two decades.
Kids are expensive. There’s no denying it. And I haven’t even talked about school yet.
The headlines are raging this week about the cost of raising children after the U.S. Department of Agriculture pegged the average cost of raising a child born in 2015 at US$233,610 (about $14 000 a year).
The biggest expenses from the survey relate to housing, food and child care. But despite the fact that you’ll often hear parents grumbling about diapers and other toddler-related expenses, teenagers actually cost more. For example, it costs 22 percent more to feed a 15-year-old than it does to feed a 6-year-old on an annual basis.
I’m not going to argue with the math. When we lived in Vancouver, daycare for Zacharie was > $1500 a month. When we moved to Calgary, and hired live-in nannies, we were spending upwards of $20 000 a year on childcare for our two sons.
We’ve moved on from nannies, but are now spending $25 000 a year on school tuition for our boys because the local public school system doesn’t work. Then there’s the 14 weeks a year our boys have days off from school with pro-d days, spring break, and summer vacation. That adds another $6 000 to the bills to keep them in day camps.
Oh, and the extra-curriculars like art, dance, soccer, and swimming lessons. There’s rec centre memberships, birthday parties, and .. and .. and .. now you know why I’ve been mostly wearing the same clothes the past 10 years.
On the bright side, sort of, the costs of raising kids aren’t going up as quickly as they used to. The costs have gone up an average of 4.3% per year since 1960, but this year, they’re only up 3%.
And it’s all worth it. To reboot your life and see things with blissful naivete for a second time is priceless. To have the crotch busting, gleeful hugs greet you at the door after a long day is worth all the stress. To see a little piece of your soul running around in the world doing things you could only imagine is humbling.
Parenting is expensive, it’s stressful, it’s hard, and it’s eternally rewarding.
A childless friend posted this headline her social feeds this week, her sister in law immediately replied with “And this is why you go to Palm Springs and I go to Costco.”
Ain’t that the truth. As I do the math, a quarter million a kid will sound like a bargain by the time I’m done. My children are only 7 and 9 and I figure we’re close to $300 000 in expenses for them with another decade (and university) to go.
What do you think? Is the number high or low for what you spend?