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Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 09:11 AM   #1
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Costs to raise children: $1,530

I just read one of the most exaggerated articles I have seen to come out of the WSJ: The Million-Dollar Kid, so I just have to compose a counter article. Unfortunately, writing to the authors at the WSJ will have no impact, so y'all get the brunt of my ire.

IMHO, raising kids is very inexpensive. We pay for many of the items discussed in the article for our kids: sports participation, sports equipment, sports camps, music lessons, art lessons, school trips to Machu Picchu, family vacations to Europe & Hawaii, 529 plans, living in a good public school district, etc., so we probably are over the top compared to many folks here. However, those costs are only a fraction of what the article makes them out to be.

It all amounts to about an extra $1530 a year per child because we use frequent flyer miles and clip coupons. Furthermore, unlike the authors of the article, we don't pick the most expensive way to accomplish something. Plus you get a tax deduction for all those day camps.

Just because kids have an ipod, does not mean they spend $1 a day downloading songs. Birthday parties every few years are only $10-$20 a guest. No one upgrades and buys better strollers for their 2nd and 3rd kids: they use the first stroller they got or a free one from their friends. We pay a fraction of the cited costs for vacations. And take-out sushi twice a month for 5 years is only $960 and not $3900.

Forget about: child therapy, organic food, handbags for teenager, anti-acne treatment not covered by health insurance, etc.

Anyways, I imagine that most of the folks here also pay no more than $2000 a year extra per child.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 09:18 AM   #2
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

I found kids are a lot cheaper under the age of 12. Once they hit that age it gets more expensive every year. Mine are 33 and 30 and now it's finally cheaper.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 09:21 AM   #3
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

My costs were a little bit higher than that in the first two years, but you're right, most of these articles are hogwash.

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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 09:32 AM   #4
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

O.M.G.! Boob woman is back!
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 09:40 AM   #5
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

don't know what my parents paid but i have all my letters from camp and they all start with "hi mom & dad, send more money." looking at the camp's website: a full summer today goes for $6,400. don't recall anyone ever doing a 1/2 summer back then. must be a $ sign of the times.

my brother's kids get so much more than i got. the middle child wanted to know why her mother doesn't have a convertible to drive her around in. i said "because they decided to have you kids instead of my convertibles."

personally, i have no idea what it costs today. but i'm pretty sure if i had kids i'd still be working.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 09:42 AM   #6
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Quote:
Originally Posted by cube_rat
O.M.G.! Boob woman is back!
Its the natural, automatic result of your using that hideous thing as an avatar! :P

Looking around at my living room and dining room (which has become a play room), it appears I have well in excess of $1530 in toys. In fact, it looks like the parking lot of a toysrus immediately after a huge internal explosion.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 10:08 AM   #7
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL!
IMHO, raising kids is very inexpensive.
Before my daughter was born, I was really worried about the expense. Then, one of the other Navy wives said "You can spend whatever you want on a child. They don't actually cost you anything."

She was right. We didn't have a cent when our daughter was born but it didn't matter. Relatives gave us a used crib, but even without a baby shower we didn't have to spend anything on her; baby handmedowns and freebies are easy to find even when you are new in town and don't know a soul (as we were).

Later, when she was school-aged and we had the money to spend I spent a lot on toys and then clothes. But none of it was because I had to. I could have easily dressed her in hand-me-downs and made toys out of oatmeal boxes.

Anyway, that's my opinion and I am sticking to it - - normally kids cost exactly what you are willing to spend on them.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 10:41 AM   #8
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Two words: Col lege.

But seriously, that article is ridiculous, except for some of the worst conspicuous consumers.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 11:09 AM   #9
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Not sure how much it cost me to raise my children but whatever it was it was worth every cent !
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 12:34 PM   #10
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

I don't know how we did it, but we raised a great daughter. She is not into material things that much...likes old jeans and teeshirts for her college classes - not exactly into fashion at all. When she was little I tended to buy toys galore that were always scattered all over the floor, but, she really never did play with them much. I guess I thought that was what MOM's did...buy toys. The largest expenses that we had was her viola/lessons and travel along with the normal stuff. She is just not into buying "stuff".
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 12:37 PM   #11
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Three words:
- Craigslist (cheap or free)
- Freecycle (free)
- Grandparents (free)

Between these three, our costs are relatively minimal. Right now for our 2 month old we're using cloth diapers and Elimination Communication (so we only use diapers maybe 1/4 of the time right now, and eventually should be almost zero), so minimal costs there (and we save on diaper rash ointments!).

We got lots of clothes from craigslist, freecycle, and grandparents, we're breastfeeding so no formula costs, we're co-sleeping so no need for a crib and nursery, we are Attachment Parenting so there's less need for toys/distractions since we are his entertainment.

I am sure as he gets older our costs will increase, but even then there's lots of natural open-ended toys that encourage creativity and minimize the need for purchasing the latest/greatest stuff that kids go through like candy on Halloween.

Another thing is that we intend to Unschool, so there won't be the same kinds of costs associated with public school (at least around here they're severely underfunded), private school, nor even homeschooling curriculums. Just gonna teach our kids through the school of life.

Though we tend to go the extreme on alternative parenting methods (not for financial reasons), what we have noticed so far is that a lot of the costs of parenting are actually because what the parents want for their children, and not necessarily what the children inherently want for themselves.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 01:19 PM   #12
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

haha breastfeeding cuts out a lot per year per kid and i don't need a gym since i lose so many calories from the bfdg - tmi?
maybe i'll never wean? just kidding

1st kid splurged on toys, gear etc. but saved everything so #2 was practically free.

and now we have limited toys to bdays, xmas and a special occasion here and there...

jr on the other hand costs at least $500/month in food alone!
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 01:24 PM   #13
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOL!
Anyways, I imagine that most of the folks here also pay no more than $2000 a year extra per child.
Preschool + piano lessons + additional costs on trips + daily living > $5000/year for our almost-4-yo.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 01:29 PM   #14
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

LOL that's what my wife says too about breastfeeding! We Netflix workout DVDs and she does those at home instead of going to the gym.

The food is a kick in the nuts. Right now our budget for her and I is about $600/month. But we shop almost exclusively at Whole Foods and eat primarily organic. Back when I shopped at Safeway and bought cheap frozen dinners, I was on a budget of about $100/month for food.

Of course, when we met, she looked in my fridge and almost walked right out the door!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bright eyed
haha breastfeeding cuts out a lot per year per kid and i don't need a gym since i lose so many calories from the bfdg - tmi?
maybe i'll never wean? just kidding

1st kid splurged on toys, gear etc. but saved everything so #2 was practically free.

and now we have limited toys to bdays, xmas and a special occasion here and there...

jr on the other hand costs at least $500/month in food alone!
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 01:43 PM   #15
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Some of the items in the article are really over the top. But as T-Al mentioned the big ticket items involve school. Many of the big spenders choose to live in big cities with lousy schools (NY, Chicago, DC). For DD we probably racked up $150K for private schools during K-12 and $250K for University. As for the rest, we were like others -- frequent flyer tickets, sensible allowances, no designer duds, etc.

What I find amazing is the numerous people living in areas like Bethesda, MD with great public schools who still send their kids to pricey private schools. Why move to the burbs if you are not going to take advantage of the best thing they have to offer?
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 01:49 PM   #16
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
What I find amazing is the numerous people living in areas like Bethesda, MD with great public schools who still send their kids to pricey private schools. Why move to the burbs if you are not going to take advantage of the best thing they have to offer?
We're in a burb with "great" public schools, and we're just starting to check them out. Findings so far: the best public schools aren't nearly as good as good private schools.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 02:43 PM   #17
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
We're in a burb with "great" public schools, and we're just starting to check them out. Findings so far: the best public schools aren't nearly as good as good private schools.
Not a problem if you really like the area for other reasons. But a shame if you moved to the burbs for the schools.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 03:11 PM   #18
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
Not a problem if you really like the area for other reasons. But a shame if you moved to the burbs for the schools.
We didn't move here for the schools, but the idea of taking advantage of an education we already paid for is very compelling. We think she'd get a better education in private schools, but we're trying to convince ourselves that she needs the "real world" exposure that public schools will provide.

Our hope is that private preschool and kindergarten will teach her to love learning and give her the tools to follow her interests. And then we might let her loose to forage for knowledge in the wild world of public education.
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 03:24 PM   #19
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

if those public schools are indeed great then they should offer a lot of things that many private schools can't - akin to the difference if you went to a small private college vs. a big school w/ division one sports...

i went to a large great public school and loved all of the stuff i was able to do outside of class like leadership opportunities, dance, etc... the culture of our school was important and people came out of there pretty well rounded...

also, a lot of private schools may look good and organized but are not under the same scrutiny as public schools so it is hard to compare them - in the Bay area in CA a lot of people send their kids to private schools that are no better than the public schools further out in the burbs, but they are convinced they are better and paying a lot for them. not saying that is the case where you are...
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530
Old 03-04-2007, 04:12 PM   #20
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Re: Costs to raise children: $1,530

childcare for infants and college are big expenses. After all the start up -- the additional direct costs - clothes, toys, food, etc, aren't so bad (even though with twins there are no hand-me downs)

But there are significant indirect costs - as CFB and others have recently noted -

you live in a different place - generally larger, generally priced higher for school zones, higher taxes, more expensive upkeep, more to furnish, etc.

You need bigger cars - can't carpool in a two seater or hatch. Had to get rid of my 13 year old mazda 323 for a van - DH couldn't squeeze into the back to buckle the car seats.

Most activities, no matter how well planned are more expensive - DH and I do 1/2 to 1/4 what we would do otherwise since all family events cost X4 - movie, eat out, airplane, concert, etc. Yea, we can all drive somewhere for the same price, but after that the mutiplier effect kicks in.

So, conspicuous consumption aside, kids are expensive, though not to the degree of this article

But worth it.
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