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Kid expenses
Old 01-02-2011, 02:24 PM   #1
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Kid expenses

Hi all,

I've been wondering about this for a while and don't recall seeing a relevant thread on the topic.

For me, and probably for a fair number of us, retirement and the kids leaving the nest will roughly coincide.

There have been threads going on about what expenses increase and decrease as a result of the transition to retirement.

I am wondering about what expenses increase and decrease as a result of the transition to empty nest-age. I am also interested in when and how much those expenses increase and decrease. I am particularly interested in those expenses that were a surprise when they changed.

In my particular case, here's what I'm sort of guessing:

1. Taxes will go up as I lose the dependent deductions and the child tax credit.
2. Child support will go down stair step-wise.
3. Food expenses will go down.
4. Housing expenses and related costs could go down if I downsized after my oldest one or two leave.
5. Utilities would drop by a little if I stayed in my current house.

I'm naively thinking that this all will happen as they hit high school graduation / college start. I am not planning on boomerang kids, or adult outpatient care, but I'm also somewhat of a softie in that regard and could see that tripping me up.

I treat college expenses as a separate item and have cordoned off funds for that in their college funds.

I'd be interested in everyone's opinions (for those who have yet to pass through to empty nest-age) and experience (for those who have already done so or are in the process (like Nords)).

Thanks,

2Cor521
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:37 PM   #2
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Teenage drivers increase your auto insurance.
Family health insurance is also more expensive than single.
School trips to Europe, South America, China, Africa, Russia start to add up.
Booster club contributions is something you have to add for high school.
If you have musician, they need the $250K violin or other instrument as well.
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:56 PM   #3
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Teenage drivers increase your auto insurance.
No, it increases THEIR auto insurance

I had to buy my own car and insurance if I wanted to drive.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:03 PM   #4
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Me, too. And nothing could convince my parents that I needed to go on expensive overseas field trips.Had to wait till I could get my employer to pay for those

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No, it increases THEIR auto insurance

I had to buy my own car and insurance if I wanted to drive.
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:36 PM   #5
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I never break down the cost of raising and educating my children. Not that I see anything wrong with doing that, but I am lazy and just lump everything together as one big expense. Just now realizing that I will have more money to spend on myself soon, as one already flew the nest and the second one soon.

Arghh... Spoke too soon. Here hoping that they will not become boomerang kids.
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Old 01-02-2011, 06:57 PM   #6
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1. Taxes will go up as I lose the dependent deductions and the child tax credit.
2. Child support will go down stair step-wise.
3. Food expenses will go down.
4. Housing expenses and related costs could go down if I downsized after my oldest one or two leave.
5. Utilities would drop by a little if I stayed in my current house.
We only have four months of data but we're thrilled to be doing additional research!

I think your exemptions will drop only when the kids are finished with college (and you're no longer contributing at least 50% of their support). But your taxes may not rise by much when you lose one exemption, and that could easily be wiped out by capital losses offsetting cap gains, or by a good year in the market.

Child support stops at age 18, right? (I'm not sure.) I've also heard of divorcées returning to court to negotiate college costs.

Food expenses will go WAY down, and perhaps your dining-out bill will drop as well. Our teen consumed far more than 33% of the calories in this house and probably over 50% of the costs since it tended to be convenience-food calories. When you don't have a bunch of hungry mouths vacuuming out your fridge, you don't mind fixing dinner for one. You also don't mind having soup and a peanut-butter sandwich for dinner in front of the TV instead of having to "set a good example".

Housing expenses go way down because you're no longer dealing with the "Oops" factor. Kids have no incentive to take care of the house or the furniture, and both will last a lot longer when they're outta the nest.

Utilities are another expense that drops way out of proportion. Based on our limited data our kid was consuming 40-45% of the electricity in a house of three people, and we have a solar water heater so her hot showers didn't use any electricity. Your water consumption will drop precipitously also. In fact we make it a point to use our "spare" bathroom at least once a week to ensure that the drain traps don't dry out.

If you have a teen driver then again your fuel costs will drop out of proportion because the remaining drivers will be getting a much higher MPG. For example when I drive our Prius I'm usually in the low 60s. When our teen drives it she's usually in the low 50s.

Your car will last a lot longer, too, especially the brake pads, the tires, and the suspension/alignment.

Vacation/travel expenses, however, may go way up. You'll have to study Billy & Akaisha Kaderli's methods for keeping those under control.

In retrospect I was hyperaware of the issues of sex, drugs, rock&roll, alcohol, and poor time management. So far so good. We were surprised by a total absence of financial discipline (a variety of factors), "keeping up with the rich kids" (or I hope they're rich), and easy access to rental ZipCars. The affluenza and the sense of entitlement would be awe-inspiring if they weren't so enervating. Golly, I'm glad I wasn't like that when I was 18.

And this is from a teen who already has five years of experience with a credit card, nine years of experience with balancing a checkbook, and pretty heavy supervision/peer mentoring from a NROTC unit...

It turns out that our kid also views the "college fund" as a vast untapped pool of money going to waste as it sloshes around in a giant mosh pit. True, her NROTC scholarship pays nearly 3/4 of the total bill so she's earned a little slack, but I thought that the lure of "profit-sharing" after graduation would provide all the necessary internal motivation for financial discipline. Wrong-- deferred gratification is so far over the horizon that it's undetectable. Instead she sees the college fund as the solution to all her financial shortfalls, with her logic being that those financial shortfalls are happening while she happens to be at college. Admittedly I'm impressed by her inventiveness and her creativity (while I weep for her future XOs) but she's not learning to live like a poor college student-- let alone like a poor ensign. It's all too easy to visualize her tapping her IRA when she's in her 20s because she's been renting a really nice place and buying a really nice car.

In her defense, I tend to have oversensitive tripwires and to extend small trends to infinity. However she needs to learn more life skills in an experiential manner, not just hypothetical. When she returns to the campus next week it's going to be with the knowledge that the college fund is only dispensing funds to the college, and not to her. Maybe then she'll figure out how to make NROTC's $250/month stipend last for longer than 15 days.
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Old 01-02-2011, 07:02 PM   #7
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Amazing how your kid so quickly unlearned what you tried to ingrain into her for so long regarding financial discipline. I will be following your interesting story.
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Old 01-02-2011, 07:30 PM   #8
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I think your exemptions will drop only when the kids are finished with college (and you're no longer contributing at least 50% of their support). But your taxes may not rise by much when you lose one exemption, and that could easily be wiped out by capital losses offsetting cap gains, or by a good year in the market.

Child support stops at age 18, right? (I'm not sure.) I've also heard of divorcées returning to court to negotiate college costs.
Thanks for the great detail, Nords!

I haven't looked much into the dependent deductions/exemption rules, but the 50% support thing seems vaguely familiar, so that may last longer than I thought. I think the child tax credit goes away at 17 or thereabouts.

In the great state of Idaho, child support basically stops when they graduate from high school in the normal case, and the kids are considered grownup then so college costs are a great big "N/A" from the court's point of view. From Dad's point of view, I want them to go to college so I'm planning on footing essentially 100% of the costs there. Their Mom plans to help out "if she can" which probably means close to zero. I'm planning on zero and so anything there will be a pleasant surprise.

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Old 01-02-2011, 07:41 PM   #9
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I haven't notice an iota of expense change since DW and I became empty nesters. When DS was born he began to consume all our money. This continued through grade school, high school and universtiy. He married shortly after graduation and now he, DIL and the 3 grandkids consume all of our money. It's really been very level over time.
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Old 01-02-2011, 07:44 PM   #10
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:19 PM   #11
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Amazing how your kid so quickly unlearned what you tried to ingrain into her for so long regarding financial discipline. I will be following your interesting story.
Not that I ever did anything like that when I was 18 & independent for the first time! I'm a nuke probably hypersensitive to it and overfocused on the negatives. This might be her learning style and her means of determining whether or not we parents know what we're talking about.

In her defense she came home from one of the country's tougher engineering schools: happy & loving college life, with plenty of new friends & some good role models, with good grades, still enjoying civil engineering, in fantastic physical condition (thanks to NROTC's Marine gunny sergeants), clean & sober, and absolutely disgusted with the idea of drunken impregnation partying.

Here's an example of her thinking: this semester she survived chemistry, physics, their labs, calculus, naval science, and civil eng 101. Next semester she's already signed up for their successors at another 17 credit hours. However she wants to study Russian as an elective and has realized that Rice only gives credit (in her eng major) for the upper-level Russian classes (not 101 & 102). She's been studying Russian on her own for the last two years (plus two weeks at an immersion camp) and she speaks/writes it well enough that the prof validated her on the 101 course. When she goes back she's pursuing permission to overload to 22 credits to knock out the 102 class. If she finds out that she's really overloaded herself then she's going to just audit the 102 class and see if she can get the prof to let her start 201 next year. Then she plans to study Russian for four more semesters of full credit.

Personally I think 22 credit hours is nuts, but she figured out the plan on her own and it motivated her enough to pull out some amazing grades on her final exams. This is a situation where I, instead of leading or following, am just gonna get the hell outta the way.

The good thing about all the Russian classes is that when the Defense Investigative Service starts working on her Navy security clearance, she'll have a good explanation for all the Russian friends & Cyrillic spelling on her Facebook page..

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I haven't notice an iota of expense change since DW and I became empty nesters. When DS was born he began to consume all our money. This continued through grade school, high school and universtiy. He married shortly after graduation and now he, DIL and the 3 grandkids consume all of our money. It's really been very level over time.
Ouch!

When you became empty nesters, did you move to a new residence? More importantly, did you make the mistake of telling them where you went?
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:37 PM   #12
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Ouch!

Have you downsized to a new residence? More importantly, did you make the mistake of telling them where you went?
Hey, not only do they have our address (we've been at this address 33 yrs), we stay here because we want to live close by.

Having a family to consume all your money actually helps getting to retirement. When I got canned from MegaCorp 4.5 yrs ago, we looked in the cookie jar and noted we were pretty broke. Then we noted that with the family close by, we'd always be broke. So, why wait? I declared myself retired and all has been good so far.

You'll understand as time goes by........
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:10 PM   #13
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No, it increases THEIR auto insurance

I had to buy my own car and insurance if I wanted to drive.
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Me, too. And nothing could convince my parents that I needed to go on expensive overseas field trips.Had to wait till I could get my employer to pay for those

Amethyst
Ditto, ditto, and even more ditto.

There is no better way to guarantee that a child or young adult will be self sufficient than to tell them "If you want to do that, you will have to save up for it."

I was raised this way. It never hurt me a bit to be independent.
Thanks, Mom.
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:31 PM   #14
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Our daughter graduated from college in 2009, so 2010 was the first year we no longer supported her. DS lives at home while finishing college - but he pretty much buys his own food and pays his own bills. So from a financial perspective, we have spent our first year with no "kid expenses".


A lot depends on what you were paying for to begin with, but what we saw go down included:
  • car insurance (we owned the car and she was on our policy. When she graduated, we signed the car over to her and she bought her own insurance.)
  • car maintenence (we paid to register and maintain the car while she was in school. She paid for her gas.)
  • cell phone (we paid when she was in school. She is still on our plan, but she sends us a check every month to cover her bill.)
  • clothes (we bought what she needed throughout college)
  • dining out (we ate out a lot more when we the kids were in school and we were always in a hurry. Not so much now.)
  • electric bill (this one surprised me. Of course, we also have electric hot water, so between kids never turning off lights and taking long showers, I guess it made sense it would drop.)
  • food (yup, they eat a lot)
  • health insurance premium (you dont get a drop in your health insurance premium until the last kid leaves and you go from FAMILY to YOU + SPOUSE. DS was already off our policy, so once DD went off, we changed categories.)
  • medical expenses (DD is a Type 1 diabetic. A minimum of 6-8 doctor's visits per year, plus diabetic supplies. She currently budgets $2000/year to cover her medical expenses...and this is with a decent group health insurance policy)
  • dental expenses (DD had 2 congenitally missing teeth, so went through braces and temporary veneers in high school. Her last year in college she had 2 permanent bridges put in. I promised her when she was young that she would have the prettiest smile in the family when we were done. She does. It was pretty expensive, but worth every cent. Today she lights up a room with her smile.)
  • glasses/contacts (Yup, DD can't see either.....)
  • although college bills were pricey, we had a separate college fund for that. But when she went away to college, we had a significant drop in expenses, as she was a gymnast.....and that is a pretty expensive activity. So, if your kid is into any extracurricular activity that costs much - you get that all back. We just redirected it into the college fund.....
Of course taxes went up, as this will be the first year we don't claim her on our taxes. And we spend more "vacation" money going to visit or having her come home to visit, as she no longer lives in the area.

I think that pretty much covers it. We didnt see as much of an impact when DS went on his own - but it really depends on your personal situation.
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Old 01-03-2011, 02:36 AM   #15
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Hi all,

I've been wondering about this for a while and don't recall seeing a relevant thread on the topic.

For me, and probably for a fair number of us, retirement and the kids leaving the nest will roughly coincide.

There have been threads going on about what expenses increase and decrease as a result of the transition to retirement.

I am wondering about what expenses increase and decrease as a result of the transition to empty nest-age. I am also interested in when and how much those expenses increase and decrease. I am particularly interested in those expenses that were a surprise when they changed.

In my particular case, here's what I'm sort of guessing:

1. Taxes will go up as I lose the dependent deductions and the child tax credit.
2. Child support will go down stair step-wise.
3. Food expenses will go down.
4. Housing expenses and related costs could go down if I downsized after my oldest one or two leave.
5. Utilities would drop by a little if I stayed in my current house.

I'm naively thinking that this all will happen as they hit high school graduation / college start. I am not planning on boomerang kids, or adult outpatient care, but I'm also somewhat of a softie in that regard and could see that tripping me up.

I treat college expenses as a separate item and have cordoned off funds for that in their college funds.

I'd be interested in everyone's opinions (for those who have yet to pass through to empty nest-age) and experience (for those who have already done so or are in the process (like Nords)).

Thanks,

2Cor521
I don't know that any numbers I might attach to this would mean anything. We live in the Frozen North and our experiences started well over ten years ago.

Initially, expenses can only go up. In our case, when our kids hit high school age they started to bring a lot of friends home. We realized our house was too small. We could hardly say "get your GD friends outta here", but here was right in our faces so, start with $100K to move. This was some year ago, so maybe $200K today.

After that (in our case) not much changed. Both of our kids worked through high school so all we had to pay for was the food (oh, I'm really hungry and can my 19 friends stay for supper), electricity (ya, I'll just throw this in the dryer by itself), gas (ya, a two hour shower will clean me up). So, several $K per year.

After high school kids wanted to continue education in another city. We bought a condo to keep costs down. Our gas & electric probably dropped 40% (in our original home) and were included in condo fees in college town. Food dropped 60-70% for us. Essentially, we supplied housing, tuition & books, kids worked for the rest (food, clothes, sex, drugs and rock&roll). DD actually did a year of full time job plus full time student. Buying the condo probably saved us 1/2 what it would have cost for them to live (with roomies) in different places or college residence (also sold it for twice what we paid when last one left after 8 years of ownership, YMMV).

Sorry, no experience with court ordered (divorce related) child care costs. I will note that here in the Frozen North, the courts have decided that someone (usually dad) must support kids getting a higher education. This includes kids perusing their 4th PhD at age 50. That, however is not an amount but a length of time supplying the amount, YMMV.

Now, we live in the same (way too big) house and pay about 50% more housing expenses than we might. Electric and gas are way down except when the DD visits (DS lives in town).

All in all, unless you downsize your housing, the effects will be minimal unless you were spending a lot on clothes, entertainment and similar things. I can't quantify those as the kids worked and spent that money themselves.

Hope everything works out for you.

PS: Our kids have enough of a work ethic that we gave them a fairly large sum for a down payment this year when both decided to buy houses. We called it an early inheritance and suggested there would never be a real one. We probably lie, but they are off the teat so, WTF. Again, YMMV.
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Old 01-03-2011, 07:14 AM   #16
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I do not think the overall level of kid-expenses changes much as they become teenagers and into college.

In my mind, the biggest "planning consideration" is what (if any) post college support the parents may want to plan for.

Easy to say, "they will be on their own" - but I know a lot of disciplined parents of disciplined post-college kids that continue to "help" with kid expenses.

Don't want to debate what is philosophically "right" here - but this can be a big planning factor.
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:14 AM   #17
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None. They'll be BAAACCKK.
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Old 01-03-2011, 08:38 AM   #18
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Don't want to highjack thread, but I know a lot of people where kids moved back home and/or parents are subsidizing adult children lifestyles.

Dave Ramsey show last week: Single parent loses job. Has to cut expenses/sell assets. She has been funding completely a car for each of her 2 adult children (22 and 24) - post college, don't live in house.

She tells kids she needs car back -- they refuse.....

I'm sure these shows "hunt for drama" in their examples, but I wonder how typical....
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Old 01-03-2011, 01:35 PM   #19
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In my mind, the biggest "planning consideration" is what (if any) post college support the parents may want to plan for.

.
For us, it isn't a matter of of "support" in the sense of providing the basics of life. Son and DIL both have professional jobs and, despite shouldering the expenses of a special needs child, seem to be doing OK financially. We ENJOY spending on the kids and grandkids. It creeps up the priority list to the point where we often find ourselves not taking an expensive vacation or stretching out the life span of a vehicle in order to have ready cash to take the clan to dinner or pick up most of the expenses for a family vacation, etc. Family spending, for us, is like spending on a cherished hobby might be to some others. You don't have to do it, but it's sure nice when you can include it in the budget.
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Old 01-03-2011, 01:39 PM   #20
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I'm sure these shows "hunt for drama" in their examples........
Ding! Ding! Ding!

Dave, you win the "youbet understatement of the day" award!
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