Yesterday I wrote about the expenses of raising a teenager, but the fun doesn’t start at age thirteen. Let’s flash back to birth. Sources for the previous post determined the cost of raising a teen to be $190,980, but here’s an article that says the cost of raising a baby to age seventeen is $250,000.
Where does that money go?
Medical expenses. Check your health insurance coverage and know ahead of time who (you or the insurance company) is reponsible for each charge. Adding a child to your health insurance coverage is an unexpected expense for some.
Maternity leave. In most cases, the parent only gets a few weeks off, and you don’t always get your full salary while away. If you need to stay off the job for longer, it might come out of your vacation or sick days.
Child care. This can range anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 each year depending on the type of care you choose, but it is the best option for a family in which both parents (or the only parent) work.
Diapers and wipes. According to the article, expect to spend $2,000 on these items until you successfully potty-train the baby. Modern cloth diapers, if you launder them yourself, can be a significant savings over disposable. Personally, I’m in favor of early potty education.
Formula and/or breast feeding expenses. A baby needs about 2.5 ounces of formula per pound per day. If you’re a working, breastfeeding mom, you may need to purchase a breast pump.
Baby gear. The list is endless: crib, changing table, car seat, stroller, and those are just the “essentials.” The article suggests to try to get what you can, other than the car seat, used.
Clothing and shoes. Babies grow quickly and quickly outgrow what you buy for them. One of the suggestions in the article is to swap baby clothes with friends. Most of the clothes I had as a young child were handed down from a friend, and I handed down a lot of my clothes (included those previously handed down) to my younger brother.
Baby food. When your baby has passed the stage requiring formula or breastfeeding, the next step is upgrading to baby food. Making your own is a great way to save money.
Life insurance premiums and attorney fees. Each spouse should be covered with enough funds to raise each child to age 21. That’s a large amount of coverage, and you’ll pay for it in insurance premiums. You’ll have to pay attorney fees for creating or changing wills and planning the estate. Get to be friends with a lawyer and hopefully she or he will help you at a significant discount.
Reading these articles on the expenses of having and raising children is discouraging. This article and the one about teens do not tackle the enormous expected price of a college education. Even if I were to have children today, that’s at least eighteen years from now. Considering college prices are increasing far beyond inflation, the thought of having children is still overwhelming.
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published May 16, 2006.