Because children are so expensive, more and more thoughtful adults are thinking carefully about how many children they can afford and when they can afford such a luxury. Economic considerations are important, especially when you consider the size of the investment. Currently, for a child born since the year 2000 (with figures not corrected for inflation), low income families spend an average of $120,000 to raise a child to the age of 18.
As expected, middle income families spend more, an average of $160,000 per child. High income parents spend almost twice as much as low income parents, an average of $235,000. Incidentally, if you are thinking of cutting any corners to save a little extra cash, consider having only sons.
On average, boys cost about $40,000 less to raise than girls. I guess most of that money goes to shoes, fashion, and make-up. Of course, added luxuries such as sending your child to a private school, buying your teen a car, or sending her on a dream trip is extra. Even these added expenses do not include after-eighteen expenses such as college, weddings, car insurance, and travel, which all totaled can quickly accumulate to more than another $100,000 by the time your child reaches twenty-two years of age.
I personally cannot imagine life without children. For me, every cent spent on my children has been well worth it. Given a chance to choose again, I would still choose to have children. The return on our financial investment has paid rich dividends that far exceed the money we have spent. But this is simply not true for everyone.
Too many people have children and really don’t want them. They begrudge both the time and the money their children demand. They resent not having money to spend as they please. I am continually perplexed as to why such adults become parents. There is certainly no disgrace in choosing to remain child-free. Such a decision does not mean that a person is being selfish. On the contrary, to have unwanted children is far more selfish and potentially very destructive.
Young married couples who haven’t taken the plunge into parenthood, please think carefully about how you want to spend your money — on nice cars, a house on the lake, travel or children. Rest assured, you can’t have it all. Probably, if economic predictions hold true, you won’t even have as much as your parents. Do choose wisely so that you will have enough money to enjoy the life you really want. Remember it’s not selfish; it’s economically, socially, and psychologically sound to make a wise decision based on what you really want.