These Days, Kids Don’t Come Cheap

All the expenses that come with a bundle of joy add up fast

By Alyssa Oursler, InvestorPlace Contributor

Having a kid may fill up your photo albums and free time, but it could also empty your pockets.

A recent list of things future generations won’t do neglected to acknowledge having kids as one thing the current generation already isn’t doing — or is at least delaying — and the high cost of it could be to blame.

7 Things Future Generations Won’t Do
7 Things Future Generations Won’t Do

As times are tough, more young adults are pushing back starting a family, along with other milestones that once paved the pathway to adulthood.

Last year, for example, births fell to an all-time low — resulting in the lowest population gain since World War II. And around one-in-five Generation Y members pointed to the rough-and-tumble economy as the reason.

Unemployment is still high, and on top of that, adults ranging from late teens to early 30s are likely to hold low-paying jobs in retail, often even after earning a college degree (and also saddled with student loans).

Even for those with  a little more cash, the cost of having a child may still be too much to handle.

Once hospital costs are out of the way, adults are immediately faced with the question of stay-at-home parenting or child care — and either one is pricey. Staying at home means the loss of a paycheck and could interrupt or stagnate a career.

Child care, on the other hand, now costs on average more than in-state tuition to a four-year public school and more than annual median rent payments in almost half of the U.S.

Here’s the breakdown for that and the many other things that run up the parenting tab:

  • Day care: This expense has an annual range of $4,600 to $15,000 for infants and $3,900 to $11,700 for kids over four.
  • Food: Growing children gotta eat. For a middle-class family with two kids, it costs $38,000 to feed each kid for the first 17 years of life.
  • Transportation: Driving kids to soccer practice or maybe even footing the bill for teen drivers also isn’t cheap. For the same time period, transportation costs total around $34,000.
  • Other: Plus, you can’t forget necessities like clothing and health care, which tally up $13,500 and $19,000 respectively, on top of housing and the many other miscellaneous expenses that will come your way.
  • Total: Add it all up and print out that long receipt: The grand total for 17  years of raising one kid comes to $235,000.

Like I said: That ain’t cheap.

At it doesn’t even include a college education. If you want to give your kid one of those, you better have started saving early. The average cost of a four-year university increased 15% just from 2008 to 2010. And since most soon-to-be parents went to school, many of the costs have more than doubled.

In 2010, for example, the average annual tuition cost of any four-year institution was more than $20,000 — which doesn’t include the joys of room, board and books. Multiply that by four years, add it to the rest of the expenses and the total cost of a kid breaks the $300,000 mark easily.

So while, sure, having a mini-me is meant to be a miracle, it’s almost no wonder that so many young adults are holding off on the high-cost venture, or maybe not venturing at all.

But we shouldn’t be too bearish on the prospect. Kids are long-term investments, of course, and have lots of growth potential. Just be sure to hold them — especially when they start to cry.

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