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Business & Finance
The Health Scene
How Much Can One Kid Cost?
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Who among us hasn’t held a precious new baby in our arms and felt the love and joy of that tiny miracle? Whether you are a parent, grandparent, or friend, a new baby brings out the best in all of us.
One of my granddaughters said it best just a few months ago after giving birth to her first child. “I never knew I could love something soooo much and be soooo happy!”
Apply a few dollar signs to that little bundle of joy, and some of that happiness may turn to frustration, worry, and downright hardship. Just how many dollars will it take to get that soft, warm cuddly body from crib to college? Well, you’ll be surprised at the whopping estimated hit a baby makes on the family budget.
Here’s what to expect.
The first cost you’ll ever realize is, of course, the cost of having a baby. Childbirth Connection, a nonprofit organization geared to helping parents and parents-to-be to prepare for a new arrival, estimates that only 35 percent of women have maternity insurance when they are pregnant for the first time. Of the remaining 65 percent, about 35 percent will probably qualify for Medicaid. The rest will pay out-of-pocket. Prenatal costs through a healthy pregnancy will average $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the area of the country. It’s a bit less expensive in the South, so we locals can appreciate being on the lower end of that dollar figure. Hospital costs for a routine delivery typically run around $15,000. Add about 50 percent more for a <cesarean section> or other unforeseen complications.
Next comes the cost of baby’s first year. If this is baby-number-one, costs are higher as furniture and accessories such as crib, dresser, car seat, stroller, baby toiletries, etc., need to be acquired. Immunizations not covered by insurance can cost from $200 to $400 each.
As I prepared to write this article, I decided to take a stroll through Wal-Mart’s infant department. Quite an eye opener for one whose “baby” is now past the half-century mark! Diapers average 25 cents each, so a box of 100 of the smallest size came to around $25. A local organization catering to teen moms told me that from birth to three months, an infant can go through about 8–10 in a single day, more if the child is not healthy or has a digestive problem. (I had an “ah-ha” moment when I discovered that diapers come in various sizes, but after my first shock, it makes sense! I won’t bore you with how we moms handled diapers “back in my day!”) However, as a financial advisor for nearly thirty years, my brain quickly calculated the diaper bill to be somewhere around $60 to $75 per month. Larger size diapers cost more but fewer are used, so there’s not much savings to reap as baby grows into a toddler.
Oh, and did I forget to mention food in case mom isn’t nursing. Zowheeee! Baby formula is even more expensive than diapers, so I won’t even go there! Even nursing is costly with things like nursing bras and miscellaneous nursing equipment costing anywhere from $400 to $2,000 in year one. New mom jitters, unscheduled doctor visits, <emergency room> visits, and prescription drugs can increase medical costs into the thousands.
And then there is the loss of income as mom may be off work for six to eight weeks, the cost of additional living space, possibly even a move to a larger home or apartment, the extra cost of utilities, heat, AC, and water because mother and baby are home all day… and the list goes on! Family vacations to introduce Junior to grandparents and cousins weigh in the first year, too. First year of “baby on board” rings in between $30,000 to $50,000.
Statistics indicate that raising a child gets a little less expensive from ages two to five, with the biggest single expense, and perhaps the biggest challenge, being satisfactory child care. This varies in different parts of the U.S., and again, is somewhat less expensive in the South.
Checking in with my other granddaughter, the mother of a 5-year-old, I learned about the cost of child care! A whopping $400 per week for an infant, defined as less than one year of age. Toddlers are only $300 per week. Pre-school for three to four days per week can run an extra $100 or more, with “private” lessons such as weekly music for tots or tai-kwan-do adding about $100 per month. Community-based activities such as soccer and league sports are less at $60 to $80 per season.
My calculator indicates that getting that first precious bundle of joy from crib to kindergarten hits the family check book for a national average of $75,000.
The remaining 17 years
Without giving in to peer pressure and “wannabe” demands of the child, grade school years and early high school years are typically less expensive than the early childhood years, but the senior high school year makes up for it with enormous costs too numerous to mention. Think car, automobile insurance, prom, yearbook, class ring, photos, college applications, and campus visits, etc., etc., etc…
All in all — from birth through high school, with
health, happiness, and discipline — costs come to a whopping $263,000. That’s right… more than a quarter of a million dollars per child will likely be needed to cover the cost of raising a child in a middle-class family in the United States… and that number is not adjusted for the impossible-to-predict future inflation!
Subtracting first-year costs of $75,000 leaves $188,000 for the next 17 years, or a bit more than $11,000 per child per year. My younger granddaughter is an army wife and a recently unemployed teacher who budgets well and tracks everything on a spreadsheet. She substantiates these numbers, as her son has now passed through the five-year mark and is now in kindergarten. (She has also told me that no siblings are planned!)
Healthy Business and Finance
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