Every year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases a frightening statistic: the lifetime cost of raising a child. It’s enough to scare any would-be parent into celibacy. According to the USDA’s 2009 report, the financial burden born by the average middle-income family from birth to the time the kid is kicked to the curb at age 18 is $222,360. This figure doesn’t include the cost of college.
It’s an astounding number, but I find these kinds statistics incomprehensible and some-what irrelevant. First, there are dozens of variables involved. Second, I’d probably also have a stroke if I calcu-lated how much I’ll spend on gas, pizza-delivery and bikini waxes before I die, but knowing the total damage likely won’t alter my behavior much today. It’s the cost of the foreseeable future that matters.
Yes, having a child is a significant financial strain and requires planning.
There are braces, prom dresses and soccer cleats to consider, and saving for college is an issue so pro-found it requires consultation with a professional.
Before you swear off offspring, however (because you don’t have a cool, quarter million lying around), at least consider the funds you’ll need on an annual basis.
Here, for example, is a list of the most common expenditures during pregnancy and baby’s first year. (Medical, in-surance and childcare figures are approximate averages based on the most recent data from the USDA, Virginia Coop-erative Extension and Vir-ginia Health Information.)
Prenatal care & delivery (out of pocket)
Visits to obstetrician and diagnostic ultrasounds:
(over-the-counter cost or
co-pays for prescription):
Hospital charges for birth: $6,000 (vaginal), $11,000
Health care for child
Most doctors will want to see your baby for check-ups and immunizations at three days, one month, two months, four months, six months, nine months and 12 months. Additional insurance/co-pays/out-of-pocket costs: $500-1,000
These figures reflect average retail prices for new items (as-suming you don’t beg, borrow and steal from friends, family and neighbors) and the bare minimum of what you’ll need to survive (breast pumps, Bumbo chairs and designer diaper bags being somewhat optional).
Maternity attire: $400
Baby attire: $500
Crib, mattress and bedding: $400
Car seat: $130
Diapers: $250 (cloth); $1,000 (disposable)
Even if you breastfeed exclusively, you’ll start buying solid foods for baby as soon as four months post delivery.
Bottles and formula: $1,300
Solid foods, feeding implements and high chair: $1,000
Full-time, licensed: $8,000 (in-home care); $10,000 (child care center)
Insurance & estate planning
You’ll want a back-up plan for baby. Financial planners recommend life insurance coverage of six to 10 times your annual in-come, and disability insurance coverage of 60 percent of your salary.
In all, you easily could incur as much as $10,000 from con-ception to baby’s first birthday. Adjust your budget for bikini waxes accordingly.
Katherine is a freelance writer and mother of two very hungry extra mouths. She’s bracing for braces.