The Cost of Having a Family: Can You Afford Kids?

cost-of-family-5579085This is a guest post from Evan Fischer

Most people are not so naive as to think that their lives won’t change when children enter the picture, which is why they plan ahead for the possibility. And while a lot of parents read books to learn how to feed, clothe, and diaper the newest member of the family, few take the time to sit down and map out how much it will cost to feed, clothe, and diaper that child year after year. What about medical bills and missed work? What about daycare? What about college? In fact, it is estimated that the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 these days is over $200,000 (not including inflation, or the cost of college).

Not too many expectant parents have these costs in mind when they imagine the joy of bringing a child home from the hospital. They just assume that these things will work themselves out. But when you’re spending 2K a year on diapers and a heck of a lot more than that on daycare (not even thinking about the college fund), you may start to wish that you had thought things through more thoroughly. So if you’re not sure if you can afford to have kids, here are a few things to consider. First and foremost, you need to think about your job situation. If you currently require two incomes in order to survive, consider that one of them is likely to get sucked up with the additional costs of your child (daycare is expensive). Of course, this might prompt the lowest wage-earner to stay home and care for the baby, but it puts you back in the same boat; you’ll be down to one income (although it’s almost certainly a better choice for your infant). If you’re barely making ends meet as is, then you’ll probably want to rethink reproduction (at least for a while). Keep in mind, as well, that most moms end up wanting to stay home with a child, so if you can prepare for this eventuality if you plan ahead.

In addition, you’ll almost certainly want to raise your child in a house, with a yard, in a crime-free neighborhood, in a good school district. That’s going to cost you. Sure, there are plenty of kids that are raised in less-than-ideal economic situations and they turn out just fine. But if you’re like most parents, you want the best for your kids. If you plan ahead, work on advancing your career, and save up for the things you want to provide for your children, there’s no reason you can’t have the house with the white picket fence and a spot on the PTA. Planning is the key.

Of course, you may not have that option. If you’re already starting to seek out morning sickness cures it’s a little too late to back-pedal now. But one kid is fairly manageable, moneywise, so if you’re planning for a big family, take your time with the next one and do what you can to get ahead. It’s never too late to start planning for your future and the future of your children.

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