Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Government Estimates The Costs of Raising Kids. We're In Trouble!

                                          Seth, aka the `Quarter-Million Dollar Baby'

My friend and former Daily Press colleague Peter Frost, now with the Chicago Tribune, wrote an article recently on the government's estimate of what it costs to raise to the age of 18 a child born in 2013. The figure the government came up with was $245,340. You read that right. Two-hundred-forty-five-thousand-three-hundred-forty. Dollars.

Um, we're in trouble in the Sabo household. Now you know why I'm always scrounging around for change in the couch! I'm still trying to wrap my head around a quarter-million bucks. Per kid. Some quick math tells me that with 14 kids, my tab is/will be in the vicinity of 3.4 million. Dollars. I'm thinking my kids are going to have to pull their own weight on this one. I'm going to start charging rent. For everyone. (Pause.) I just broke the news to Seth. He looked ... puzzled.

As I'm trying to digest this news, some thoughts ran through my mind. For starters, I didn't know I am supposed to buy my kids a Ferrari when they turn 16. Another thing: My house that I bought earlier this year cost less than what I'm going to fork out for the latest edition of the Sabo family. At least, according to the government's estimate.

There is some good news, though. As I read the article more closely I saw that the $245,340 is for middle-class folks pulling down more than $61,300 a year. So raise your hand if you're "lower-income" folks making less than $60k a year. (My hand just shot up. Actually both hands. I guess that means I surrender.) If that's you with one or two hands up, then you're only on the hook for $176,550! Sweet! I only have to buy my 16-year-olds a Lexus now!

As I probed further into the article, going to the very depths of it, I found this gem of a paragraph: "Expenses per child decrease as a family has more children, the report said, as children share bedrooms, clothing and other items." True dat! We stack them up four and five to a bedroom in the Sabo house! I noticed last winter we had a kid's coat in the closet that we've had since Brenton was 2! That was 1991! Seth pretty much uses everyone else's toothbrush! Anything to save money in the Sabo household! (Just kidding!)

At the bottom was a link to the government calculator to calculate how much it's going to cost to raise your kids. I clicked on it. One problem cropped right up. You could only calculate 6 kids. So I had to do 2 calculations since now we "only" have 10 kids under the age of 18 living at home. Some figuring revealed I'm in it for $72,086 in child-rearing expenses. This year. Which could be a problem since that's waaaaaaayyyyyy beyond what I make.

There's some explanations of how the numbers are produced, but I can't help but think it's the same office producing these figures that comes up with the federal government's budget. All I know is that my kids are fed, clothed, bathed, taken care of and generally nurtured. How does it all work in the face of these frightening "costs" the government says we are forking out? As I say frequently, the Lord provides. We are in very good and capable hands. Even if the government might not think so.

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