Thursday, May 10, 2012

bundle of joy?

I think since the hubs and I started dating, it was pretty much a given (to everyone else, at least) that we would get married. So by the time we actually got married, five years later, everyone else was ready for us to start popping out kids. I fairly certain I've disappointed my fair share of in-laws with every holiday that goes by and I don't tell them I'm knocked up.

To be honest, I've never been much of a kid person. With the exception of my younger cousin, neice, and nephews, I couldn't stand children for longer than an hour or two. I had one babysitting job as a tween and that barely lasted one summer because I thought I would rip my hair out - never did that again. Ironically, kids l-o-v-e me. More than dogs do (and I l-o-v-e dogs). My mom tells me she was the same way and that I'll feel differently once my close friends start having kids. But after reading this article on Yahoo! yesterday, I'm more skeptical about having kids than ever before:
The government's most recent annual report reveals a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend roughly $227,000 for food, shelter and other expenses necessary to raise that child - $287,000 when you factor in projected inflation...the bill does not include the cost of college or anything related to the pregnancy and delivery.
Now, I understand (and they point out in the article) if you really sat down to tally everything up, you would never have kids and that no one is ever "really" ready. But, since I'm blogging about money, is there really a bigger decision that captures the essence of the word "personal finance"? The choice to have a child(ren) is probably one of the biggest personal and financial decisions a person will ever make, so we should go into it as informed as possible.

The article gives a few talking points to go over regarding the first year with baby. The most important that jumps out to me is: Will you both work or will one of you quit to care for the child? I've always said if we had kids, I would want to stay home with them until they went to school or at least work part-time. Unfortunately, at this juncture, if I got pregnant tomorrow, that option would not be on the table. We need both incomes. So then we need to factor in child care costs which averages around $1,000 a month in our area. My mom works full time and the hubs' parents are two hours away, so family help isn't something we can't count on on a daily basis.

Then there are the other obvious expenses: diapers/wipes, clothing, food, etc etc. An economy pack of newborn diapers (236 count) on Amazon costs $48.00 and a newborn can go through between 8-12 diapers per day which means that pack won't even get you through a whole month. Hopefully, you're lucky enough to get a bunch of hand-me-downs, but even buying used clothing can be expensive when compared to how fast kids grow. Lastly, there are the little expenses that you might not think about, but can add up: co-pays for doctor's visits & your health insurance premiums in general, car payments if you'll need a bigger/safer car, and all the fees associated with sports/scouts/clubs as they grow up.

The financial planner in the article recommends paying off all your credit cards and automating your retirment savings before having children. He also recommends living on less and cutting out any extra spending that you can (he suggests 90% of your take home income & stashing the extra 10%).

My bank account is screaming already.

Now I know those of you with children will talk about what a joy it all is and how it's totally worth it - but since I don't have kids, I don't particularly buy that logic. I have frequently asked my mother if all this (picture me gesturing to myself) was worth it, usually after reading an article like this. For some reason, she keeps saying yes. Maybe she's getting senile. Right now, I'm perfectly content to snuggle up with my 35 pound fur baby who, barring any emergency surgeries, will probably cost me less than $10,000 to raise. At that rate, I can adopt a second!

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