First Person: Calculating the Cost of Having a Third Child

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With the slow economy, many people have delayed starting a family. My husband and I put off the conversation about whether we would want to have a third child or adopt until the economy improved.

Unfortunately, the economy may never improve to our satisfaction. Still, we had the conversation about how much it could cost to budget for a third child.

According to an article by CNBC, the cost of raising a child has increased by 25 percent in the last decade. When inflation is factored in, a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 would likely spend $287,000. Even without inflation, I expect a third child would cost us about twice as much.

Paying for baby years

No one can be sure how much higher the price of diapers will soar after a chemical plant explosion in Japan. The factory produces a key ingredient in disposable diapers. I used cloth diapers for my first two children, but that wasn't cheap.

Having a third child later in life means having to buy all new clothes, baby cribs and supplies. After talking with friends about how much money they spend on baby diapers, clothing, toys, furniture and food, I estimate it would cost us about $50,000 to get through the "baby years."

Buying a larger home

In order to accommodate a third child, my husband and I would have to upsize our current home. Considering we paid about $65,000 more for our home than it's worth today, we would be selling at a lost. We estimate we'd need a home that is about 400-square-feet larger than our current home with one additional bedroom. If we bought a 2,200-square-foot 5-bedroom home in our area, we'd have to pay about $30,000 more than what we would get for our house. That's assuming we could find a bargain short sale. Between our $65,000 negative equity and $30,000 higher price, we'd be $95,000 in the hole.

Paying for college tuition

If we want our third child to attend college, we'd have to start a massive college-savings plan. Some of my friends save $500 a month because they anticipate the cost of college skyrocketing. According to another article by CNBC, in 18 years, college will cost between $41,000 and $130,000 per year, depending if our child attends a state or private university.

Although it's difficult to get an accurate idea of exactly how much a third child would cost us, we know it means higher health care premiums, childcare costs and a countless hidden costs. Like many couples in the middle-income bracket, my husband and I have decided that a small family works best for us with these difficult economic times. If we lived during simpler times when all a parent had to do was grow a bigger garden, we'd move forward on having a third child. Instead, I just admire those who embrace having a bigger family no matter what the cost of plastic diapers.

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More from this contributor:

At Any Cost, Raising a Child is a Bargain

Government Drives up Childcare Costs

High Cost of Downsizing

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