First Person: Parenting Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Yahoo Contributor Network

I certainly agree that parenting can get pricey at times, but it doesn't have to be as bad as many make it out to be. According to MSN Money, "The current cost of raising a child is nearly $235,000 from birth to age 17 (add an additional $22,000 to $43,000 a year for public or private college). If that seems like a lot, it is. The Wall Street Journal says that number is closer to $900,000 when you factor in college and foregone wages for staying home to raise our children; others argue that it's over $1 million."

Personally, our own family finds a variety of ways to keep our kid-related costs to a minimum, and in the process, we still do plenty of things with our kids and spend tons of time with them. So shelling out more cash doesn't necessarily equate to greater quality parenting.

Housing is huge

The MSN Money article that I mentioned reports that nearly a third of that $235,000 it costs to raise a child is related to housing according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It goes on to note that, "That wasn't always the case, says Caplan. "If you look at the types of homes that people lived in during the 1950s, we'd consider them shacks," he says. "Today people just live in nicer houses; standards have gone up."

Also new? The idea that every kid should have his own bedroom. "In the baby boom era, four kids per room was normal," he adds. "Now people consider that unacceptable.""

Well, that doesn't have to be the case. In our situation, even with two children, we downsized from a larger, more expensive single family home to a smaller condo in which things like property taxes, utilities, and home maintenance costs were reduced and we can live mortgage free. It saves over $1,500 a month, and amazingly, we make it work and the kids share a room without killing one another.

Food costs don't have to soar

According to MSN Money's article, "Americans have consistently spent more and more at restaurants, with the average consumer dishing out more than $2,500 a year for this convenience."

Dear lord! Our entire food budget for our family of four is only about $3,600 a year. How do we keep it so low? Well, we shop at discount grocers like Aldi and Walmart, and we adhere to a food plan to help us maximize our purchases and reduce waste.

Childcare, and transportation

It can be a tough call when trying to decide how to tackle the issue of childcare. Deciding to stay home with the kids can have all sorts of sort and long-term career repercussions, but it can also save a lot of money.

Through my being able to work from home, not only do we save about $12,000 a year on childcare costs, but we cut another $3,000 to $5,000 from our transportation budget, which makes a huge difference in our overall family expenses.

So while parenting can certainly be expensive, with certain moves, it doesn't necessarily have to be as expensive as the statistics make it out to be.

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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.


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