Every so often some researcher whips out his calculator and estimates how much it takes to raise a child today. I suspect that this exercise is some sort of subtle pressure from the government to cut down on overpopulation, because the Department of Agriculture says it costs a libido-crushing $241,080 to raise each of our Special Snowflakes to age 18.
I hope you were sitting down for that.
And that’s just the average. In the urban Northeast, where I’m guessing they must eat gold leaf for breakfast, it can cost just shy of $450,000 to get a kid to his majority. True fact: they call it “majority” because when you’re done raising ‘em, the majority of your money is gone.
Are you sitting down now? Good. Lie down now and put a cool cloth on your forehead because that sum, extravagant as it is, doesn’t include the cost of college.
It does include expenses for housing, food, transportation, clothing, common health care, education and child care. I’m guessing that it doesn’t include line items that could hypothetically be incurred by unnamed children *coughteenagedboyscough* acting like bulls in a hypothetical, metaphorical china shop, line items that could hypothetically include, but wouldn’t be limited to:
…leaving the freezer open all night after a midnight snack attack resulting in a pile of melty food for someone who looks a lot like me to find at 5 a.m.;
…cranking up the refrigerator to the “coldest” setting and turning groceries into Arctic tundra, perhaps as bizarre compensation for ruining everything in the freezer;
… wandering off with all the bowls and salad plates for a science fair experiment, leaving that unnamed mom with an orphaned set of everyday dinnerware;
…turning down the air conditioning to 64 degrees on the hottest day of the year;
…playing light saber duels in the garage, spraining an ankle and winding up with The Copay From Hell at our friendly neighborhood urgent care. Bad enough that the admissions clerks shout “NORM!” when we limp in; now we have our own punch card: 10 X-rays and the 11th is free!
Oops. Did I say “we?”
But we can always turn to experts for help. CNN quoted a financial planner who teaches a money management class for new parents. He tells us not to panic, in that we are not alone and that people figure this stuff out.
He’s right, of course. I have this extra kidney sitting around doing nothing, for one thing. And there’s 56 hours I’m wasting on sleeping every week that could be repurposed into a second job. I’m just being lazy and selfish when the electric bill tops out at $400.
I think we’ve established that I shouldn’t be your go-to person for cost containment tips. People ask me for input all the time, though, which is still one of the biggest mysteries of my life as I do not see how anyone could look at me banging my head against my bank account and think, “Why, yes! That insane woman over there certainly has her act together. I believe I’ll ask her how I should raise my precious offspring!”
Well, you can always ask. I may have to start charging, though.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.