Saving on raising good kids - The Buffalo News
print logo

Saving on raising good kids

My kids are lucky they’re so cute, because they’re going to be expensive.

It will cost the average middle-income family $245,340 to raise a child born in 2013 until he or she turns 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Is it too late to back out? Nah, I’m kidding. They’re worth every penny. Except for that penny I caught Sloane trying to shove into her sister’s ear. That one I’d like to take back.

Adjusting for expected inflation, raising junior will cost a whopping $304,480. And that doesn’t even include college. College could double the price tag, depending on where they go to school.

Let’s see if we can shave a few thousand dollars off that figure.

Food. Let your kids help you cook. Food cooked at home is much cheaper than takeout. And not only will your kids learn how to be self sufficient, they’ll be more likely to eat a meal they helped create, which reduces waste. Kids who eat dinner with family are also statistically happier and better behaved, which is worth more than its weight in gold.

Health Care expenses. Cutting out the junk food will help with medical bills, too. Children who eat the proper amount of fruits and vegetables tend to have higher immunity, meaning fewer doctor visits and fewer co-pays. Bigger savings will come in adult life, when your lucky kid gets to skip the diabetes drugs and coronary stents.

Housing. Go small and go home. The average house in America is 2,349 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than double the size of the average house in the 1950s, even though people are having fewer children. People lived in one-bathroom houses with three kids per bedroom and guess what – they did just fine. So can you.

A smaller house means lower utility bills, a smaller mortgage payment and lower property taxes. Plus, you won’t have to buy as much furniture or decor to fill up all that extra space.

Transportation. Buy used cars and drive them to death. A new car loses 11 percent of its value the minute you drive it off the lot. After the first year, it will have depreciated an average of 19 percent. Do you think a car is roughly 20 percent less reliable after a year on the road? Then why are you paying 20 percent more for a brand new one?

Clothing expenses. What’s the difference between a pair of True Religion jeans and a pair without a designer label? About $198.

At some point in life, we all (hopefully) realize how silly it is to pay more for a label when there is no difference in quality. Help them understand that sooner than later, by requiring them to pay for designer labels themselves.

Child care and education. The going rate for babysitting is $10 per hour right now, according to If you can trade babysitting duties with a friend (I’ll watch yours, you watch mine) for even one hour a week, you can save nearly $7,000 by the time they turn 13.

Miscellaneous. This includes personal care and entertainment. You may not know what the hottest, “must-have” item will be in 2028, but you don’t need a crystal ball to know that it will exist and your kid will want it.

Start practicing now to get a better handle on their expectations and appetites. Don’t overindulge. Help them understand the difference between needs and wants. Emphasize experience over things. Help them cultivate contentment outside material things.


There are no comments - be the first to comment