Affording Children

In my last post, I mentioned some famous families with multiple children. Now, having your own reality TV show provides a pretty decent income. But how do ordinary large families cover the costs of so many kids?According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average middle-class, two-parent household will spend about $226,920 raising a child from birth to age 18. So parents who plan on putting their child through college can expect the cost to increase to about $290,000. Of course, these numbers will vary, depending on your income, marital status, locations, and spending habits. Baby Center has a nifty cost calculator that will estimate how much your child will cost, depending on these factors. But no matter what your financial statuses are, the bottom line is that raising children is expensive. So, if one child (including college) costs nearly $300,000. That means caring for 5 kids through college is close to $1,500,000. And if you’re really ambitious like the Duggar or Bates families, then this number jumps to nearly $5,700,000! Now, “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Eestimates of Work-Life Earnings” reports that the average high school graduate will earn about $1.2 million in their lifetime. Yes, this number increases as your education increases: bachelor’s degress are worth about $2.1 million, master’s degrees are aroun $2.5 million, Ph.D’s are worth around $3.4 million, and professional degrees will bring in about $4.4 million in a lifetime. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 84% of American adults have acquired a high school diploma and 26% of those graduates have gone on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher. That means that about 58% of American adults are only going to make about $1.2 million in their lifetime. Raising three kids would pretty much mean spending all your income as it comes in and not being able to put any away in savings. Having kids is a huge investment. But, authors Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernistine Gilbreth Carey would say that kids come Cheaper by the Dozen. The jist of this is that each subsequent child costs less than than previous one, which makes sense, if you’ve hopefully kept old baby clothes, bottles, cribs, toys, etc. Theoretically, if all but the oldest child are receiving hand-me-downs, then those children will cost less. Plus, families with many children tend to be more creative when living on a tighter budget, so when extra money rolls in, it’s easy to put it straight into savings.

What are the benefits of having many children when they cost so much money? Single people tend to be able to travel more and can afford bigger and better and newer cars, electronics, etc. for themselves. And yet so many people choose to have kids (or at least to keep their accidents) over a single-person’s carefree lifestyle. What do you think?


About Sarah Cordonier

I am a junior Television Journalism and International Studies Major at West Virginia University. I am currently taking Beginning Television Reporting and I plan on taking Advanced Television Reporting in the Spring, as a member of WVU News. Someday I would like to work abroad, as an overseas reporter.
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