No. of Recommendations: 1
Could someone please write me up a detailed budget explaining the costs of children, and how much each additional child will cost?

Have no idea what our two kids cost each year--we have enough disposable income (and our tastes are simple enough, and we live in an area where the cost of living is low) that we pretty much do what we want. However, the initial cost of my son was 118 acres of land at Priest Lake, ID (long story); of my daughter, a 3.5-week trip around China after a year of getting all kinds of documents blessed by local, state, federal, and Chinese officials.

First I get "Then give up planning your retirement, each kid will throw that back at least 20 years", and then I get "Kids don't cost nearly as much as that guy says, he's crazy, you just have to be smart about it".

Our culture always seems to be looking for a simple explanation or answer for things that have none!

Kids, being human, cost about as much as any other human--which means it all depends. Personalities (of kids and parents), available money and time, environment, etc., all play into the equation. Some parents insist that their kids be involved in organized sports or music by age X; some parents are very strict about what their kids eat; etc. You can get wonderful second-hand clothing and toys for very little money (although a large box will still be the favorite toy of most kids). Vacations can be extravagant or frequent picnics at nearby points of interest. While some schools are exceptionally bad or good, parental involvement is generally much more critical than the school. What is important to you and your spouse? What do your parents and siblings think--and how much will that play into your decisions?

Absolutely plan! Use your experiences growing up, observe what others do, ask questions (like you have on this board) to come up with your best guess on how things will work. As with all planning, note best/worst/most likely cases, plan for some contingencies, give it your best shot, and then rework the plan as needed. Planning for kids is no different from planning for anything else--you're trying to predict the future, and a large part of the value is in the planning process itself. Big difference is that when you do planning for you, you know something about you. A kid is a semi-unknown quantity for a number of years, although most kids tend to have personality traits similar to those of their parents (this should scare you about to death, regardless of how "good" or "bad" you were as a kid!!).

Some people swear that by having kids when you're young and having them out of the house by the time you're 35-40 is the only way to go. As an older parent (we were 36 and 37 when first kid came--he's 10 now), I can't imagine having had kids at 20 or 25--I would have been a terrible parent! True, we may never see grandkids if our kids wait as long as we did, but we felt it was more important to be ready to do a good job as parents. Do what seems best for you and then make it work.

Finally, be prepared to have to make some radical changes. While a medical condition is an obvious and expensive possibility, much more likely is the possibility that you, a careful, disciplined, planning type of person, will have to deal with a child who is not.

Sorry this isn't a nice, easy answer--others have provided some numbers, and better numbers can be found by you at your local stores, doctors' offices, schools, etc. Do your homework and figure out what you think will work for you.


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