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The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition. But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into $8,896.66 a year, $741.38 a month,or $171.08 a week. That's a mere $24.24 a day! Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice says don't have children if you want to be "rich." It is just the opposite. What do your get for your $160,140?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jam.
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites, building
sandcastles, and skipping down the sidewalk in the pouring
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with no matter what the boss
said or how your stocks performed that day.
* For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to
finger-paint, carve pumpkins, play hide-and-seek, catch
lightning bugs, and never stop believing in Santa Claus.
* You have an excuse to keep: reading the Adventures of Piglet and
Pooh, watching Saturday morning cartoons, going to Disney movies,
and wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator
magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas,
hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward
letters for Father's Day.
* For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck.
* You get to be a hero just for retrieving a Frisbee off the
garage roof, taking the training wheels off the bike, removing
a splinter, filling a wading pool, coaxing a wad of gum out of
bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always
gets treated to ice cream regardless.
* You get a front row seat to history to witness the first step,
first word, first bra, first date, and first time behind the
* You get to be immortal.
* You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're
lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called
* You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice,
communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.
* In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there with God.
* You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters
under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party,
ground them forever, and love them without limits, so one day
they will, like you, love without counting the cost.
And THAT my fine Fools is my best investment ever...because in the end it doesn't matter how big your bank account, house or car is... what REALLY matters is the difference you make in the life of a child!
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