Raising a child is more expensive than ever, and raising a child as a divorcee can cost even more than average. In 2013, the Department of Agriculture released the results of a study that revealed a projected child-raising cost of almost a quarter of a million dollars for middle income families. That figure, while varied across the country, is an astounding 1.7 percent increase from just the year before.
That number covers the average cost of raising one healthy child from birth to the time they are 18, meaning that the per-year cost per child is $13,630. That number goes down for parents’ additional children because expenses are shared between the kids, but it increases significantly if the child is sick, has a mental or physical disability, or even has a well-known allergy.
While many divorced parents are required to pay child support, the payments hardly make up for the costs the “Expenditures on Children by Families” study anticipates. The average monthly cost of child support is $430. That’s $5,160 per year, only 38 percent of the purported average cost of a child. What’s more, significantly less than half of custodial moms and dads receive the full amount of child support due to them, meaning deadbeat parents everywhere are spending beaucoups bucks they don’t legally deserve, bucks that could be spent on things like birthday parties and snowboarding lessons.
Even if a child is healthy, there are still many costs associated with child-rearing. The average cost of a child in his first year of life, just to give you a taste, is $1,297 out of pocket, according to a recent report. This does not include stuff covered by insurance.
Additional healthcare costs per capita for the kiddos after their first year are on the rise as well, and they add up in surprising ways. For example, in 2010, use of prescription drugs that affect the central nervous system (i.e., anti-depressants, ADHD, and anti-anxiety treatment) rose by 10 percent in children ages 9-18, and were at a gasp-worthy average of one-per-insured child for children 14-18.
In a terrifying and disheartening article, CNN Money enumerated several oft-overlooked costs of raising a child, including birthdays. Not only are parents expected to throw birthday parties for their own children, they are expected to attend the birthday parties of others… with a gift in hand. Let’s say your kindergartner has 24 little munchkins in his class, and of those 24, 12 have birthday parties. Now, let’s say mom or dad is expected to pay somewhere around $10 per kid (and that is generously cheap, according to parents’ responses to a Berkeley survey). That’s $120. Now, let’s add your cousins’ kids. Let’s say there are 5, and you want them to be close to your sweet baby child, so you spend about $25 on each second cousin, bringing the total to $225. Add a $2-4 card to each, and you get $30-$60 added to your yearly total. Wrap the present ($2 each), add a bow ($3 each), and use your gas to get to and from the party (who knows). That’s over $360, and that’s lowballing it for just the first kid, and it doesn’t include the goodie bags and decorations you’ll dole out for their own parties. It also doesn’t include Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Valentine’s Day, Holi, Easter, Kwanzaa, Flag Day, President’s Day, International Peanut Butter Day… oh wait, that’s getting out of hand. In short, generosity is expensive, and many divorced parents go it alone.
In this same category lies the costs of helping your kid be active and social at the same time. Extracurricular activities like drama and sports require equipment fees, costume and uniform fees, registration fees, transportation fees, entrance fees (for you to watch the game or the show), the cost of hot dogs, Cokes, and popcorn while you’re there, and sometimes (but hopefully not) medical expenses. In addition, you are required to support your child in their endeavor to be popular so they can go to more birthday parties. Trips to the movies cost an average of $8.38 (which, if you ask me, is scoff-worthily low), and IMAX and 3D movies have a $3-5 surcharge.
Trips to the mall cost some parents unspeakable amounts of money. Try this 2014 statistic on for size: the total annual income for teens in the United States is $91.1 billion. The total amount spent on teens per year was $258.7 billion. Math says (drumroll please) non-teens (read: parents) spent $167.6 billion on teens in the United States in 2014. That’s almost twice as much.
What do those numbers tell us? They tell us that raising a kid is really expensive, whether you’re shelling out money for trips to the mall and movies or paying endless medical bills. Chances are, some extra cash will help your cause and you may be considering selling your diamond(s) to put more cash aside for your very deserving offspring.