If you're about to get married, are married, are pregnant, or want your girlfriend or wife to be pregnant, or want to be pregnant, or are thinking about having children now or sometime in the future, you might be wondering, how much does a child cost?
The answer is: it depends. The question—that is, how much does a child cost?—has multiple answers because there are multiple variables to consider before having children. It certainly would also help if you first researched the cheapest places to live.
Most people, when they ask, How much does a child cost?, are thinking of terms of money. That is, these people are wondering how much a hospital will cost, how much a midwife might cost, how much food is going to cost for a given year, how much medical expenses over a lifetime are going to cost, how much college educations or vocational training are going to cost, etc., etc.
The truth is, the cost of a child goes way beyond money. The real answer to the question is this: a child costs you yourself.
That's right: you are the cost.
When you decide to have a child, you've made a commitment to another being for the next 18 years or so. Are you ready to make such a commitment? Are you willing to raise the child according to loving, disciplined (but not punitive) principles? Are you really willing to give up areas of your own life to fulfill the needs of a child?
Children aren't pets, mind you. They're not like a goldfish that just needs to be fed once a day. A child needs love and attention. Daily. Constantly.
And along with these things come other things, too, like food, shelter, toys, books, medical exams—the works.
It's not cheap. On average, a child born in the 60s cost his or her parents, in terms of modern-day dollars, $100,000 or so, from the child's inception to his or her eighteenth year.
And with our economy the way that it is, and with things going the way that they're going, the monetary price of having a child is going to go up. And up. And up.
In addition, and perhaps even more formidably, the emotional costs of having a child are going to go up.
Consider, too, the following before having a child:
• Is there the possibility that you might go through a divorce sometime in the future? If so, and if you have children, you (and this especially applies to men) might end up paying hefty amounts of child support.
• Does your family have a history of certain medical issues or problems? If, say, cystic fibrosis runs in your family, be aware that you might inadvertently be passing this fatal disease on to your children. Diseases like cystic fibrosis not only take a toll on the finances of a family, they also take heavy emotional tolls as well.
• Are you willing to allow your child to be educated in the public school system, a system that has been failing its students for decades and that has become more and more corrupt these past few years? If you answered no, then keep in mind that private schools, while providing excellent education, can also be cost-prohibitive. (A good alternative to public schools and private schools is homeschooling. But keep this in mind: homeschooling costs not so much money as it does time. Are you willing to spend that time accordingly, should you choose the homeschooling route?)
All in all, having a child and raising a child are going to cost you well over $100,000 in an 18-year span. If you're committed to the financial aspects of this, and, more important, the emotional ones, your own answer to the question—namely, How much does a child cost?—will more than outstrip any of the negatives in having or raising a child.