Your little bundle of joy is going to require a wad of cash.
The cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 has surged 25 percent over the last 10 years, due largely to the rising cost of groceries and medical care, according to theDepartment of Agriculture, which tracks annual expenditures on children by families.
The government’s most recent annual report reveals a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend roughly $227,000 for food, shelter and other expenses necessary to raise that child — $287,000 when you factor in projected inflation.
And, no, the bill does not include the cost of college or anything related to the pregnancy and delivery.
“If you sat down to tally up the total cost of having children, you’d never have them,” says Timothy Knotts, a father of four and a certified financial planner with The Hogan-Knotts Financial Group in Red Bank N.J. “It’s a very expensive adventure.”
Talk about a life-changing event. That's a lot of vacations, clothing, and restaurant dinners you may no longer enjoy.
Ultimately, of course, the decision on whether or not to expand your family has little to do with dollar signs.
For most prospective parents, kids are the central priority around which all other lifestyle decisions get made — career moves, housing choices, where to live.
Because of its financial impact, however, it’s wise to begin planning for parenthood as early as possible, says Matthew Saneholtz, a certified financial adviser with Tobias Financial Advisors in Plantation, Fla.
“You don’t want to get too hung up on whether you’re ready financially, because no one is ever really ready and it works out in the end, but you do want to think about how you see that first year with a new baby,” he says.
Among the first issues you'll want to address:
- Will you both return to work or will one of you quit to care for the child?
- Does your employer offer maternity or paternity benefits?
- Are you going to need a bigger car?
- How much will your health insurance premiums climb after baby makes three?
You won’t necessarily have control over the process, but you should also discuss how many children you’d like to have and when you’d like to have them, as that affects the timeline for getting your financial house in order.
Ideally, says Saneholtz, you should pay off your credit cards and put retirement savings on autopilot before you welcome a baby.
The four-bedroom house with a fully equipped nursery can wait.