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. For those with kids that figure leads to wild fantasies about all the things we could have bought, all the places we could have traveled, all the money we could have banked if not for (insert child's name here). For others, that number might confirm the decision to remain childless.
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 $24.44 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's just the opposite.
There's no way to put a price tag on:
- Feeling a new life move for the first time and seeing the bump
of a knee rippling across your stomach.
- Having someone cry, "It's a boy!" or shout, "It's a girl!" then
hearing the baby wail and knowing all that matters is it's healthy.
- Counting all 10 fingers and toes for the first time.
- Feeling the warmth of fat cheeks against your breast.
- Cupping an entire head in the palm of your hand.
- Making out da da or ma ma from all the cooing and gurgling.
What do you 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 rain.
- 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, handprints set in clay for Mother's Day and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.