The Cost of Kids

In my column today I look at the Fraser Institute’s study on the cost of raising kids.

While others like MoneySense have reported that it costs nearly a cool quarter-million to bring a kid up to age 18 — that’s more than $12,000 a year — the Fraser Institute pegs the cost at a much lower $3,000-$4,500 per year.

The numbers are so different that it’s striking. The Fraser Institute factors in a whole lot less than MoneySense – including housing and, controversially, child care.

So how much does it really cost? It’s difficult to say, and it’s probably kind of pointless to try, really.

The Fraser Institute is a conservative, right-leaning organization, and as I say in my column, I question their motives for underselling the cost of kids. But I agree with one of their points: we shouldn’t make out that it costs a small fortune to raise a kid well.

It’s foolish not to consider money at all when planning and raising a family, but it’s equally as dangerous to give money too much power in our lives.

Back in 2009 I left my job shortly after I found out we had two more kids on the way. From a money-first perspective, choosing to be unemployed in the midst of a recession was nuts, to put it mildly.

I was helped along in this decision by the fact that my company was in the midst of layoffs, and I was fairly certain that when the game of seniority musical chairs ended, I would be out of a job anyway. But I chose to jump first, because after my wife and I talked about it we realized it might be the best thing for us.

I’ve shared this story here before. I have never once regretted the way things worked out, and I can’t even imagine how we would have navigated that hairy, life-changing year if I was also working full-time. I was needed at home. And it all worked out. For 15 months we did just fine on a combination of freelance work, a modest buyout and a few months of paternal leave benefits. Was it scary having four kids and no full-time job? Sometimes. But it was also one of the most memorable seasons of my life.

Raising a family requires sacrifices; there’s no two ways about it. We change our lifestyles. We find ways to make it work. So be wise about finances, but don’t let the bottom line dictate how you raise your family.

You don't have to be the richest duck in Duckburg to afford a family.

You don’t have to be the richest duck in Duckburg to afford a family.

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