I work with numbers for my day job, so sometimes, it bleeds over into other things. Like when I think of my children.
I love my children, I truly do. But sometimes, I feel selfish for having them. I feel like children are really only for the very wealthy or those willing to make a lot of sacrifices for them.
Once, there wasn’t the same choice about having children. You either abstained entirely, or you had the number of children you did. And that was that.
Now, children are a choice. At least in my part of the world they are.
And children are expensive.
You either have to quit working (loss of an income) or pay for childcare. Children under two years old cost approximately $300 per week for care in my area. Over two and it slowly edges down each year to approximately $225 per week right before they start kindergarten.
Unless you are fortunate enough to have parent willing to watch your children, this is going to be a significant expense during their younger years.
Then comes after-school care, sports, trips to Washington DC, etc. Also, remember you are still going to be paying for summer care. Here in the US, that’s twelve weeks of care, not counting the four weeks of holidays sprinkled throughout the rest of the year.
Care is expensive.
This is by far our largest expense, and while it is brutal, I as a parent, I make it so that my kids get the care they deserve. These younger years are so important.
Still working on sacrificing my video game, though.
Finally, they turn eighteen, and you have no more legal obligation or control over them. They are an adult and you hope and pray you have done your job and raised a good person.
Except, that’s when they hit you with one of the biggest bills yet.
Can you tell I recently got my Edvest statement? I’ve been saving for each of my children since they had a social security number for me to open an account in their name, and I still don’t have enough for saved for either of them to pay for a single year at a state school.
And it baffles me why parents are expected to pay for their kids’ college at this point.
Not a little additional something. Not just lodging or food. The whole, entire thing.
How is it that a separate, legal adult’s financial aid is based on their parent’s income? A separate, legal adult whose parents can’t see their grades or medical history? Can’t even see their kids finances because their child is an adult?
Shouldn’t financial aid be based on the adult applying for admission’s income at the time? Or the future income that they expect to earn from whatever degree they’re seeking?
Besides, as many people will tell you, their parents income is no barometer for their parents willingness to spend that income on their children’s schooling. Particularly when that schooling costs more than a new car each year.
Especially as many parents are now being asked to pay that at the same time the parents are approaching retirement themselves.
I have several women in my department who are working solely to help put their kids through school. These kids are lucky. One of the people in my department has a mountain of debt because she couldn’t get any financial aid because of her parents’ income, but they wouldn’t pay anything for her school once she turned eighteen.
We’ve chosen to buy a much smaller house and own our cars much longer just to afford daycare. We also opened college savings accounts for our daughters as soon as they were born. This seems ludicrous to me. How is it that so much is being dedicated to these handful of years of schooling? Why are they so expensive? Is the payback really there at this price?
By the time my daughters get to be college age, would they be better off working for a couple of years and taking the $250,000 a four year degree would cost them and starting their own business?
Interesting thing is I learned more working (and getting paid) my first year in the Big 4 than I did all four years at a very reputable college.
But I couldn’t have gotten that job without the degree and mountain of debt that came with it.
My spouse and I had a long talk about it, and we will save what we can for our children. But in the end, it will have to be their choice and their cost.
They will get what is in their savings account. When that is gone, the rest will be on them.
If they choose to take advanced placement classes in high school, and take those classes seriously, we won’t ask them to work. Placing well on those exams will be worth far more to them than what they would make at a part time job.
It’s a really hard decision, but I see no other way. We can only give them so much, sacrifice so much. We love them dearly, but it does drive home the point that we have a very broken education system when parents have to spend a lifetime saving and it’s still not enough.