Food - they claim it costs me 2000 dollars per year per child. Well, no wonder the little rugrats are always whining that they are hungry - I'm only spending about 1200.
Housing - 14,000 dollars a year per child? When we lived in a house perfectly adequate for up to 4 kids (and we fit in 5 and could have stayed there with 6 if we wanted to), we were paying approximately 30K a year for housing, for all of us. That comes to 5000 dollars per person. But this study has each child costing us 14,000 a year? You know, there is no law that says each kid needs his own bedroom. And, really, the broom closet can be quite cosy for a tot. (Ha! Ha! Joke! All you Anonymous-es, calm down!)
Transportation - We spend a max of 6000 dollars a year on transportation, including maintenance, insurance, and gas (and even less if I can convince Larry to stop making us drive up to Maine every year - relatives, shmelatives...). Amortize the value of our minivans over 10 years, if you like, and that doesn't even get the total up to 10,000 dollars. So I cannot even begin to figure out where they get their figure of over 13,000 dollars a year per child. Does each child get a personal chauffeur, perhaps? The only thing really expensive about children and transportation is when they learn to drive. But I'd rather not think about that.
I don't have time to look at the figures for clothing, miscellaneous, education closely right now - but judging how far off the other estimates were, I don't have too much faith in them. Just trust me - it needn't cost you a quarter million dollars a year to raise each child. I mean, unless you want it to...
How To Raise Kids on the Cheap
1. Expensive birthday parties for elementary-aged children are not only unnecessary, but foolish. Remember, child expenditures only increase with age. If you spend 300 dollars on an 8-year-old's birthday party, you are doomed to spend at least double that amount on that same child's 13th birthday.
2. Do not spend good money on ballet/ice skating/tap dance/soccer/ice hockey lessons when the child is little. There's nothing quite so disheartening as taking out a second mortgage on the house to finance dance class just to watch your precious princess pick her nose and wipe the boogers on the ballet barre. Whatever they can learn at 5, they can learn way more quickly at 10 or 11, no matter what the money-hungry ballet school tries to tell you.
3. Don't buy them Happy Meals (gasp!) - you can get them a dollar double cheeseburger and a small fry (and water, because you are mean) for less money. Isn't that great? Even we penny pinchers can poison our children like the rich folk do. If the kid cries, eat half his fries. He won't try that again.
4. Don't buy stupid toys. And nearly all toys are stupid. Duplos, Legos, and some stuffed bears or dolls are plenty. Actually, you need buy only one stuffed animal; as we all know, these things multiply on their own. Any other toy you buy will end up sitting around unused, while your little darlings roll around on the floor and whine that they are bored.
5. Keep those expectations low. Remind your children, for years in advance, about how they are going to receive a brand-new bicycle when they turn 16. Repeat the words, "I'm not made of money, you know," ad nauseam. (You can vary that with an occasional "Money doesn't grow on trees!") Scatter community college and public university brochures about the house as they enter their teens. And, for heaven's sakes, encourage them to elope.