Vol. 108 March 1, 2014 Health Care Costs Are Only 8% Of It


“First comes love,
then comes marriage,
and then a baby in the baby carriage”
– The K-I-S-S-I-N-G Song, an American rhyme


It may be the grey, sunless days and the periodic, repeated snowfalls, but this will be my second “Debbie Downer” blog this month. My last one displaced the magic and mystery of love with the blood levels of specific hormones and internal chemicals. This one shines a harsh light on one of the most cherished objects in the world, a new-born baby.

“If prospective parents were to tally the cost of having a baby before they conceived, the U.S. population would undoubtedly suffer a serious decline. Just consider: According to a 2010 USDA report, the average middle-income family will spend roughly $12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life.”

How much does a new baby cost the first year?

Diapers:   320 diapers a month @ 25 cents = $960/yr.
Clothes:   $1000 (new sizes every 3 months!)
Formula:   $35 a week or $1820/yr. (or $150 for an electric breast pump)
Solid food after 4-6 months:   $4 a day or $1100/yr.
Lotions, oils, powders:   $240/yr.
Baby Gear:   $400 to $2700 (lots of consumer discretion in this category)
Furniture:   $2000
Babysitting/Daycare:   $2,000-$22,000 (Average full-time Massachusetts day care center is $15,000/yr.)
Other:    $15,200 …what’s other?… new car, renovate the nursery, health insurance, life insurance, legal will, new house, dog training,…
TOTAL  = $12,000 – $30,000!

Want to calculate it for your self?

In the UK their estimate is up to 9000 pounds ($15,860) for the first year. Presumably that does not include data from the royal family or friends. One articulate UK blogger, a commoner I am sure and a self-labeled “cheapskate”, wrote how she did it for 1000 pounds using eBay, flea markets, a nearby real nanny ( the child’s grandmother), and our equivalent of BJ’s,  Home Depot, and Building 19.

So here’s the commercial tag line:
pregnancy and pre-natal care –       $3000
first year baby costs –                         $12,000 – $30,000
baby girl or baby  boy –                      PRICELESS
(I couldn’t find any figures of costs by different gender, but I suspect there may be a difference…enough said.)

Of course, the first year is just the start.
According to the U.S. Dept of Agriculture the first 18 years costs an average of $241,080. That excludes tuitions (pre-school through college), but does include vacations, computers, and other expensive equipment like hockey pads. As you would expect, there are wide regional differences; $143,000 in rural U.S. to $446,000 in urban Northeast.  8% or $20,000 will go to  health care.

In the UK the equivalent estimates are over 200,000 pounds ($334,872) for 21 years; 177,706 pounds ($297,543) in the cheapest West Midlands and 220,769 pounds ($ 370,000) in London.

In the U.S. the 2013 average college costs (tuition plus all else) per year was $22,826 at state colleges and $44,750 per yr. at private colleges. If that seems low to some of you, you are right. The tuition alone at Columbia University last year was $48,081.

How do we do it? We adjust. We go out less for dinner and drinks (plus we need the sleep), we have more staycations (plus we want to avoid those dog sitting fees), we drive our cars further and longer, and, of course, both parents work full-time.

It is not easy. Thank God for selective amnesia. If mothers and arctic explorers did not have it, we would never have more than one child per family nor a history of repeated expeditions to reach the North Pole.

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