How Much Does Having a Kid Really Cost?

Every payday, it hits me that as sweet little balls of sunshine my daughters are, they’re also savage little income suckers who drain our checkbook dry.

I don’t feel like we spoil them, but there are those little things like soccer leagues and doctor appointment co-pays that feast like vultures on the last remnants daycare, food and diapers leave behind.

It’s not surprising that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual "Expenditures on Children by Families," which was recently released, a child born in 2010 will cost his or her parents $226,920 over the next 17 years.

The main expenditures reported by the USDA included housing, child care, education, and food. However, I wonder how closely they analyzed those little things that really take the bite out of our budgets. The items at age 20 you never, ever thought you’d be spending your hard earned dollars on:

That one regrettable (baby) outfit. You try to be good about hitting the discount stores for your little ones, because we all know a spanking new onesie is a filth magnet. But then one day, you’re flipping through a catalog and come across justthecutestbabyoutfitever! It’s not something you would usually buy – maybe it’s a six-piece sailor suit or Lederhosen – and it costs as much as your wedding dress, but Junior would look so cute in it, you just can’t resist.

It’s this one time, you tell yourself. It will be perfect for family pictures, and we’ll be really, really careful.

However, the second he puts it on, a Slurpee machine will arise from the depths of Hell and summon him to swan dive into the icy cherry-colored goodness. Of which he does. Because toddlers can’t stand up to peer pressure – especially from the devil.

Indirect costs. Since having kids, investing in the following “non-essential” items on a regular basis have eaten away my RV-for-retirement fund: concealer, dry shampoo, batteries, chiropractor appointments, track pants, Resolve carpet cleaner, batteries, Tide to Go, Color Wonder markers, batteries, fruit snacks – both organic and preservative-laden (depending on how desperate I am that day), Happy Meals, barrettes, and batteries. Did I mention batteries?

Pop culture-swathed merchandise. I have two girls, so Disney princesses infiltrate 95% of all household goods we own – flashlights, sippy cups, lawn chairs, enema bags. No matter how unnecessary or mediocre the good might be, as long as it has Hannah Montana or Elmo embellished on it, the kiddos are drawn to it. (“No, MJ, you do not need a shirtless Justin Bieber cell phone cover. Why? Because you’re four, and you don’t have a cell phone. He’s also shirtless. The cashier will think I’m a pervert.”)

I grew up in the time of New Kids on the Block. I get how pop culture and capitalism converge. But even Danny, Donnie, Jordan, Jon and Joey would be shocked by the obscene amount of Bieber merchandise that catches my daughter’s eye.

The replacement of everything you and your significant other own. Look no further than S**t My Kids Ruined to know your child will destroy every material possession you hold dear. Before you even think of procreating, it’s imperative to set up a repair/replace savings account to prepare for the onslaught.

My recent casualties of war have included my grandmother’s antique bowl, my iPhone (I will forever be haunted by the crack of my screen on the sidewalk and the accompanying chorus of “Ohhhhhh s**t….” from a group of dads at the playground) and our carpet (pink nail polish spilled by my 4-year-old; red nail polish spilled by me when jumping up to admonish the 4-year-old for spilling pink nail polish on the carpet).

Let’s face it. Kids are greedy, expensive, dirty little human beings. But with one smile, one thank you, one hug, they earn every last cent of that $226,920. Even while wearing a Slurpee-stained white lace dress and wrestling in a Teddy Graham-imbedded carpet.

By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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