The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

April 21, 2014

The Color of Money: You’d better budget for that baby

When I was having my first child, my friends and family were very concerned.

Knowing my penny pincher nature, they weren’t sure I would buy much of anything for my newborn. So they threw me a shower. I received some wonderful and very thoughtful gifts.

But you know what?

Most of the clothes and items were barely used. My baby girl -- born 19 years ago this month -- grew so quickly I couldn’t get her into the outfits fast enough. Some she only wore once or twice. Expensive educational toys were ignored in favor of jingling car keys or the cardboard boxes the items came in. Gadgets and products that promised to make it easier to care for my baby often just got in the way. 

I’m saying all this because if you’re expecting, focus your finances on the big-ticket items, such as day care. Consider this sobering news from the U.S. Agriculture Department, which releases an annual report on the cost of raising a child. A middle-income family with a child born in 2012 with an income between $60,640 and $105,000 can expect to spend about $241,080 until the child is 17 for food, shelter and other necessities. For a family earning less than $60,640, expect to spend $173,490. A family earning more than $105,000 can expect to spend $399,780. 

After the cost of putting a roof over the head of your child, the next biggest expenses you will face are for care and education, including baby-sitting, day care, books, fees and supplies, and if you send your child to private school the cost of elementary and high school tuition.

The average annual cost of care for an infant in a day care center can range from $4,863 in Mississippi to $16,430 in Massachusetts, according to a report last year by Child Care Aware of America. Depending on your state, the average cost of full-time care for an infant in a day care center ranges from 7 percent to about 19 percent of the state median income for a married couple with children, the report adds. In 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, the average annual cost for an infant in center-based care was higher than a year’s tuition and fees at a four-year public college, according to the organization.

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