Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winning Numbers

Holy crap. Have you heard how much it costs to raise a kid these days?

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion released a report this year showing a middle-income family with a child born in 2008 will spend about $221,000 raising that kid through age 17. Housing is the top expense, followed by food and child care costs.

That’s just the cost for ONE kid.

NOT including college.

Oh yeah, and that figure RISES to roughly $292,000 when adjusted for inflation.

Those of you already in the throes of parenting, are probably all too familiar with this (in my eyes) alarming figure. But for folks like me who are just starting to contemplate having a nugget, a quarter of a million bucks might just be enough to say screw it, let’s play Powerball instead. It’s depressing, no?

SuperFutureDad and I fall into the abysmal category of middle-income America – barely. We certainly don’t make enough to enjoy a life where we don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck. It’s an ugly gray zone where nights out at the movies are nixed, gym memberships are dropped, and having an emergency cash fund is laughable. This is not to say that our life is perk-free. We are thankful we both have jobs, cars that run, tv and internet, and food on the table every night. Heck, with the help of a credit card, we can even buy plane tickets to go see my family for Christmas. But our overall financial situation is not about to change anytime soon.

Here’s why: In terms of earning potential, I picked the wrong profession. Although I love my job (and believe me, I DO!), I will never make money doing it. To be fair, unless you are in the ranks of Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer or one of those loud-mouthed cable network news nutjobs, people like me never will. And to be clear, I am not pointing fingers at my employer. As I see it, this is an industry-wide issue and no single business is to blame for low pay.

But frankly, I’m bitter – and worried – about what my career choice means for my future family. I feel I’ve worked hard (and continue to do so) to be able to earn a certain amount of money. I busted my butt in college; earned a Master’s degree in graduate school. For most people, these achievements translate into a bigger paycheck. Not me. And for that, my family will suffer and I, already, feel guilty.

My dream, along with millions of other Americans, has always been to give my children a better life than my parents gave me. However, with what it costs to raise a kid and my financial prospects, the likelihood of this happening ranks right up there with me buying a winning ticket.

“Hey honey, what are our Powerball numbers, again?”


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