Wisegeek.com estimates the average family will spend $11,000 each year to raise a child from birth to high school graduation. Bankrate.com breaks out annual expenditures that include child care, a bigger car, a bigger home, plus $600 a year for education (a figure I know is laughable considering the costs of private schools in San Francisco). After taxes, not including the costs of a college education, Bankrate’s grand total is $190,528.
This is a ginormous amount of money.
$190,528 equals 19 cycling tours around Tuscany for me and my fiancé or 1,524 dinners at our favorite French bistro or 15,877 visits to the corner coffee shop for mochas and croissants.
Now I know $190,528 is not going to drop out of the heavens and into my bank account, but if I had kids, I would “find” that money. Wouldn’t you? I would work an extra job, streamline my holiday shopping list, cut back on nonessentials, become more diligent about investing. And this got me thinking about what I’m doing—or not doing—with my childfree money.
Instead of funding participation in the soccer league, I could be learning how to sail. Instead of supporting an 8th grade class trip to Washington DC over spring break, I could be planning my own off-season visit to the Smithsonian. Instead of covering room, board, tuition, and pizza, I could return to college for an advanced degree in art history or learn how to play the ukulele, make sushi, and become fluent in Italian.
Kind of fun to think about the possibilities, isn’t it?
Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is learning to embrace her childfree status.