Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Money February 15, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

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.

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9 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About Money”

  1. Lu Says:

    I always think about how much I’ve spent on infertility treatments and adoption fees – It’s nearly half that amount – and with no happy ending yet. grrrr.

  2. Kelly Says:

    This was just the kind of post I needed to see today, thank you for writing it!

  3. ebc Says:

    Love the perspective as usual!

  4. Mali Says:

    Those figures are always mind-boggling, aren’t they? I often tell friends who have kids at private school – when they are bemoaning the fact that it has been years since they’ve had a holiday – that our annual international trips are just the private school fees. It doesn’t always go down that well!!

  5. Kate B Says:

    Just this morning, I asked my husband how much the new dog bed cost. It was more than $100, but less than $200 – all he would tell me. My response was – we don’t have kids we need to spend the money on, so why not spoil the dog a bit. Okay a lot. But anyway – same idea. I fully intend to take the plus side of not being able to have children and use the money we would have spent on daycare, clothes, education, etc – and spend it on me, hubby and the dog.

  6. loribeth Says:

    Everyone is talking about how the idea of “Freedom 55” (early retirement) is dead. But my dh thinks we can do it, & it’s something I’m looking forward to (if not right at 55, then hopefully somewhat earlier than the standard 65). Not having kids to feed, clothe & educate has definitely been a boon to our retirement savings (as has careful spending in other aspects of our lives). Of course, we would much rather have had the kids instead, but since this is the hand we’ve been dealt, I refuse to feel guilty when I hear my childed friends & relatives moan about their finances (& make envious wisecracks at us about how “you can afford it, you don’t have kids.” (insert eyeroll icon here)

    • Kate B Says:

      Well put! It’s not what I wanted for my life, but it’s the life I got, so I will not feel guilty about how I spend my money.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      Great comment, Loribeth. I am going to work on my response because I always feel a bit guilty about some of the things I’m able to do because I don’t have kids. No more!

  7. lmanterfield Says:

    Kathleen, this was a really eye-opening post. It definitely got me thinking about my new priorities now that I won’t be planning to support children.


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