It’s an old adage most of us have heard before, “If you wait until you have kids until you can afford them, you probably will never have kids at all.” What was once a playful push from friends and relatives to convince young couples to get started in creating children has in fact become a serious consideration for families in our region.
Researchers at loan market giant LendingTree recently published an analysis of their research on the cost of raising children in America. Drawing on data from multiple sources, they estimated and ranked the costs for two-income families of raising a child in each state, taking into account basic needs such as shelter, food, daycare, clothing, transportation and health insurance. Each state’s tax credit or tax exemption for a child has also been taken into account.
Of course, every family’s situation is different, so LendingTree’s research only offers a glimpse of what it can cost to raise a child in this area, but the numbers are sobering.
The basic cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise, currently averaging $ 20,152 per year. And that only covers the basics – you’ll need to increase that number if you add in fun things like summer camp, family vacations, team sports, music lessons, and birthday parties.
The essential costs of raising a child vary from state to state, but the District of Columbia ranks first among the most expensive with $ 28,785 per year. Virginia ranks close behind as the eighth most expensive state, where it costs $ 23,029 per year.
The biggest difference in cost is related to the amount parents pay for child care. In the District of Columbia, parents pay $ 24,081 per child per year for daycare alone, more than double the national average, and in Virginia, parents pay $ 14,560. For some, the high cost of child care is offset by the significantly higher salaries enjoyed by professionals in this field (among the highest in the country), but for low salaries, this is an impossible situation.
Working parents typically pay for full-time child care for five years until the child begins school, but other costs associated with raising children continue to rise as children grow older. LendingTree ranked states based on the highest overall cost over 18 years of raising a child to adulthood, with Hawaii first at $ 281,597 and Virginia sixth at $ 225,233.
So what should parents do in Virginia?
When the stork brings twins
âTry to live within your means,â advises Maryanna Diaz, a DoD entrepreneur who lives in Brambleton with her husband, Roberto, a restaurant manager at Baja Fresh, and their four children – a boy (9 years old) and three girls (7 and two years). 21 month old twins). Between babysitting three days a week and after-school babysitting, the Diaz family pays over $ 3,000 a month for babysitting, which she says is actually a good deal. business for four children.
âThe twins were a total surprise, so we knew it would be a financial strain,â Diaz explains. âI was recently deployed for four months to help pay off debt, and my husband works weekends so he can be home more often during the week when I have an opposite schedule. Diaz says they don’t take complicated vacations and buy most children’s items, including furniture, from Facebook Marketplace. âIt’s tough with the mentality of this region, but don’t go crazy having to have the big house or follow the Joneses,â she said. “I know a lot of people wait until they are older to have kids, but just know that it will work if you are diligent and look for ways to cut costs, especially with child care.”
Avoid daycare altogether
Jackie Baker and her husband, Dave, have avoided daycare for their daughter and two sons by being flexible in their career and housing choices. The Sterling couple started their family in a condominium in Alexandria, but moved to a townhouse in Loudoun County in 2002, as it was cheaper at the time and offered more space. Jackie, a certified teacher, stopped working to stay home while her husband worked flexible hours as a government employee. âI wanted to be with the kids, so we went out of our way to avoid daycare,â says Baker. âWe were on a tight budget and only had one vehicle. “
When Baker’s children started preschool, she began working part-time in preschool, first as a teacher and then as a principal. Her husband’s income grew over the years of advancement and promotion, and when they were ready to move into a single-family home, Jackie returned to teaching in Loudoun County Public Schools. âOlder children have more expenses,â says Baker. “Besides saving money and paying for college, kids need computers, phones and the Internet for school, and putting them on our car insurance is expensive.” She has also noticed an increase in the prices of everything from food to clothing, but her children are taking up lawn mowing jobs and on campus to help. âThey all understand the value of making money,â she says. Do parents have to wait to have children? âProbably not,â says Baker, âbecause the longer you wait, the more expensive – it sure won’t be cheaper. “
Protecting a Hard-Won Career
âI did everything right; I checked all the boxes, âexplains Susanna Baxter, Chartered Accountant. âI went to William and Mary’s house, I have a masters degree and I have a great, well paying job, so it’s incredibly frustrating that my husband and I are working so hard to get by.â Baxter and her husband, David, who is an active duty naval officer, live in Ashburn with their two daughters (one 7 months old, the other 2 years old).
âTypically, it’s the woman who ends up staying home or reducing her career capacity,â Baxter explains. âI tried to work part-time, but when the kids are so young there isn’t a lot of reduction in child care costs for three days versus five days a week, because of the mandatory ratios for. that age, âBaxter explains. The Baxters were paying over $ 2,000 a month for daycare three days a week when she decided to return to work full time. âIt’s incredibly frustrating that daycare is so expensive and I had to change jobs,â says Baxter, who travels to Tysons daily. âI worked hard and took on debt for my studies. I want to be able to work doing what I was trained to do, but a full-time daycare costs more than our mortgage. The family solution: they have contracted with an au pair who will take care of their children while living with the family.
Baxter says she would like to have a third child, but she thinks the cost of daycare makes it too difficult. âIt’s not like we live luxuriously – we live modestly in an average townhouse,â she says. âEveryone should have enough to maintain a healthy home with the necessary repairs and have a car that is safe to drive. I also repay student loans. Plus, it’s hard to compete and advance in your career if you work with people who move faster because they don’t have other obligations. One thing Baker doesn’t skimp on is saving for his daughters’ education. âWe don’t even question that – we put this before the holidays,â she says. “We don’t want them to be grappling with this debt.”
The more children there are, the happier we are
Sharon Awig is a stay-at-home mom of seven (twins aged 11, 5, 4, 2, 1 and 6 months, with another on the way). She lives in Round Hill with her husband, Brian, who works in IT. âBecause I stay at home, we don’t have child care costs, but we buy whatever is used – including cars, clothes, toys and furniture,â Awig explains. Family outings are always in free or very inexpensive places. âWe don’t go out to eat a lot and try to stay on a budget when shopping for groceries. “
Awig says the biggest challenge is not getting involved in too many different activities. âIt may take all your time,â she says. âYou just have to prioritize what’s important to you and try not to get into debt – don’t focus on following the neighbors or having the latest clothes, gadgets or cars. “
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