Don't trust these funny numbers

National Public Radio came out with an article last week about how incredibly expensive it is to raise children these days. Like most government entities (which NPR is), the numbers are displayed as nearly shocking. Gasp! the title reads: “It Costs $222,360 to Raise a Child.

Read the article. It is short and sweet, the obvious conclusion that it is a heckuvalot of money to raise a child nowadays. The Jeubs blow this study to smithereens. We have rebuttals for such nonsense…

  1. Housing accounts for 31% of total child-rearing expenditures. This accounts for 1 child. What’s the housing costs for a second child? Perhaps 1% for getting a bunk bed from a garage sale. Most homes come with more than a couple rooms, so housing plummets after the first child. Claiming 31% total expenditures is like claiming per-person fuel expense in a car; add a passenger and it adds virtually nothing to the fuel expense.
  2. Child care & education. Odd how they lump these together. Assumption is child care at a young age then paying for their own school. 17% of the yearly expenditure. They must not have interviewed moms who stay home and homeschool their children. Wait, that doesn’t matter. Those families have to pay for their own school and child care AND that of the public schools. That’s only fair.
  3. Food. Wow, 16% goes to the grocery bill. Much of Cheaper by the Dozen CD digs into that. This is perhaps true for our family of 13. If a one-child family is spending this much, I’d like to see how their spending their money. They need a lesson in frugality.

These numbers don’t faze us. We’re having more children and our expenses will be covered. According to this study, we should be making $182,000/year to survive. Heh, heh, heh. That’s funny.

What do you all think?

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Julia Miller

    We have seven children and we live okay on $42,000 per year. I just finished college, and our youngest is old enough for school this fall. I will be teaching at a local Christian school, so our income will increase almost 50%. We’ll be able to go on more expensive vacations and go out to dinner a couple of times a month, in addition to becoming debt free sooner. God is good.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wewinnow Tammy (wewinnow)

    Wow! I would guess much of the food expense does not include homemade food. Maybe there needs to be a study done on larger families?

  • Crystal

    I wonder how much of this cost factors in the “required” video games, cell phones and computer gadgets that kids can’t live without nowadays?

  • Heather

    I do not have any children yet, but very much want them soon. I do want enough money to be comfortable, but I also know that God provides us our needs. Julia, your message was inspirational. A family of 9 living on 42,000 Congratulations!

  • tereza crump

    we just had our #4 blessing this year. we pay cash for all our medical expenses; the only debt we have is our house mortgage; we give 20% +++ of our income to charities every year; I am SAHM and my hubby makes less than 65K a year. Ah, we also homeschool, cook at home, have used cars and 4 computers at home. So there!

    I think all this is possible because we rely on God not the government. :) I know many other Christian families who do the same and they are prosperous too. :)

    God is faithful!

  • http://aboundantlyblessed.wordpress.com Becky

    Seriously those numbmers are crazy. We have 5 kids and live at or below poverty level and we think we have alot. People are way too spoiled.

  • Jessica

    I only have one baby but I’d like a big family someday if that’s what the Lord has in store for me. People tell me how expensive raising kids is. To that I say…lifestyles are expensive, not children! Some numbers:

    My cousin’s (unnecessary) C-section: $20,000.
    My natural birth with a midwife: $2000, including prenatal care
    Crib: $200+
    Co-sleeping: Free!
    Forrmula: $25/can (I was a nanny for a baby a couple years ago and she went through a can in about 2 weeks)
    Breastfeeding: Free!
    Pre-packaged baby food: 23-85 cents/pack (1 serving)
    Little mashed up portions of whatever I’m making: either free or under 5 cents
    Trendy “designer” high-chair: $170+
    Wal-mart booster chair: $24
    Disposable diapers: $25 or more for a week’s worth, which reeeeally adds up!
    Cloth diapers: $150-350 for a bunch that can be used over and over for multiple children

    Toys, clothes, furniture, etc. can be purchased at garage sales and thrift stores. A lot of people donate these things after one child has used them. Why not keep them for the next one? Sure, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise a child if you feel they need to have every cool toy, gadget, or brand name piece of clothing that comes out, but not everyone wants that for their family.

  • Lisa

    How easy it is to sway a topic in one’s intended direction. We are a family of 6, we are military which gives us some “Perks”. We are frugal and make do with what we have. My food bill for all of us including the baby is $300.00 a month. I use coupons, I buy in the dented isle. The Lord provides for us in everything we need. I am not afaid of the high numbers suggested. God’s got it covered for us already.

  • Lauren

    I think being frugal, etc can definitely cut down on day-to-day expenses. But Chris–you have 15 kids… what if they all decide to go to college? Or better yet, don’t you WANT them to go to college (without being forced to work a full-time job while doing it)? My parents worked hard, scrimped & saved, & still had to take out loans to be able to send myself & my sister to college… and there are only TWO of us. Yes, things like scholorships & financial aid do exist, but most of the top academic schools don’t really offer much. I have one child right now. She is four years old & paying for her education is already a priority for us. I can’t imagine having to worry about it for 15 kids!

  • http://angela_d6086@charter.net Angela

    Yes all who have large families want our children to have sucessful futures. But most with large families have tought our children that if they want something they have to earn it. That means they pay for there education. My husband and I did. So do most people. We have told our children we will help with books and they are free to live at home, but again that is help not flip the bill. Children who are taught early on in life that thier is no such thing as a free ride in life to better then those that don’t. Even our three year old knows the family motto “If you want to eat you have to work.” God helps those that helps themselves.

  • http://medicationoptional.blogspot.com/ TWoP_Fan

    I only have one child (3), but I do agree with Angela. We are saving for her education, but we expect her to have a part-time job in college, to pay for her own transportation and to earn grants and scholarships. I am paying off some minimal student loans now, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  • Lauren

    Well, my point is NOT that kids shouldn’t help. My point (in response to this post) is that you have to figure higher education in SOME way into the cost of raising children. Even if you’re only paying for books or room & board or part tuition, it’s an expense… an expense that buying used clothes or being frugal with food costs just won’t make up for. I can’t imagine taking on that cost for 15 kids. I’m just wondering how folks like Chris with big families (who aren’t bringing in an income of a few hundred thousand dollars a year) plan for this?? Just textbooks alone , at a cost of $1000 per year per kid, would cost $60,000 for 15 kids!!

  • Sandra

    I only have 2 kids but even so,if I had more,I’d still do it the same way: you don’t need to save every penny for their college.(in fact they still have some bonds the grandparents bought them for college, that they haven’t cashed in yet).
    My daughter is starting her 3rd yr in college,and there are several different ways of covering the cost.A student loan,parent loan (our part),she won a small scholarship the first yr,work study,a part-time job,and gov’t grants,if you are willing to accept them (she does).
    My son will be starting college this fall and we are handling it the same way.He will be working,using grants,utilizing loans,etc.
    Both of them will be attending a 4 yr college,but I went to a community college myself,which,at last check,costs about $1500/yr ,and can also be paid for using the same methods if you don’t have all the money up front.
    It’s not as difficult as you might think.

  • Jessica

    Again, you have to be frugal. Textbooks CAN cost “$1000 a year” if you buy them brand new. I bought most of my college textbooks used from Amazon.com for under $5, some for a penny! Anyway not all 15 Jeub children will be in college at the same time (heck, maybe some will choose not to go to college, or only do 2 years instead of 4).

  • marchon

    I think most of these bigger families won’t send their children to a liberal-post secondary institution.

  • Mary Kate

    @marchon: Really? Why not? That seems like a fairly biased thing to say. Not only do I have firsthand “experience” with “larger” families (my husband and I have 6 living children), but I have pretty extensive secondhand experience, as well. I grew up as the oldest of 5 kids, surrounded by at least 14 families with 7+++ kids (average being 10) AND my husband was one of 12 kids. EVERY, SINGLE ONE of my husband’s siblings (incl. himself) graduated college with a 4-year-degree; 3 have since gone on to complete law school, as well. As for the other families I referred to, a whopping 90% graduated with 4 yr. degrees, with 100% having attended college for at least 2 years. I’d say that is pretty good stats for a grouping of approximately 14-17 families of ANY SIZE.

  • Sandra

    I forgot about the used books,yes,we do that,too.
    We’re not doing anything extravagant here.My daughter cooks in the dorm and shops at walmart.My son will be doing the same.So don’t think you can’t do it or need to have it all saved up,or at least a lot of it.Not so.Most ppl would be surprised what they can accomplish if they really want to send their kids to college.
    I didn’t get from the Jeub’s book that they don’t believe in secondary education.

  • http://NA Jessica


    I wanted to respond to the person who was talking about the Jeub children and college expenses.

    Today, colleges are offering a lot of scholarships and grants ( all you have to do is fill out a FAFSA) and most children, even homeschooled children, could attend an average school debt-free. My sister is attending a christian school, costing over $20,000 totally debt free ( most years), and I have attended a local tech school totally debt-free. College is a possibility for homeschool families who feel their children should be attending.

    I plan on attending for my ADN in the fall, and hope to be a midwife, if the Lord wills and makes it possible.

  • http://NA Jessica

    “3 have since gone on to complete law school”

    How were they financially able to attend law school? What did they do?

  • Lauren

    Well, college should be a possibility for everyone, homeschool or not, in this day & age. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, college (or some sort of higher education) is not an option, it’s a necessity & will be a requirement for my children. Education is what opens doors, no matter what career one chooses to pursue. I feel it’s the parents’ responsibility to help out as much as they can, even it just means free room & board or a thousand dollars a year towards tuition.

  • http://www.storinguptreasures.com Courtney

    I cannot imagine it takes this much money… wow. We must be doing something wrong :)

  • http://thejoyfulmother.blogspot.com/ Karen

    Hmm…I think Americans take a different view than people in other parts of the world. I once discussed this with a British father (of one) who claims kids cost next to nothing. I asked him how he would pay for college and he answered like I was stupid, “Over here we have something called loans. Everyone gets them.” It just wasn’t thought of as the parent’s responsiblity. After all, college kids are ADULTS. I’m not big on having debt, but if it’s payed off quickly I don’t see the problem. I was raised with only 1 sibling and my parents couldn’t afford college. I had to get there myself through grants and work study. If I go any further in my education I will set aside some money to pay it off, but for now I have enough to do!

  • http://thejoyfulmother.blogspot.com/ Karen

    Also, I don’t see a problem with family helping family. Nowadays relatives save up so much for retirement – only to have the government snatch half of if when they die. I believe in a tighter family unit where those who can help those who can’t.

    I guess if mom “needs” her hair and nail salon appointments, and dad “needs” his motorcycle and boat and cable t.v., and the kids “need” their own personal cell phone accounts…you could “need” 180K per year! Not that there is anything wrong with these things (though personally I don’t know how people live with themselves who do such things knowing there are lil kids starving in other countries) but they aren’t NEEDS.

  • Joanne

    I have seen so many parents fret, work and worry over college that they miss out on the most important formation years of their children. They put their kids in childcare so they can build up college funds and retirement. While it is wise to be thinking about the future, it is a sad thing that some kids miss out in the present on the strong family bonding of their younger years because of it. I am a SAHM of 5, wife of 31 years to a blue collar worker, own a modest home and is blessed with a very strong, tight knit family. We do/did not “require” our children to attend college as Lauren, but instead stressed the importance if seeking their own God given talents, whether it would lead to a blue or white collar. All our grown children are successful, because we measure success Biblically, not secularly. I am quite thankful that everyone doesn’t have a college degree. In these bad economic times, I know far too many college educated people who would collect unemployment before they would “lower” themselves to a blue collar job. Just think of how much longer congress would have to extend the unemployment benefits for all of those white collar workers out of work.

  • Melissa

    I second Joanne’s comments. College will not be a requirement or necessarily encouraged for our children. Future employers will care much more about our children’s abilities than a piece of paper from an institution. If you want to save money on their education, spend money on books, after having spent all their childhood fostering a LOVE of learning, and they’ll do the learning themselves.

    As a side note, if you think college is necessary for a good income, chew on this. My husband, who completed what is normally a 6 year Bachelor’s program in 5 years, made so little as a public school teacher that we were considered eligible for government assistance. During one of his professional development days, a lecturer spoke on a topic, “Where have all the welders gone?” Welders, blue collar tradesmen, can easily start out making 2 1/2 times what my husband made in a white collar, degree-required profession. Since resigning his teaching position, we are now living on less than half of his measly public school teaching salary, and have never been in need. As a side effect of not perpetually spending money on the “necessities” in these type budgets about raising children, I can easily walk through any store, with my children in tow, and never once hear whining or begging to buy a toy, a snack, etc. There are a lot of things more important in life than money; and a lot of things which no amount of money or institutionalized education can replace.

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