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If you're about ready to plunge into the world of child-rearing the USDA has a Cost of Raising a Child calculator that will help you learn something close to your exact number. The way It works is that you type in the age of your first child, whether yours is a single- or two-payer household, where you live and your annual pre-tax income. Click the button titled Calculate and be prepared for at least a mild shock when you see what that child is likely to cost you.
As an example of this calculator, we selected one child less than a year old, living in the west with two parents and a combined annual income of $80,000 to $96,000 and learned that it would cost $17,33 a year to raise that child or a total of $208,056 in today’s dollars. And remember this doesn't include the cost of a higher education. So if you intend to send that offspring to college you can factor in maybe $100,000 or more.
The USDA also has some other helpful child-rearing resources including the ChooseMyPlate.gov with dietary guidelines for a healthy eating lifestyle.
Advice that even the Zuckerbergs could use
If you're about to be a new parent here are a couple of pieces of financial advice That even the Zuckerberg's could use. First, don't try to keep up with the Joneses. According to an article published on USNews.com, you should not look at your neighbors because you do not really know if they are keeping up appearances too. Don't shower your little bundle of joy with everything that her or his heart desires – especially if you're just trying to keep up with friends or family members. Spend only what you can afford to spend on that little darling. There are things where you won't want to go cheap such as the baby's crib, layette, and sleepers or sleep sacks and a digital thermometer. But there are a lot of other things like clothing and toys where it’s not necessary to spend big money.
Second, you need to begin putting away money in a tax-friendly savings account to pay for your child's college education, which despite what some presidential candidates might want you to believe won't be free 18 years from now. In fact, it will probably be priced even ridiculously higher than today.
Using credit to spend on your child should happen on a case to case basis. If it is a necessity, you should have the foresight to save up for it. If not, then do not spend on it. Your child does not need you to go into debt. In case you have current debts, get rid of it. Consolidate your debts or refinance it. Your financial security is also their own.
If your baby is less than perfect
If your child is born with a disability, especially one that will limit his or her ability to care for themselves when they become adults you need to think carefully about this. Today’s medical advances have made it possible for adults with severe disabilities to live much longer than ever and whether you want to think about this or not you're not going to be here forever.
Make a plan
If this is the case you need to make a plan for taking care of that child that will also protect your retirement. It would also be a very good idea to talk with a lawyer who specializes in planning for special needs adults for help in drawing up your estate plan. A knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate through the maze of rules for the public benefits that would provide income, health care, and community services for your child with disabilities. When you’re not longer here your attorney should also be able to help find housing for your adult child, which could be an assisted living or group home. Some parents have purchased a house or condo for their adult child sometimes finding a roommate with a disability so that the two could combine their Medicaid resources to finance their caregiving and other services.