Children are taxing, but worth itWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I sometimes wonder how much it actually costs my husband and me to raise our children. I see a child-rearing cost estimate floating around the news from time to time, but it is never quite close enough to my family’s own situation to give me a clear idea. The clothing estimates alone are a far cry from the amount we have had to spend on our children’s apparel thus far.
The cost of our children’s wardrobe to this point could mainly be measured in hours of toil instead of dollars and cents. For the most part, we have been lucky enough to clothe our children in gifts and hand-me-downs since birth. The toiling comes in sorting, organizing and storing second-hand garments from multiple sources. The financial burden lies only in the cost of the plastic storage containers.
We seem to be on the discount family plan. We have managed to knock the high child food and day care estimates seen on morning shows down to almost nothing for our children’s first few years at least. The amusing remarks I had heard prior to parenthood about children being “little tax deductions,” as if producing a child is almost some sort of tiny financial windfall, has been fairly close to true for us up until this point.
The 2008 tax year has been it, though. I think it may have been the year that our children started to cost way beyond any financial benefits we may be seeing on our tax return.
This is the year that one shared kid’s meal simply was no longer enough to satiate the growing appetites of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. Our son has also figured out that our once-coveted half juice/half water cocktail isn’t quite as special as he once believed. His reminders not to forget to add the water have turned into requests for no water added at all. It is only a matter of time before his sister catches on to the fact that adding the water doesn’t make the juice any tastier.
This is also the year that our daughter’s inheriting of my rather large feet became quite obvious. The much-appreciated cousin hand-me-down shoe store has closed due to lack of appropriate sizes. As for our son, boys’ gently worn jeans and shoes seem to be much harder to come by in the elementary school age bracket than they did back in the not-so-rough-and-tumble toddler days.
It is not just the common expenses, however. As this year has proven, we must learn to expect quite a few unexpected child-related incidentals for years to come. Take a broken arm, for example. The medical bills that start rolling in once the healing has fully commenced suddenly seemed a lot more significant than they did the night all we cared about was getting our child put back together. What feels more financially strapping, however, are all of the ancillary costs we just never considered, such as having to purchase another new coat to replace the just-purchased one that doesn’t quite fit over the cast.
I do sometimes wonder how much our children actually cost us, but I’m far too busy chasing them around to ever come up with an exact number. And, honestly, I really don’t care.
My husband and I certainly do not associate their little faces with a line on a tax form until Turbo Tax asks us to. Tax deductions and child tax credits just don’t play much of a role in our family financial equation more than one or two days a year. Even though this may be the year that tax deductions and child tax credits pale in comparison to our actual child expenses, we likely won’t give it a second thought.
Don’t get me wrong, though. We’ll take what we can get.
Shannon Szyperski and her husband Michael are raising two children in Sylvania. E-mail her at email@example.com.