Bakken: The ties that bind, and cost
The cost of raising a child until age 18 costs roughly one-quarter of a million dollars, a recent federal study says.
And, that number doesn't even count the cost of prom.
The study's precise child-raising number is $241,080, give or take a few thousand depending on your 9-year-old's cell phone plan.
Adjusted for inflation, the cost for child-raising back in 1960 would have been $195,690 in today's dollars. That means today's children are 23 percent more expensive to rear than baby boomers.
Experts say health care expenses and child care expenses are the biggest reasons for that 23 percent hike 53 years later. The cost of health care has zoomed and the cost of child care has increased as a result of most families having two wage-earners.
However, as a grumpy old man, I believe there's a bigger reason for the cost increase: Spoiling entitled youngsters.
In my day, unless you were a rich kid or a farm kid, your first parent-purchased vehicle arrived at high school graduation, if at all. Nowadays, a first vehicle arrives minutes after passing the driver's test. Sometimes before.
And, don't get me started on cellphones. Oops, too late.
It's not just the dollar amount of child-raising. It's also the longevity. To that offense, I plead guilty.
Although our cherubs are 23 and 26, they're still on our phone plan, meaning that we're paying the bill.
Since they're both earning wages, I'm not sure why mommy and daddy are still footing the bill. Is it out of habit? Out of the goodness of our hearts? Or is it because this perk means our guilt-ridden children will return our phone calls.
If you chose option No. 3, you're probably correct.
We're not alone in being incapable of cutting the financial umbilical cord. Friends and relatives sheepishly confess to paying for phones, car insurance, groceries and vacations of children in their 20s.
Because of this trend, perhaps the Department of Agriculture, which conducted the study, should amend its research. These days, its study should show how much it costs to raise a child until age 30.
Bakken is a columnist for the Grand Forks Herald, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.