Thursday, March 20, 2008

how do you spend £35,000 a year on a child?

an excellent question, and one that I've not thought about, as it's never occurred to me that spending that much on a child was humanly possible. could my parents have spent £35,000 a year on me? what would they have spent it on?

food, for starters. my units used to spend between $100 and $200 on groceries each week for five people; variable by the age and appetite of the three little pigs. call it $150, or $30 a week each. it would be about the same in pounds. that's £1560 for the year. add some more for christmas, thanksgiving and birthdays. say you bought only name brands and add a bit more. the odd meal out would raise the sum too - but not too much, since chicken fingers, wings and pizza aren't really all that expensive, and that's basically all I ate as a kid. ahem. that's still basically all I eat. food: £1900.

education. according to the article, school tuition takes a huge bite out of the family income. my parentals could have paid an exorbitant sum to send me to one of buffalo's fine private institutions, but I liked ken west and lindbergh just fine. besides, the private school kids were snobby brats who spent all their spare time practicing crew and I don't think £35,000 could have bought me enough upper body strength for that. I don't know how much uncle sam takes for educating the youth of america, so we'll just ignore the tax element. shiny new school supplies and field trips: £75.

neuchatel. I believe it wound up being about $50,000. divide that evenly across 18 years and convert to pounds. neuchatel: £1736 and worth every cent.

clothing. up to the age of 12 I wouldn't wear anything that wasn't sweatpants, t-shirts or sweatshirts, and I don't think you could spend more than 500 or 600 quid on that even if you tried. so clothing and pretty sneakers: £600.

toys and books. if you'd set me loose in toys "r" us with a blank check, it's possible I could have walked away with £35,000 worth of magic nursery dolls, legos and playmobil. maybe a new bike, all the math-related computer games on the market, and I always wanted a powerwheel. but as much as I value all things fisher-price, I value nonbrattiness more. you have to draw the line somewhere. besides, there's only so much room under my bed and pamela gets half the closet. toys & complete works of robert munsch: £1000.

medical bills. apart from the small matter of 11 years of orthodontics and a dozen or so bouts of strep before the age of 7, I think I was a decently healthy child. not sure what the braces cost, but it was enough that the orthodontist stopped charging us halfway through. don't know what percentage of my dad's income goes into health insurance either. taking a wild guess here. healthcare: £450.

travel. my wanderlust reared its costly head very early in life. everyone needs a few good family roadtrips under their belts, and I wouldn't have traded summers on lake superior or a horseback riding through the desert for anything. however, as awesome as it would have been to have seen the world by age 10, it would have made my year at njc much less meaningful. so travel: £1500.

extracurricular activities. couldn't begin to imagine how much the units have spent on piano lessons. also cello lessons and rentals, music books, post-concert ice creams, recital dresses, piano camp, competition fees, orchestra trip. many seasons of outdoor and indoor soccer; tennis lessons and sports equipment. eight years of summer camp. girl scouts, ski club, science olympiad. oh, and a piano. could be underestimating, but extracurriculars: £1500.

entertainment. trips to the zoo, chuck e. cheese, amusement parks, roller rink, birthday parties, movies, carnivals, etc. memberships to the town pool, ice rink and the library. perhaps about £300.

childcare. according to the article, this is the other huge expense for typical working parents. we had a slew of nannies. there was the couple pamela and I stayed with while the units were in peru with geoffrey. there was the lady from church who watched us when the units took off for europe and bought me ice cream when I wound up in an oxygen tent while they were gone. there was crazy jamie, the artist who took us to the cemetary on summer afternoons, jenny kenney, the awesome inventor of words and owner of a swimming pool, and chrissy, who takes me out to lunch whenever I'm in town. childcare: £6000.

I'm sure there are other expenses I haven't thought about. the fact that the family car is a van, not a compact. additions to water, electricity and phone bills. computers. professional cleaning of carpets after flu season. furniture. halloween costumes, though I honestly did prefer to make my own. haircuts? exponential increases to car insurance when child reaches age 16. an extra £700 for good measure brings the total to...

£15,761.11. £35,000 - £15.761.11 = 19238.89. and I am at a total loss for what that could be spent on. saved, maybe, invested so that by the time the child reaches university age, £19238 will have grown to well beyond £346,284, enough to pay for my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and sponsor a dozen children in sub-saharan africa to do the same.

from this (probably highly inaccurate) estimation I conclude several things. a) raising a child is massively more expensive than I thought it would be; b) rich people are ridiculous; c) no child on earth, except possibly those who require million dollar surgeries to survive, should ever be the recipient of £35,000 worth of anything over a 12-month period; d) rich people are ridiculous. did I mention that?


Tiffany said...

Dude, are you sure that study wasn't talking about 3500 pounds a year? Because I asked my mom what she thought she spent on me and my brother and she thought 3500 a year would be about right. If the whole 35000 thing is right, than geee-zuz, that's a lot of coin. I didn't even think people made 35000 pounds a year, TOTAL, let alone have that much to spend on their larvae. Yet another check in the DO NOT HAVE column.

bishi said...

yarr, they were talking about rich people, specifically heather mills et al. average annual income in the UK, post-taxes, is just under £30,000.