What is the Real Cost of Your Child’s First Year? Costs to Consider Before You Conceive

December 27th, 2015by admin


Kids don’t cost that much, right? Very, very wrong. The cost for a middle-income family to raise a child to adulthood is climbing, and currently rests at about $245,000 for a child born in 2013.

Cost varies depending on where you live and how much you make

When calculating the cost of children, be sure you use a calculator that takes into consideration your locale, whether you live in a rural or urban area, and how much you make. Costs for a child can vary from around $10,000 annually to as much as $25,000, depending on the family income alone. On top of that, the costs for raising a child in, San Francisco, California are going to vary greatly from the costs in Butte, Montana. Also consider whether you will be moving over the course of the child’s first 18 years, as that can change the annual cost of the child.

Childcare is the biggest burden

If both parents plan on working while the child is young, expect to pay an arm and a leg for childcare, especially before the child starts school. Costs can exceed $2,000 annually for childcare from ages 0 to 5 for daycare and babysitting – and that’s just the national average.

“In 2012, center-based care for one infant was greater than median rent payments in nearly half of the states, according to Child Care Aware of America’s most recent report. In Seattle, Britta Gidican and her boyfriend spend $1,380 each month on daycare for their 17-month-old son, just $20 less than they spend on their mortgage each month” (CNN.com).

Once the child starts kindergarten, costs go down, but after school daycare can still cost a pretty penny if not offered through school. Check with the elementary schools in your area to see what kinds of after school services they offer.

Cost goes up as kids age, not down

Yes, childcare costs will lessen over time, but with constant inflation, costs for a child will go up over time. The most increase is seen in the categories of food and transportation:

“Rising transportation and food costs are also eating up a big chunk of family budgets. Gas prices have nearly doubled since 2004, according to the AAA. Meanwhile, food prices have increased more than 13% since 2008, according to the USDA, and make up the third biggest child-rearing expense in the agency’s estimate” (CNN.com).

While gas prices are currently at an eight-year low, the costs for transportation will still increase as your child becomes more independent and involved with extra-curricular activities. Before having a child, decide with your partner whether or not you want to buy your child a car when the time comes, if you’ll buy new or used, and what price is acceptable.

As for increased food expenses, we all know how much teens can eat, especially in those growth-spurt years.

“Kim Blackham, a mother of four and part-time marriage and family therapist, says she has seen her grocery bill climb dramatically in the past decade. Today, she and her husband spend around $1,000 each month, in part because of her son’s food allergies and her efforts to cook healthier meals for her family” (CNN.com).

Don’t forget the costs of “miscellaneous” expenses

It’s always best to plan for emergencies, such as health problems or injuries, but there are some miscellaneous expenses to consider that will definitely come up. Don’t forget to factor in costs of school supplies and holiday or birthday gifts each year.

There are also some larger items such as furniture that will need to be changed with the child’s age. Sure, you may have budgeted for a crib and changing table, but you will need to buy a bed once your child is old enough. Once they start school, they will need a desk for school work. As they age, their clothes will get bigger as well and you may need to size up their dresser.

What is the best way to offset these expenses?

Tax credits are a big help once you have a baby. Also, healthcare and childcare can be paid for tax-free with the use of a flex spending accounts through many insurances or employers. Hand-me-downs, thrift stores, and garage sales are good ways to get cheap clothing and furniture without breaking the bank.

The biggest help though? Planning.

“When possible, expectant parents should prepare for the added costs ahead of time, said Matt Becker, a financial planner who specializes in working with new parents. First, estimate your child-related expenses and then try to save that amount each month. By the time your child is born, you’ll be used to living without that money and also have a sizable savings built up. ‘Having a baby is a huge life change. You are going to have unexpected things come up,’ said Becker, founder of planning firm Mom and Dad Money. ‘Having that extra savings can help a lot'” (CNN.com).


The Parent’s Holiday Survival Guide

December 24th, 2015by admin

The holidays can be a challenging time for everyone, but once you throw children into the mix, the holidays can seem impossible. Most parents want to dial up the holidays for their kids, but that is easier said than done:

“I imagined, while pregnant, that I would do the holidays up once the baby came along. I have a manila folder full of ideas for projects, ripped from magazines while the baby was still baking. Aside from serving as solid evidence that I’m a total dork, this folder is now also just sort of laughable in the face of the realities of first-year parenting” (Taylor Newman, parenting.com).

No parent should have to go into the trenches that are the holiday season alone, so here are some tips to help you hold onto your sanity this December.

The first year won’t go how you planned


Many parents get their expectations up for baby’s first holiday season, but it is also the year that your child will need the most care. You will likely be flying by the seat of your pants at this point in your child’s life, especially if both parents are working.

“Life right now is a day-at-a-time kind of deal; in this week alone I’ve had two freelance assignments, a 100-question-long test in my kinesiology class, a doctor’s appointment for Kaspar, and, alas, very little sleep. Plus regular work, and regular baby-care action” (Taylor Newman, parenting.com).

With so much on your plate, keep in mind that your child will likely not remember this holiday season later in life, so it’s much more important for you to prioritize than to make this December magical for your child. Your baby will benefit more from having parents who are living balanced lives rather than loads of gifts and decorations. It may sound harsh, but it’s reality: “We’re choosing to wait for big family visits and blowout Santa hysteria for when [baby’s] big enough to understand what’s going on” (Taylor Newman, parenting.com).

Instead of going all out, plan for some small gestures to make this holiday special. Get a custom Christmas ornament made with the year and your baby’s photo to remember the year. Spend more time with family who – if they are willing – can both help you out with preparations and focus your holiday season on what is really important.

Schedule some time to slow down

Not every moment around the holidays has to be a big deal with decorations, elaborate recipes, and huge family gatherings. Sometimes the simplest moments can be the most special, especially when the world seems to be in a frenzy around you.

“And I think it’s important to slow down (!) and note the changing seasons, celebrate the joy in our lives, give, receive, fill the house with good smells. We’re definitely planning on doing Christmas morning proper . . . and then heading to the coast a few days later to show him a beach and the ocean for the first time . . . but I want to get us into the holiday swing of things before the big day, which will actually be pretty low-key” (Taylor Newman, parenting.com).

Schedule a night to watch your favorite holiday movies. Slow down and make decorating a family event with music to get you in the spirit. Try not to take the holidays so seriously and it will minimize your stress.

Use your free time wisely

For those rare free moments when you have some time to yourself, your first priority should be your mental health. Take a bubble bath, watch a few episodes of that television show you’ve fallen behind on, or simply take a nap.

Once you feel like a sane person again, your next priority should be to get organized. Lists are your friend, both for gift shopping and grocery shopping. Getting organized is an investment that can save you some serious time in the long run. If you plan out your gifts, you will spend less time shopping. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to give everyone in your family the same, simple gift such as candles or home-baked goods.

December is the most hectic time of year, so try to minimize your stress, learn to let things go, and spend time with friends and family, and you are sure to survive.

By Morgan Clark

Teaching Your Toddler to Read

April 20th, 2015by admin

Reading & ListeningResearch shows that helping a toddler learn to read early on is extremely beneficial. In fact, a 3 year old’s vocabulary is a strong indicator of how successful he or she will be when reading in the first grade. Additionally, his or her reading skills and vocabulary comprehension predict how well they will perform in the 11th grade. Overall, teaching a toddler to read at an early age stimulates his or her intellectual development and helps them become smarter.

Children are naturally very imaginative, creative, and capable human beings. While it is commonly believed that toddlers have an extremely short attention span, the truth is that when you really analyze them, it is obvious that they love to learn. For children, learning is a craving, an enjoyable activity, and often viewed as a form of playing.

It is not unusual for us to hand a rattle, toy blocks, cars, or stuffed animals to a child when we need to get something accomplished. Of course, within minutes, they have thrown it aside and are on to something new. For adults, this simply reaffirms the thought that kids have short attention spans, but this isn’t really the case.

​When you hand a child a new toy, they unusually pick it up, turn and flip it around, and examine it. In some cases, they may even try to smell it or lick it in an attempt to determine how it smells or tastes. What are they doing? They are learning. They are using their five senses-seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, and tasting- to learn anything they can about the toy. Within minutes, they have learned all they believe they can and simply throw it aside. As long as there is something left to be learned, the child will hold onto the toy and continue to happily play with it. They love to learn!

Teaching Your Toddler to Read at Home

​ All of the information above was used to point out how much children love to learn. As a result, teaching your toddler his or her ABC’s and how to read at an early age is perfect. It’s a time in their life when they are not resistant to learning, plus they find it challenging and engaging.

Why Should You Teach Your Toddler to Read at Home?

Honestly, you are the best teacher for your child. You really know your child and when a teacher truly knows his or her student, things tend to go well. While you may not believe it, teaching a toddler to read is not that difficult. It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes of your time daily, as well as routine read aloud sessions.

​The primary problems parents face is how to go about teaching their toddler to read. If you have a desire to teach your toddler to read, you simply need a simple, yet effective step by step reading program. The teaching process we use in our step by step program is ideal for teaching young children how to read well.


About the author:


This article has been written by Abra. She is a writer and blogger at http://toddlerlearntoread.blogspot.com.

Photo: flic.kr/p/9owcTq