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January 12, 2012

IS IT BECOMING TOO EXPENSIVE TO BE A PARENT? I think so. I had some thoughts on that subject in this column.

I also recommend Bryan Caplan’s thoughts.

UPDATE: Reader Kevin McCrory disagrees:

I have three children. Are expensies high at time, yes, but that is what your emergency savings are for. My wife and I decided that I would be the earner in the family since I had the BS in Math//CS/Business Management while she had a Social Work major. My earning potential far outstripped anything she would be able to approach. This is even after an 11 year stint in the Army. While on active duty I did receive less than my peers in the private sector but I made a large salary jump when I left the service. The early earning disadvantage is gone. We considered her going back to work several times but each time she would earn barely enough to cover the expense of clothes, commuting with daycare/after school care putting us into a net negative all with the privilege of tossing us into a higher tax bracket.

We have managed my earnings to provide for a comfortable lifestyle, nice vacations as well as things we need. We also are on track for retirement, college funds and emergency funds in place. In other words we don’t run around a grab everything now. We don’t buy the latest sports car/ SUV every 2-3 years. In general, our 2 cars last at least 10 years with a replacement car being purchased every 5 or so. And no, I don’t make $300K+ a year to support the 3 kids not even close. I’m doing well but in the DC area it costs more to live. No I’m not a Government employee either.

Some simple time honored lessons need to be taught. Live within your means. You can’t have everything right now. With children you need to be prepared to make changes in your lifestyle. Realize its not all about you. Just as when you get married, changes occur. You also have to remain living within your means. And above all, have fun. Quit trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Well, I’m not sure this is so inconsistent with what I wrote — it’s just about resisting the cultural trends I identified.

UPDATE: Reader Sean Foley writes:

Notice that Kevin McCrory has decided it’s not worth having his wife work in part because of the tax code. It might have made financial sense for his wife to work, until you add the progressive tax code throwing them into a higher tax bracket, thus rendering the decision to work a financial net negative. There’s a simple argument for a flat tax, rather than the distortions of progressive taxation that discourages people from working. In fact, it’s an example of how progressive taxation creates a disincentive to have kids (kids require more expenses which requires more income, and progressive taxation reduces the amount of available extra income).

Good point.

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