A SHARP LIFE: The cost of raising kids, batteries not included

Raising kids is an expensive proposition. How expensive? $233,610. Now, before you decide that I am just making things up or pulling numbers out of thin air that estimate comes straight from the United States Department of Agriculture. I don’t know why the Department of Agriculture is in charge of such things, I always thought they were busy regulating corn, but it somehow falls to them to speak authoritatively on such things. Maybe some president somewhere along the way thought they were the experts in how things grow so they should research children. It doesn’t really make sense to me, this is a government operation so we have to adjust our expectations. What I really want to focus on here is that number – $233,610.

If you don’t have children you probably assume that number is either a misprint, the Agriculture Department should stick to regulating vegetables, or their researchers weren’t too good at carrying the one. I can assure you, however, that the number is accurate. I read the study myself. And by “read the study” I mean I looked at every one of the infographics with cool pictures, but those are definitely the numbers. The data itself, well, maybe that is a little flawed because based on my experience I believe that number to be a severe underestimation.

The categories the Agriculture Department uses are predictable: food, clothing, housing, transportation, healthcare, education, and miscellaneous. Miscellaneous makes up 7% of the money spent on a child, which would mean that over 18 years that category would total a little over $16,000. Are you kidding me? I’ll probably spend that much on batteries this year alone. Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, but think about this. When I was a kid every toy came with the tag line, “Batteries not included.” Somewhere along the way that changed. In 2018 every toy has batteries, and they come with a set. I’m pretty sure sometime in the 90s toy executives wised up and cut a deal with battery manufacturers to make more toys with batteries if they got a cut of the profits. Am I suggesting a massive conspiracy theory here that couldn’t possibly be true? Maybe, but as conspiracy theories go it’s at least as plausible as faking the moon landing.

I’m sure batteries aren’t the only thing the Agriculture Department left out of their estimates. Our two-year-old recently outgrew three pairs of shoes in about a month. But to tell you the truth I don’t have time to think about what else they missed. I’m too busy filling out these forms to take money out of my retirement fund, to buy more batteries.