"A stealth expense hard to even calculate in dollar terms is the time parents spend with kids. Because parents today are more actively engaged with their kids than parents in 1960, this time – variously called "quality time" or "face time" – is considered more valuable."
Child care used to be largely supervisory, a background activity by Mom, who was busy making dinner or cleaning the house. "Families spent more time in the same household back then but [they] weren't actively engaged with each other. Now they are," says economist Nancy Folbre, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts and author of "Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family." In fact, supervisory time is considered of so low value that it's often not even counted in time surveys, she says.
Ms. Folbre calculated a very lowball dollar value of all time parents spend with their children – not differentiating between engaged time and supervisory time – using a minimum-wage replacement for parents. She found that for children living in a two-parent, middle-income household, the annual cost of parental time ranged from $12,353 to $14,338, depending on the age of a child.
"This is what the time would cost you, regardless of the reason you do it, whether it's love or obligation," she says. Her research shows time costs are about 60 percent of the total cost per year of raising a child, and that is just the replacement cost, not the opportunity cost, which is the income a parent gives up by choosing to stay home with a child."
Paul: We're pretty well off financially but we also have a fairly expensive lifestyle and frankly maintaining that lifestyle is important to us.
Wife: That's why when Paul and I decided to have kids we made ourselves a promise....we're not gonna spend a lot of money raising them.
Gary B. Anthony: Who says you have to? Hello, I'm Gary B. Anthony. And if you're spending more than 5% of your disposable income feeding, clothing and caring for your children you are literally throwing your money away. That's why I created cheapkids.net. We search the world to bring you incredible savings. Like this children's car safety seats.
The kitchen is sizzling as Samantha Gianulis cooks up a comparatively costly meal, both in price but also in the time she devotes to it: steamed green beans (organic, $1.60 a pound, about 50 percent more than regular beans), whole wheat pasta shells ($2.50 a bag versus the 50-cent special on store-brand pasta), and tomato sauce she makes from scratch (organic tomatoes for $2.10 a pound and extra virgin olive oil, the good stuff at $12 a bottle); time invested is about 10 times that of opening a can of SpaghettiOs.
when the USDA started counting such things and when kids shared bedrooms, had one pair of shoes, ate TV dinners and Wonder bread sandwiches, did homework with encyclopedias, didn't go to the doctor – let alone medical specialists – for much more than vaccinations or a broken arm, and went out to play unsupervised.
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