Lots of parents mistakenly assume that once their kids are out of diapers and eligible for public school the child-related expenses will decrease substantially, but here are some of the surprise expenses that I have found many do not properly budget for, and not just in a divorce scenario:
1. Medical Expenses– Kids get exposed to a lot of germs and as a result are often sick, we know that, but unfortunately they also sometimes start to exhibit issues overtime that may not be as apparent at an early age, such as ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety or depression. Not all of these expenses will be covered by insurance. Also, braces is a big ticket item often costing about $3,000 per round, with many children now needing 2 rounds.
2. School Fees– Private school in the DC Area typically runs about $25,000 per child or more. Even if you opt for public school there are regular fees for field trips, prom, and extra-curricular activities that can add up to $400 a month or more. Many kids will also need tutoring or take a weekly music class, which can easily cost $50 per session. And if you want your kids to go to college, they probably will need an SAT prep class and each application to a school is at least $55.
3. Transportation– Eventually, we would all like to stop being personal chauffeurs for our children, and that means ponying up for drivers’ education, permit fees, and eventually access to a car with car insurance. This is a very expensive necessity that is often overlooked and comes with a huge sticker shock for most parents.
It is no wonder that the national average for raising a child in the first 18 years is over $125,000. Intact families will struggle together to address these issues, but sadly those in separate households often engage in huge feuds over these unanticipated expenses. Unfortunately, there is a lot the courts cannot order parents to do and either you will rise above your differences to address your children’s needs or not. Here’s hoping you do your best to plan for these “extra-ordinary” expenses, which actually are quite ordinary.