Have you ever thought about the cost of being a parent? No, not the cost to your dignity or to your body. I mean the actual monetary cost. Gasp! Kate, how could you think like that? I know, I know, and believe me, I wouldn't trade any of the squishy hugs and tender moments with my kids for all the Crown Jewels. But, as I threw away another urine-soaked Pull-Up this morning I had a small moment of self-pity: I was throwing my money in the trash. Until that moment, I had never really thought about the amount of money that literally gets thrown away in the name of diapers and wipes. Or, what I could be spending that money on instead. Think about it. Each giant box of Pull-Ups is the equivalent of ordering a filet, cooked medium-rare, at a really posh restaurant. But I don't see the inside of posh places (at least not often)—instead, I order (on Amazon) another box of Pull-Ups with a case of mac n' cheese. My youngest is on the home stretch only requiring one Pull-Up at night. Once we are finally through with this diaper stage, I'll save so much money—nearly $500 a year! Right? Wrong. Because you know what comes after diapers? All the rest of the stuff. Like shoes and dinosaur-shaped snacks and more expensive clothes and dance and swimming and soccer and clothes for all those activities. I mean those shins aren't going to protect themselves. But how much money do these kiddos of mine really cost? The answer: a lot. Economists at the U.S.Department of Agriculture estimate that for a child born in 2015, a middle-income married couple will spend between $12,350 and $13,900 a year on child-rearing expenses. Taken together, that's $233,610 from birth to age 17 (let that sink in for a little bit!). Oh, and don't forget about college, which will cost you an arm and a leg on top of that. Lower-income families will spend a little less, though $174,690 is no small chunk of change. Higher-income families will spend $372,210 from birth to age 17, according to the USDA's estimate. So, you see? The cost of raising a child (or two or three or four...) costs us dearly. I have two of these high rollers so just imagine what I could do with $28,000 more in my pocket each year. That's a new car! A really awesome trip (or two)! Shoes! So many shoes! For nearly a half-million dollars I could buy ridiculous things in ridiculous amounts. As a fun thought exercise (read: this is a joke!), I decided to see exactly what I could buy with all the money I spend on my kids.
1. Beach Bungalow — $549,000
This charming beach bungalow.
2. Boat –$379,995
A really awesome boat.
3. Runway-Inspired Boots — $10,000
Shoes straight from the runway, like these crystal boots.
4. Luxury Cruise — $5,399
A luxury cruise around the world.
5. Champagne Brunch — $100
I could go to a champagne brunch every single weekend.
6. Leather Couch — $11,895
Or, purchase this giant leather couch new every single year.
7. Tesla Model X — $79,500
Hubs and I could even drive matching his-and-her Teslas with falcon wings.
Reality check: I wouldn't trade my kids for anything
But, all of that ridiculousness seems just that—ridiculous. I wouldn't trade a single moment with my nuggets for that half-million dollars. I'll happily drive my minivan on long road trips to someone else's beach house for a rented week. We can snuggle on our stained couch and eat Cheerios straight from the box because the cost of life without my kids is just too great.
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money. Checkout Don't Waste Your Money for other great tips and ideas to make the most out of life.