Top Life Expenses

baby on mother's handsWhat are the top three expenses during a person’s life? This is the question I set out to answer a few days ago.

It turns out, that like many things in life, it depends.

The biggest lifetime expenses we can encounter.

Raising a child to age 18 (not including post secondary ed).

According to CNN Money article Average cost to raise a kid: written in 2013, that cost is $241,080. This includes things such as groceries, day care, transportation and clothing. Have 2 or 3 wonderful offspring and your spending half a million dollars or more by the time they are 18 (and that assumes they do leave home and make their own way after that!). So, depending on how many kids you want, where you live and how much you indulge your children, you could drop a bundle on the little darlings!

Hopefully this isn’t a reason used to justify not having children, they are well worth the cost!

Senior living/nursing home care.

For some, but not all, depending on how long you live, your luck in the gene pool, how healthy you keep yourself and where you live, you may spend some big bucks in your later years.

Today there are a number of options to provide services to seniors no longer capable of the full routine of home and self care, and likely more will be developed to serve the baby boomers as they pass through their elder years.

The least costly of these include adult day services (day care for adults or in home visits from companies offering services), which according to Met Life research averaged $70 a day nationally.

The most expensive options involved full medical care in a nursing home. The national average cost of this, according to that same study was $248 a day, or over $90,000 a year.

Of course, not everyone will need nursing home care. The 2013 Center for Disease Control research indicated that only around 28% of the US population between the ages of 75 and 84 use nursing homes. If you make it over that age, the percent goes up to around 42%.

But, the good news is that if you do need nursing home care, chances are you only will be in it around a year, according to the US department of Health and Human Services.  Actually this may be bad news as I believe a lot of folks never go home from the nursing home.

Assisted and graduated living arrangements also can cost you a big buck. My Mother-in-law just turned 91. She has been in a ‘retirement home’ (which provides meals and cleaning and some monitoring along with activities and transportation, but not medical assistance) for the past 4 years at a cost of over $3000 a month. Do the math, that is $144,000 so far.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities – a form of graduated care living arrangement, can be even more. Some charge an upfront fee to enter – sometimes up to a million dollars. These are the communities that start you out in your own living space with minimal services and as you need more and more care, you move up (graduate) to another part of the facility that provides the level of care you need. My aunt and uncle, now in their early nineties, just moved to one of these.

Of course, you may be like my grandpa, who lived to 95 out on his 200 acre farm with no need for services or care until his last hospital stay. He was still cooking, driving and minding the farm up until the last.

Your home.

The third cost that could be one of your top lifelong expenses is your humble abode. Again, this depends. It depends on what part of the country you are in, how much you decide to spend and how many houses you buy/how long you keep a mortgage (ie how much you end up paying in interest).

In 2010, the US Census indicated that the average home price was $272, 900. Here in the Midwest, now in 2014, the median home prices are around $143,300, but in the northeast, the median home price is around $100,000 more than that.

There you have it: The top three expenses in your life – your kids, your home and your senior years! The recurring theme here seems to be ‘where you live’. If you choose to live in an area of the nation with higher costs, you might pay more for all three of life’s top expenses.

Would you move to another region to lower your expenses?



Top Life Expenses — 10 Comments

  1. It’s true that your home is a big life expense….but of the three it’s the only one that you actually get a return on (monetarily, anyway…having kids has a very different kind of ROI).

  2. Yeah, I can definitely see these as the top 3. We’ve avoided these so far (saving up for our later years, though), and I am unsure if we will purchase a home or have children. One thing for sure, we will count the cost before jumping into either.

  3. If I didn’t have so many ties to the current city/metro area that I live in I would definitely consider moving to a lower cost-of-living area. Especially if I worked remotely full-time, which is definitely a possibility based on where the current job market is headed. My job can technically be done full-time from home right now but my company is stuck in their ways.

  4. We are living in a province and it’s cheaper here compared to big cities. 15 years ago we lived in a big city, the cost of living is pretty high that’s why my parents decided to move here in a small province.

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