college

Cost of College = $1,000,000?

If it costs approximately $30,000 per year to attend college, although that figure can be much higher, then the cost of college for my children will be over $1,000,000 when the time comes, especially as rates keep on rising. In case you are wondering about the math, here it is:

7 children times $120,000 (for 4 years) = $840,000. Multiply that by an average annual tuition increase of 3% over the next 7+ years and the cost is over a million dollars.

When I get asked the question, “How are you going to send your children to college?” I usually reply with a snide remark that I am going to discourage them from attending college. However, there is some truth in that, and here are some alternatives from paying high tuition that we have discussed with our children:

Military: One of my sons wants to be in the Army. This is extremely noble and brave and not for everyone. If he stills wants to be in the Army when he comes of age, then he can also apply to and hopefully get accepted to West Point to accelerate his military career. There is no tuition at West Point.

Entrepreneur: I’m very biased with this one because I work with entrepreneurs all day long. Aside from certain professionals, such as doctors, attorneys, CPA’s, etc., you usually do not need to go to college to start your own business. Some do very well and some don’t, but I would hope that they would receive my guidance to help them to succeed.

Nursing: There are many good local colleges to choose from, which will eliminate the cost of room and board. This will dramatically reduce the cost.

Famous: Who says you can’t get paid to be famous?

Mom: My older daughters say that they want to be moms. Although it is not in vogue to be a stay at home mom nowadays, I believe that it is one of the greatest gifts that can be given to your children.

YouTuber/Gamer: I’m not sure what this one means exactly, but I think that it means recording yourself playing video games while narrating what is going on. Although, I am not sure if you can make a living wage from this or for how long, but if so, then great.

My children are not even teenagers yet, so let’s see what happens. I am definitely keeping an open mind and not taking this too seriously at this point!

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Are Children Really That Expensive?

Virtually every financial article regarding children makes you think that you will go broke if you have children. Between childcare, housing, food, diapers, vacations, clothing, activities, and especially college, they make it seem that you can’t afford to even think about children. The truth is that raising children is as expensive as you make it. Let me dispel some myths . . .

Housing: If you have a three bedroom house and have three children then one of them will have to share a bedroom. The good news is that the two that share a bedroom will not be scarred for life, but they may actually enjoy the company of each other and learn to work together.

College: I am a very, very strong believer in education, especially higher education. However, as I have written before, college is only one route to [financial] success and is not for everyone. There are alternatives, such as attending a trade school, jobs that don’t require college, entrepreneurship, or you may actually want to be a stay at home parent. Just look around you and see for yourself that some of your friends, colleagues and family members have taken a different route and are doing well for themselves.

Vacations: Vacations don’t have to be expensive and Disney is not the only option. Strangely, if you have ever travelled by car for vacation and stopped at a hotel on the way it seems as though the children enjoy the hotel visit more then the vacation! A more expensive vacation does not equal more fun and relaxation.

Food: I’ve written how to reduce your food costs before so I won’t elaborate here. Food can be as expensive as you want it to be.

Everything Else: Expensive private schools or preschools, an abundance of activities, and unnecessary purchases will make raising children very expensive. Also, when both spouses work while the children are very young it usually skyrockets your expenses (see my November 2015 blog article titled, “Should Both Parents Work?”).

Don’t misunderstand me – it is good to have nice things, but not when the “need” for those nice things steers you in the wrong direction. Children are a blessing. All seven of mine.

Children and Tax Benefits

With the upcoming birth of our son or daughter, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the tax benefits of raising children. The rules can get tricky, and your children must meet certain criteria to become your qualifying children for tax purposes. Here are a few highlights:

Dependency Exemption: For each qualifying dependent child, you can exempt from your income $4,000.

Child Tax Credit: For each qualifying child under 17 years of age you can receive a credit of up to $1,000 per child. The credit phases-out after your modified adjusted gross income is greater than $110,000 for filing jointly and $75,000 for filing as single or head of household.

Child Care Credit: If you pay for daycare, after-care or preschool so that you can work, you may be eligible for a credit of 20% to 35% of the cost, up to a maximum of $3,000 of qualified expenses for one child and $6,000 for two or more. Your children must be under age 13 to qualify.

Education Credits: There are several credits and deductions available for education expenses:

– The American Opportunity Credit provides a credit of up to $2,500 per eligible student for the first four years of college (100% of the first $2,000 of expenses and 25% of the next $2,000).

– The Lifetime Learning Credit provides a credit of up to $2,000 for an unlimited number of years (20% of the first $10,000 of expenses).

– The tuition and fees deduction provides a deduction of up to $4,000 as an adjustment to income (this means that you do not have to itemize).

– Student loan interest deduction allows for a deduction of up to $2,500 as an adjustment to income.

There are income limitations for each credit and deduction which vary widely based upon your modified adjusted gross income and filing status.

Income Shifting: If you are self-employed, you may be able to hire your minor children, pay them wages, and not have to pay income taxes or payroll taxes. Even if you do not own a business you may still be able to shift investment income to your children to minimize taxes. It takes a lot of planning, but strategizing can save a lot of taxes.

These are just some of the tax benefits to having children. Hopefully this will help to offset some of the cost of raising a family.