TODAY | October 04, 2012
>>> this morning on "today's money," the skyrocketing cost of raising a family. the u.s. department of agriculture estimates it can cost an average of $235,000 to raise a child born in 2011 up to age 17. it's no wonder a study from babycenter.com found that four out of five families are stressed out about money. and carmen wong-ulrich is here to help us out. good morning.
>> good morning.
>> that $235,000 that's up 10% from the year before.
>> it's a lot.
>> i imagine that number's going to continue to grow. and nowadays, a lot of family are dual income if they're lucky, but a lot of single-income families --
>> it's almost more precarious to be dual income and base your budget on both of those incomes. for the whole life of your family, somebody's income is going to go away or get cut back or you're going to have another child. so you want to make sure to form your budget on less than that 100% of your dual income that way you have flexibility. and i know some families that have taken one income and used that solely to save, emergency fund, retirement and college and that way you have a safety net should someone get laid off or income go down.
>> and you say a lot of people have separate credit card accounts, savings accounts . is that something to be thinking about doing?
>> this is different. the baby center moms say they're more likely to have a separate credit card where the dads are more likely to have a separate savings account . that is really revealing and a little bit dangerous. moms are focused on the budget and spending and dads are focused on saving and growing. so we can learn from each other there. and i think more moms need to pay attention to planning long-term planning, saving and growing, not just the budget day -to-day.
>> and that's where there is a lot of conflict as you said on babycenter.com, four out of five couples disagree on the spending rules of the family. how do you get them to come together?
>> very much so. and they found here that when moms splurge, where do you splurge? moms almost 80% of moms say they're more likely to splurge on their kids, whereas maybe this isn't so surprising, dads, over half of dads are more likely to splurge on themselves. here's the thing, if you communicate about the budget and you really make it about the numbers, it doesn't have to be a battle over soccer cleats and spending on that, it's got to be about these numbers. what are your goals as a family? and also make note of patterns. if you see patterns of where are your arguing? what is about it? how much is it? then get to the root of the problem.
>> and getting to the root of the problem is what you have to do next. where are you finding that a lot of couples break down when it comes down to that?
>> because it's not really about the money. about some other goal, may be about control. but again, if you become the family cfo, the accountant, i say the cfo, if you're really in charge of the household budget , set a time aside once a month to go down and break it down and show your spouse if you're arguing with them, this is where the money's going, this is the goal we need to set, whether it's paying down debt, saving for college, do we share those goals? and if we cut here and here and here, this is where the money should go instead. got to communicate.
>> and most people, i think, view this as investing in your child's future, but that raises the other concern, should you be worried about your children's future or your own future first?
>> virtually all of the moms we surveyed at baby center believe the money they spend on their children, not towards education, but in general is an investment in their children. but this is something i hear from moms all the time, which scares me. they say, oh, that's okay, i'll tap home equity to pay for college, it's okay, i'll cut down how much i'm putting away for retirement. i've been saying this for years, like you're on an airplane and they say put your oxygen mask on yourself first and then your child. if you don't take care of yourself, you end up being a burden on your kids. the best gift to give them is maintain and secure your retirement and savings, and then you can take care of them.
>> good suggestions, start using coupons, eating out less.
>> hand-me-downs, and finding free activities and events now online and message boards. so many different ways to find free things to do as a family. and half of the moms said they actually enjoy that. they enjoy all this coupon clipping and stuff. it's money that can be put to something else.
>> it's the art of the deal. getting out there.