Something that’s beat into the heads of everyone who ever decided to have a kid is that we should have already been saving for college. This list of four mistakes from U.S. News and World Report lists “starting too late to save” as the No. 1 error.
Most of us know this and yet, according to statistics, most of us haven’t started saving. Or, in my case, know they’re not saving enough. And of course, like all economic matters in this era, we tend to blame the individual for not taking enough personal responsibility. We blame ourselves for not starting early and not investing enough.
This really interesting info-graphic in GOOD magazine compares the cost of two major necessities — daycare and college — and should put to rest any feelings of guilt over your lack of college savings (and fire up your feelings of frustration over how little support U.S. families get with childcare costs).
We all know that infant childcare typically costs the most. In 35 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, the annual cost for 35 hours of infant childcare added up to more than a year of college tuition and fees at public institutions in those states. So in Minnesota in 2011, families shelled out more than $12,000 per year on average for childcare for their babies and around $9,000 to send their grown babies to a state college for the year. New Yorkers paid slightly more for childcare and $3,000 per year less for state university.
Daycare and public college in Utah cost nearly the same, though it was $400 per year on average higher for daycare for babies than college for young adults. In D.C., families paid a whopping $17,000 to have a daycare center care for their babies. Sending kids to public university was a savings by comparison — a whole $10K less for a year.
Overall, the nation paid an average of $9,520 for infant care and an average of $7,700 for preschoolers. Even average costs for school-aged kids, $5097, rivaled what some states pay for a year of state college classes.
Here’s the thing about these statistics: it’s not as if daycare workers are going home to sit atop a pile of gold-bar stacked in their basements. They’re some of the lowest paid professions around. Moreover, these daycare numbers don’t take into account a lot of fundraising that parents are asked (sometimes forced) into participating in. These high costs are, while high, also not high enough.
Which is why government subsidies of childcare in the U.S. should be on the minds of policy makers, mom-in-chief and mother-praising speech-givers, and a part of any recovery program meant to create jobs and get money into the economy. One paycheck should not be eaten up by childcare costs, that’s ridiculous. But we put up with it. Childcare costs get in the way of many women returning to work after having more than one kid (doubling down on these costs is impossible). Should the cost of afterschool care really rival college tuition expenses?
How does your state fare? Do you find it hard to pay for childcare and save for college?
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