Antoine Watson, 19, decided to bum-rush and kill an 84-year-old man walking on the sidewalk minding his own business. Apparently, Antoine Watson was vandalizing a car across the street when he looked up and barked at the 84-year-old man to mind his own business.
This incident hit home with me. I was parking my car in Golden Gate Park once and I also saw a fella across the street smash a car window to steal something. As I looked at him, he told me to “mind my own business” as well.
The difference with me and Vicha Ratanapakdee, the 84-year-old Thai man Watson killed, is that I would have busted out both tennis racquets from the trunk of my car and beat his ass if he rushed over and threatened my family. There is no honor in attacking an elderly person, unprovoked.
The Cost Of Raising Many Children
As I followed Antoine Watson’s story and the uptick in violence against elderly Asian-Americans, I noticed from an SF Examiner article that Antoine Watson is one of 10 kids!
“He has his mother, father, nine brothers and sisters, and community standing beside him. We will work to show his innocence.”
I’m not sure how Antoine Watson is going to show his innocence when there is video footage of his violence. I’m also not sure why Antoine decided to throw his life away a year after he became an adult.
Maybe Antoine suffers from mental illness. Or maybe he was neglected given he is one of 10 children. With 10 children, how much time can you really spend with each child?
The average time a parent spends with each child in the US is between 80 – 150 minutes a day. I’m assuming Antoine got even less 1X1 time with his parents than the average child.
When we talk about the cost of raising 10 children, most of us will focus on the monetary cost. But in the case of Antoine Watson and his family, the cost is heartbreak, shame, and tragedy. The same goes for Vicha Ratanapakdee’s family due to Antoine Watson’s senseless act of violence.
Difficult Enough Raising Only Two Children
I’ve noticed my mood changes a little bit each day depending on how my son treats me. When he’s nice and loving, I feel like the best dad in the world. When he’s cold and distant, I get a little down.
Over the years, I’ve used his rejections as a way to go exercise or work online guilt-free. After all, if my son doesn’t want to play with me, I’ve got plenty of other things to do with my time.
But I’m starting to think I’m just being a wimp for finding it difficult to be a stay-at-home father to two young children. If Antoine Watson’s parents have 10 children and get by, why am I struggling with just two?
I should have no problem spending 6+ hours a day every day with my kids until they finally go to school. But after almost four years, I have yet to build up such consistent endurance.
Therefore, it seems to me some people are just fit to be better parents than others. If you are a parent of 4+ children, please share your parenting and endurance secrets!
Maybe There’s A Case For Having Too May Children
In my post, When To Have More Children, multiple surveys say the ideal number of children to have is two. With two children, parents can provide more 1-on-1 attention. Any more and parents are playing preventative defense.
I’m not here to say how many children is ideal. The choice is truly personal. If I could snap my figures, own a mega mansion, have support from preschool, family, and others, I’d probably have four children.
However, perhaps there’s a limit to the number of children we should have. If we have so many children to the point of neglecting them, maybe some of our children might become menaces to society.
In the Watson family case, at least one of their children needed more love and attention.
Maybe Children Aren’t That Expensive After All
Another conundrum many big city parents face is the extra cost of raising children. In order to afford children in more expensive areas, parents find themselves having to delay having children beyond the ideal biological age. And when you delay beyond the ideal biological age, complications may arise.
Based on data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, a family will spend approximately $12,980 annually per child in a middle-income ($59,200-$107,400), two-child, married-couple family.
Middle-income, married-couple parents of a child born in 2015 may expect to spend $233,610 ($284,570 if you include projected inflation) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17. This does not include the cost of a college education.
Although spending almost $300,000 to raise one child through age 17 sounds like a lot, maybe we are severely overestimating the cost of raising kids.
Having a net worth target before having kids may sound responsible. I had one and have recommended others have one too. But it now seems completely unnecessary based on what I’ve observed.
There seem to be many middle-class families with more than two children, let alone 10 children. Therefore, raising kids can’t be as expensive as what the data and surveys show. Maybe parents are just being overly neurotic about how much to actually save.
I don’t know what Antoine’s parents do. But, let’s make some basic assumptions in order understand how to raise 10 children and house 12 people.
Income Needed To Raise 10 Children
In order to raise 10 children in the San Francisco Bay Area, we should assume Antoine Watson’s parents make at least $300,000 a year. $300,000 a year is roughly what a family of four needs to earn to live a middle-class lifestyle in the Bay Area. But let’s try to make it work anyway.
Although $300,000 a year might sound like a lot, it’s a relatively common household income due to all the well-paying companies in the Bay Area. For example, a fresh-out-of-college engineer at Facebook, Google, and Netflix makes $150,000 all in.
MUNI janitors and elevator technicians make over $200,000 a year with overtime. Therefore, if they marry someone with a similar occupation, a $300,000 household income is quite feasible.
After paying a 25% effective tax rate, $300,000 comes out to $225,000. We must then add on $20,000 a year in child tax credits ($2,000 for each child) for a total of ~$245,000 a year.
With about $245,000 a year in income after tax and child credits, the Watsons should be able to spend $10,000 a year to raise each kid ($100,000 a year total for 10 kids). $10,000 a year is about $3,000 less a year on average according to the government. With 10 kids, there should be cost-saving synergies.
The Watsons’ remaining ~$145,000 a year in disposable income can be used to pay for housing, food, entertainment, retirement savings, and college savings.
House Needed To Raise 10 Children
To house 10 children, you would need a house with at least five bedrooms. The parents would sleep in one bedroom and 10 kids would split the remaining 4 bedrooms. Ideally, the Watsons would own an 11 bedroom house so each kid could have their own room.
The five-bedroom house would also need a minimum of three bathrooms. Splitting each bathroom 4-ways seems like a comfortable maximum. Luckily, most five-bedroom houses come with three bathrooms or more.
A 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 3,000 sqft home in Daly City, where they currently live, costs about $1,500,000. Although $1,500,000 violates my 30/30/3 rule for home buying, given mortgage rates are so low, it’s OK to stretch after putting 20% down.
I didn’t think there was such a thing as an 11-bedroom house in Daly City (15 minutes south of San Francisco). However, I found one with nine bathrooms for a $2,690,000 asking price!
If Antoine Watson’s parents make $535,000 or more a year, they could feasibly buy this house if they also have the 20%+ down payment. However, let’s remain conservative and say they make $300,000 a year.
The True Cost Of Raising Children
Unless the San Francisco District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, goes light on Watson, he will likely have to spend at least a decade behind bars. Watson’s life is ruined and Vicha Ratanapakdee’s life is gone.
Here are some of my takeaways from the cost of raising many children. I’d love to hear some of yours.
1) Parents Are Over Thinking Costs
For those of you diligently trying to save lots of money to buy a home and pay for tuition, you might be overthinking things. You have to ask yourself: If the cost of raising children is really so expensive, how can some families afford to raise so many children?
There are plenty of middle class people with many children who are raising big families just fine. Although it’s nice, you don’t have to set net worth targets by age. You don’t need to make a certain amount of money or have a certain title before having kids either. The choices are yours to make.
If you want kids, it may be better to have them sooner, rather than later. If you wait too long, you might find yourself struggling to have just one. And when you find yourself tired from raising two kids, think about families like the Watsons who are able to raise 10 kids.
One of my regrets is not having children 3-5 years sooner. I was too focused on achieving a minimum level of financial independence. As a result, the only thing I can do is make up for lost time and try and live longer.
2) The True Cost Of Raising Children Is Time
Once you get over four or five children, the true cost of raising children is time. As a parent, there’s only so much time in the day you can give to your children, especially if you are a working parent.
You don’t want to have so many children that you push your children to find attention and love elsewhere. Left to their own devices, children can often get into plenty of trouble as we see with Antoine Watson.
3) Parental Involvement Matters For School
If parents are paying private school tuition, these parents may be more involved because they have more skin in the game. If parents can afford private school tuition, there might be more families who have at least one stay at home parent. As a result, private school parents may be more involved, which may lead to fewer troubled kids in school.
Then again, parents shouldn’t make general assumptions. Therefore, when deciding on a school, parents must ask about parental participation rates for volunteer activities. Parents should dig deep into the community aspect of each school.
4) A Trend Towards Bigger Families
In 2019, the number of babies born in the U.S. hit the lowest level in more than three decades, according to a federal report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
American women, for example, are now projected to have about 1.71 children over their lifetimes – down 1% from 2018 and below the rate of 2.1 needed to exactly replace a generation.
However, there is a real possibility that with rising financial support from the government, an improving economy, and the realization that kids may be cheaper than reported, fertility rates may start ticking back up.
As savvy investors, we must pay particularly close attention to demographic trends. One of the main reasons why I’ve been buying lots of real estate in the heartland of America is due to the demographic shift towards lower cost areas of the country.
However, if there is another baby boom from the millennial generation who can now work more readily from home, then we should be buying rental properties now. For in 10-20 years, demand for housing will be through the roof. Let’s not have our children ask us decades from now why we didn’t realize such opportunities today.
Time May Be Everything
If more parents spent more time with their children, there would probably be fewer criminals. I’ve got to imagine there would be fewer angry individuals and more empathetic people if there were more nurturing parents as well.
If it’s 10 pm and you don’t know where your kid is, get on it! Don’t let the bad actions of your kid negatively affect someone else’s life.
Readers, do you think the cost of raising children is overblown? Why do so many parents with higher incomes stress so much when plenty of lower-income families are doing fine with many children? Why is there so little outrage for crimes against the Asian-American community?
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