Somehow it all works out


Randy Butler - Contributing columnist



I am pretty sure we can all agree that our financial state gets easier as we get older. Let’s face it, we all love our kids and would not change anything they provide us. But it can be financially challenging. When we decide to have a family, none of us really think past the stage of them being babies. We have no idea what lies ahead for us in the process. I just read it is estimated the cost to raise a child to 18 is $233,610. If only it ended at 18, right?

As a kid, I am sure my parents fell on hard times, but I must say I never knew about it. Nothing was ever said nor were we denied anything we had a need for. My parents just dealt with it I guess, and life went on. The two Butler boys never knew any different.

When my kids were growing up I can remember this time of the year was not always a favorite of mine. There were years I was totally stressed about how it was all going to work. On paper, there was no way there would be enough money for Christmas. But somehow, there always was. It almost seems pointless to let money, or the lack of money, control us the way it does. I remember talking with one of my sons-in-law about this very thing a few years back. I told him it really doesn’t change that much, the numbers you deal with just get bigger as you get older.

A few days ago, my wife Mary Jean and I took three of the grandkids to the zoo. It was a blast. The time we had far outweighed the cost it all entailed but nonetheless, I was somewhat amazed. On the way home, as most old guys do, I started running some numbers in my head. Below is what the day costs us.

● $120 for tickets to get inside;

● $40 for gas;

● $55 for pizza purchased inside the zoo;

● $75 for gifts for all three kids;

● Total for a six-hour adventure at the zoo = $290.

Now, maybe I am just old school, but this just blew my mind. It’s not just me, is it? We were the grandparents in this deal. It made me wonder how the young family raising two to three kids could ever afford such luxuries as a trip to the zoo. I just could not stop myself from taking it a step further, so I turned to the internet for my answers. The numbers below varied depending on the source, but you will still get the point.

In Highland County, the average family will live off approximately $39,858 per year, or $766.50 per week of gross income. It’s been a lifetime ago since I had a job that deducted taxes, but I would estimate some 20 percent in taxes and other items to get a net income of $613 per week. Out of the net income, a young family will have an estimated average rent of $1,000 per month. We all know the endless expenses we all incur that could go on and on and on. I am sure you can see how this stacks up to be a total mess that makes us all wonder how it ever works. We can also agree that on paper it just doesn’t. Not even close.

My Granddad said something to my father that I also have said to my kids. It goes something like this: “I sure would hate to be raising kids today.”

I think this statement rings true. Each generation has much more things to deal with than the ones before. Life just seems to get harder as time goes on. Each of us shares part of the blame for letting this happen. We make our lives so full, packed with events to fill the time slots. We took out all the relaxing and talking to each other and replaced it with stuff that will not last.

The relationships we made along the way will far outlast the results of the big game itself.

It appears to me that if we went back to cultivating the relationship by simply spending time instead of spending money, we would all be much happier with those we love.

Do you remember the gifts you got last Christmas, or do you remember whom you spent time with more?

Oh yes, all you young families with children, hang in there, the current stage only lasts 20 years or so, then you go on to the next one. What is that one about? That’s for another day.

Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.

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Randy Butler

Contributing columnist