I’ve discovered a simple parenting trick that will make you rich. It will take time, effort, and persistence on your part, but the end result will be a dump truck full of cash*. What is it? Billing your children, for all the unconditional love, attention, and support you provided.
*(The actual volume of cash will probably be enough to fill a 2003 Honda Odyssey, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it)
Having kids is an investment, and it’s only fair that you demand a sizable return. Nobody gets into parenting because they enjoy changing diapers or listening to a baby scream its head off at 3 o’clock in the morning. Most people have children for the same reasons I did: the money.
Raising a kid takes a lot of time and money, so it’s only natural that they should pay you back. Studies show that it costs roughly 230,000 dollars to raise a child to adulthood, not counting college. I will help you get that back, and more.
How it Works
The first step in getting rich from your children is creating the bill itself. Due to the hundreds of expenses you will incur over years of raising a child, this will not be a single piece of paper so much as a living document. There is no single right way to create the bill, so long as it is itemized and very detailed.
Warning: the bill you eventually present to your children will be more complicated than your taxes. There will be lots of precise calculations and opaque logic. Unlike taxes however the convoluted logic and shady calculations will serve one single purpose: to make you rich.
You should present them with the bill at a young age, ideally 9 or 10. This will help them appreciate the gravity of their situation and lead to more responsible decisions down the road (IE not wasting allowance on toys, getting a job as soon as possible). See the FAQ for more recommendations.
What to Include in the Bill
Everything, and I mean it. Clothes, food, toys, diapers, baby wipes, Christmas presents – if they touched it, you can charge them. Did they ever stand on your antique table, or play the grand piano for a funny home video? Put em’ on the bill.
Obviously you want to charge your child for rent. For this it is important to be fair. Only charge the monthly rate for a room in your area, although make sure to adjust for inflation. Let the mother decide if she wants to charge for time spent in the womb ($1000/month is the rate most people use).
Reader Tip: Make sure they pay you back for allowance – it wasn’t a gift!
The most lucrative section of the bill will be what I call “parenting services”. This is the tens of thousands of hours you and your wife spent showering the child with affection and catering to their every need. For this calculate the raw hours you spent parenting and multiply it by your hourly rate.
What is your hourly parenting rate? Good question. It obviously can’t be less than the minimum wage in your state, so start there. If you have a high school degree, double it. If you have a college degree, double it again. Post graduate degree? Double it again. Wikipedia article about you? Multiply by 1.5.
FYI: Due to my celebrity status and numerous degrees my parenting rate is an astounding 240 dollars per hour!
For example, if you live in California and have a bachelor’s degree your hourly parenting rate is 42 dollars per hour (10.50 x 2 x 2). If you have a 5 year old a rough estimate for your parenting services is 5 years * 365 days in a year * 6 hours of parenting a day * 40 dollars/hour = $438,000. Not bad!
The best time to start compiling your bill is early, ideally before they are even born. This will help you remember and record every single expense. Any item of clothing or morsel of food you forget is money out of your pocket, so you want to remember everything.
When should you present your child with the bill? Ideally as soon as they are old enough to comprehend what it means, even if they can’t start making payments. This will help them mentally prepare.
The perfect occasion for this is Christmas or a birthday. Put a printed copy of the bill in a big box and pretend it is a present they really want. Then, when they open it, surprise them with a long serious discussion. Afterwards, test them by offering the present they really wanted, with the caveat that it will be on the bill, unless you return it.
We plan to present our oldest, Timmy, with his bill when he turns 10. Obviously we don’t expect him to start making payments immediately, but it will help him plan for a future in which he can earn the 3.1 million dollars (and counting) that he already owes.
When should I stop charging my children?
When they turn 18 or move out of the house, whichever comes last. If they run away before turning 18, charge them an extra rate for anxiety and worry.
Should I charge interest on payments? If so, how much?
You should definitely charge interest, just be reasonable about it. You want to find the fine balance between putting your child into lifetime debt and making yourself rich. I recommend starting at a rate of 1% a year, then increasing it by one each birthday (starting when they are born of course).
My son is only twelve years old and doesn’t have enough to pay back the 3.2 million he owes us. What should I do?
Relax. You should wait until they turn 18 to start expecting payments. If you are really anxious, start secretly stealing allowance money, or sell them into indentured servitude over the weekends.
Should I pressure my son into a high paying career?
Will your son become a literal fountain of money if he graduates with a degree in fine arts? Do you think a teacher’s salary can pay for boozy weekend excursions to Atlantic City? I recommend and showing him only the movie “Wall Street” from an early age (skip the sad ending).
I have two boys, which one do I charge for time spent with both?
Good question. I assume you are drafting a bill for each child. Charge each of them separately for family time. This is a great way to squeeze out a few extra dollars.
Should my wife and I charge separately for time spent parenting?
Absolutely. Both parents are independent workers who could have been doing another job. It is only fair that both charge for their services.