You’d be hard pressed to find parents who don’t want the best for their kids, and many of them are spending beyond their means to do it. Nearly half (46%) of moms surveyed for BabyCenter’s 2015 Cost of Raising a Child report said they’ve gone into debt to cover child-rearing expenses, and that’s not terribly surprising, given that the survey puts the average annual cost of raising a kid at $13,248 (per child).
To go from being childless to spending more than $13,000 on raising a child the next year, new parents would need to make a lot of sacrifices and budget modifications to avoid going into debt, and as anyone who struggles to stay on budget would know, that’s not easy. Of course, it’s not a requirement to spend that kind of money as a parent — three out of five moms surveyed said they could raise their kids for less than they currently spend — but when it comes to spending money on children, it’s hard to pull back.
The survey isn’t a perfect representation of parents’ financial predicaments (most glaring is the exclusion of fathers from this survey). Still, its findings are noteworthy. Not only do nearly half of moms report being in debt because of caring for their kids, about 60% said they’re worried about having enough money to see their children to adulthood, and 53% said they’re stressed out by trying to create “perfect” childhoods for their kids
The moms surveyed insist it’s not the social pressure that makes them spend so much on their children. The overwhelming majority (91%) said they spend what they do on extra activities not to outdo other parents but because they think it’s best for their kids.
Whether or not going into debt to do what’s best for your kids really is what’s best is a complicated, murky issue, but one thing is clear: Getting into debt is easy, andgetting out is not. You may actually be costing yourself more money in the long run if you can’t keep up with your spending. The lifetime cost of debt is staggering (this calculator crunches the numbers), especially if you don’t have great credit. You can see where your credit scores stand for free on Credit.com.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com and was written by Christine DiGangi.