Over the course of 18 years, how much do you think it costs to raise a child in the United States?

According to a 2012 study, the total bill will run you about $241,000 in today's dollars. Throw in the cost of a four-year in-state public university  and we're looking at a grand total of about $313,000.

When the average 30-year old has retirement savings of just $13,000 in the bank, it's easy to see why some begin to think the possibility of having a child and actually retiring are just about impossible.

3 simple steps to shave off half of those costs -- if you can dare to be different
When you look at sobering statistics like this, you start to wonder how we ever got to this point. The answer is actually pretty simple: first, too often, we live beyond our means. And second, we have come to believe that there is one well-worn path for our kids to follow in order to be successful in life. It's so engrained in our society that many of us don't even stop to think about it.

Below, I'll present three very simple steps to help you question these assumptions, and help shave over 55% off of these costs. I'm a big fan of the KISS method of living ("Keep It Simple, Stupid"), so don't expect to be blown away by financial wizardry. Oftentimes, the most effective solutions are maddeningly simple.

You might notice the numbers are a little different from the ones above; that's because I broke out a specific situation -- a Midwestern urban couple making between $60,000 and $105,000 -- rather than taking the average across all demographics.

Of course, everyone's situation is different, but for those worried about affording a child and actually having money left over to retire, these three represent great starting points.

Have a Kid or Save for Retirement? It's Not "Either Or" from Brian Stoffel

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