We all know having children is expensive. As my husband and I contemplate on adding to our family, it got me wondering just how much it really costs to raise a child from birth to age 18. Like most parents in the midst of raising a family our money focus tends to be on the here and now. It’s time to buy diapers again; we have extra money this week should be buy one box or two? How much is preschool going to cost? Should we sign him up for T-ball, it’s only $30.00? As the boys get older I know that those questions will undoubtedly change. However, thinking of all the possibilities far of in the future is impossible and even a bit overwhelming.
How Much Does It Really Cost To Raise A Child?
Each year going all the way back to 1960 the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released estimates on the cost to raise a child from infancy to adulthood. The very first report indicated that it would cost roughly $25,230.00 to raise your kid in 1960 that seems like a dream now compared to the quarter of a million dollars parents are shelling out now! In 2010 when my oldest son KC was born they estimated it would cost $226,920.20. Twenty months later when AJ was born that price tag increased to $241,080.00. These are only estimates of course and the actual numbers vary widely from region to region and income levels will make a huge difference as well.
The USDA’s figures are based on food, clothing, housing, education, health care, child care, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses (think haircuts, sports fees, ballet, etc.). You’ll notice that saving for college is nowhere on the list, and for those parents who plan to pay for it, or at least contribute this expense alone can cost more that the house they live in.
The largest expense for families with young children (other than housing) is child care. When I was expecting my first son, KC, I checked into the cost of daycare for him. At the time the average price of in home childcare (non-agency based care) was $125.00 a week or $500.00 a month. Once my second son came along that price would have doubled over night. While $500.00-$1,000.00 a month in child care may not seem like a lot to some, it meant that I would have spent most of my income on daycare and other work related excrescences (transportation, clothing, etc) just so I could go to work. Coming to that realization helped seal the deal on me becoming a stay at home mom, and I am so glad that it did.
One thing I did find interesting was that the more children you have, the less money was spent on them. Using our family as an example, we have two boys who share a bedroom which decreases to the cost of housing. Since we have two boys AJ gets a lot of hand-me-downs (at 2 he really doesn’t mind) so the cost of clothing also decreases. The USDA also mentions that the more children you have the less you spend on food. Their reasoning is that you buy larger quantities aka buy in bulk and therefore it is cheaper. Personally I’m not sure that buying in bulk is really the best way to use your grocery dollars, but I won’t argue with them about that today!
While I know these numbers are estimates based on the average cost across the country, personally I believe they are still a little high. There are ways of raising your family without the numbers skyrocketing out of control. It just takes a little pre-planning and the ability to say “no” to your little angle face offspring. I don’t believe that a child needs all of the latest gadgets or the $100.00 pair of jeans that will be out of fashion in 6 weeks. If however a teen or preteen thinks they do, then a little hard work to earn the money themselves will be a good lesson for them to learn. But, that’s just me.