The Cost of Raising a Child

March 5, 2008

I believe I heard somewhere that the average cost of raising a child is approximately $200,000. Personally, I am not sure how anyone can come up with an amount since everyone’s situation is different. Do the people calculating cost include a portion of the rent or mortgage payment? Is college a consideration, or is the figure only up until graduation? So, being curious, I did a little checking.

Honestly, only I can answer the question for my family. There are calculators on the web where you can estimate the cost of clothing, housing, food, recreation, etc. But, you have to supply the numbers yourself, how are people who haven’t have kids yet supposed to know how much those expenses will be? Unfortunately, I don’t write down every time I buy my kids a present or spend money on an extracurricular activity and I don’t break out the grocery bill costs per person.

Even though I don’t have detailed data, I can give you some general information based on my personal experience. First, if you think the cost of bringing a baby home from the hospital is high, let me tell you, “You aint seen nothin’ yet!” Just wait until they get older : ) However, if having everything saved and budgeted out before having a baby was a prerequisite for parenthood our country’s population would definitely be shrinking.

Actually, when the kids are younger, they do not cost very much, even with the price of disposable diapers and baby food. For example, my son was 15 months old his second Christmas. Being right after the separation and impending divorce, I pooled my meager funds to make sure the kids had a couple of good presents under the tree.

My baby pulled a Tootsie Roll rope out of his stocking, and Christmas might as well have been over for him. He was perfectly content. Now, I hear lists several months in advance of the holiday. Of course, the toys all have batteries or some other long-term money-sucking feature. My daughter, with a new learner’s permit in hand only wanted a car this year. Yeah Right! She got a Matchbox car in her stocking.

I guess what I am trying to say is that every child is different, and the cost grows with the kid. My daughter can wear the same clothes for years, if she likes them. She grew gradually and is shorter than average. My son can wear out a pair of jeans in a matter of weeks. I have actually been asked if he walks on his knees. Plus, he goes through growing spurts and need a whole new wardrobe 2-3 times a year. He also eats more to keep up with those spurts.

In summary, I cannot really say what it will cost to raise a child. I can cut corners by buying off brands at the store, go to thrift shops for the jeans that my son will quickly ruin, and say “no” to the wants. But, I cannot tell you what it really costs, too many variables exist. Only you can calculate for your family, considering each child on an individual basis.



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3 Responses to The Cost of Raising a Child

  • Bill

    Most of the costs you see in these studies are for paid child care and higher education.

    Cutting the costs of either (e.g. stay at home parent) substantially cuts the cost of raising a child.

    Right now I’m looking at jobs at the local private university, since as a perquisite they offer a tuition credit for kids of their employees, which is transferrable to a number of other private schools in my state.

  • kim

    I thought 200K sounded pretty high for 18 years. Then I started thinking about daycare (5K a year) which will only be for 5 years but some other activity will suck up that money. So that leaves 5-6K a year. I am not spending that now, but I could easily, little cute clothes and little cute toys really add up!

  • donna jean

    I agree that it really varies and is based on your kids and how you choose to raise them. Some families are all about extracurricular activities and others think there is enough going on at home. You can raise kids as cheaply or expensively as you want. And there are lots of variables that impact your budget.

    I just wanted to chime in on one budget saving thing I learned years ago with my daughter — if you buy your clothes at Sears you can join their Kid Advantage club (maybe you don’t have to join at all) but if your kid wears out the clothes before they out grow it, you can take it in and replace it. While I may pay a little more up front for clothes, I have a daughter that can wear the same thing for years, but who also wears things out pretty fast (especially shoes) and I’ve used this program many times to replace worn out items.