How much does it cost to raise a child?

When most people contemplate having a child, they think to the immediate costs. They think of things like the cost of diapers, clothing and baby food. But how much does it really cost to raise a child? Keep reading. You’ll be floored.

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That’s my son, Tyler.

I remember holding him in my arms for the first time. My eyes swelled with joy. It was love at first sight and I was very proud.

At some point in your life, you might have the discussion of having children. There’s going to be an exchange of values and ideals around having them. You will ask each other questions like:

  • What are your thoughts on children?
  • How many do you want?
  • Do you want boys or girls?
  • When do you want them by?
  • Can we afford them?

Questions like these paint a picture of how big of a family you desire. It also gives you crucial information to help you start planning for how you’re going to afford it. From there you can discover how much it costs to raise a child.

We all have dreams and goals in life, and they all need money. Having children isn’t any different. With careful planning, you can design the family life of your dreams, filled with joy and opportunities for your family.

“I want to have six kids.”

That’s what I told my wife when we were engaged. Actually, I’m sure I said “six to eight”. What can I say? I was a lot younger and not as financially mature as I am today. I don’t think any of us are when we have “the talk”. I’m sure that I was thinking, “It will all work out”. Maybe I wasn’t giving it much thought at all.

Countless of studies (here’s one) have shown that having a large family leads to poverty. And after reviewing the numbers, I can see why.  I’ve often wondered what drives parents to have more children than they can care for? Why don’t they strive for a higher quality of life for their family?

Maybe they just don’t care. Maybe they haven’t made the connection. Often we associate costs of having a baby with the more immediate expenses like diapers, clothing, and baby food. We don’t consider the long-term effects it has on our wallets. Maybe, just like my younger self, they’re thinking, “It will all work out.”

 

The Cost to Raise a Child

You might want to sit down for this.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been working on how much it costs to raise a child for years. They’ve been collecting the data since 1960. The most recent data we have is from 2013.

The cost to raise a child born in 2013 (latest data available), from birth to an 18-year-old adult is:

 

$245,340

for middle-income families with two parents and up to five children.
(Does not include the cost of a college education)

For lower income families with two parents, this cost is $176,550
For high-income families, it is $407,820

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These number only reflect the basic needs like housing, food, clothing, and child care. It also includes some miscellaneous expenses in there. It doesn’t include the cost of college.

A Life of Compromise

I didn’t end up having six children. I became a financial planner. I became smarter, wiser. I crunched the numbers and guess what? They didn’t work out. I couldn’t afford the cost to raise another child. I would have to stop funding certain goals and dreams. I’d have to cut back. My wife and I would have to work harder, and for far much longer. We would have to downgrade our lifestyle.

We would never regret having another child (not possible any more). But in the end, the money has to come from somewhere.

In large family households, there is little money at the end of the month. It’s hard enough to cover the basics, let alone live comfortably. People have to shop second hand stores. They consume inferior quality food, as better quality food is more expensive. It’s even not uncommon for children to go to be hungry.

According to NoKidHungry, 1 in 5 kids in America don’t get the food that they need every day. 3 out of 4 teachers say their students regularly come to school hungry. This is in America people.

 

The Child Care Burden

One of the biggest burdens that many families face is that of child care -what to do with your child while you’re off to work?

Some people have the luxury of having a younger retired parent to watch over a child. Kudos to you folks. But the rest of us don’t have that luxury. Today, the average two-parent family household in the 80th percentile makes $85,000 a year. The median 50th percentile makes $51,939 in 2013. That’s seems a bit low for my area, but okay. They spend 20% of their budget (about $1,000 each month) on child care. If you live closer to the city, that number could ratchet up to $2,000 each month.

Child care is so expensive that some parents choose to stay home over going to work. I asked some people in my community about their current child care experiences. This is what they had to share:

In Connecticut, Tricia R., and her husband share:

“We pay about $1900 for three kids for childcare. That includes preschool cost and a babysitter that comes to our house from 8-4 every weekday.”

Outside the Boston area,  Rosa D. and her husband share:

“We pay $1,200/month for 3 days full-time (for an infant). If we were to pay for 5 full days, the cost would go up to about $1,750/month. We also have an after-school care cost of about $600/month (Valentina needs to go somewhere when school gets out at 2 pm. That program is 5 days/week for 4 hours a day).”

In Connecticut, Dave S. and his wife share:

“This is depressing… it’s $1,865 per month for one child full time for us.”

In Connecticut, Miriam R. shares:

“My son is starting middle school so we’re finally done w day care/before care. He was in daycare full time from 16 weeks old and I would guesstimate to say we’ve spent upwards of $75,000 on daycare in the last 12 years. Until he was 3 we paid $1100 per month using a daycare. After that it hovered around $900 till he reached before care which we used all of grammar school.”

Eric B. in Connecticut sought out an in-home daycare to keep costs down. He and his wife share:

“My wife and I have our one child in full-time daycare. It’s an in-home daycare here in town. We pay $45 a day, and pre-pay monthly just to keep it easy. I have no problem with the cost. It’s only like 4 kids, and the woman who runs it is the best. She gets a few weeks paid vacation a year. Ends up around $1000/month.”

Last Thoughts

If having a large family is important to you, that’s awesome. Go for it.  It just takes some planning. Find out how much it will cost to raise a child. I’d never advise anyone that they couldn’t afford more children. That’s nobody’s business.

However, I feel that as young adults, we simply don’t have the financial maturity to make it work. Financial hardship is serious and it takes its toll on any family. All it takes is an unexpected event to unravel everything. This is where a financial planner can help. A good financial planner can help you plan for the future with the money you have.

Are you looking to add children to your future? Are you making financial strides to prepare? I’d love to hear your thoughts

 

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