Raising a kid isn’t cheap—no surprises there. But what may surprise you is exactly how much it costs each year to raise a child these days. Hint: we’re talking six figures.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that couples who had a child in 2015 will end up spending an average of $13,000 a year raising that child, which adds up to $233,000 by the time the he or she is 17. That number actually represents a decrease. In 2014, the estimate clocked in at a staggering $245,000.
Housing (29%) and food (18%) make up the largest share of child-rearing expenses, followed by childcare/education (16%), transportation (15%), and healthcare (9%). Clothing was the smallest expense, at 6%, and other miscellaneous child-rearing necessities accounted for 7%.
These numbers are not universal, and are projected for middle-income, married-couple families alone. Lower income families will spend less ($174,690) and higher income families are expected to pay more ($372,210). "Understanding the costs of raising children and planning for anticipated and unexpected life events is an important part of securing financial health," said Louisa Quittman, who directs the Office of Financial Security at the Treasury Department.
The report’s authors add that “it is important to note that child-rearing costs vary greatly depending on the number and ages of children in a household.” As family size increases, costs per child generally decrease.
“There are significant economies of scale, with regards to children, sometimes referred to as the ‘cheaper by the dozen effect.’ As families increase in size, children may share a bedroom, clothing and toys can be reused, and food can be purchased in larger, more economical packages,” explained report author and Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion economist Dr. Mark Lino.
Wondering how to budget for this kind of expense? The USDA offers a handy calculator that takes into account your personal details to help you estimate costs.