The Cost of Raising a Child

When our daughter Carrie was in high school, she worked at Starbucks after school and on weekends. She saved half of her paycheck for future college expenses and spent the rest on current teenage “necessities” such as MP3 players, shoes and fashion. If you asked Carrie, she was practically self-supporting.  She loved the independence, and her dad and I loved the break it gave our pocket book.

Children are priceless. But do you know how much it costs to keep them in designer jeans through high school? The government has the answer.

The latest figures (2008) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, show it costs $221,190 to raise a child to age 17 in a family where the parents earn about $75,000 a year. If your annual family income is $150,000 it’s likely you’ll shell out closer to $370,000 to get your child on the road to success.
To be sure, not all that money is spent directly on the child.  The cost of housing is 32% of the total cost of raising a child, according to the USDA.  They figure that by allocating the cost of running the home among family members.  Another 16% is for food, 6% for clothing, and so it goes – the USDA even allocates 8% to miscellaneous.

But the study doesn’t take into account all the expenses for some families.  If your child is enrolled in private school, the costs jump. If your child has medical problems, chalk up even more. And if you send your children to college, you’ll be supporting them far beyond the 17 years covered in the study. That will set you back another $30,000 to $300,000 per child, depending on where your child goes to college and for how long.

There are indirect costs as well. If one parent stays home to care for children when they are young, the lost income and benefits can be substantial.  And when that parent returns to the workforce, they may be behind in terms of advancement and salary, costing even more in the long run.
If you want to know how much your own child costs, go to this online calculator that you can customize with your own figures.

We would never put a price-tag on our children.  But now you know why your childless friends seem to have so much more money than you do. Kids are worth their weight in gold – literally.

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