The Cost of Raising Kids

Do you know how much it costs to raise a child today? (photo credit:

Do you know how much it costs to raise a child today? (photo credit:

There is no question that having kids costs money but do you have any idea how much it will take to raise a child born last year through the age of 18?  According to the USDA’s annual Cost of Raising a Child report, for middle income families it will be about $245,340 in today’s dollars or approximately $304,400 when you figure in inflation.  And that doesn’t include the cost of college.   It does include food, housing, childcare, education expenses, and other costs required to raise a child to adulthood.

When you look beyond the averaged amount, there is fluctuation in cost depending on where in the country you live.  The least expensive place to raise a child is in a rural area where the cost is around $193,000.  The most expensive place to raise a child is in the Northeast where the average cost is closer to $282,000.

The amount also differs depending on the family’s income level.  Those families on the lower end of the income spectrum who have a household income of less than $61,530 a year spend less to raise their child.  For these families, the cost to raise a child to age 18 is around $176,000.  While those on the higher end of the income scale who earn more than $106,540 will spend over $400,000 to raise one child.

The top three costs across the board for middle income families are housing at 30%, childcare at 18%, and food at 16%.  In 1960, the first year this report was produced, housing was also the highest cost although the average cost of raising a child is higher today than it was then, even after accounting for inflation.

One reason the cost of raising a child today may be higher than it was 50 years ago is that the average middle income cost of raising a child to 18 of $25,230 ($198,560 in 2013 dollars) rarely included childcare costs.  Another big difference between what it cost to raise a child in 1960 compared to today is health care expenses.  Over that time period, the percentage of the cost of raising a child that accounts for health care expenses has doubled.

The good news for families with more than two children is that the cost of raising each child begins to decrease with each child after the first two.  This is attributed to things like sharing rooms and toys, sibling discounts at schools and lessons, hand me down clothes, and shopping in bulk for food in order to feed a larger family.

This information can be helpful for those who are thinking about having children but it is also beneficial for program planning at the federal, state and local levels and it is used in child support calculations.

If you are looking for cost saving tips or delicious low-dollar recipes for your family, please check out or blog each week. We post recipes and money saving tips!

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