Cost to raise a child: $226,920

That's from birth through age 17, and it doesn't include college. How does your spending compare?

By MSN Money Partner Oct 11, 2011 10:03AM

This post comes from Miranda Marquit at partner blog Bargaineering.


Every year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issues new statistics on the cost of raising a child from birth to age 18. The latest report says the average cost is $226,920 -- almost  40% more than a decade ago, CNNMoney reports


That's for a middle-income, two-parent family with two kids in 2010. The numbers (.pdf file) change if you have a different income, or live in certain areas.


You can go to the USDA website and use its cost of raising a child calculator to get a more personalized view of the cost. According to my income and location, the USDA predicts I'll spend $26,463 a year on my son from birth through age 17. I'm pretty sure I'm not spending that much now. But I thought I'd work it out anyway.

How much am I spending to raise my son?

Looking at the USDA numbers is kind of daunting. Costs listed include housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care and education, and other.


The biggest expense on the list is housing, which I think is kind of silly in my case because my husband and I would probably live in the same size house, regardless of whether we had our son or not. At any rate, here is how we stack up so far this year.


I used actual figures for the first three quarters of the year, and then estimated fourth-quarter spending based on our current pace, assuming it stays the same (although I bet we actually cut back a little). The only exception is "other," where I include toys, since my son's birthday and Christmas are both coming up. I based that on last year's spending. Post continues after video.

Also, since I work from home, and have no need of child care beyond baby-sitting when my husband and I go out, I include my son's summer camps in that category, as well as sports activities and music lessons.


For food, health care, housing (including utilities) and transportation, I took my family's total costs and divided them by three to get the individual amount for my son. (USDA bases the housing expense on the cost of providing an additional bedroom, plus utilities and furniture for that room.)
















Health care



Child care & education










That's more than I expected it to cost, and more than I spent last year on my son, but he is also involved in more activities this year. And we clearly spend a substantial amount of money eating out, which is why the average food cost is higher. However, I doubt that my son is eating as much as the adults at this point (and he doesn't eat out with us each time, even though I included all our restaurant visits in food costs).


As I mentioned before, my son really isn't adding to our housing costs. Without housing costs added in for my son, the yearly spending on him drops to being on track for $10,751 this year.


It's clear that spending on my son doesn't have to be what the USDA and others expect. How much do you spend on your kids?


More on Bargaineering and MSN Money:


Oct 23, 2011 2:32PM
Lets see. I owe more on my house than it's worth.  My 401k still hasn't recovered.  I took a 20% pay cut at work. Now it cost 40% more to raise my kids.  Meanwhile the corporate executives are enjoying record pay and bonuses.  No wonder people are protesting in the streets.
Oct 23, 2011 2:25PM

Hey, this article was great! You know why... there were so little facts that apply to any one person that it really can't be stereotyped for all. Basically, they pulled a number out of a hat. So quit stressing over it. If they want to classify this as a normal price, then it is a great reference point.


Hear me out... two kids, same parents, same families, different houses. Dad raised brother with $60,000/yr. He had new things, money in pockets, little wants. Mom raised me with $24,000/yr. We had a garden, no internet, no cable, I played in the dirt, lived on my bike, enough wants to make me human, I was clean, fed, warm, happy, and put to bed every night with love.


Today... The family has gone on to grow and do better for themselves over the years, EXCEPT my brother and his wife. They live off of the welfare system with their three little girls. They experience little want as they have several cars, flat screens and other toys, food stamps, utilities paid, free medical and even vacations! I understand everyone else's comment on this issue, but as I near the completion of Graduate school and loans looming overhead (no, no government bailout or mom/daddy payout), my husband and I begin to look at planning a family together. A little outside view of what people are paying to raise their children helps give us an idea of what we will be facing. We will continue to grow our own produce and buy an organic cow from a farmer friend. We will shop Goodwill for play clothes and Target for our Sunday best. Our investment will be in childcare and education so they are prepared to face the world at 18 on their own two feet. And our home will still be the same with a little more love and a little more excitement of the rollercoaster call childrearing.


My well spent education has taught me to take this article with a grain of salt and do a little more research on my own. I stand proudly on my own two feet. Oh, and not forget to call mom and thank her for showing me what a little hard work can do!

Oct 23, 2011 3:57AM

I'm a dad of 7 and have that many grandchildren. You can cut the $225k by half or more if you feed your kids healthy foods, aren't too proud to use thrift stores (esp for little ones), avoid expensive activities and daily drive-in runs, and pay low-cost medical insurance. American children, like children anywhere, need a loving family (parents) and the basics. Let them read and play but also learn to pay their way early-on. Don't 'buy' their way (autos, ins, etc) or reward for good grades...Teach them real values and you'll find that you can raise many on a lot less. There's plenty for all if we don't all aspire to have what those in Bel Air have. Teach them conservation in using utilities, et al, that what you are inside is important and not name-brand clothing...and all the virtues that make for a responsible citizen. They don't NEED electronic entertainment, etc. It's ok if they're getting good parenting and discipline. And having 'things' is nice...but their soul is what really matters. I once resided in Bel Air so I know. Teach them well!

Oct 11, 2011 3:52PM
Wait, I don't have kids,,, but if I did I'd have had 2.  That being said,,, why don't I have $453,840 extra sitting in the bank???? Because these numbers attribute costs like housing, utilities, transportation etc,,, that really aren't driven by that extra body in the house, but by the desires of the adults in the house.   Many americans won't consider less than 3 bedrooms in a house, even if they don't have kids....
Oct 11, 2011 3:58PM
whether its a penny or a billion dollars, my children are worth it! And for the record, Im not rich, just an average person who doesnt believe brand names and top of the line of everything is best or bottom of the line is best. We get what we can afford and my children are grateful for what the receive. At least I know im doing something right, raising them properly.
Oct 23, 2011 2:43PM
Oct 11, 2011 3:23PM
That sounds about the amount that my mom spent in one year on coke! Who writes these articles?
Oct 23, 2011 11:53AM
This is not the truth. The family next door gets $750 a month in food stamps with four kids. That is $9,000 a year times 17 equals $153,000. They get their $750 a month for rent. another 9000 a year times 17 years equals another $153,000. They get free medical for all the kids and mother. How much is that for 17 years. They get free clothing chits - how much is that? free Christmas presents. What about utilities. These are the poor on welfare who refuse to work and let their babies feed and shelter them. That price is too low.
Oct 23, 2011 2:07PM

Kids are priceless.  They are worth every penny invested....yes, them.  It's insane to get caught up in the dollars and cents of parenting.  Everything cost money.  If you need to tally every resource you think you are going to have to put towards your theoretical child, maybe you just shouldn't do it.  If all you see is dollar signs, that's no way to raise a kid.   Does getting married cost you?  Does adopting a pet cost you?  Does having a child cost you?  Of course but generally, the psychological and physical benefits outweight what you put in.  It might not seem that way in the teenage years but those go quickly, too.

Oct 23, 2011 1:21PM
Against popular belief, children have been raised properly (healthy, educated, and in a safe environment) for a long long time with money nowhere near that amount (if you downscale it through the ages as necessary). Using the rough of $250k for birth to 17, this article is saying that it costs a person over $14,500 a year to raise a child. The example given is also saying a household of 3 is making over $50k a year as far as income. I've had some tough years and I've successfully raised a healthy happy family of four for the last 3 years on around $9k to $12k a year (no rent/mortgage or vehicle payment) It isn't a luxurious life, but we make it with the only government aid being health insurance.
I believe the article above is way to vague and sketchy for anyone to have fears about parenthood based off of these numbers.

Oct 27, 2011 3:44PM
Oct 23, 2011 1:33PM
this study is a TOTAL crock of **** !!!!
Oct 23, 2011 9:31AM
breast feed you baby saves a lot for moms who have to pay for formula, I breast feed my baby till 8 months old. Also, I used cloth diapers which is not hard to do if you have a washing machine. When we went out to eat, I always shared my meal with her (it was alway too much food for just me anyway). I gave her clothes away with no stains due to breastfeeding. Find a breastfeeding mom who may lend you or give you her baby cloths and this is another saving. give you child piano lessons and dance lessons and books not stuff or expensive electronic. Let all the "stuff be given by friends or family". when you child get older don't forget about simple toys like a jump rope and you can even make one out of a cloths line another way to save.
Oct 12, 2011 1:39PM
moserjim1:  My daughters played soccer at first.  Both of them were great at it but then wanted to quit and my youngest begged and begged to take gymnastics classes.  I begrudgingly signed her up.  It was not too expensive at first but I knew that the sport could be very expensive and time consuming, hence my hesitation.  Then she became really good and then the cost increased.  It is a big dilemma for us as a family.  How much do we sacrifice for something she wants to do so desperately?  She is really good and could potentially get a college scholarship, but that is a gamble.  Again, every family has different abilities to pay for "extra" things but I think it is pretty universal that parents want to give their children every opportunity for success as they can.  Hence why some parents pay for private school, sports, art classes, music classes etc.  That is why the cost of raising a child can easily be way more than people imagine at first.
Oct 23, 2011 12:10PM

I love it when people post without reading the article. The whole article is about how the "cost of having a child" is inflated: inclusion of housing etc. The author of the article even explains that the estimate is above and beyond what he/she actually spends. 

Oct 11, 2011 2:45PM
My child has four legs and a tail.  He cost's me less then 800.00 a year.  No worry about college. He will only live about eight years. Rico Von Istar is a German Sheppard. Never talks back at me. Listens to every word I tell him and follows direction with out question.  What more could a parent ask for?
Nov 1, 2011 12:06PM
Cost to raise a child $226,920... Cost of a box of condoms $25.00 the fact you screwed yourself for the next 18 years  "Priceless"
Nov 2, 2011 10:38AM

Too many people I know refuse to pursue their ex for child support.  These people have no idea how much more money they would have to retire with if they didn't have to spend their entire incomes on their children.  I'm the kind of person who would take every legal avenue possible to make sure that my ex paid me what she owed me if I had primary custody of the child.  If I have to retire with half as much money as a result of the 'irresponsible' co-parent, then that other person is going to jail and/or facing wage garnishment.   There are far too many deadbeat parents who are not held accountable for paying for the children they brought into this world.

Nov 4, 2011 2:03PM
I know it has to be expensive raising a child.  Kudos to those that choose to do it.  As for me, I opted against that route and very happy that I did.  My four legged ones are perfect for our family.
Nov 1, 2011 1:23PM
My son and wife has 4 wonderful children ,the age rang 18-17-15=10 ,it takes ever thing thy both can make to just feed them.-------But I am from a family of 18 Brothers and sisters ,we was raised in Ky.that was when we raised every thing we ate.we worked all summer ,just to eat in the winter.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.