The Ongoing Costs of Raising a Child
It’s no secret – raising a child is expensive. In fact, according to the Brooking Institute, from the day your baby is born until they turn 18, you will spend about $310,605 or roughly $17,000 a year. Of course, this expense will vary depending on where you live, what you earn, and many other factors, but nevertheless, it will be expensive. Here is a list of some key costs associated with raising a child.
Housing is typically the largest expense associated with raising a child. According to a 2020 study by the USDA, middle-income families can expect housing to account for 29% of total child-rearing costs. This may seem like a significant portion of total costs, but you must also factor in mortgage or rent payments, taxes, insurance, repairs and maintenance, utilities, and household goods. Keep in mind, however, that housing costs can vary widely based on many factors, including:
- Type of home (single-family house, townhouse, condo, apartment, etc.)
- Renting versus owning
- Size and age of the home
Food tends to be the next largest expense associated with raising a child, at roughly 27% of total child-rearing costs. The amount that each family spends varies on factors like location, household income, number of children, and preferred diet. But the USDA offers some perspective on how much families in the United States spend on food. Every month, the USDA releases a report on food costs at four different levels: thrifty, low-cost, moderate-cost, and liberal. The report considers different household sizes with children of different ages. The reference family consists of a male and female ages 20-50, and two children in the 6–8-year-old range and the 9–11-year-old range.
Here's how the average food spending numbers add up for the reference family on a monthly basis, as of December 2022:
- Thrifty Plan: $971.20
- Low-Cost Plan: $1,025.90
- Moderate Plan: $1,276.90
- Liberal Plan: $1,543.40
A word of caution, spending money on food in a restaurant or convenience store instead of eating at home can quickly inflate food costs for families.
Childcare and Education
Depending on your circumstances, your child may need some type of childcare. And according to The Washington Post, daycare can cost more than college. However, how much you spend on childcare depends on a variety of factors including the type of care needed, the number of children requiring childcare, and location. Keep in mind, some families pay nothing for childcare, as they have a parent or family member who takes care of the children.
Additionally, beyond childcare, education can be expensive, or it can be free. Education costs are dependent on factors like location, number of children, private versus public schools, summer camps, special programs, etc. If you choose to send your child to a private school, expect to spend substantially more on education than a family who sends their child to a public school.
Beyond housing, food, childcare and education, there are other expenses associated with raising children that are important to keep in mind. Some common examples include:
- Family trips and vacation
- School fees
- Sports and hobbies
Some of these items are necessary (healthcare, clothing, insurance, transportation), while others may be wants. Although this is an extensive list of ongoing costs to raise a child, make sure to do ample research when building out your budget for child-rearing.