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What’s Your Child Worth? According to the USDA, $226,920

Raising a ChildWould you dare put a price tag on your child? The government does each and every year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual report, Expenditures on Children by Families earlier this week, and it estimated the cost of raising a child (from infancy to age 18) at $226,920. This estimate is for the middle-income family.

When you account for inflation, the price tag goes up to $286,860 – that’s nearly $300,000. That’s triple – quadruple (even more than that) what most families make in a year.
This average cost of raising a child includes what you’ll spend on food, shelter, and other necessities (like transportation, childcare, healthcare, and education). The 2010 figure is a 2 percent increase from 2009.

According to the USDA, a two-parent, middle-income family in the United States spent between $11,880 to $13,830 on raising their children in 2010 alone. That is a huge chunk of change for most people, but isn’t your child worth every penny?

Cost of Raising a Child Increases with Higher Income

The cost of raising a child from birth through high school also depends on your income level. So the higher your income, the more money you should expect to spend on your child.

The USDA estimates that a family income of $57,600 to $99,730 (which they consider “middle income”) should expect to spend $226,920. If your family earns over $99,730, you’ll be dishing out $377,040 on your children.

What are Parents Spending Money On?

It’s not surprising, but the cost of housing was the largest expense (parents spent 31 percent of the total income to keep a roof over their children’s heads for 18 ears), followed by childcare and education. Food was the third biggest expenditure – it accounted for 16 or 17 percent of the parents’ total income.

The USDA didn’t include costs associated with pregnancy, or the cost of sending a child off to college or higher education.

Where You Live Also Matters

How much money you spend on your children also relates to where you live in the United States. Not shockingly, parents who live in the urban Northeast will spend the most on their children. (Housing, food, and other expenses tend to be pricier up north.)

Next most expensive was the urban West and urban Midwest.

If you live in the urban South and rural areas of the United States, it’s least expensive for you to raise your child.

Cost of Raising a Child Drops with Two or More Kids

When you have two or more children, the cost of raising your children drops. Families with at least three children will spend 22 percent less money per child, compared to a two-children family.

The reason for this decrease is simple – families with multiple children don’t have to buy new things. Clothes and toys can be passed down and shared, and even bedrooms can be shared. You can buy food in bulk at cheaper prices, and some childcare centers have sibling discounts.

To learn more about this report, visit the USDA website: Expenditures on Children by Families. There’s even a nifty “Cost of Raising a Child” Calculator for you to try out.

About the author: DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick’s Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Mariposa June 11, 2011, 9:36 am

    Thanks for posting this! I just had my first on Sunday, so I found it very interesting. I agree that being a mom are SO worth every penny spent… And every hour not slept! 🙂

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