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The Quarter Million Dollar Baby

Written by Nickel - 3 Comments

There’s an interesting article over on MSN Money about the cost of raising a child. According to the most recent data from the USDA, a family making $70,200 per year will spend an eye-popping $269,520 to raise a child from birth through age 17. The numbers are a bit lower for lower income brackets, but it’s still not cheap – e.g., in the $41,700-$70,200 bracket the cost is projected to be $184,320. Families making less than that are projected to spend $134,370 over the same timeframe. Not surprisingly, they get more expensive as they get older, topping out in the 15-17 year old age bracket.

One small piece of good news is that the numbers outlined in the article include things like major expenditures on private school education by some of the families. Thus, if your kids go to public school, you can expect to make out considerably better than the ‘average’ family. However, the survey also didn’t factor in lost earning potential due to one parent staying home, or perhaps taking a lower paying job to get more flexible hours. Also note that the reported number do not include the college years.

The USDA report also breaks down the expenditures into categories. The single biggest expense is housing. Other categories covered in the article include food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care/education, as well as other miscellaneous expenses. The article runs through each of these in turn, complete with tips on how to cut costs in each area.

As the father of four (!) young kids, these sorts of numbers really hit home. But, to paraphrase the MasterCard commericals, the experience of raising my kids is priceless.

Published on May 5th, 2005
Modified on July 25th, 2011 - 3 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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3 Responses to “The Quarter Million Dollar Baby”

  1. 1
    FMF Says:

    A good financial rule of thumb is “limit the number of beings in your household that eat”. ;-) We all certainly make an exception for children for obvious reasons, but consider the costs of a dog, cat or other living, eating being over the course of their lives. Those expenses can really add up too!

  2. 2
    nickel Says:

    Yeah, no pets here (thankfully), so that definitely helps!

  3. 3
    The Complimenting Commenter Says:

    So, what you’re saying is tell teenagers no? Great post. Very informative. I didn’t know about the differences in age bracket and economic bracket. Nice job.

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