Want to Raise a Child? That'll Cost You $233,610

Oct. 26, 2017

Parents will spend more than $12K annually on a child born in 2015.

Image via Unsplash.com/@AlexanderDrummer

Attention parents: grab your wallets.

A newly released study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that the cost of raising a child has increased to a whopping $233,610, up three percent from the previous year.

The U.S.D.A.'s Findings

The U.S.D.A. study, which has been around since the 1960s, concludes that middle-income married parents with two children will spend between $12,350 and $14,000 a year for EACH child born in 2015 -- starting from their birth until they turn 17. The cost includes money spent on necessities like food, housing, education, health and child care, and various other essential expenses.

Keep in mind, that number does NOT include the cost of college. So hold that piggybank close because it’s only up from here.

One of the biggest factors contributing to this massive number is the ever-increasing cost of child care. The U.S.D.A. report attributes these rising costs to an increasing number of women entering -- and staying in -- the workforce, which consequently prompts the need for additional child care coverage.

It’s important to note that the U.S.D.A.'s numbers are all relative to location and household income.

For instance, the U.S.D.A. reports that low-income families are estimated to spend an average of $174,690, while high-income households are estimated to spend $200,000 more than that -- hitting highs of about $372,210.

When broken down by region, families living in rural areas pay the least, about $193,020, on average. Families in the urban Northeast will spend the most, averaging about $253,770. And not far behind the Northeast is the urban West Coast at $235,140.

In some states, such as Florida, parents will pay more for daycare than college tuition. When it comes to child care, the U.S.D.A. estimates that parents spend an average of $37,378 per child.

Care.com Cost of Child Care Report

Recently, Care.com partnered with New America to establish the Care Index, the first comprehensive report on the state of paid child care in the U.S. (The index is based on the cost, quality and availability of nannies, child care centers, and family daycares on a state-by-state level.) And the data aggregated by the Care Index appears to reflect similar -- and equally horrifying -- trends when it comes to the costs associated with child care. Case in point: the Care Index indicates that full-time, in-home child care is $28,354 a year for each child, while full-time, in-center care is roughly $9,589 a year for each child.

And according to the Care.com 2016 Cost of Care Report, 54% of families said they spend more than 10% of their household income on child care -- and 1 in 5 said they spend a quarter of their income or more.

It's worth noting that the Care Index numbers differ from those found in the U.S.D.A. report because they do not take into account families that receive free child care from a stay-at-home parent or relative. Meanwhile, the U.S.D.A. numbers represent a general average for all families with children, including those with a stay-at-home parent or relative providing free child care. However, looking at these two data sets side-by-side provides us with an invaluable snapshot into the melting pot of American child care needs.

But no matter which study you consider, it can be agreed upon that raising a child, including the cost of child care, comes with a hefty price tag.

The Upside

So...have we scared you out of starting a family yet?

Not so fast! There are a few bright spots from the U.S.D.A.'s findings that will make your wallet happy.

Transportation costs for families are down 7 percent, thanks to falling gas prices.

The U.S.D.A. report also notes that families with three or more children spend an average of 24 percent less per child due to shared bedrooms, hand-me-downs, and buying food in bulk.

And overall, the cost of raising a child grew by just 3 percent in 2015, shy of the 4.3 percent average since 1960.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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