Some parents might say you simply can’t put a price tag on the joy of raising a kid.
But the U.S. government will come right out and tell you: It’s frighteningly expensive.
According to the results of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey, the average cost of raising a child born in 2013 is a whopping $245,340—or about $14,000 annually over the course of 18 years. And that doesn’t even include the cost of college or pregnancy-related expenses.
So what exactly are Mom and Dad shelling out for? First up: a decent home for their family. Housing costs make up 30% of child-related expenses—and the recent housing market recovery means that many parents have been forced to pay more for their homes.
Child care and education are other important factors, especially for wealthier families. (Recent research finds the cost of day care now exceeds the cost of college tuition in several states.) Among lower-income households, food ranks as the second largest expense.
The study also uncovered some significant geographical differences. Families in the urban Northeast tend to spend the most on their kids, while those in rural areas and the urban South spend less.
While parents (and future parents) might still be in sticker shock, we’ve got good news. Yes, the average cost of raising a kid increased between 2012 and 2013, but it was the smallest yearly increase since 2009. That probably has something to do with the fact that health care costs only rose by 2.3%, as opposed to the average 4.3% increase over the last 10 years.
Want to tabulate how much your family will spend on raising some rugrats? Check out this handy calculator from the USDA. Then figure out how you can cut costs on everything from child care to back-to-school shopping.