The Cost of Raising a Child?

I just read an article about the government’s calculations on how much it will cost to raise a child who is born this year until they are 17.  Since I have a child who was born late last year, I was shocked to see the number – about $212, 000 ($292,000 if you include inflation.)

$212,000?  I couldn’t believe it. How could what we are spending now equal so much money in 17 years?

Baby E - Will it really cost $292,000 to raise him?

Baby E - Will it really cost $292,000 to raise him?

So I set out to do the calculations myself.

Right now, we pay about $900 for the mortgage, including taxes and insurance.  It’s a bit incorrect to factor in the cost of housing this way, but I divided the cost by four, since there are four of us living here.  However, we lived here when we were three, and if we were two, we’d still probably live here, so I don’t know if I can attribute a full quarter to a child and be accurate.  Nevertheless, I will.

Housing: $225/month, $2700/yr.

Electric runs about $150 a month, averaged over the year: $450/yr. Again, I felt a bit awkward using this number – obviously it’s skewed – I use a lot more electricity than my one-year-old does.

Heating Oil/firewood: about $400/yr per person.

Food: We have a budget of $200 a month, and since we don’t buy a lot of junk food or paper products, it works.  That’s $600/yr per person.

Clothing: I spend more on myself, but for the kids, we might spend $100/yr. Garage sales, clearance, and grandmas are our friends!

Now, so far we are up to a total of $4250 a year per person.  Multiply that by the 17 years the article states, and we get $72,250. Not even close yet!  At this point, I could send my kids to a $30,000 a year school and they will still have room to spare!

But wait!  I haven’t calculated child care or education expenses.  At this point, we don’t have any of either of those.  In the interest of frugality and also my desires to be home with my kids, we decided I could stay at home.  We lose an income but we don’t have certain expenses to pay.  Since we’ve only briefly ever made two incomes in our nearly 10 year marriage, it didn’t phase us to make that decision.

However, to be fair I should include them:  The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) estimates that child care costs for us would be about $500 a child (more for E and less for G, since he’s a preschooler now.)  So that’s $1000 a month until age 5.  Right there, I’ve spent $60,000!  I’m not sure what childcare would cost once they are in school.

I also haven’t included educational costs – school supplies, activity fees, uniforms, supply fees, or any other additional expenses.  I also did not include the cost of furniture (come to think of it, with the exception of a $75 bunk bed, a $10 rocker-glider, and a $30 toy box, all bought second-hand, everything is handed down in both boy’s rooms!) or toys (we rarely buy any – thanks grandmas!) or bedding.

So we were at $72,250 for the 17 years.  I think we could easily add on another $500 for furniture and bedding, and probably $5000 each for toys/hobbies.  I’m just guessing about both, but you know we are frugal and look for deals, or if we need it new, we ask our parents to give it to them at Christmastime or birthdays.  I expect that as the kids get older, they’ll want the more expensive toys – game systems and the games, skateboards and bikes with all the safety equipment, etc.

That puts us up to $77,750. Medical insurance?  Wasn’t mentioned.  I’m sure that would have doubled the total cost listed in the article!  Maybe they are still thinking ahead to a possible socialist-based national health plan, where our taxes would cover it.

So could you spend $212,000 ($292,000 when adjusted for inflation?)  I think you could.  We have a ways to go to reach that projected number, but those little things can add up fast.

What do you think?  Did I miss anything?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mdosborne2 on August 6, 2009 at 2:07 am

    You forgot soccer and baseball, horse backriding lessons, Prom, summer camp, music lessons…. oh wait, no every child has to do everything!


    • My kids will have to pay for their own prom!

      I’ve decided that we will pay for the basics – since my husband B is a musician, we already have many instruments – we’ll pay for lessons. Later on, if my kid wants the newest Taylor guitar, he’s going to have to save up, maybe we’ll be nice and chip in for half. That is, if he is committed to the hobby.

      There are so many opportunities for kids that don’t cost money – and even the ones that do can be found for cheaper!

      But yes, lol, Mel, my kids are not going to get to do everything. ;P


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