How Much Do Kids Cost to Raise Today?

September 4, 2014

Kids Cost More Than Ever to Raise—Here’s How Much

If you ever had the distinct impression that your kids were costing you a fortune, you can feel good knowing that you were right. According to the USDA’s annual Expenditures on Children by Families report, a child born in 2013 will cost the average middle-income, two-parent family more than $245,000 to raise until the age of 18, representing a 1.8 percent increase from 2012. Adjusted for projected inflation, that number is more like $304,000.

If you make more, you’re also probably spending more. The report estimates that high-income households, or those earning over $106,540 in before-tax income, spend about $408,000 per child. For a two-child household, that’s between $21,330 and $25,700 per kid every year, depending on the age of the child. (You may have already have guessed this, but annual expenditures generally increase as the age of the child does.)

The more kids a family has, the less they spend on each one. Families with three or more kids spend 22 percent less per child than those with two kids, and families with one child spend an average of 25 percent more on the only child than those with two kids.

Where does all that money go? The largest share of total child-rearing expenses across all income levels in the USDA’s calculations is housing. For high-income earners, housing represented 33 percent of total child-rearing expenses. Where you live matters, too, since housing costs vary across the U.S. Those in the urban Northeast spend the most to raise a child ($282,480), and those in the urban South the least ($230,610). The urban West, which includes California, runs somewhat down the middle ($261,330). The second-largest expense for high-income households was child care and education, coming in at 23 percent. Generally, the higher the income, the greater the expenditure was in this category.

The USDA’s report also accounts for food, healthcare and transportation, among other things. What it doesn’t include are expenses incurred during pregnancy or those incurred after the age of 18, such as college. Add those into the mix and sure enough, there’s plenty of proof that raising kids isn’t cheap.

Thankfully, the joys that accompany parenthood far exceed their costs in mere dollars and cents. These numbers simply remind us that the arrival of a new child or grandchild into our lives can mark a pivot point to how we manage our finances. From the moment they’re born, new considerations and opportunities arise that should involve your tax and legal advisory team. For example, you may decide to re-strategize your tax position, initiate or make changes to life insurance and estate plans, or open up a college savings plan.

To be certain you’re taking advantage of as many savings opportunities as possible, meet regularly with experienced tax and financial professionals as your children grow and your family’s needs do, too.

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