The Cost of Raising a Child for 17 Years – $235,000

The Agriculture Department’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion released a report saying that it will cost $235,000 to raise a child for seventeen years. That’s a 3.5 percent increase from 2010. What goes into this $235,000 amount? Housing is the largest expense, transportation, child care, education, food, clothing, health care and miscellaneous expenses. Families living in the urban Northeast tend to have the highest child-rearing expenses, followed by the urban West and the urban Midwest. The lowest costs were in the urban South and rural areas.

For that amount of money you could take several expensive trips or buy a Ferrari. I would never trade my two kids for a Ferrari. Yet this huge amount of money is one to ponder. My husband grew up on a farm in Iowa. There were six children – the five boys worked on the farm and his sister cooked the meals. Very few people live on farms any more so having children to weed the garden isn’t a consideration. We had two children. I felt we had the money and energy to support that many. It’s not hard to travel with two kids. With more than two we probably would not have skied or traveled as much.

When my children were in high school, I remember all the money they needed to bring to school for different fees or supplies. Of course they thought they needed new clothes and shoes. This report doesn’t talk about expenses after seventeen. Around 2000 our kids went to small liberal arts schools in the Midwest with a price tag of around $30,000 to $35,000/year. One father just told me that college expenses have risen and he is paying $47,000 this year for his son to go to college. WOW, that is a lot of money!

How is a report like this helpful? I think it is something to consider when determining family size. What are your thoughts?

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