Cost of Raising a Child

For some, the thought of having a child is an exciting and joyous time. For others, it’s a daunting prospect that brings about feelings of fear and anxiety. While there are many things to consider when deciding whether or not to have children, one thing that often gets overlooked in this big decision is how much it will cost. 

The Cost of Raising a Child

The cost of raising a child is the amount of money that it will take to raise your child from birth until their eighteenth birthday. According to CNNMoney, which estimates that the total cost for one child is $245,140. When considering this number, also keep in mind the following: This estimate does not include college tuition and other expenses that may come up for them as they grow older, such as braces and tutoring. The cost of raising a child can decrease if you form a two-income household to help cover these costs. However, the more children that you have increases the financial requirements needed to raise them all. This is because you need enough money saved up for each child, and if you have more children, then you will need to save up even more.

The Age at which You Should Start Having Children

There is no scientific age that correlates directly with when you should start having kids. However, there are certain factors to take into consideration such as your health and the health of your partner, how financially stable you are, and what your goals in life are. According to the American Pregnancy Association, these factors can help you determine whether or not you’re ready to have children. Age is just one factor that plays into this decision, but it should by no means be the only one.  

How Much Can I Expect to Spend?

The fertility rate in the United States is at an all-time low, and this can affect how much money you will eventually spend on children. Typically, the more children that a person has, the lower each child’s cost is because they share expenses such as food and clothes.   When determining what to expect for your own expenses, determining your monthly income will help you plan accordingly. For example, if you’re a middle-class family with a net worth of $75,000 and an average household size of 2 people, then you can expect to spend around $1320 per month for one child according to New York Life Insurance Company.

Child Care Costs

According to Investopedia, “Child care costs are one of the most significant expenses in raising a child.” Child care is usually mandatory in order to allow both parents to work outside of the home. The type of child care that you choose will determine how much money it will cost you in the long run. For example, in-home child care can be cheaper, but it could also mean that your child is not receiving the socialization and development that they need. On average, you can expect to pay $11355 per year for an infant and $8572 per year for a four-year-old, according to TheBalanceCare.com. However, these prices vary by the type of child care that you choose.

Where to Save Money if You’re Planning to Have Kids in the Future

Financial planning is an important part of any situation, but it becomes even more so when having children is involved. According to Forbes, you can cut your expenses significantly by taking advantage of government tax deductions and tax credits. Budgeting is also one of the most important ways to save money when you are ready to have children, especially because it can help you get accustomed to living on a certain amount of money each month. Forbes suggests that making a budget “for what you spend every month on yourself will be helpful for setting up your budget for how much you will spend on your children later.”    

Ways to Save Money without Sacrificing Your Child’s Well-Being

Now that we know ways in which we can save money, it is equally important to find ways in which we can still provide a good and healthy life for our children. According to The Balance Care, by planning for deductible expenses such as medical bills and health insurance, you will have a plan in place to deal with major expenses that can occur. For example, if your child is born prematurely or with a genetic condition then this could lead to thousands of dollars in hospital bills. In addition to having a savings account set up, you should also make sure to create a plan for after your child is born. For example, you could save up money in an account that is accessible only when your baby turns one year old so that you can provide them with the best possible birthday gift. Before having children, it’s important to be realistic about what it will cost you to have children. However, the best way to plan ahead is by creating a budget for your family and making sure that you’re saving money in advance for when it comes time for expenses such as health care costs, child care, and more.   Forbes suggests keeping a line item in your budget called “Kid Expenses” so that you have a specific budget for all of your child-related costs.  

The Bottom Line

In order to make having and caring for a child financially possible, it’s important that you plan ahead and try to save as much money as you can. It’s also important that you’re aware of how much having a child will cost so that you’re not overwhelmed when expenses do occur.   The best way to prepare is by creating a budget and saving money in advance. It is important to remember that when it comes to saving money, how much you save will depend on your income. There is no single amount of money that everyone should be spending on their children. However, it is safe to say that the more you plan in advance, the less financial stress you’ll have once your child becomes an adult.   Finally, if you don’t feel financially ready for children yet but know that it is something that you want to do in the future, then know that it is possible to make that happen even if you’re not ready right now.

The average cost of child care can vary depending on where you live. For example, in New York City it costs about $1,400 per month to send one child to full-day preschool while in Jacksonville, Florida you can find a similar program for under $700.
According to Baby Center, the top three expenses you can expect are housing, food, and clothing. Childcare will also be an added expense so you will have to account for that as well.
You may find it easier to find affordable daycare by looking for programs during non-traditional hours like overnights and weekends. Another option would be to see if there are any sliding scale programs in your area so that you'll get charged based on your income instead of regular prices.
The average price of a container of name-brand formula ranges from $18-$40, depending on the volume. This can be an additional expense if you are breastfeeding and need to switch over to formula.
One way you could save is by choosing a generic store brand over name-brand if that's more affordable for your family.

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

About the Author
True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.