How Much Does It Cost to Raise Children?

Someone once said, “We don’t raise kids anymore. We finance them!” So just how expensive is it to raise a child in the U.S. nowadays? MoneyCentral has an interesting table showing the costs of raising children from birth to age 17/18.

The table … shows the estimated annual costs of raising a child, based on a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The table shows costs based on a family with two children on a per-child basis. The data comes from the Consumer Expenditure Survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, conducted from 1990-92. The figures have been updated to 2001 dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

The table breaks the figures down into age groups so you can see how much you are spending at the different stages of your child’s life. It also breaks it down into categories for you, so you can see how much you are spending on housing, food, transportation, clothing, health, child care/education, and miscellaneous expenses.

Let’s see, after adjusting the figures for having three or more kids, according to this table each of my children will cost me about $131,254.20 to raise for a grand total of $393,762.60. (Almost $70,000 of that is for food alone!) And that doesn’t even include college! But you know what? They are worth every penny — or dollar!

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5)

8/3/2009 update: “A family earning less than $56,870 per year can expect to spend a total of $159,870 (in 2008 dollars) on a child from birth through high school. Similarly, parents with an income between $56,870 and $98,470 can expect to spend $221,190; and a family earning more than $98,470 can expect to spend $366,660. In 1960, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($183,509 in 2008 dollars) to raise a child through age seventeen.” (USDA News Release)

HT: Semper Reformanda


  1. Steve Gibbs says:

    Mr. Fowler,

    As a father of two I find it hard to believe that the cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 is as high as you have estimated and certainly not as high as the Department of Agriculture, those crafty specialists in child rearing, have estimated. Removing the cost for what my cost of living is and adjusting for adding a couple of extra bedrooms in a Minnesota home vs. a California home is of course most likely where some disparity lies but the bottom line is kids don’t add that much over time unless you let them. Giving your child the best of everything is not the answer to bringing up a child who will do well in society, respect others and most importantly let the Lord into his life. Giving of oneself to his/her child is the best way to raise your children . . . and it doesn’t cost a dime.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Steve,

    Well, actually that is the chart’s estimate, not my own. We are a pretty thrifty family, so we probably fall below the average that is represented by the chart, as I am sure you and your family do, too. I agree with you that the most important thing is loving our kids, raising them in the Lord, and giving of ourselves to them. Those things don’t cost any extra money. Still, feeding, clothing and educating them does chew up a significant amount of our dollars – all money well spent in my point of view.

    Thanks for commenting!

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