How Much It Actually Costs To Raise A Child

cost of raising a child

How Much It Actually Costs To Raise A Child

Raising children is expensive no matter what year they were born. However, if you had a child in 2013 it will cost you $245,340 in today’s dollars to raise them until age 18 according to the Expenditures on Children by Families, 2013 report recently released by the USDA.

Another shocking fact is you’ll spend even more once you account for inflation. The inflation adjusted total to raise a child born in 2013 through age 18 is $304,480. These numbers don’t even include the annual cost of college!

Luckily, these costs are the average cost to raise a child. If you’re smart, you can raise a child for much less money! Let’s take a look a bit deeper into the quoted figure and find some ways to save you money while raising your child.

How The $245,340 Is Split Up

According to the study, there are 7 categories that make up the total and they are as follows:

  • Housing – 30%
  • Food – 16%
  • Transportation – 14%
  • Clothing – 6%
  • Healthcare – 8%
  • Child care & education – 18%
  • Miscellaneous – 8%

While some of these categories aren’t very easy to control, such as healthcare, there are other categories where you can save a ton of money.

Save Money On Housing

The study assumes that when you have a child you’ll move into a home with an extra bedroom for each child. However, if you already live in a three or four bedroom home and don’t currently have any children, chances are this cost will not increase much for you.

If you do decide to move into a larger home, another factor to consider is multiple children. The study assumes each child gets his/her own room. If instead you decide to have two children share a room, you’ll save a ton of money on the largest costs calculated in this study of how much it costs to raise a child.

Of course, there are other ways to save on housing such as living in a smaller home, even if it does have more bedrooms. Why does this save money? Because you won’t spend as much on the purchase price, maintaining the home or paying for utilities. Since housing is the biggest cost, it also offers the biggest potential savings.

Save Money On Transportation

The study cited transportation costs were only calculated based on family-related trips and does not include costs such as a mother or father commuting to work. Even with this narrow definition of transportation costs, it’s still easy to save money.

First, don’t buy a huge gas guzzler car. You may need to buy a larger car if you have more family members than seats, but that doesn’t mean you need the largest car on the market with the worst gas mileage. Find an economical used and you’ll already be saving money on transportation.

Finally, if you maintain your car it will last even longer. This will allow you to keep your car longer and not upgrade your car every few years. Not buying a new car every few years is the easiest way to save a ton of money on transportation.

Save Money By Living In A Less Expensive Area Of The United States

While the national average of how much it costs to raise a child is $245,340, it can be cheaper to raise a child in other parts of the country. In the urban south it only costs $230,610 to raise a child and in the urban midwest it only costs $240,570 to raise a child.

Of course there are more expensive areas to raise a child, too. These areas include the urban west at $261,330 and the urban northeast at $282,480. However, if you’re willing to give up the urban life and move to a rural area, the total cost to raise a child is $193,590.

Raising a child isn’t cheap, but there are definitely ways you can save money on the quoted $245,340 cost. What do you think about how much it costs to raise a child? Do you think you could raise a child cheaper?

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Lance Cothern
Lance Cothern loves everything personal finance and has his own blog exploring his thoughts on the subject at MoneyManifesto.com. Together with his wife, they've paid of over $80,000 in student loans on their way to financial success! In addition to his blog, you can connect with him on TwitterFacebookPinterest or Google+.