fbimage Skip to content

What Is The Real Cost Of Raising Kids?

By Brett Graff, The Home Economist and the author of Not Buying It: Stop Overspending and Start Raising Happier, Healthier, More Successful Kids. Follow her at @BrettGraff.

Don’t shoot the messenger here because it’s the government (not the well-meaning financial bloggers) who calculate the cost of raising kids from birth to age 17. So yes, this year’s total is $233,610. For each child. (Though second and third and forth kids tend to cost less because the housing costs stay the same.) We’ll give you a minute to catch your breath before delivering the next part.


  1. That total is the cost for middle-income earners, defined as people with a before tax income of between $59,200 and $107,400 each year. If you make more money, you can be expected to $372,210. At least.
  2. These costs do not include college or your college savings plan. The cost of college is now about $28,000 a year for a public university and $58,000 for private. You have little kids? In 2033, tuition is forecasted at $47,000 for public, $107,000 for private and $149,00 Ivy League, $149,000.
  3. These numbers don’t include the money we lose by not working and instead caring for our kids.

So what the heck is happening? Let’s break it out.

  • Food costs $42,000 total, $1600 annual babies, $2870 for a teenagers: This expense grows as kids age and if you happen to be my friend Stacy, the increases are massive if your teenager happens to have a boyfriend who helps himself to your leftovers.
  • Health care $19,530 total, about $1,100 annual: This is out of pocket expenses, and usually for kids about 20 percent of a family’s health care budget.
  • Transportation $35,340 total, between $1000 and $2000 annual: These are child-related activities, nothing to do with getting to work or to Pilates class.
  • Childcare and education total $40,830 total: Over half of all households reported having no expenses for this category. If the idea of having no childcare or education expenses sounds, let’s say “foreign,” then your personal total is already going to be higher than what we have here.
  • Clothing $18,750 total: I have friends who seem spend this on sneakers alone and if you do too, become the recipient of her hand-me-downs.
  • Miscellaneous $18,060: The scariest of all expenses, a category that includes haircuts, entertainment, video games and reading material.
  • Housing $60,000 over 17 years, about $3500 a year: Don’t ask.

Clearly, expenses will range among households, but the government surveyed 28,000 families.


Want more great content from The Mother List? Sign up here!

mom and kids pop up image



We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

1 Comment

  1. EROCA
    March 15, 2017 @ 7:16 am

    All families do not live at the same income and quality of life, so how did this ??? come up with this figure I wonderZ? The main thing I take away from this is the need to mobilize bigger community awareness of cutting costs by sharing. Bring it on, this grandmother would love to hear great ideas. How about PVC gardens in the community?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *