Children cost a lot to raise, but have you ever stopped to calculate just how much?
According to estimates released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a middle-income family living in an urban setting in the West might spend $146,400 to raise a child from birth to age 18. A higher income family in that category could spend as much as $206,790 by the time the child is 18.Estimates include expenditures for housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care and education, and miscellaneous expenses. The figures are based on the 1990 Consumer Expenditure Survey updated to 1994 dollars using the Consumer Price index.
Liz Gorham, Utah State University Extension family resource management specialist, notes that the USDA estimates do not predict what a particular family will spend, but they do show trends:
- Urban families in the West spend more on their children than families in other parts of the United States; rural families spend somewhat less on their children than do urban families.
- The older children are, the more they cost.
- The more income parents have, the more they spend on their children.
- The lower the income of a family, the larger the percentage of income spent on children.
- Families will spend more or less on a child depending on the number of other children in the household.
The survey does not include costs related to pregnancy, prenatal care and childbirth, saving for education beyond high school, and earnings and career opportunities that may be diminished because of reduced time in the labor force.
"We know that the expense of raising a child grows as the children get older," Gorham says. "So anything parents can do to improve their earning power, such as taking night classes or finishing a college degree, should be given serious consideration. On an everyday level, parents should con-sciously set financial priorities, plan their spending and review the adequacy of their life insurance."
To receive a copy of the 1994 cost estimates, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Liz Gorham, Extension Specialist, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-2949.