The vast majority of people who never take time to calculate the expenses associated with raising a child will be shocked to learn how expensive it is to raise a child in the United States. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015 puts the average cost of raising a child from infancy to the age of 17 years at a mind-boggling $233,610. Remember, this is the average figure and some families spend as much as $372,210 for raising one child. The figure sounds off but it starts to make sense when broken down to individual expenses.
Birth: Delivery and Labor
While the cost of delivery and labor varies from state to state, it averages between $5,000 and $10,000 per child for vaginal deliveries. However, the figure is as high as $70,000 for C-section deliveries in some hospitals in the country. These figures, however, exclude the cost of care for a newborn, ultrasounds, and therapies which are also in the thousands of dollars.
Childhood: Childcare, Housing, and Food.
The costs soar at this stage of a child’s development. At this stage, the largest expenses are housing, childcare, and food which account for 28%, 16%, and 18% of an average family’s total income respectively. The total costs that go to childcare average at $37,378 per child. However, the percentages vary in different states, with childcare being more expensive than housing in some cities.
Another cost that comes up during childhood is leisure activities such as sports. Families spend up to $1000 on sports per season for each child. The high costs of physical activities have made many families do away with games altogether. As a result, an estimated 17.6% of all children in America are believed not to be physically active.
Teenage: College Tuition
What the astronomical figure does not account for is college education which is arguably the biggest expense faced by parents. In-state students pay an average of $20,770 for their four-year college education while their out-of-state counterparts pay about $36,420. Private non-profit colleges are even pricier, fetching an average of $46,950 for a four-year course per student.
Hidden Cost: Time
Then there is the hidden cost of time which is often overlooked. Majority of employed Americans with children state that they don’t have enough time for themselves, compared to those without children. The time investment is heavier on mothers who spend an average of 2.5 hours each day on their children, compared to fathers who spend 1.5 hours each day. Careers and personal freedoms are put on the line by the investment of time parents make for their children.
Effects of the High Costs
The rising costs of raising children have seen more women get their first child later in life to have enough time to sort out their finances. Some women avoid having children due to the implications that can have on their careers. Resultantly, the country has witnessed a decline in the birthrate in recent years. Many companies have realized how stressful having a child is to their employees and have employed parent-friendly policies in their operations in an attempt to alleviate the stress.
Ways of Saving For a Child
The research indicated that the cost decreases with every additional child. The marginal decrease in cost is attributed to the reduced prices of items due to buying in bulk, hand-me-downs, shared housing, and free childcare (babysitting). Procuring the services of a financial advisor should help you know the costs involved in raising a child. A financial advisor should advise you on the best saving plan towards financing these costs.
Another way of saving that works perfectly with parents who are federal employees, is taking advantage of child care subsidies. Some government institutions that offer child care subsidies include U.S. Coast Guard, National Park Services (up to $70,000), US Customs and Border Protection (up to $89,703) and the General Services Administration (up to $68,100).
For many people, the decision to have kids is rarely a financial one. But as the adage puts it, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail,” it is imperative to prepare for the financial thrill ride that is raising children. Nonetheless, most people feel a great sense of satisfaction when raising children despite the astronomical cost involved.