From having a baby to keeping her healthy and happy — raising a child is not cheap. According to the Department of Agriculture‘s 2013 report Cost of Raising a Child, parents can expect to pay between $12,800 and $14,970 a year for child-related expenses.
A middle-income family (making between $61,530 and $106,540) may spend about $245,340 on their bundle of joy over the next 17 years, not counting college. That’s a lot of money. So whether you’ve already got a bun in the oven or you’re hoping to get pregnant in the next few years, let’s decode some of the hardest-hitting costs and what you can do to be better prepared.
While you may have already spent a lot getting ready for your baby’s first year, you still have to get through the delivery. On average, U.S. hospital deliveries cost about $3,200 per stay, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Check your health insurance policy’s coverage for labor and delivery, and make sure you have enough in savings to help pay for what insurance doesn’t cover. You also may want to plan for the unexpected, as delivery costs can greatly increase should complications arise.
Whether you decide to move into a new home for the extra space or are looking to get into a certain school district, paying for a home is one of the most expensive parts of the raising-your-kid equation, according to the USDA report. Housing accounted for 30 percent of the total cost over 17 years (or about $73,260), the report says. Where you live in the U.S. also affects your spending. The urban and rural areas of the South have the lowest child-rearing expenses. The urban Northeast has the highest, followed by the urban West and Midwest, according to the USDA.
While you probably know you’ll have the added expense of child care, you may not realize about 18 percent of your child-rearing expenses may go toward it, says the USDA. In the U.S., the annual fees for full-time child care for an infant range from $5,000 to $18,000, according to a report by the National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies. If you will continue working and don’t have family members who can help with care, it’s important to start saving now for the cost of child care.
Formula and baby food for your new arrival may cost about 16 percent of your expenses, and possibly more depending on your diet preferences, says the USDA. Then there are your diaper costs. It is estimated that a baby will need about 6,000 diapers during the first two years of life — at a cost of about $1,500 for disposables, or $1,000 for organic cloth diapers, according to Real Diaper Association.
Health care expenses for a child, such as pediatrician visits and medications, doubled in 2013, according to the USDA. Generally, these expenses may continue to increase as a child gets older and their needs change, says the USDA. It may be a good idea to start saving now in order to help pay for any unexpected medical costs that may not be covered by insurance.
While the above considerations are just some of the hard-hitters, there may be other unexpected costs of raising a little one that you’ll discover along the way — for example, extracurricular activities and technology. Check out the USDA’s cost of raising a child calculator to help get a better gauge for your own family’s costs, and start saving.
Originally published March 3, 2014.