Have you bought diapers or baby food lately? Are your kids back to school? If you answered yes to either question, you know firsthand the cost of raising a child—let alone multiple children—can be expensive.
A government report released in August by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Expenditures on Children by Families, shows that a middle-income family that welcomed a baby in 2012 could spend more than $241,000 over the next 17 years—a 2.6 percent increase from 2011.
This hefty sum includes food, shelter, childcare, education, and other necessities for a child until he or she graduates high school, but it can still send a parent’s head spinning over the price tag.
Andres Gutierrez, financial expert and Spanish-language radio show host of “El Show de Andres,” says his initial reaction to the report was one of horror.
“From a parent’s point of view, I can say that having family is an extreme satisfaction,” Gutierrez says. But putting it into perspective, “as a financial advisor, I’ve noticed that parents are a little more fearful to have children because the [breadwinner] has to battle more to feel secure that he can provide economic support his family.”
The report also shows that a family earning less than $60,640 per year could spend a total of $173,490—not accounting for inflation from year to year—to raise a child. The report revealed that a two-parent middle-income family spent between $12,600 and $14,700 on expenses per child in 2012. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Latino families earned a median income of about $38,000.
Although it may seem the odds are stacked against Latino families when looking at those numbers, as an advocate of being savvy with your money and never paying retail price for anything, I believe our support system within Latino families, as well as our creativity, helps us to raise healthy and well-rounded children who don't feel like they're missing out or that they have less than their peers who come from higher-income families.
Gutierrez cautions Latinos against falling into traps such as thinking Latino families need bigger houses or need to spend lavishly, though.
“We have reached a very twisted point where we believe that each child should have his own bedroom, TV, video game, iPod and four pairs of shoes to feel like we are doing well when most of us grew up in a home where we were three brothers in the same bedroom,” he says. “This twisted mentality requires that both parents go out to work. Two generations ago … just one parent’s income and one car was sufficient because we were able to live within our means.” Gutierrez says.
The report also shows the different costs of raising a child depending on the area where they live. Families living in rural areas tend to spend less than the average family, and families living in more expensive urban or metropolitan areas tend to spend more—no surprises there.
The good news for families with three or more children: The report concluded that these families can see a 22 percent decrease in the expenses associated with raising a child, due to the fact that more kids means more likelihood of sharing bedrooms, hand-me-down clothing and shared toys. More good news: The 2.6 percent cost increase from 2011 to 2012 is actually lower than the average annual increase of 4.4 percent, which has been the standard average since 1960.
This graphic below from the report breaks down the average expenses a family faces:
Check out the USDA's interactive calculator to help you estimate the annual cost of raising a child to help plan for expenses.