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."
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.
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."
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: