Minimizing the Cost of Raising Kids

The choice to have a child is usually not a financially-focused decision. And we’re not so crass to suggest that it should be a dominant factor. But the cost of raising a child properly should at least be one of the factors that couples consider before they take the plunge into parenthood. Why? Because raising kids is a very expensive undertaking.

MSN Money claims that the cost of a child is $221k, and that’s only through age 17 (doesn’t include college, which could double the amount) for families earning between $56,870 to $98,470 a year. For higher-income families, the cost skyrockets to almost $370k for rural families and over $400k for urban dwellers. Even lower-income families spend $160k raising a child. No matter the level, raising kids is going to take a big bite out of your finances.

The cost break downs, as well as basic suggestions on how to minimize them, are as follows:

Housing cost through age 17: $53,100 to $126,180. You could ignore one of the basic assumptions used in calculating additional housing costs. You could decide not to move into a larger home.

Food cost through age 17: $29,250 to $44,790. Set strict limits on the more discretionary forms of food spending [such as fast food.]

Transportation cost through age 17: $22,710 to $45,570. Avoid buying a new car. Instead, look into a used car such as a relatively new model that’s coming off of a one- or two-year lease.

Clothing cost through age 17: $10,860 to $18,540. take full advantage to skirt the outlandish expense of buying clothes for your little one(s). Also, seek out some of the thousands of manufacturer outlets across the country where you can buy perfectly good clothes as low as half their original price.

Health care cost through age 17: $12,810 to $19,860. Because much of this expense comes from health insurance premiums, it pays to shop around if you have the option of choosing your insurance carrier.

Child care and education cost through age 17: $20,670 to $77,130. If staying at home full time isn’t feasible, look into forming a cooperative with other parents.

Miscellaneous cost through age 17: $10,470 to $34,590. General cost savings strategies.

These expenses seem a bit over-inflated, and MSN Money recognizes that individual results can vary dramatically (either higher or lower.) However, it’s clear to see that there will be extra expenses associated with raising kids and these costs won’t be trivial. So, before you “go forth and multiply”, it’s probably wise to consider and plan for the expense multiplication that occurs when a family gets larger.

Raising your $221,000 baby [MSN Money]

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