Wow! Are You Prepared for the Cost of a Child?4 min read

From last year, the cost to raise just one child from birth to 17 has risen 3%. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? But that does not include college expenses.

On average, a family can expect to spend $12,350 to $14,000 a year. When you add that altogether over 17 years the amount is staggering. It is estimated that a middle income family with a child born in 2015 will spend $233,610, nearly a quarter million dollars to raise their child.

Thinking about having a child, you may want to start saving. If you already have a child or more you may need some creative ideas to help cut costs.

man walking though hedges

The biggest costs of raising a child come from housing, food, and child care. Transportation, health care and clothing expenses increase as a child gets older. Housing takes up to 29% of the cost and food about 18%.

The biggest costs of raising a child come from housing, food, and child care. Click To Tweet

Now that you know how much it costs to have a child, what can you do to help your family out? Here are some suggestions, most of which I use, to help defray the cost while still giving kids an enjoyable, meaningful childhood.

Food Costs

The second largest expense of a family is food and it gets more expensive as the kid gets older. It costs 22% more to feed a teenager than it does an eight year old.

Use these tips to help with the cost of food:

  • Cook meals in batches and freeze
  • Plan meals to eliminate excessive costs
  • When eating out
    • Share a meal
    • Eat an appetizer as a meal
    • Don’t buy dessert
    • Eat half and save the leftovers for another meal.

More ways to save money.

Leisure Costs

While leisure expenses did not make the list, they can make a good sized dent in the wallet, especially if you are buying them a toy or candy every time you take them to a store. Teaching our children to value experiences with others over things is a wonderful lesson and will help them out as they get older.

These tips provide a great amount of fun for little to no expense:

  • Go to the playground
  • Have a picnic
  • Enjoy community events
  • Visit library story time
  • Go to Home Depot workshops
  • Checking out state parks

More ways to cut leisure costs.

Transportation Costs

Like food, transportation gets more expensive as the child gets older. Multiple after school activities keep children active and engaged, but it comes with a price- time and money.

Extracurricular activities are important for the development of a child, just be cautious how much you spend. If you are looking to save your family money and time consider letting your child only sign-up for one extracurricular activity a year. You will save money on fees and equipment but also teach them a valuable lesson. A child’s priority needs to be family and school first. It also prevents you and your child from getting burned out.

Carpool to help with transportation costs. Find friends you trust and share rides to and from school and to other activities. Not only will you save gas and time but also provide unstructured social time for your kids. Plus, listening to your kids interact with their peers is quite enjoyable.

More ways to save money on transportation

Is raising a child expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes, unequivocally, yes!

The good news is that the more kids you have the less budgetary strain. Children can share bedrooms, clothing, and toys. You can also buy food in bulk.

Do you ever feel the financial responsibility of raising a child? What money savings techniques have you used to help relieve some of the strain?

Are you ready to finally take control of your finances? Let my budgeting spreadsheets help!

Just fill out the form below and I'll send you the link to get the same exact budgeting spreadsheets that I use each month!

Included in the workbook:


  • Monthly budget form
  • Breakdown of savings form (for your sinking funds)
  • Overview of your financial plan

I've been using these same forms since August 2011 and have grown my family's net worth 500% tracking our money using these forms!

First Name:
*Your Email Address:

The following two tabs change content below.

John Walsh

John is a husband, father and teacher. His passion is to help fathers raise their children by sharing his own experiences while following a biblical worldview. Master Lego builder and tea party host. The greatest, most rewarding role a man can have is that of a father.

Latest posts by John Walsh (see all)

Posted in Family Finances, Finances, Guest Post, Money $aving Tips and tagged , , , .


  1. I’m not sure how much I’ll actually spend on raising a child, but I think it should be relatively around that amount, which makes sense.

    Maybe it’ll be a fun project to work on when I do have a kid and see how much it would be to raise one from a baby to an adult.
    Smart Provisions recently posted…Net Worth Report: February 2017 EditionMy Profile

  2. The cost amazed me! I cannot image how much I spend on my three kids. I don’t know that I have the patience to calculate it for 17 years. If you ever are successful I would love to know much it cost you.
    John J. Walsh recently posted…Do You Have Parenting Guilt? How to Overcome ItMy Profile

  3. You’re right- raising a child costs a lot. But what always amazes me is the difference raising a child can cost between one family and another. Tips like the ones you gave can go a long way in reducing the cost!
    Daniel Palmer recently posted…What the Heck is an Annuity?My Profile

    • Daniel, glad the tips help. I think some families are more cost conscious then others. We are always looking for a way to save, especially with three kids.

  4. When you are in Asia, the costs goes up exponentially. Apparently, parents here sign up their kids for all sorts of enrichment courses, music, ballet, golf, tae kwon do, some weird right brain left brain training (which apparently will help their memory skills). You can imagine how expensive they are. A co-worker of mine once told me that she spent about $2k a month on just these classes along. Try to compound that!

    • I had no idea! I cannot image spending that much money on classes alone. I am all for extracurricular activities, but that seems a little excessive to me. Thanks for sharing.

  5. You are exactly right- raising a child is expensive but so worth it! You included some great tips. Entertainment costs do add up! Thanks!

    • I agree it is worth it! For me, it was a shock just to see the number for how much it costs to raise one child.

  6. There is no way raising a child needs to cost that much! I have five kids ranging from a baby to age 13 and we barely make more than the total cost estimated for five kids (so my husband and I are free?) and we are putting money into retirement, paying the house off early, paying taxes, buying things for ourselves and not the kids, etc. And we’re not hurting financially at all. Most costs associated with raising children are optional- sure you could spend 14k a year per child, but you could also spend only a few thousand. In fact with the current tax plan, I get enough of a tax break per child that having children doesn’t cost me any more than not having them. Used clothes are easy to come by, basic foods are cheap, and entertainment can be cheap or free. Medical care does cost something- that may be the only one that’s hard to reduce too much.

Comments are closed.