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We can't tell you exactly what your child will cost, but we can provide you with estimates. Knowing what to expect will allow you to plan for the future. Here is a breakdown of the items you'll need, and an estimate of their costs.
Government estimates say that a middle income family in 2012, defined as having an annual income between $60,640 and $105, 000, will spend a total of $241,080 to raise a child to age 17. This figure represents a 2.5 percent increase from 2011 and does not include expenses incurred beyond the age of 18. If you include the cost of college, whether public or private, that cost goes up significantly. And, families that earn more generally can expect to spend more on their children.
According to the USDA report, Expenditures on Children by Families, 2012, annual child-rearing expenses per child for a middle-income, two-parent family ranged from $12,600 to $14,700. The age of the child accounted for the annual variations. For example, child care expenses are greater in the first 6 years of a child's life, but transportation costs are likely to be higher when a child hits her teen years.
About 30 percent of the amount spent in the government estimates goes to cover housing expenses relating to the new member of your household. Child care and education expenses account for the second highest percent. Other costs taken into account include transportation, food, clothing, health care, and miscellaneous expenses.
Families in the urban Northeast can expect their expenses to be higher than the rest of the country, but the urban West coast does not lag far behind. However, families living in the urban South and in rural areas experience the lowest expenses.
Here are the costs you can expect up to birth and during the first year.
During these years, you'll spend about $1,000 on toys and clothes, and about $2,200 a year on food. If your child attends day care or pre-school, add in the cost of these services. Day care will cost you an average of $12,000 per year, while pre-school costs vary widely. Again, health care costs depend on your health coverage.
This is the time when the overall expenses of child-rearing drop and families can save more. During these years, your child care expenses will drop drastically. Health care costs generally stabilize unless of course, your child begins orthodontia during this stage. Then, you'll have to pay more.
You are likely to spend more than in the previous stage on clothing, toys, and entertainment, but your kids won't be demanding the high-ticket clothing and other items of adolescence. The bill for food will be just slightly more than what it was in the previous stage.
On the negative side, now that your kids are in school, you'll want to pay for all those extras that middle class kids have: dancing and music lessons, sports participation, and so on. And, if you decide to send your kids to private school or to summer camp, these expenses will have to be added in.
During this stage, you can expect your child's food, clothing, and entertainment bill to greatly exceed what it was during the previous stage. For instance, food costs will increase as a result of growth spurts in your adolescent and clothing costs are likely to rise as well as your teen takes more of an interest in his or her appearance.
Once your teen starts driving, your auto insurance will go up. The extra cost could be anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on your state of residence and whether your child is a boy or girl. If you intend to buy your child a car, add this expense in as well.
Once they reach school age, children should start learning rudimentary financial skills.
You might start to teach your kids in the following areas:
The Allowance. Giving your child an allowance is a good start. Whether you pay your child a quarter or one dollar to perform weekly household chores, you are instilling a work ethic and a giving them an opportunity to learn how to save and spend their money wisely. You can make suggestions to them about what they should do with it, but allow them the final say on what happens to the money. Let them see the consequences of both wise and foolish behavior with regard to money. A child who spends all of his money on the first day of the week is more likely to learn budgeting if he is not provided with extras to tide him over.
Savings and Investment. Beyond the basics of budgeting and saving, you'll want to get your child involved in saving and investing. The easiest way to do this is to have the child open his or her own savings account. If you want your child to become familiar with investing, there are a number of child-friendly mutual funds and individual stocks available.
Taxes. Many teens today have part-time jobs. Although they might not make enough to need to file a tax return, encouraging them to fill out a practice tax form is a good way to have them participate in the process--and get them used to the idea of submitting yearly tax forms.