Raising a child just got more expensive.
A middle-income family with a child born last year can expect to spend about $235,000 in child-related expenses from birth through age 17, according to an annual report released this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. That's a 3.5 percent increase from 2010.
Housing is the single largest expense, averaging about $70,500, or 30 percent of the total cost. The estimate includes the cost of transportation, child care, education, food, clothing and health care. But it does not factor in the cost of a college education.
There is some good news for families with multiple children: Those with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than families with two children. That's because kids can share bedrooms, clothing and toys, and food can be purchased in larger and more economical quantities.
While many child-related expenses are beyond parents' control, there are some ways moms and dads can keep their family budget in check:
- Limit dining out. When your family does splurge on a meal outside of the home, take advantage of restaurants that offer kids' meal discounts certain days of the week.
- Give consignment and resale stores a try. There are bargains to be had on both toys and clothes for little ones. If you have friends or relatives with kids, consider swapping your children's clothing so everyone can get away with spending less.
- Take advantage of free and low-cost activities in your community. There are plenty of ways to keep your family entertained for little to no money, including library programs, outdoor summer concerts and festivals, parks and museums.
- Use coupons, and buy food and other household products when they're on sale.
By Emily Kittle