How to Determine the Cost of Kids

There are many unknowns in life when raising a child, but you can expect that it won't be cheap. The U.S. government reports annually on the subject of paying for children in order to help parents anticipate the cost of kids from birth to maturity (defined in this case as the age of 17). While expenses vary from year to year, the overall price tag of raising a child tends to increase as the child gets older. annually. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average two-parent, middle-income family spends between $11,650 and $13,530 annually for child-rearing expenses. This article will help you prepare for the costs associated with raising a child in the United States.


  1. Image titled Determine the Cost of Kids Step 1
    Estimate anticipated expenses.
    • Calculate housing costs. These can be expected to total roughly 33 percent of your overall household expenses. Housing costs consist of mortgage or rent payments, home maintenance, property taxes, utilities and renter's or homeowner's insurance.
    • Allow another 33 percent for education and childcare expenses: daycare, baby-sitting, primary and secondary school tuition, books and materials. This does not include money set aside for college.
    • Figure meal expenses, including the cost of food purchased from grocery stores, restaurants and school cafeterias.
    • Add in transportation costs. These consist of a portion of your monthly car payments, gas, maintenance, repairs, automobile insurance, public transportation and travel fares on trains and planes. For purposes of figuring the cost of child-rearing, you would include here only those costs incurred specifically in caring for your children (expenses you would not have if you didn't have kids).
    • Include clothing expenses for all children's apparel as well as diapers, shoes, uniforms, athletic gear, dry cleaning and alterations.
    • Tally all medical and dental care, prescriptions and supplies not covered by insurance. Include health insurance premiums only to the extent that they cover your children. Don't include premiums paid by your employer.
  2. Image titled Determine the Cost of Kids Step 2
    Divide the above expenses among your children. The more children you have, the more you would share the costs. This will lower the cost per child.
  3. Image titled Determine the Cost of Kids Step 3
    Compare your per-child expenses with the national and regional averages. You can use the interactive tools and annual report from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
    • Families in the northeast U.S. tend to have the highest expenses nationally, while families in the South have the lowest.
    • Chart or graph your results as a visual aid.
  4. Image titled Determine the Cost of Kids Step 4
    Readjust figures as necessary or annually when the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases new data.


  • When calculating expenses, don't forget to include miscellaneous costs that can be directly or indirectly connected to your kids. Such costs include entertainment, vanity care and gifts.
  • Although figuring kid costs can be daunting, it's worth doing as a motivational tool for saving and investment as well as keeping expenses in check.


  • The cost of raising a child does not normally end at the age of 17. The USDA's "Cost of Raising a Child" calculator does not take into account any expenses beyond age 17. This means it excludes the cost of college, one of the fastest growing expenses parents and students face.

Things You'll Need

  • Calculator
  • Bills
  • Statements
  • Receipts
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture "Expenditure on Children by Families" annual report and interactive tools

Article Info

Categories: Parenting | Managing Your Money