The Cost of Kids

Main Message

Kids might be less demanding when they know what you are already investing into their financial support. 


“Dad, can I have $20 for a movie and pizza?” All parents have felt like an ATM dispensing cash for this-and-that. Sometimes, we need to dig in our heels and say, “No.” At such times, it’s good to have a few facts in your mental queue to justify why the request was denied.

Raising children costs a small fortune – $1,151 per month on average, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics. Of course, parents shouldn’t rub that figure in a child’s nose. But neither should a parent feel obligated to say “yes” to each and every request for cash.

This means the average family can expect to spend $234,900 to raise a child to age 17. College costs are tacked onto this figure, says USDA.

The average cost to raise a child is $1151 per month.

The average cost to raise a child is $1151 per month.

Some of the major expenses:

  • Housing represents the largest expense—30% or $70,000 ($343/month)
  • Food accounts for 16% or $37,584 ($184/month)
  • Childcare and education expenses amount to 18% or $42,282 ($207/month)

The USDA’s data excludes insurance, transportation, and clothing, not to mention soccer shoes, music lessons, and educational toys/computers.

Of course, family lifestyle differences and location make for wide variations in costs.

You can access the entire report at and use a cost calculator here.

My point is kids tend to focus on the immediate request for cash. But offering the information that you are already spending upwards of $1,000/month on their welfare changes the discussion. Consider saying, “The extra cash is not in the budget. Is there something we could drop this month?”

Money Moment

A child asking for a cash handout might appreciate a parent’s frugality once he/she appreciates just how is already being spent per child. 


About Chuck

Chuck is a publisher of financial education materials, an entrepreneur, and journalist.
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