What Does it Cost to Raise a Child?

Earlier this month my wife and I welcomed our first child into this world. It’s truly a miraculous experience. Witnessing the birth of your child and the miracle of life is truthfully life-changing. Everyone says you’ll never really be ready to be a parent. While I agree with that to an extent, I do believe waiting as long as my wife and I did benefit us greatly.

We’re in our 30’s and we’ve been married for nearly nine years. Last year we decided it was finally time for us to begin a new chapter in our marriage and lives; and that was to start a family and have a kid. We knew we were ready emotionally and financially. We were more mature than when we were married and obviously much better off financially. So when people say you’ll never really be ready, they may be partially right because no one knows what it’s like to raise a child until you actually do it, obviously. But financially speaking it makes a huge difference to ensure you’re in a good spot and have your financial house in order before you bring a child to your house.

Becoming financially ready to raise a child

Prior to having our child earlier this month, we were able to pay off all of debts, except for our house, and build a fully funded emergency fund. It feels tremendous. We have a great sense of financial security because of it. Again, this is how we knew we were ready to start a family. Debt can really set you back, especially when you include a baby.

I remember when we first started discussing the prospects of having a baby a couple of years ago and that’s when I began looking into just how much it costs to raise a child. The articles out there around the costs of raising a child are truly remarkable. And these costs don’t even include college tuition, which is even more astonishing.


Cost of raising a child calculator

Per an article on CNN Money, a married couple in the middle-income range is estimated to spend approximately $234,000 to raise a child up until the age of 17. This number doesn’t include the cost of college or any private schooling prior to college. This total figure equates to roughly $14,000/year as the cost to raise a child.

A similar article on The Huffington Post and their projected cost of raising a child is slightly higher, coming in at approximately $245,000. This total figure equates to roughly $14,500/year as the cost to raise a child.

I used a calculator on CNPP, which is the United States Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy Promotion, and their figure was even higher. They gave me a projected cost of approximately $24,000/year as the cost to raise a child in my particular region of the country.

An article from NBC News game me a projected cost of approximately $13,000/year as the cost of raising a child.

Cost to send your child to college

I played around with several “cost of college calculators” to get an idea of what it would cost to send my child to college around the year 2035. I definitely plan on sending my child to an in-state public university to save some on tuition. I don’t think out-of-state or private is worth, unless they get a hefty scholarship. I’ve already discussed my views on public school versus private in a previous post. Anyways…there was definite sticker shock to what the calculators threw back at me and my projected in-state college cost in 18 years.

Much to my dismay the projected cost of college for my child in 18 years ranges from $92,000 (tuition only) all the way to $310,000 (tuition plus room and board, e.g. ALL college expenses for 4 years).

Cost of college tuition for my child

Below are my calculations for a couple different in-state schools I would like to send my child to. Historically over the last 10 years the cost of college inflation rate has been roughly 5%.

Cost of college tuition: my (child’s) first school

Cost of college for my preferred public, in-state university for my child, e.g. my alma mater. The school I am using below currently costs approximately $16,000/year to attend for tuition only, and when you include room and board that yearly cost jumps to nearly $30,000/year.

– In-state public, tuition only: $170,000 with a 5% inflation rate
– In-state public, tuition plus room & board: $310,000 (wow!)

Cost of college tuition: my (child’s) backup school

The backup university for my child, e.g. the cheaper state school, which is still a good school and clearly more affordable. A very viable option if we want to keep the cost of college down. The school I am using below currently costs approximately $9,000/year to attend for tuition only, and when you include room and board that yearly cost jumps to nearly $20,000/year.

– In-state public, tuition only: $92,000 with a 5% inflation rate
– In-state public, tuition plus room & board: $111,000

True cost of raising a child, including college

Based off of these averages it essentially costs nearly one half million dollars to raise a child and send them to a 4-year in-state, public college. On the low end it would be roughly $325,000, which includes raising and sending them to college, but only paying for tuition. On the high-end, the cost of raising a child could potentially costs as much as $355,000 if you plan on paying for all of their college expenses (tuition, fees, room and board).

My plan via this blog is to track just how accurate these numbers are. I really question the projected cost of roughly $245,000 to raise a child from age 0-17. The anticipated cost of college in 2035 does feel fairly accurate to me, unfortunately, considering just how expensive college continues to be.

However, I am encouraged that it has become such a hot topic these days and that one day the inflation rate or cost of college could be regulated, even if it’s just slightly. It’s almost inconceivable the cost of college for an in-state 4-year public school could cost $310,000. If this is true then many, many families will be severely ill prepared, and in piles of student loan debt (parents and students). And we think we’re in a student loan crisis now in 2017. Doesn’t look like there is an end in sight, whatsoever. Well, unless you start saving aggressively now via a 529. I do plan on having an account open for my child before they are 2 months old.


8 Comments for “What Does it Cost to Raise a Child?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *