How Much Do Children Really Cost?

Having children is one of the biggest things to budget for when planning your financial future. How much can a family expect to spend on raising a child from birth through age 17? Use this tool to find out how much families like yours spent on children at various ages.

This interactive explores the estimates that the U.S. Department of agriculture publishes each year, in a report called Expenditures on Children by Families. The analysis is based on data from Consumer Expenditure Survey interviews, which surveyed thousands of households about their budgets and spending on child specific expenses.

For example, we can see that it is more expensive to raise a child in the urban Northeast than in any other region of the country - and this has gotten more expensive over time. Meanwhile, the inflation-adjusted costs of raising a child in rural areas have decreased, falling from about $209,000 for a middle income family in 1996 to about $188,000 in 2011.

Families in the highest income group, generally those who make about $100,000 or more a year, have increased spending on their children at three times the rate of families making less than $60k/year, adjusted for inflation, from 1996 to 2012.

Over time, some of the increase in expenses comes from a change in survey methods. In 2008 the USDA updated the methods used to calculate the average expense of childcare and education, improving the estimate by including only the families who reported having the expense in the calculation. This meant that the responses from people who reported no spending in the childcare or education categories were no longer averaged in, giving a more accurate average.