Does it cost $245,340 to raise a child?

I was asked by a news outlet today if I would share some commentary around this recent report from the USDA on how much it costs to raise a child. Here’s the blurb on it from The Boston Globe:

A message for new parents: Get ready for sticker shock.

A child born in 2013 will cost a middle-income American family an average of $245,340 until he or she reaches age 18. And it’s more in the Northeast, roughly $282,480, according to a report out Monday.

The cost does not include college, or expenses if a child lives at home after age 17.

Those costs that are included — food, housing, child care, and education — rose 1.8 percent over the previous year, the Agriculture Department report said. Adjusting for projected inflation, a child born last year could cost a middle-income family an average of $304,480, the report added.

In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could spend about $25,230, equivalent to $198,560 in 2013 dollars, to raise a child. Housing costs are the greatest child-rearing expense, as they were in the 1960s, but current-day costs like child care were negligible back then. Housing expenses made up roughly 30 percent of the total cost of raising a child.

I found the prices fascinating and enjoyed getting to answer some questions on how to cut costs for this particular media piece. (I’ll let you know if and when it goes live — they may or may not use any of my commentary, but regardless, it was a great exercise to think through.)

What do YOU think? Does it cost $245,340 or more to raise a child to age 17? Have you ever calculated how much you’re spending on raising your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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