Raising a child costs a fortune, doesn’t it? Every child needs a home, food, and clothing, of course. There are medical bills, education bills, and bills to ensure your child has a social life. But young kids grow out of clothes and shoes fast, and older kids who play sports for a league or even their schools have a lot of expenses associated with their after school activities. It can be a lot to handle.
According to the Plutus Foundation, the cost of raising a child is nearly $13,000 a year, to raise a child from birth until age 18. This data is based on a 2015 study (updated in 2017) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to WTOP News, however, the real cost is closer to $15,000 (when you adjust for inflation), and that’s assuming there are two parents in the child’s life, the child is perfectly healthy, and that you’re not paying for college.
As attorneys who help families, we know that it’s expensive to raise a child. (That is why strong child support orders are critical.) But we also know that there are a lot of unexpected expenses to consider. We wanted to look at a few of those today.
The birth or adoption of a child
The delivery of a newborn isn’t free. Parents do have to pay for the hospital and doctor bills. Even if they have insurance, there is normally a deductible. According to Plutus Foundation, “the average total costs that patients paid for maternity care was $4,500. Patients without insurance will face higher costs by magnitudes — around $30,000 to $50,000.”
Parents who go through adoption also face some hefty fees and expenses. The costs can increase if sperm donation, surrogate parents, or other circumstances apply. The average cost to adopt a child through a private agency is $43,000.
Both biological and adoptive parents need to arrange for maternal (and paternal) care when the child is first brought into the family home.
And that’s just to bring a little one home.
Housing costs for children
The average housing costs for each child are $3,750 per year. The main cost is the monthly rent or the monthly mortgage cost. The cost for the first child is usually the largest. Each subsequent child does need room to sleep and be comfortable in their home. The home costs only increase if you want your children to be in a bigger home, a house with a backyard, and a home that is near the better schools.
Food costs for children
The average cost to feed a child is $2,794 per year. Food accounts for about 18% of a family’s child-rearing budget. USDA data for 2020 for monthly food costs are:
- A thrifty budget. $98 to $162 dollars per month.
- A moderate plan. About $233 per month – or $2,79 per year.
- A more liberal plan. $182 to $327 dollars per month.
And this doesn’t cover anything special, like birthday parties or pizza night. It also doesn’t take where you live into account.
More than 237,000 children in Tennessee live with food insecurity. That’s about 1 in 6 kids in the state. As of 2018 in Blount County, about 11% of the population was food insecure, and the average meal cost about $3.28. To feed a child three times a day, for 365 days, your budget for his or her food alone is $3,591.60 per year – around $800 more a year than average. And these numbers may be higher now, as costs have risen because of the pandemic.
Childcare and education costs
The average cost of childcare and educating a child through the age of 18 is a $37,400, or more than $2,000 each year. This amount increases if your child attends private school, has special education needs, or if there are additional costs. The yearly average is, essentially, a distorted figure because the largest amount of childcare expenses are for pre-school-aged children.
Parents who work need childcare. A stay-at-home mother or father doesn’t need childcare, but that means they don’t have an income unless they can work from home, and THAT assumes a parent can do the full time job of parenting plus a full time job of outside work.
Childcare accounts for about 16% of the cost to raise a child, according to the Plutus Foundation. If Congress passes the latest bill, however, that cost will be capped at 7%, and Tennessee will get universal pre-school, which would dramatically reduce the costs associated with childcare and education.
Transportation for your child
The USDA estimates that this cost is $1,947 per year. Many families do need to buy a first car, a larger car, or even a second car to accommodate having children. Children need to be transported to all sorts of social activities such as soccer practice, church, or just to see friends. Transportation costs increase if you need to drive your child to school.
In addition to the car payments, you also need to pay for car insurance, and the energy costs for the car. The USDA estimates that transportation accounts for about 15% of the cost to raise a child.
Other costs to raise your child
The USDA estimates that it will cost about $2,856 per year to pay for:
- Medical care. Medical costs include deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Most children should be eligible for insurance through their parent’s insurance policy. If parents don’t have their own insurance, then insurance for the children should be considered. Healthcare costs for children are about 9% of the total cost to raise a child.
- Children are continually growing too big for their clothes. That’s what children do best – they grow. The USDA estimates that the cost of clothing for a child each year is $779.
- Oher goods and services. Personal items account for about 7% of the child-rearing budget. This category includes computers, athletic equipment, entertainment, haircuts, and other goods and services.
The USDA costs are general figures to help families, especially parents going through a divorce, understand the expense of raising a child. The average costs do vary by state and location within the states. The expenses generally start high, are lowest between ages 6-8, and peak again between ages 15-17.
At Shepherd & Long, P.C., our Maryville child custody and child support lawyers have been fighting for parents and spouses for 30 years. Child support orders are based mostly on the income of each parent, the number of children, and who has custody of the children. We often negotiate child support agreements. When necessary, we’re ready to argue child support claims before the family court judge. To discuss your divorce rights and the rights of your children when spouses divorce or separate, call us at 865-982-8060 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.