How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child After Inflation
Are you thinking about a child? Perhaps the weakening of the pandemic and the current low unemployment rate has made you feel like you’re ready to fulfill your biological destiny and add another mouth to the world? Before you do, you should know how much it will likely set you back.
According to a Brookings Institution study, the cost of raising a middle-class child from birth to age 17 is likely to be around $310,605. That’s more than the $233,610 USDA projected back in 2015, and higher inflation is the culprit. Back in 2015, the projected inflation rate was 2.2%; the new figure is based on data from 1980 to 1997, when inflation was last relatively high. And yes, it takes into account the likely decline in inflation as a result of the Fed’s interest rate hike.
Here’s a breakdown of what percentage of your $300,000 will be spent on what:
- Housing: 29%
- Food: 18%
- Child care and education: 16%
- Transport: 15%
- Healthcare: 9%
- Miscellaneous 7%
- Clothing 6%
Before you throw in the towel on these grim figures, I think there is a lot that is not reflected in the USDA figures. Brookings’ calculations seem solid—I mean, reliable for a forecast based on future interest rates—but the USDA report doesn’t include the cost of raising a child in the full picture of a family’s finances.
Hidden savings from raising children
As you can see from the somewhat horrific USDA chart, 18% of your total spending on your child will be wasted on food. (Fun fact: kids need to eat every day.) It sounds like this, but if you factor in your entire budget, you can save money on food by having a baby. My wife and I did.
When we were a carefree, childless couple, we ate at interesting restaurants a few times a week and maybe had a leisurely brunch on Sundays. But as soon as the baby was born, we started eating out not once a week and forgot what “brunch” was. Isolating at mealtimes has saved us a significant amount of money in overall food costs. Having a baby even saved on the cost of homemade meals, as many of our grown-up meals consist of half-eaten chicken nuggets tossed on the floor.
The same rule applies to the money we saved by not going on holiday to interesting places. And never go to the movies. Oh, and don’t go to bars with friends or to concerts. And ball games too! We even spent less on clothes because we preferred baby vomit to inexpensive shirts. The cost of buying birthday presents also dropped as we no longer had friends. These savings are slightly offset by the increase in the amount we started spending on marijuana, the best friend of modern parents.
Hidden savings that come from having LOTS of kids
The USDA figures are based on one child, but it admits in its press release “the effect of a dozen cheaper”. Mark Leno, author of the report, said in a statement: “There are significant economies of scale with children… As families grow in size, children can share a bedroom, clothes and toys can be reused, and food can be purchased. in larger and more economical packages.”
Two children are cheaper. Three are cheaper. By the time you have your fourth child, it will be practically free: clothes, toys, books, etc. are all unnecessary, and you don’t even have to worry too much about raising them. That’s what older brothers and sisters are for.
The cost of your child’s college education
Your responsibility for your child doesn’t really end when they turn 18: you should consider sending them to college. Like all sensible parents, my wife and I made plans for college as soon as our son was born. This plan was that he would become a genius and receive a full Brown Scholarship. Nothing seems to work, but there is still time. That’s why I never studied the annual estimated cost of college when he turns 18 until this very second. Wait. Let me just – what the fuck? Are you shitting on me? $43,370 a year for a private school? So he can dance? And $20,000 for a public school? Is it not too late to move on to a socialist utopia? Can we just come to Belgium or something?
Raise a child to learn a useful craft
You know, the world will always need plumbers and electricians.