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How much does it really cost to raise a child?

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

Can you afford to expand your family?

For many families, one of the biggest factors when thinking about expanding your brood is whether or not you can afford another child. From baby gear to child care, his first car and that high-dollar education - how much does it really cost to raise a child?

According to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child has increased 15 percent from 1960 to 2007. That means on average, a middle-income, two-parent, two-child family can expect to pay from $10,930 to $12,030 per year in expenses for one child, varying by their age.

Where does your money go?

Clearly this dramatic increase cannot all be blamed on inflation. This rise in child-rearing costs is attributable to the considerable rise in child care and education expenditure. The good news is that the cost of feeding your offspring is less expensive today than it was in 1960.

The bottom line

So how does this add up for you over the life of your child?

"USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), notes that family income has a direct affect on child rearing expenditures. Families with a before-tax income below $45,800 are projected to spend $148,320 on expenses related to child rearing or $196,010 when factoring for future inflation. Families with an income between $45,800 and $77,100 can expect to spend $204,060 or $269,040 with an inflation factor. Families with an income above $77,100 can expect to spend $298,680 or $393,230 – factoring for inflation."

Location, location, location

Another contributing factor in the cost of raising your child is geographic location. Families in the urban west will pay the highest child-rearing expenses while families in the urban mid-west and all rural areas boast the lowest costs when raising a child.

Changing the bottom line

You can affect how much you spend on your child by saving money on big-ticket items (cribs, baby gear) by borrowing from friends or buying these items at discount stores. Work towards getting a scholarship for your child to pay for his education and encourage him to take a summer job to help with his car payments. Have you been dreaming of that house with the white picket fence in the suburbs? Now might be a good time to leave the high-dollar real estate in the big city and move someplace that is more affordable, such as the mid-west.

So, before you decide to up and move, or get rid of your baby urges all together, weigh the advantages and the challenges to adding another member to your household. Nevertheless, after the calculator is put away and both parties have expressed their thoughts, the rewards just may outweigh the price tag of bringing up baby.

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