From meals to doctor bills, the average cost to raise a kid for a middle-class couple has climbed to an estimated $241,080, and that doesn't even include college tuition, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released Wednesday
The estimated average cost, which includes expenses for a child for 18 years, is $6,000 or 3 percent higher than it was in 2011, reported CNN Money
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While the price tag for child rearing is rising, wages for many families are not. After adjusting for inflation, the median annual household income dropped by more than $4,000 since 2000, CNN reports. Adding to the financial pinch are lower-wage jobs that replaced higher-paying employment lost during the recession.
The estimated child-rearing bill includes expenses for housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, education, and child care, as well as miscellaneous expenses, such as computers. Expenses in all categories rose last year, but the biggest increases were for health care, education, and child care.
Health care spending made up around $20,000, or around 8 percent, for a child born in 2012, the data show. Child care and education expenses represented nearly 18 percent of the total costs for middle-income parents.
"It does give some people pause," Dr. Joyce Cavanagh, a family economics specialist and associate professor with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in College Station, told USA Today
. "Every year when this study comes out, there are people who think, 'Whoa, that's a lot of money. What are we getting ourselves into?'"
Stuart Ritter, a T. Rowe Price financial planner who teaches a money management class for new parents, said there are ways to cut costs, and most people do.
"I have to reassure everybody there are other people who successfully have children," he told CNN Money. "I personally have three. People figure out ways to make this work."
Parents who commented on the article agreed.
One user on CNN said parents can start by not living up to “the American upper class ideal with a bedroom for every child, multiple bathrooms, car payments, smartphone plans for every teen, all the cable TV channels, all the brand name clothes, etc., etc., etc. As a parent, when you quit being materialistic, and help your kids be free of materialism — it is amazing how much more affordable it is to raise children!”
Find practical ways to save, advised another parent.
“Any parent who doesn't use coupons to grocery shop for diapers to dentures is throwing away a college education. I have cut my grocery/personal care items bill by an amazing 52%," the commenter said.
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