Raising a child is no easy task — or cheap. In a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is estimated that for a child born in 2015, the average American family will spend $233,610 on child-rearing expenses from birth through age 17.
The 2015 Expenditures on Children by Families report, also known as “The Cost of Raising a Child,” details that a middle-income, married-couple family will spend between $12,350 and $13,900 annually on a variety of expenses for their children, from housing to clothing. For Turlock mom Kristyn Aredas, the numbers in the report are surprising.
“The numbers are surprising, but I can definitely see it,” she said. “It all adds up really quickly, especially with how my daughter is growing.”
Aredas said that, at the most, she thought she would spend about $1,000 dollars per month on her child. She gave birth to her daughter, Aubree Faria, in 2013, but could relate to the expenses specified in the report, stating that food is currently one of her greatest expenses as her daughter grows.
According to the study, housing and food account for the largest share of child-rearing expenses, at 29 percent and 18 percent, respectively. Clothing was the smallest expense at six percent – something that Aredas originally avoided spending money on thanks to hand-me-downs, but now tends to spend a generous amount on.
“It’s not that she needs them, but I love getting her more outfits,” said Aredas.
Aside from hand-me-downs, Aredas has also discovered other ways to save money while raising her daughter. She bought off-brand diapers during Aubree’s infant years, and has applied the saving technique to other necessities as the years pass.
“The Target brand still produces quality stuff,” she said.
Childcare costs, which account for 16 percent of parents’ overall spending, is also something that Aredas has been able to avoid, she said, thanks to help from Aubree’s father, Derek.
“Luckily with mine and Derek’s job, we are able to tag team,” she said. “I come home from work just in time for him to leave for his job, so we never need anyone to watch her in between. We lucked out on that.”
It is also noted in the report that child-rearing costs vary greatly depending on the number and ages of children in a household. As family size increases, costs per child generally decrease – often referred to as the “cheaper by the dozen” effect. As families increase in size, children may share bedrooms, clothing and toys can be reused and food can be purchased in larger, more economical packages.
Aredas currently has just one child, but as her daughter ages she has seen the benefits or having a larger family.
“I spend less on food now, because she can eat what we eat,” said Aredas. “I don’t have to buy her her own, individual meals anymore.”
Compared to a child in a two-child family, families with one child spend 27 percent more on the only child and families with three or more children spend 24 percent less on each child.
Despite the overall cost of raising a child and the benefits of taking care of more than one child, Aredas said money has not affected her decision to become a mother to more children.
“I don’t think the money is going to help me decide if I want more kids,” she said. “(Aubree) wants a sibling, so I don’t worry about the money. When I had her, it didn’t seem like it cost that much.”
At the end of the day, the expenses that come with raising her daughter are worth it, Aredas said.
“Watching her be happy, grow, socialize and live a good life with everything she’s given is nice to see,” said Aredas. “Just seeing her happy and healthy makes it all worthwhile.”
To view the full Expenditures on Children by Families report, visit www.cnpp.usda.gov.