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August 12, 2021

How much does it cost to have kids?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance

More and more young couples are waiting later to start a family. And, as careworn parents balance shrinking budgets with their growing families, many of them are struggling with the idea of taking care of another child.

And who can blame them? On a purely economic basis, having kids makes no sense – even if you’re looking for extra hands on the family farm.

A middle-income family can expect to spend roughly $292,000 to raise a child born in 2008 to adulthood, according to U.S. government statistics. On this side of the border, the numbers may be a bit lower. Americans shoulder more direct health care costs than we do but tend to face much lower food and child care costs.

On average, a family in Canada with one child spends 24 per cent, and those with two children 36 per cent, of its total income on raising the kids. 

These sorts of estimates – which are used to set child-support costs during divorce proceedings – are calculated per child in a household with two children and are categorized by the age of the child using different family income levels. They cover food, shelter and other necessities for a child to age 18 – which means they actually don’t include the cost of university.  

Housing accounts for one-third of expenditures on children and food accounts for 16 per cent, the same as child care and education. Here’s an easy-to-use tool to see how things might work in your particular circumstances. 

Your family’s numbers, of course, could easily be even higher still, depending on how much you spend on higher-end discretionary items like private schools and sporting activities. 

What are your biggest costs in raising your children?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...