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August 27, 2021

Have you ever calculated the real cost of having kids?

On a purely economic basis, having kids makes little sense.

In fact, in our non-agrarian society, they provide almost no payback, particularly when you consider that student debt and high housing costs often force them to live at home well into their 29s and 30s. 

We do know that costs vary by household income (the more money you have, the more you spend on a child) and that the second one doesn't cost as much as the first.

But what's the target number for the average family?


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A middle-income family can expect to spend roughly $240,000 to raise a child to adulthood, according the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Canadian numbers seem to be a bit lower here though since Americans shoulder more direct health care costs than we do.

Still doesn't sound right when you look at your own budget? Here's an easy-to-use tool to see how things might work in your particular circumstances.

Although it may seem like babies have the most upfront costs, that period is one of the periods parents spend the least on their child, reports Nation Public Radio.

"Teenagers are the most expensive," says Dr. Mark Lino, the author of the USDA report. "They have high transportation costs; these are the years they start to drive, so you add them onto your auto insurance or buy them a second automobile. They also have high food costs, they need more food."

How do your numbers compare? Or do you even try to tally family costs this way?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money     

Photo credit: Jim O'Connor




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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...

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...