DeKALB – Kris Collin attributes the growing cost of raising children to “all the extras.”
Collin, of DeKalb, has three children ranging from 8 to 14 years old and has found the older children get, the more expensive they become. She said enrolling her daughter, a freshman at DeKalb High School, for school and sports this year was expensive, saying it was about $300 before sports and extracurriculars were added to the tab.
“There’s so many things available to [children,]” Collin said. “Summer camps, sports, extracurricular activities. It adds up. And I used to think, ‘I can’t wait to not have to buy diapers anymore.’ Diapers are expensive. But the prices are getting higher as they get older.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual report this week on Expenditures on Children by Families, or the cost of raising a child. The report showed a middle-income family with a child born last year will spend about $245,340 to raise the child to age 18. The estimate does not include costs during pregnancy or for college or other higher education for the child.
Dori Delacruz, a mother of four from DeKalb, was unfazed by the price tag.
“It’s not shocking,” Delacruz said. “Costs have changed since I was a kid. Kids want vacations, cellphones.”
In 1960, when the first study was released, a middle-income family was expected to spend $25,230 to raise a child to age 18. Collin said she once heard the current generation of children referred to as “the generation of expectations,” and thinks the description fits.
“Kids are always trying to keep up with their friends,” Collin said. “I think they expect more.”
The study showed the cost estimate to be a 1.8 percent increase from 2012. For 2013, the cost per child annually for a middle-income, two-parent family ranged from $12,800 to $14,970, depending on the child’s age.
Housing, child care, education and food are the top expenses for raising a child, but cost per child decreases as a family has more children, the study shows. Families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than families with two kids, as children can share bedrooms and use hand-me-down toys and clothes from older children, according to the study.
Delacruz said that fact has helped her family’s finances. She finds other ways to save too, while still affording fun. She takes her children to matinee movies, when the ticket prices are cheaper, or brings snacks from home when the family spends a day at the pool.
“You can find things for your family to do,” Delacruz said. “I think kids expect more, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Some kids want what other kids have, but my kids are happy with [shopping at] Goodwill.”