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5 Surprising Costs of Raising Children

The joys of parenthood are unparalleled. Bringing a child or children into this world and nurturing them into caring, intelligent and resourceful adults is often hailed as one of life’s greatest accomplishments. While the love a parent feels for their child is unmatched, the cost of raising a child can be burdensome. We often hear that children are expensive, but rarely do we stop to think of what makes raising a child so costly. Yet there are a number of surprising costs when it comes to childrearing that many parents do not even think of until they have to pay for them. Here are five of the most surprising:

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When children are in their infancy, one of the main costs you will have to deal with is buying diapers. Other costs can be minimized if you had a baby shower and were able to stock up on the essentials, like a stroller, clothing, bassinet, etc. However, even if you were given a load of diapers, you will soon learn infants go through them all too quickly. Considering you will change diapers at least three to four times during the day, and a few times at night, you will likely end up needing to buy them in bulk. The cost will add up quickly.

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One of the main expenses for children who are too young for school is childcare. By some estimates, the average annual cost of daycare in the U.S. is almost $12,000, and sometimes it can climb to almost $20,000. The age of your child, type of daycare center, and quality of employees at the facility will all contribute to pricing. The cost of daycare can clearly be prohibitive, and some parents make the choice to stay at home, as this is sometimes more economical than having both parents work and pay for day- or childcare.


When children are young, the cost of buying food may not seem all that expensive. If breastfeeding, parents can cut down on formula, which considerably lowers the cost of buying food and milk for infants. As children grow, however, so do their appetites and so does the grocery bill. This is especially true if your child has certain food allergies, as your bill can increase several hundred dollars a month due to the need for specialized items, such as almond milk or gluten-free bread. Food costs can be expensive enough; add to that the issue of food allergies and your grocery bill can increase exponentially.

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Every family needs vacations every now and then. Once you have children, though, long gone are the days when you can up and decide to go away for a weekend at a relatively low cost. Having children requires you to plan out vacations and search more heavily for discounts. Depending on the age of your children, you may have to purchase extra plane tickets, make room for larger hotel accommodations, and budget even more extensively for family activities that everyone can enjoy.


When your child is first born, college may seem a long way off. But if you ask any parent of an 18+ year old, they will tell you the years go by fast. Many parents get to their children’s junior or senior year of high school and realize they have not saved nearly enough for their education. Additionally, as public education continues on shaky ground, more and more parents are opting to send their children to private or charter schools. In addition to tuition costs, there can be costs for uniforms, school supplies, class trips and extracurricular activities. All these costs associated with your child’s education will add up, even before they get to college.

Bringing Up Kids to Be Financially Responsible

The above is merely a short list of some of the major expenses of raising children. These costs can be shocking to new or first-time parents, but the more informed you are, the better prepared you will be. The important thing to remember is that it is imperative to focus on raising self-sufficient, responsible and caring children, as the values you instill in them will last longer than the cost of diapers and daycare.

Photo credit: flickr

Tiffany Patterson Tiffany Patterson has a BA in Political Science from Temple University and an MBA from La Salle University Business School with a concentration in Finance. She is an expert on topics including home buying, life insurance and credit cards. She believes how we treat our finances can have a lasting impact on our lives for years to come. Tiffany loves researching and writing on topics that will help readers lead better lives.
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