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The patter of little feet now runs around $250,000 !!!

That’s how much it costs to raise a child to age 17.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes a report – “Expenditures on Children by Families” – also known as the Cost of Raising a Child. The most recent report showed that a middle-income family who gave birth to a child in 2015 can expect to spend about for healthcare, clothing, food, childcare, education, housing, transportation and other necessities associated with child-rearing expenses by 2032 (by the time the child reaches age 17).

The report is based on data from the Federal government’s Consumer Expenditure Survey the most comprehensive source of information available on household expenditures. The USDA report tracks seven categories of family spending, including housing, transportation and clothing, and helps court systems and government agencies determine the costs of child-support and foster care payments.

“As the economy continues to recover, families are naturally cost conscious. This report gives families with children a greater awareness of the expenses they are likely to face,” said USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services under Secretary Kevin Concannon.“

The report is developed in conjunction with the US Department of Agriculture and the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP).

“One of the major expenses on children is food, and at USDA many of our programs are focused on making sure that children have access to healthy foods,” said CNPP Acting Executive Director Robert Post, Ph.D.

Child care, education, housing and transportation are the two biggest expenditures for parents. Childcare and education account for over 18%, while housing and transportation account for approximately 40% of the $245,340 total.

It is important to note that the costs reflected do not include costs associated with pregnancy or education beyond high school.

The full USDA report notes geographic variations in the cost of raising a child, with expenses the highest for families living in the urban Northeast, followed by the urban West and urban Midwest. Families living in the urban South and rural areas have the lowest child-rearing expenses.

To dramatize how costs have risen, in 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 to raise a child through age 17.

So – where to start? How to budget? Financial experts recommend socking away six months of living expenses, which will help if a parent wants to take unpaid time off from work or if the family encounters surprises. Next, get a grip on your budget.Estimate how your expenses might change after the baby arrives. While there will be new expenses – such as higher costs for food, clothing and child care – some couples may spend less on restaurants and entertainment.

Everyone needs a plan, if you have $100 million or $150 in your bank account. Be realistic about your financial capabilities before you have these innocent newly born people in your life who will depend on you to take care of their needs.

One thing to help you exhale is that expenses per child decrease as a family has more children. Families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than families with two children. As families have more children, the children can share bedrooms, clothing and toys can be handed down to younger children, food can be purchased in larger and more economical quantities, and private schools or child care centers may offer sibling discounts.

So take heart – after the first child, you’ll lower your costs!

Sources: The United States Department of Agriculture, “Expenditures on Children by Families,” 2015.