LA CROSSE, WI (WXOW)—U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual report, Cost of Raising a Child shows that a middle-income family with a child born in 2012 can expect to spend about $241,080 ($301,970 adjusted for projected inflation) for food, shelter, and other necessities associated with child-rearing expenses over the next 17 years.
This represents a 2.6 percent increase from 2011.
Mother of two, Emily Rose said when you have kids you find a way to make your budget work.
"We've definitely changed our social lifestyle instead of going out we have friends over or go to friends houses," Rose said.
30-percent of the money spent on a child goes to housing.
"People start looking at having families," Mike Pietrek, President of La Crosse Area Realtors Association said. "They're comfortable with their incomes; they feel the need to move up from what we consider a starter home."
In La Crosse County, the average two bedroom house is $111,628. Adding a third bedroom costs an additional $80,246 and a four bedroom home is another $108,542.
Even though his youngest son was just born, Michael Peplinski said they're already running out of room.
"I can imagine when they get a little older they're going to want more room and you don't even consider that when you start raising them," Peplinski said.
The second biggest expense is child care at 18-percent. Back in 1960 it was only 2-percent of the cost of raising a child.
USDA said that's because in 1960, child care costs were negligible, mainly consisting of in-the-home babysitting. Since then, the labor force participation of women has greatly increased, leading to the need for more child care. Child-rearing expense estimates were not provided for single-parent families in 1960, likely because of the small percentage of children residing in such households at the time.
It costs the Peplinski family more than their mortgage to send their two boys to daycare.
"You want them to be safe and you want them to have a good education so that's important but you also have to keep in mind its expensive so you have to balance it," Peplinski said.
Shar Weibel, Director of YWCA Child Center said it's a financial balancing act for the child care centers too.
"It does seem really expensive for a parent paying that weekly fee," Weibel said. "But what they don't understand is the wages and the benefits we try to provide for staff. The rent, utilities, cost of food."
The 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.
"Lower housing costs contributed to the reduced expenditures for families in rural areas," Mark Lino, Ph.D., Study Author said. "Families in rural areas also saw lower child-care and education expenses."
Click here to try the USDA's Cost of Raising a Child Calculator, you can estimate how much it will annually cost to raise a child in different parts of the country.
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