Here’s how much you save when you don’t have kids

Phil and Claire Dunphy on ABC's "Modern Family."
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Your friends may tell you having kids has made them happier. They're probably lying. Research shows that parenthood leads to a happiness gap. Maybe that's because the pleasures of parenthood are outweighed by all the extra responsibilities, housework and, of course, the costs.

Maybe that's why Americans are having fewer children than ever before. Just how much can you expect to save if you don't have kids?

The average middle-income married couple spent between $12,350 and $13,900 on each of their children in 2015, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Extrapolate from that number and you're looking at spending $233,610 per child from birth through age 17.

Higher-income families can expect to spend significantly more, around $372,210, while the data shows that lower-income families spend close to $174,690.

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Housing and food make up the bulk of these costs, with childcare, education, transportation and health care comprising almost all of the rest.

Babies in particular are expensive. One parent who tracked every dollar found that she spent $20,000 in the first 18 months alone.

And that's on the low end. Households bringing in $200,000 can spend $52,000 just in the first 12 months of a newborn's life, according to a report from NerdWallet.

Pregnancy and delivery are pricey too. Even with insurance, giving birth to a child could cost you around $3,400 out of pocket.

If you plan on supporting your child through college so she can avoid years of debilitating student loan payments, the size of that bill will depend on where she goes to school. Public universities charge an average of $20,090 for tuition if you're in-state, and $34,220 if you're not, a number that is comparable to an average private-school tuition.

The way richer parents get their kids into college may be cheating, says economist Richard V. Reeves

In short, if you're middle-income, have spending patterns that are similar to your fellow parents, have two children (the average family has between two and three) and pay their way through an in-state public school, while also continuing to pay for their living expenses, you are looking at spending roughly $730,420 total.

Cut them off on their 18th birthdays, and you'll spend around $467,000.

If you don't have kids, in short, you'll save a lot of money. Then again, you might lose it all to a nursing home when there is no around to take care of you.

The math in this article has been revised and updated.

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