When you look at an adorable baby, yours or someone else's, do you see a $285,050 price tag?
Probably not, but that’s the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
That estimate (based on costs for kids born last year) includes everyday expenses such as food, clothing, housing, medical care, transportation, childcare and schooling, although not college.
And, of course there are lots of exceptions—upward—to that estimate.
Think about all this: repairing a busted sofa after your child uses it as a trampoline; replacing a neighbor’s you-name-it damaged by your sweet darling; extra trips to the doctor for a broken bone, acne or braces; the cash you’ll shell out for pricey sneakers, prom night or iPods; and the value (to them and to your sanity) of making sure they have what their friends have.
And that’s all if you’re lucky enough to have an "average" kid.
Of course, people decide whether to start a family for lots of reasons—most of which have little to do with money.
To help you assess your parental expenses, the Agriculture Department's website will give its best estimate on child-rearing costs, using a calculator in which you plug in your region, salary, whether you’re a single or two-parent household and how many other children you have.
The price-per-child drops when you have more than one, because younger children may be able to wear hand-me-downs and play with their older sibling’s toys. And, food is cheaper when you buy it in bulk.
If you have two children, says the federal government, it costs about $600,000 to rear them to age 17.
Families With Children and Taxes
Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow at the conservative think tank the Cato Institute, told CNBC this week that the government taxes Americans so much that it makes having children prohibitive. (Watch Mitchell's comments in the video here.)