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How Much Does It Cost to Have a Kid? Try $13,000 a Year

There's an old saying that if you wait until you can afford children, you'll never start a family. New numbers explain why.
This little bundle of joy will run you $233,000 to get through high school, new USDA data shows
This little bundle of joy will run you $233,000 to get through high school, new USDA data showsNBC New York

Couples who had a child in 2015 will end up spending an average of $13,000 a year raising that child, which adds up to $233,000 by the time the kid is 17, according to new government calculations.

That’s down from past years — the estimate was $245,000 in 2014.

Image: Stephanie and Jason Brueggeman pose with their newborn daughter at the hospital in Buffalo, N.Y.
This little bundle of joy will run you $233,000 to get through high school, new USDA data showsNBC New York

The estimates vary a lot depending on where people live and how much money they make. Daycare alone for an infant in New York City, for example, can run $18,000 a year or more.

But the annual U.S. Department of Agriculture projections can give parents an idea of what they are up against as they build a family.

And, since they only go to age 17, they don't include college costs.

Related: The High Cost of Child Care in 2014

"Understanding the costs of raising children and planning for anticipated and unexpected life events is an important part of securing financial health,” said Louisa Quittman, who directs the Office of Financial Security at the Treasury Department.

Fewer Americans are having children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics reported last week that 3.9 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2015, down about 1 percent from 2014. In general, birth rates for younger women are falling, and they’re increasing for older women.

Related: Child Care Costs Can Cripple

It’s not the strollers, baby clothes and toys that cost the most. The biggest cost by far is housing, which accounts for 29 percent of the extra costs of having a child. Food costs make up 18 percent of the calculation, while child care and education account for 16 percent.

Related: Comparing Trump's and Clinton's Child Care Plans

And each child adds proportionately less, because kids can double up on rooms and in the back seats of cars.

“There are significant economies of scale, with regards to children, sometimes referred to as the 'cheaper by the dozen effect,’” said USDA economist Mark Lino, who wrote the report.

Related: What Will That Kid Cost You?

“As families increase in size, children may share a bedroom, clothing and toys can be reused and food can be purchased in larger, more economical packages.”

Want to know how much to budget for your family?

The USDA has a calculator here to help people estimate the cost.