$241,000 to raise a child?

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SEATTLE — Raising a family is rewarding, but expensive. Recent studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows it costs $241,080 these days to raise a child.

As parents we know every penny is worth it, but where do we start? Janice Phillips, senior vice president of Columbia Bank, said it’s best to start with a budget and break down expenses.

“That number can be a little daunting, but, you have to realize that the quarter of a million dollars is not all in one lump sum, it’s spread out over a 17-year period. So, you have to know you have to break down your income versus expenses. A great tool is provided by the USDA — they have an online calculator to help you budget.”

The biggest expense, according to the USDA, is housing at 30 percent, followed by child care and education (18 percent), food (16 percent) and transportation (14 percent).

“Live within your means. The more kids you have, the bigger the house. Don’t buy or rent over what you need. Same goes for child care. Studies show the more income you make the more you spend on child care or education. It’s a tough task defining what is quality versus what you may only need. Food, buy in bulk, shop for deals and eat at home more than going out. Going out is fun and good family bonding, but it can cost you a lot of money,” Phillips said.

All good advice, but that doesn’t even include the cost of college.

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