New Sticker Price on Raising a Child: $226,920

Filed under: Research Reveals: Babies, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens

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Credit: Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images

Do you really want to have a baby? Take another look at the sticker price.

You could buy a top-of-the-line Mercedes Benz SLS for the same amount of money -- and have a few bucks left over gas. You could also buy a near-mint condition copy of Superman No. 1. Or how about a two-bedroom, 580-square foot condo in Boston?

But if you still want a baby, go ahead. It's your $226,920.

That's how much the United States Department of Agriculture says having a kid cost these days. Of course, the cost is spread out over 18 years. Sometimes much longer.

USDA officials release figures on how much it costs to raise a child every year as part of a federal program. We think it's just to seriously depress parents.

And wait. It gets more depressing. Bloomberg News reports the price has shot up 2.1 percent in just one year. That includes the price of child care, education, transportation and health services.

The typical two-parent family spent from $11,880 to $13,830 on each child in 2010, according to the USDA -- give or take. A family earning less than $57,600 a year was likely to spend $163,440 in 2010 dollars to rear a child, the USDA reports, while parents earning more than $99,730 may spend $377,040.

"Child-rearing expenses vary considerably by household income level," according to the report. "Annual expenses generally increased with a child's age, a circumstance true in both two-parent and single-parent families."

If the study itself is insufficient depressing, the report includes an online calculator so parents can calculate their own costs and bum themselves out for an entire weekend. Try not to think of that Mercedes.

You'll really start moping if you live in the urban Northeast. Parents raising children in the West and Midwest might be slightly less traumatized. The least expensive places to raise a child, by the way, are the urban South and rural areas.

Housing accounts for the biggest portion of expenses, averaging 31 percent over 17 years, the USDA reports. Child care and education average 17 percent, with food costs at 16 percent. The estimates don't include college expenses.

The USDA has been bumming parents with these numbers every year since 1960. Your parents probably thought they had it rough, too. Tell them to stop their whining.

If you're 50 years old, health care was only 4 percent of the cost of raising a child -- half of what it is now. Education and child care accounted for 2 percent.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.