The Future Cost of Kids

The Future Cost of Kids

Hello folks! Hope you’re doing well. Today I wanted to elaborate further on the cost of kids. Last week I went into quite a bit of detail on how much my two kids (ages 4 and 1) have cost me so far. Now I thought I would estimate how much the future cost of kids will be for Lucy and me. So just like last week, let’s jump in and take it one category at a time.


I just realized that we are at the half-way point in terms of daycare expenses! I guess that is a milestone to be excited about. With the kiddos being age 4 and 1, and daycare going through age 5 at which point kindergarten starts, we’re half-way there.

For our eldest with just one more year of daycare expense, that will amount to ~$8K and for our youngest with 4 years to go that will amount to around $38K. In total, we can expect to pay ~$46K in future daycare costs which is right around the mid-way point as we’ve spent $44K to date.

Healthcare Premiums

First, let’s tackle healthcare. My historical cost of healthcare for the kiddos has been tracked solely with regards to how much out of pocket costs I’ve paid for treatment and care. I have not considered the impact on the incremental premiums I’ve paid for health insurance on the front end. While I can’t predict what sort of care the kiddos will require in the future (e.g. injuries, sicknesses, etc), what I can estimate is the cost of healthcare premiums based on the current healthcare plan we have.

We receive employer subsidized health insurance through my work which is a HSA – High Deductible Health Plan. While premiums are low for us, the high deductible part means that we pay out of pocket for the first $5,700 of healthcare as a family.

Sticking to the premium portion of our payments though, the incremental amount of cost for insurance for a plan that features just Lucy and I vs. Lucy and I plus the kids is roughly $520 for the year. Not too shabby for the kiddos. While overly simplistic (but working with the only information I have), splitting this cost among each kid and projecting it out over Kid #1’s remaining 14 years in the house and Kid #2’s remaining 17 years would represent a future cost of $3,640 and $5,200, respectively. In total, we can expect to pay ~$8,840 in future healthcare premiums for the kiddos.


As I mentioned in my prior post on the true cost of kids, I made simplistic estimates for the kiddos cost of food. It turns out my estimate for my eldest food costs in 2017 (when he was 3 years old) aligns fairly closely with the USDA Moderate-Cost Plan estimated below. That seems fair to me so I will stick to the Moderate-Cost Plan when making my future estimates.

Future Cost of Kids

As such, the total cost of food for my eldest from now until age 18 is estimated at $47.7K and for my youngest it is $53.2K. When you look at it on a cumulative basis, those are some big numbers! Together, we have ~$100.8K in future food costs for our two boys! Yikes…It will certainly be interesting for us to see our grocery bill expanding!!

Future Cost of Kids


As far as activities go, this is pretty much a total crap-shoot. I have a pretty good sense of what they would cost in the next couple years as we continue to enroll them in swim-lessons and various other sport camps such as soccer, etc. But as far as the costs as they get older and what sort of activities they become truly interested in, who knows!?

I’m just excited to watch them grow and develop and become more interested in any sort of activity or program. Lucy and I will continue to try and introduce them to as many different activities as possible in the meantime. We’ve spent ~$2K on various activities so far. As an attempt to be conservative here, I’ll throw out an estimate of $25K in future activity costs.

Admittedly, this could be wildly off. I’d love to hear feedback in the comments below from parents with older kids on how much they roughly spend on their kid’s activities.

Diapers / Wipes

Good news to report here, we’re basically done buying diapers for the oldest. He’s fully potty-trained during the day and has been for a while, but we’ve continued to sleep him in pull-ups at night. At this stage, we have a pretty full box of pull-ups and he rarely wakes up wet. So I think we’re pretty good to go on this category for him and probably ready for him to start sleeping in normal underwear at night.

Regarding the youngest though, we still have a ways to go obviously! I expect we’ll buy ~$200 of diapers through the rest of 2018 for him, and then based on the costs we incurred on my oldest, I’d expect around $400 in costs in 2019 and another $150 or so in 2020 as the youngest becomes potty-trained as well. In total, this amounts to an expected $750 of future diaper expenses.


This is another category that I just don’t have a whole lot of insight into. I think since Lucy and I have two boys this category would be a little lower than if we would have had daughters. Clothing is just simpler, but that is just my guess…as naïve as it may be. Plus, the youngest can expect a fair amount of hand-me-downs!

That being said, we’ve more or less gotten away with buying most our kids’ clothes from the consignment store and relied on clothing gifts from family and friends. This expense has been pretty de minimis for us so far at just under $500 total! As they get into the high school age, I’d expect this number could be about $500 per kid per year. So in total, my wild guess here is that Lucy and I will incur roughly $10K of future clothing costs for the boys.


This category encompasses things such as books, toys, games, etc. As they get older, phones and things of the like will get lumped into here too. The range of this expense category could potentially be quite wide, but to put a ballpark figure out there, I’d estimate $5K of future entertainment expenses.


This is a bit of catch-all category and will include personal care items, various housewares and accessories, etc. To date, this category of spend consists primarily of bedroom furniture and various baby / toddler accessories we’ve bought.

When the boys get a bit older, we’ll likely buy them nicer bedroom furniture, new beds, etc, although we won’t go overboard.

There will be other expenses, of course. As a catchall, I’ll estimate we’ll incur $10K of future miscellaneous expenses. I think this would also represent a buffer or cushion to other costs outlined above and help keep my total estimate conservative.


Not including the cost of college (or funds set aside in 529 accounts) and the cost of daycare, our kids have cost us about $4.0K per year. Going forward, excluding college and daycare, I estimate the cost to be $5.2K per year. The real kicker appears to be the ramped up cost of food, the wildcard activity expense bucket, and clothes and miscellaneous.

Future Cost of Kids

Including all the estimated cost categories, we’ve spent ~$144K of the total $350K estimated for both kids. Quite a coincidence to land on such a round total cost figure! That means we’ve incurred approximately 41% of all costs. Of course it helps that we’ve pre-emptively set aside $80K in their respective 529 plans which we hope will grow and fully cover their cost of college.

However, what this doesn’t address is how much of these expenses will the kids cover once they begin summer jobs in high school. For instance, maybe they will be responsible to pick up some of their clothes and entertainment costs.

Likewise, we’ve yet to decide how much we’ll actually contribute to their college costs and how much we’d like them to be on the hook for. I personally was responsible for paying about 50% of my cost of college and I think having that responsibility helped keep me focused on maintaining good grades and getting good value for my money.

On the flip-side, I didn’t include other costs in my estimate such as buying them a car when the get that age, the cost of vacations including airfare, the cost of gifts and birthday parties and even further down the line the cost of weddings and anything else we might pitch in for.

But I’d like to think my estimates above are a good starting point! A few thousand here or there doesn’t change the overall picture too much. On whole, $175K of costs per kid doesn’t sound all too bad, especially when considering this includes our contribution to the 529 plans for the estimated cost of college! It will certainly be fun to look back upon as they get older and older.


How about you? Have you estimated your children’s expenses and how big of an impact that has on your budget? Do you think my estimates are in the right ballpark? Let me know your thoughts below.

Thanks for taking a look!

The Green Swan

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  1. Very interesting! My kids are each about 4 years older than yours. They’re tall and active kids but we’re only now seeing a noticeable increase in appetite. As in, an amount of food that used to be four servings is now somewhat less than three servings.

    Looking at our budget, aftercare and summer camps will eat into our anticipated daycare savings (not sure if you’ll need childcare for those times though). Our experience with activities is that the more specialized your child’s interests, the more expensive it becomes. School orchestra + rec sports = cheap. Private lessons + club sports/camps = pricey. Costs can really take off in later elementary school if your child has a special talent or interest!

    1. Thanks for sharing all that, Frieda! Interesting to know about the food budget. Fascinating stuff and anxious to see how it unfolds for us.

      We will probably rely on summer camps, not sure if we’ll need aftercare yet. Good points, I’ve heard campus can be pricey too. Hmm… It never ends huh!? 😃

  2. Real eyeopener, JW. That $350K figure is pretty scary. But when you spread it out over 21 years, it averages $16.6K. I suppose that’s more tolerable. Thanks for the analysis, my friend. Engaged parents like you and Lucy are a national treasure. Cheers.

    1. It is a crazy number! Granted they’re worth it. But no doubt that the cost of children is a factor for many folks as to how many kids they’ll have. Thanks Mr Groovy!

  3. Hey JW, good job estimating expenses. Mine are now 18 and 16 and I have not been as diligent in tracking their costs. I will tell you that a private college, all-in with fees, room, board, etc… could run you over $70k in 2018. Who knows what it will be in 14 years? Aside from college, our biggest expense has been travel sports at a couple of thousand a year for one sport alone. That does not include the “travel” costs associated with any out of town games or tournaments.

    Enjoy the ride, it goes fast!

    1. Wow, those are staggering numbers! Thanks for sharing that and your experience, good insights that we’ll keep in mind as the kiddos grow up. Thanks Jon!

  4. I haven’t kept such meticulous records, but I know our kids are expensive, and to us, they’re worth it.

    We love traveling and traveling with them, but I can’t help but think how much more affordably we could travel if it were just the two of us. Some day we’ll have that luxury and we’ll probably be wishing we could have our kids with us.

    Such is life.


    1. They’re absolutely worth it. Couldn’t imagine life without them!

      While our kids are still relatively young, starting this year we are planning to start traveling again just the two of us. We have our trip to Greece coming up in a few months and hope to do something similar annually going forward. They are at a good age where we feel comfortable leaving them but not old enough to truly know what we’re up to, sort of a sweet spot I guess. Not sure how long that will last, but my folks are retiring soon and we hope to take advantage of them babysitting with greater flexibility in their schedule!

      I can see when they get to be a little older, like your kids, it will be a blast traveling with them too. But airfare…! HA! Expensive but a joy!


  5. My two girls (15 and 13) are competitive gymnasts and their tuition per month is around 850-900 a month. Throw in another 1000 for the competition leotard, warm-ups, and bag. Then the meet fees for 6 meets a piece at 100-150 per meet. Aaaaaand the travel costs. It adds up quick. My boy is much more cheap at just 2 gymnastics classes a week. Outside of those costs I really haven’t kept up with anything else.

    1. This was the type of insight I was hoping for, thanks so much for sharing! That’s crazy expensive but if it’s what they love and you can swing it then kudos to you. And who knows, maybe they’ll get college scholarship money!

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