A reader recently asked what kinds of activities our son does and how much they cost. That’s a great question. We try to limit RB40Jr to 2 activities. This year, he is doing Ultimate (Frisbee) and Wushu. Wushu class costs around $200 per month. Ultimate is $100 per season. I used to be in soccer, but the rec team was full and we had to find an alternative. Ultimate is a lot of fun. Children get a lot of exercise and there are fewer injuries. It is a non-contact sport. There are 2 seasons a year. Cleats, t-shirts, and a Frisbee cost about $100 per year. So $300 for Ultimate and around $2,500 for Wushu. Oh, we also signed him up for a week of nature adventure camp in the summer. That’s about $450. Total kids’ activity spending for 2023 will be about $3,250.

I never did any activity when I was a child. My parents were too busy to take me to any of these things. Also, we didn’t have this kind of money to spend on children’s activities. We were immigrants and we struggled financially for many years.

Anyway, I thought it would be a good time to see how much it costs to raise a child. In 2015, the USDA estimated the cost of raising a child to be around $250,000. Adjusting for inflation, it will cost more than $300,000 to raise a child for a middle-income family. This does No include college. Oh! That is why young people hesitate to have children. Children are expensive!

When our son was born, I thought this USDA estimate was overstated. Kids don’t have to be so expensive. RB40Jr is 12 years old and we are 2/3 of the way there. Let’s add up and see how much we’ve spent so far.

cost of raising a child

Here’s a chart for a quick overview. The first year was expensive because of the daycare. Then the child’s expenses went down because I became SAHD. A few years later, RB40Jr started preschool and increased our childcare expenses again for a few years. Now, he goes to a public school, and the cost has stayed constant for a while. Here are the details year by year.

Baby: $5,000

Mrs. RB40’s insurance covered almost all the expenses of childbirth. From what I remember, we paid very little. I hear this process is more expensive now even with insurance coverage. For the first 6 months, we did not have to pay for childcare. Ms. RB40 went on maternity leave, her parents came to help and I took a year off from my engineering job. We both went back to work after RB40Jr was 6 months old and we put him in daycare. He cost about $1,000 a month in 2011. He was in child care for 4 months that year. The other expenses were diapers, crib, baby formula, toys, clothes, and other baby things. The total cost of that was around $500 per year. We’ll round it up to $1,000 in case I don’t record anything on my monthly cash flow spreadsheet.

1 year: $7,100

2012 was a great year for us. I decided to withdraw from my engineering career to become a SAHD. Childcare was good, but we didn’t like other people raising our son. RB40Jr was in daycare for 6 months in 2012. That’s about $6,000. The rest of the kids’ stuff was around $1,100 that year.

2 years: $2,300

This was a pretty cheap year for us. I took RB40Jr to do a lot of free activities. We went to summer concerts, explored parks, walked and played with other children. Towards the end of the year, RB40Jr started preschool. It was only a few hours on Tuesday and Thursday. That cost $430 a month in 2013. She also grew up without diapers and baby formula that year.

3 years: $5,160

We moved to a cooperative preschool for about 6 months. The co-op preschool was a bit cheaper, but you needed to volunteer from time to time. RB40Jr didn’t like it so we went back to the old preschool. It was also more difficult because he seemed to act more when we were at school for our volunteer stints. This year, he spent 3 days a week at the preschool. The price of the preschool went up to $500 per month. There is no school in the summer. Food expenses for RB40Jr were minimal because he ate very little. I allocated 10% of our grocery expenses to it and increased the percentage as I got older.

4 years: $5,450

This year, she went to preschool 4 days a week and then some extra classes like cooking and cartwheeling. The price increased to $600 per month. We didn’t do many other organized activities at this time. I think we already had a lot of free stuff to do.

5 years: $4,260

We had preschool for 5 months before the summer. RB40Jr then started kindergarten at the local public school. it was amazing. No more paying for preschool! He started doing more activities this year. We signed him up for soccer, swimming, and a few other things. Two activities at the same time max.

6 years: $5,259

RB40Jr had more extracurricular activities this year. He did wushu and soccer. We also started to travel more. That year we went to Hawaii, California and Cancun. I allocated 1/3 of the travel expenses to RB40Jr.

7 years: $5,098

He left Wushu because he got frustrated when he couldn’t get it right on the first try. That year he switched to basketball and continued with soccer. Basketball was in the community center so it was relatively cheap at $100 a month. However, he quit basketball after one season. He just got too frustrated when the basket missed. We visited Iceland and Thailand.

8 years: $3,190

This year was pretty low key. RB40Jr did soccer and a couple of summer camps. This was 2019 and Covid was brewing. Some activities were canceled near the end of the year. We helped my mom to move to Thailand this year.

9 years: $2,957

Yeah, 2020 wasn’t a fun year for anyone. All activities were canceled and the school went online. We spend a lot of time at home. Like most people, we buy frivolous things to have more fun at home. We have a badminton set, baseball gloves, pop-up soccer goals, a tablet, a kiddie pool, and various other toys. We went to visit my mom in Thailand and then we took an additional trip to Vietnam.

10 years: $2,500

2021 was another year of confinement. We have more stuff: tennis, a pickleball game, squirt guns, a baseball bat, and more. We went to Yellowstone for our family trip. We spent a lot of money on groceries this year for some reason. I guess because we ate almost every meal at home.

11 years: $7,681

2022 was much better. Life was beginning to return to normal. RB40Jr went back to school. They had various fundraisers and we helped with that. He started Wushu again near the end of the year. We visited Thailand and the Maldives. Mrs. RB40 took a sabbatical that year and we traveled a lot.

12 years: $7,300 estimate

He is doing Wushu and Ultimate. We visited Disneyland and California.

Total: $63,255

Wow, that’s a lot of money to spend on a kid. But it is still below the estimate. We are 2/3 of the way there, so I think we should be able to stay below estimate for the rest of the way. In the next section, I’ll share how we did it.

*Note: I allocated a percentage of our grocery bill to parenting expenses. I started with 10% when he was 3 and increased it to 33% when he was 12. He’s eating a lot! Also, I allocated 1/3 of our travel expenses to RB40Jr.

frugal parenting


Childcare is very expensive these days. We pay about $1,000 per month for just one year. I think it costs more now and most families need child care for 4-5 years. Becoming a SAHD saved a lot of child care expenses, but it also came with opportunity costs. I could have made a lot more money if I hadn’t stopped working full time. Although I do not regret it. The last 11 years have been great. Much better than my engineering years.


Housing is the biggest expense for most families. When a couple has one or two babies, they usually need to move to a bigger place. This is one of the biggest expenses of raising a child. However, we have not yet upgraded to a larger house. We lived in a 2 bedroom condo before RB40Jr was born and we kept the same footprint. Currently, we live in a 2-bedroom unit in our duplex. I think we will ask our tenant to leave when RB40Jr is in high school. RB40Jr can live in the upstairs unit and we’ll all have some breathing room.


We got a new car when our son was born. However, we only have one vehicle. We live in a walkable area and don’t drive very often. I think most families have two vehicles.


We are spending less than the USDA estimate, but much more than my parents spent. We travel internationally more frequently and sign up RB40Jr for various activities. However, everything is fine. All parents want to give their children a good childhood.

I heard that children’s expenses will increase during adolescence. We are already seeing this on our chart. We are traveling more, RB40Jr is doing more activities and eating a lot more. Also, our housing expenses will increase when our tenant moves out. Housing expenses will double for a few years. After that, it will be the college years. I’m not expecting that at all. Hopefully, you will get some scholarships and financial aid. Higher education isn’t even part of the USDA’s estimate for child-rearing expenses.

I hope I didn’t scare you into having a child. They can cost a lot of money even when you are frugal. I’m amazed at how much we already spend. I thought we spent less than $63,255. But I guess we’re doing okay in the grand scheme of things. It all adds up.

What about you? Do you know how much it costs to raise a child? Heh, maybe I’ll send RB40Jr a bill when he’s rich.

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joe started retire at 40 in 2010 to find out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at age 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have a lot of projects in the US so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you achieve financial independence.

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