Consumer Comeback Blog

Study Breaks Down Economy’s Impact on Families

It starts with diapers, strollers and car seats, then pull-ups, day care, doctor visits, school clothes, soccer, projects, proms, not to mention college – having children is expensive.

While most parents could never put a price on the joy that their children bring, BabyCenter.com, a popular resource for parenting advice, released a report that estimates the total cost of raising a child and the impact of the economy on today’s families.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently estimated that a middle-income family will spend an average of $235,000 on each child from birth to age 17, an all-time high. BabyCenter’s 2012 U.S. Cost of Raising a Child report surveyed more than 2,000 mothers online. The survey found:

  • Four out of five families are experiencing anxiety about their finances.
  • 70% of mothers surveyed worry about not having enough money for their family, 10% higher than last year.
  • 70% of couples argue about money, specifically about how spending habits differ between each parent.
  • Mothers are more likely to check with their spouse before making purchases, while men are more likely to only consult their wives for purchases above a certain amount.
  • Mothers are more likely to have a separate credit card, while men are more likely to have their own savings account.
  • Four out of five moms feel justified in spending on activities such as music or sports for their children.
  • To stretch the family budget:

    • 65% of moms cut coupons and shop sales and discount stores
    • 66% cut out eating out at restaurants
    • 60% cut spending on buying clothes, vacations and going to the movies
    • 46% use second-hand items
    • 27% cut cable subscriptions to save money

    “People used to be embarrassed about couponing, but now we have all these tools for saving, and young families are being really smart about buying,” says Wong Ulrich, a BabyCenter.com financial contributor. “In this high-tech world, it’s also easy to forget about the simple pleasures in life. Have family game nights, spend time outdoors, and plan stay-cations. Parents will be amazed at what some creativity and quality time can do for their family life – and their wallets.”

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