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Costly Cuties: Cali Kids Cost Parents Nearly $300K

Thinking of having a new baby in the New Year? Learn why it could cost you more than you think.

Also read Pop the Bubbly: New Year’s Eve Guide 2012 for San Diego County

Let's say 2012 was a great year for your family.

Your new baby celebrated her first birthday this year and was able—for the first time—to participate in holiday gift-opening with a bit of cute cognition of what was going on.

In any case, it was a good year—and the first in your countdown to spending an estimated $295,000 to raise that little one through high school.

What?

According to an annual United States Department of Agriculture report, a child born in 2011 will cost middle-income families about $295,000 to raise through high school—factoring in costs for housing, food, clothing, etc.

[See the full USDA Expenditures on Children by Families report here.]

Now, some people consider it crass to consider childbearing in terms of the costs, but many couples are pulling out the calculators for such decisions, according to a USA Today report earlier this week:

"It does give some people pause," says Dr. Joyce Cavanagh, a family economics specialist and associate professor with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in College Station. "Every year when this study comes out, there are people who think, 'Whoa, that's a lot of money. What are we getting ourselves into?'"

The $295,000 figure includes inflation (the tally is about $235,000 without) and applies to families with two kids and two parents making between about $59,000 and $102,000 each year. Families making more than that could spend closer to a half-million dollars per child through age 17, a larger cost mostly attributable to higher outlays for housing, childcare and education.

The costs shift depending on where the family lives, with those in the northeast spending the most followed by west coast families like your neighbors here in Santee.

And—in no surprise to Southern Californians—housing is the top cost for families. About 30 percent of child costs come from housing, according to the USDA report.

The USDA site also includes a Cost of Raising a Child Calculator to help you figure out how much you can expect to spend each year based on how many children you have (or hope to have), their ages and where you will be living.

How do these numbers factor into your family plans in the New Year? How do you keep costs under control?

Tell us in the comments!

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