Raising a Child Costs Some $221,000, Before College

It costs more than $220,000 to raise a child — and that's before paying for college. So what's it really worth?

Illustration by Gerard Dubois for TIME

This is the time of year — second only to December, maybe — when we're reminded how much kids cost. It's nice when states suspend their sales tax for a week of back-to-school shopping, but it doesn't change the fact that somehow we have to start over in September: new sneakers, new notebooks, maybe a new lunch box, because SpongeBob is so last season. Even in hard times, economists have found, children are "recession resistant." As investments, they are living proof of irrational exuberance, a leading indicator of our loss of fiscal discipline.

BabyCenter.com offers a calculator to help...

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