John Stillwell—AP
By Ian Salisbury
Updated: May 2, 2015 8:26 AM ET | Originally published: September 8, 2014

The British monarchy announced via Twitter today that that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are “delivered of a daughter,” joining nearly 2-year-old big brother Prince George.

It’s safe to say that Will and Kate, with their posh life at Kensington Palace, didn’t have to make the same calculations as the rest of us when deciding whether to have a second child (the typical American woman has 2.01 children, according to the U.S. government). But for most couples, the choice to expand the family raises a fairly consequential question: How can I possibly afford this?

The Department of Agriculture estimates the annual cost of a single child under age two at $16,180 for a two-parent, middle-income household. Sharing things like toys and perhaps a bedroom means you get something of a discount on the second one, so parents’ outlays go up about 80% rather than doubling. Not that an extra $12,940 is pocket change for most of us, especially when added up over a lifetime.

A couple with a combined income of more than $107,000 would spend an average of $510,000 to raise a child to his 18th birthday. For a pair, the number is just short of seven figures, at $826,000. And those averages do not include college, which can add another $328,000 to the tab if both kids go to private schools and graduate in four years. Gulp.

There can be additional hidden costs. Mothers with two kids are more likely to step out of the workforce than mothers with one, which results in lost income, lost retirement savings, halted career progress, and difficulty finding a new job when they desire to lean back in. Those who do return to work face what some have called a “motherhood penalty:” A recent study by research group Third Way found that while fatherhood tended to raise men’s earnings, women’s wages declining about 4% per child, controlling for other factors.

Family resources get spread thin in other ways, too. The cliche about the parents fretting over the eldest’s every milestone while letting number two fend for himself—or herself—seems to have some truth to it. One recent Brigham Young study found that second children got roughly half an hour less “quality time” each day from parents than first-borns. (Fortunately, baby royal #2 will still get plenty of attention from the world, if not from mom and dad.)

Anxious yet, moms and dads? Let’s come back to the fact that the typical American family has two and makes it work—and hey, the Duggars do it with 19. And if you really want a big family you can find ways to expand your clan within your budget.

“Having a child is an exciting but scary step, and money can be a big part of that worry,” financial planner Matt Becker, father of two and founder of the blog Mom and Dad Money told MONEY for a recent article on how to afford a baby. “I wouldn’t dive in without considering the financial consequences, but I also wouldn’t let them scare you off.”

Related:
How to tell if you can afford a baby

You May Like

EDIT POST