From Cradle To College: The Real Cost of Raising A Child In India
Large families with three or more children were the norm up til around the late 90s, but young married couples these days aren’t opting to have more than one or two kids.
Although this can be attributed to better family planning, the majority of urban Millennials in their mid to late 30s are aware that child-rearing isn’t an easy feat, nor does it come cheap; a fact that is supported by a 2018 National Family Health Survey which found that only 24% of mothers want a second child.
If you truly desire to have your own kids, the finances and resources you’re likely able to contribute is a tremendously critical factor to consider. Often times, parents are ignorant of how much they will really need for their child’s future, but having even just a rough estimate of overall costs will help you plan a much more stable future for your child.
We’ll take a look below at what costs you’ll need to bear as a parent, and how much you can expect to spend on your child from birth til age 21 in metro cities across India.
Total Costs Of Raising A Child From 0–21 Years
Two expenses that will assumed throughout each age of the child include food and housing. While the parents can make do by living in a one-bedroom flat, the child will need their own room once they become toddlers. Unless you already have space at home for your baby to grow up, you’ll need to also plan for buying or renting a larger home once the baby is no longer an infant.
Individual food expenses account for at least Rs. 3,000–4,000 or more per month, so make sure to have at least this much every monthly budget.
- Maternity Leave & Household Expenses: Couples need to decide whether the wife would be returning to work after her maternity leave, or quit their job and become a stay-at-home mother. If the husband agrees to be the sole provider, will it be continuous, or only up till a certain time, such as when the child becomes older? In either case, ensure you have a nest egg of at least 6 months’ expenses saved up.
- Hospital & Medical Expenses: Pre-delivery tests and medication can cost around Rs 5,000 onwards, depending on tests required. Delivery starts from Rs 20,000 at private hospitals and go up to 2 lakhs at private luxury healthcare centers.
- Unexpected Expenses: Health complications can arise during or after pregnancy for both the mother or baby. While generally these aren’t always common (as long as the mother gets routine check-ups and tests during pregnancy), it’s good to be prepared for it financially.
Total estimated yearly cost: Around of Rs 1- 1.5 lakhs for pre-delivery tests, delivery cost, and other medical expenses. This is aside from a nest egg of at least 6–12 year’s worth saved up expenses for after delivery, in case the mother chooses to take a sabbatical or become a stay-at-home mum.
Tips: Sometimes, hospitals try to convince mother-to-be into opting for an unnecessary C-section delivery of their child, as these procedures cost more. Such deliveries are rare and only required in special circumstances, so make sure to get a trusted opinion on how your baby needs to be delivered.
Infants & Toddlers (0–1 and 2–3)
- Food: After 8–12 months of age, babies will need to consume formulas, baby food, and soft solid foods. These can cost around Rs. 3,000 a month.
- Grooming: Diapers, wipes, toiletries and towel requirements total up to approximately Rs 2,000–3,000 per month.
- Medical: Doctor’s visits can cost Rs 500–1,000 per visit, and you might end up spending more money on medical care if you have a fussy infant or toddler.
- Nursery/Bedroom Setup: Buying cribs, blankets, pillows are a one-time purchase. This can overall cost around Rs 5,000 upwards. Once the child gets old enough to sleep in their own room, you’ll need to purchase it appropriate furnishings at that time.
- Home Equipment: These include items like carry-on bags, strollers, diaper bags, seating chair, and car seat carriers. Some couples also baby-proof their homes extensively. Expect to fork out around Rs 3,000 onwards for these items.
- Clothing & Toys: Don’t spend too much on clothes and toys during your child’s early years- they’ll outgrow their clothing quickly and get bored of their toys easily! It’s better to put this money into their savings funds. Overall, if you do want to get new items for your child, this can cost around Rs 1,000 per month onwards.
Total estimated yearly cost: Rs 20,000- 1,00,000
Tips: Cut down on the above by finding pre-owned strollers, carriers, toys and clothes. If you plan on having another child in the future, you can consider buying brand new items for your current baby and saving them later for your next child.
- Education: Primary school costs about Rs 2,000- 4,000 per month on average and goes up to Rs 40,000 for premium schools.
- Toys, Games, & Activities: Non-essential items like toys and games is a purchase that will depend on how willing the parent is to indulge their child. Children, especially younger ones, grow bored of their toys very quickly, so limit how many the child is allowed.
- Extra Curricular: Indian parents usually like to expose their children to a wide variety of hobbies and skills as early as possible. Depending on the type of class, expect to spend at least Rs 1,500- 3,0000 per course.
Total estimated yearly cost: Rs 1- 2 lakhs.
Tips: A lot of parents enroll their children into extra curricular activities that aren’t necessary or unappealing to their child.
At this age, they are still developing their interests and it can be expensive to invest money into classes that do not contribute to any significant part in their future. With the amount of free resources available today online, it’s better to let them explore a variety of interests and later invest in hobbies that they really enjoy only once they grow older.
Young Teenagers (13–16)
- Education: Sending your child to a private secondary school costs at least Rs 50,000- 2 lakhs. For ultra-premier schools, be ready to cough up 10 lakhs per year (not including admission and deposit fees that cost another 6 lakhs). Books, uniforms, and other school fees can come up to Rs 5,000- 10,000 per year.
- Tuitions: At this age, the majority of teens require additional tutoring for their studies. Tuitions can cost you as low as Rs 12,000 a year for private home tutors, and go up to Rs 50,000 per year for coaching classes.
- Pocket Money: This is also the best time to start giving your teen a regular monthly allowance to manage their smaller expenses in order to learn how to manage and save money. How much you decide to give them will depend on your monthly budget as well as your child’s lifestyle and activities.
Total estimated yearly cost: Rs. 1.5- 2 lakhs.
Tips: As children grow into teenagers, their social activities are going to increase dramatically. Set frequency and spending limits early on with your child on their socializing and entertainment activities, and let them start spending from their fixed monthly allowance.
Older Teenagers/Early 20s (17–21)
- Education: Top-tier government aided colleges start at Rs 2,000–15,000 for courses such as arts or commerce, whereas medical and engineering courses cost around Rs 5–10 lakhs. These same courses in private colleges are anywhere from Rs 10–20 lakhs. Post-grad degrees from private universities in India can cost around Rs 20–35 lakhs.
- Clothing: After years of school uniforms, teens will need more clothes to wear as they enter their junior college years. Clothes can come up to around Rs 10,000–25,000 onwards per year.
- Extracurricular/Entertainment: Socializing and extracurricular activities are going to peak at this age. You can decide to only pay for certain special events and trips and let other expenses be managed from their monthly allowance.
Total estimated yearly cost: Rs. 2–9 lakhs or more a year, depending on the college course selected.
Tips: It’s worth noting that many parents simply cannot afford the kind of luxury of premier institutions or international education, even if they plan and save well in advance prior having their child. If their eyes are set on a premier institute, then you can consider applying for an education loan. The second option is scholarships, although they are limited to certain universities and your child must be absolutely academic and topper.
How Much It Costs To Raise Children Abroad
In the US and Canada, parents can spend a total of nearly Rs 1.62 Crore ($233,000) on raising a child from birth to adulthood.
Parents save money on primary and secondary education, which is free abroad up till Grade 12. However, the average 4-year college degree is comes with a heft price tag of Rs 7–17 lakhs. This can cost parents an astronomical Rs 40,28,000 over the course of a child’s formative years on just education, as opposed to Rs. 13,13,040 that the average Indian parent spends on their children. Due to the rampant student loan crisis abroad, many teenagers have no choice but to forgo these institutions in favour of community colleges that offer similar courses at a fraction of the cost.
Internationally, most parents end up spending more on miscellaneous expenses for their kids such as clothing, extra curricular classes, and transport, as compared to Indian parents who prefer prioritizing on academic pursuits. More than half of them go into debt in order to provide for their children’s non-essential items or experiences. Additionally, families living abroad pay at least 9–22% of their salaries on childcare services.
Over the span of about 20 years, you can expect to spend at least Rs. 40- 50 lakhs or more (not accounting for inflation) on child-rearing, with the majority expenses occurring during the child’s early adulthood years.
Depending on your financial situation, this figure can seem staggering, especially if you plan on having more than one child in the future. Education is undoubtedly going to be the major expense to account for. You also need to consider that your child might change their study streams, opt for an offbeat course, or pursue post-graduate studies that will require considerable funding.
Parents can sometimes underestimate how much money is really required to support a child, and overestimate how much they can realistically provide for them. If you dream of having your own children but think you aren’t able to realistically afford it yet, it can be wise to delay for a few more years in order to build a stronger financial foundation.
Keep the above costs as a guideline in mind, and do your best to plan a financially stable upbringing for your kids. Happy Parenting!