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5 unexpected costs of raising kids

What we'll cover

  • Areas of extra spending to consider

  • Average costs of some expenses

  • How travel becomes more costly

If you're planning on having children or have young children, you probably already know about extra expenses. Clothing, food, car seats and stroller, to name a few. But what about unexpected, extra costs that pop up when you're raising kids? Don't be unprepared by planning ahead for these expenses.

1. Extracurricular activities

With babies and toddlers, some toys and playground time might be enough. But by the time a child reaches school age, they may start to become interested in more structured extracurricular activities like team sports, dance classes, musical instrument lessons or the drama club.

These hobbies can help kids make friends, learn new skills and begin to explore their talents. With associated costs like uniforms and equipment, team fees, instruction fees and/or travel and transportation, they can get costly. On average, parents spend between $100 and $800 per year on extracurricular activities.

2. Electronics

As your child matures, they will likely want a tablet, laptop and/or smartphone, which are practical for communication and schoolwork. But your child may also be interested in other electronics that are just for fun, such as robots, drones, 3D printers or a smartwatch. In 2023, spending on electronics for K-12 students rose to $325, up 11% from 2022.

3. Orthodontics

Beyond regular dentist appointments, your child may need to see an orthodontist for braces. Depending on the type, orthodontic treatment could cost between $3,000 and $10,000. Your health or dental insurance may offer some coverage, but it is likely not going to fully cover the cost of braces, retainers and related dental care. Keep in mind braces are typically considered medically necessary and may be tax deductible if you spend a certain amount. Health Savings Accounts may also help you cover treatment.

Keep in mind braces are typically considered medically necessary and may be tax deductible if you spend a certain amount.

4. Academic help

If your child needs help in school, you might consider a private tutor or after-school enrichment programs. Depending on grade level, a private tutor averages from $18 to $100 per hour. When it comes time for the ACT and or SAT exams, tutoring starts at about $100 per hour on average. If you opt for a local tutoring center, you could pay between $150 and $200 monthly. Your geographical location, setting (private, center-based or through an agency), subject matter and specialized needs all influence the price.

5. Travel and transportation

Between shuffling your kids to school, extracurricular activities and play dates with friends, you're likely to spend more on gas. You may even decide to upgrade your vehicle to a more family-friendly option like a minivan. When you travel as a family, remember you'll need to budget for a larger hotel room or vacation rental to accommodate the kids. And you'll need to pay for additional airfare or train tickets. The average cost for a vacation for a family of four is $3,600.

How to prepare

Build some cushion into your parenting budget to account for these extra expenses. Begin putting aside funds with an account that compounds interest, like an Ally Bank Savings Account. When you utilize smart tools like our buckets and boosters, you can make the most of your money and ensure you're financially prepared for your family journey.

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