Share this story...
Latest News

Parents spend more than $500 a month to outdo each other, survey shows

A new survey from CouponCodesPro.com suggests that 72 percent of parents find themselves comparing their children to other children and 78 percent of parents feel pressure to “outdo other parents” — costing them an average of $532.87 per month, per child for extra clothes, parties and gadgets. Thirty percent admitted that they charged it to credit cards.

However, the USDA estimates that child-rearing costs middle-class parents $245,340 per child from birth to age 17. Of course, the yearly estimates change depending on the age of the child. According to their research, from birth to 2 years, babies cost an average of $12,940 per year; from ages 6 to 8, children cost $12,800 a year; and teenagers cost $14,970 each year from 15 to 17 years old.

Much of this cost is attributed to housing (30 percent), along with child care and education (18 percent), food (16 percent), transportation (14 percent), health care (8 percent), miscellaneous (8 percent) and clothing (6 percent).

If a parent spent $532.87 extra each month to “outdo other parents,” as CouponCodesPro.com said, they would spend $6,394.44 each year — about half of the amount the USDA says that parents spend yearly on each child total.

We contacted a CouponCodesPro.com spokesperson to find out a little bit more. More than 3,500 American parents took part in the survey, with a margin of error at +/- 3.3, but we don’t know their incomes or how many children they each have.

Surely some parents max out their credit cards on stuff for their children. The $50,000 luxury playhouses exist for a reason. When compared to the USDA estimates, however, spending over $500 extra a month seems like an extreme case, not an average.

So we asked a well-known motherhood blogger if she’d comment on the study for us. “$500 is ridiculous, for sure,” Allyson Reynolds, mother of four and contributor to Power of Moms, said in an email. “I suppose if you have unlimited discretionary income, that wouldn't be a big deal for some people, but it sounds extreme to me.”

While she thinks that comparing is something that most moms do, she also believes there is a line between concerned mom and selfish parent.

“I think it is really difficult for most mothers NOT to compare their child to other children their age to one degree or another,” she said, like how their grades, social skills or extracurricular activities stack up to kids their own age.

But Reynolds thinks that comparing a child’s looks and clothing can go too far. “Even if I notice other kids are dressed better than mine, I am not going to put designer clothes at the top of our family’s budget,” she said. “I think it sends the wrong message to my children.”

So we’re curious about our readers. Do you find yourself spending extra to help your children navigate the expensive web of school and after school activities? Please click here to answer our poll.