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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – If you’re thinking about having children, the USDA has a message for parents-to-be: it’s going to cost you. The USDA just released a new study that found the costs of raising a child continues to rise.

Diapers, child care, food, and housing. Raising a family is getting more and more expensive. The USDA now says parents will spend 245 thousand dollars on average to raise a child over an 18 year period. The Meggs family in Columbus has two children with a baby girl on the way. They say despite the costs, there are still ways to save money.

“You find creative ways to make your money stretch. You find activities that don’t cost as much and you go to the park, church activities, go to a friend’s house,” says Drucilla Meggs.

Managing the family budget is key to surviving in any economy. Mississippi families can learn life skills and money saving tips through their local Extension Service.

“The MSU Extension Service Agents work with families to help them solve any problem that they have with raising children, forming a family budget or nutrition needs of the child. Whatever issues come up with families during those early years,” says Sylvia Clark, with the MSU Extension Service.

There’s an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and members of the First Presbyterian Church in Starkville are sticking to their word. They host a “Diaper and Wipes Shower” for every mother to be in their church family.

“As a parent myself, I can tell you first hand that they first year of your child’s life is an expensive year. You’re buying diapers, wipes, formula, baby food and all these different costs are adding up. So by providing diapers and wipes for the new parents it’s just one way we can show the support of the Church,” says Caroline Hernsberger, of First Presbyterian Church in Starkville .

There is some good news for parents based on the USDA report. The more children you have, the more expenses decrease. Families are able to buy food in larger quantities and children are able to share items like clothing and toys. So, don’t let the bottom line change your plan to become a parent.

The USDA Annual Report says the cost of college is not included in the $245,000 it’ll take to raise each child.

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