Oct. 22 2014 10:10 AM

Living and childrearing expenses continue to climb.

Family living costs are up for urban and rural residents alike. In a survey of over 1,300 farm families, Illinois farmers reported that their cost of living for 2012 was $85,012, which was a $4,000 jump over the previous year.

How are farm families continuing to survive?

Off-farm income. Nonfarm income averaged over $38,000 per family per year. How does this impact the family? Spouses or other family members are contributing financially to the operation.

When looking at the population as a whole, the United States Department of Agriculture publishes its annual report, "Cost of raising a child." It looks at geographical locations, income levels, and number of parents raising the child or children.

For years, housing has been the largest expense, and it continues to be, consuming 30 percent of the overall cost. Childcare and education follows at 18 percent, food trails closely with 16 percent.

Food expenses were interesting. If a child was raised in a two-parent home, food costs were between 17 and 25 percent. However, a child raised by a single parent spent more on food, between 25 to 34 percent. Based on that data, I could guess that with two people capable of making more meals at home, fewer, higher-priced meals would be purchased at takeout, fast food restaurants or sit-down establishments. And, with an additional adult, some foods could be purchased in larger quantities, lowering the cost per unit.

Overall, today's cost to raise a child to 18 years old is $245,340 compared to $25,230 in 1960. The percentages where that money is allocated have changed a great deal since 1960. Childcare and education skyrocketed from a mere 2 percent of the family's budget to 18 percent! Health care has doubled from 4 percent to its current 8 percent. That means the percentage of budget for housing, transportation, clothing, and miscellaneous (basically, everything else) has dropped dramatically over 53 years. While agriculture has done its part to make having a family more affordable, unfortunately the current trend of higher expenses in other areas is expected to continue.

Source: Illinois Farm Business Management survey and USDA's Expenditures on Children by families, 2013

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The author is the online media manager and is responsible for the website, webinars and social media. A graduate of Modesto Junior College and Fresno State, she was raised on a California dairy and frequently blogs on youth programs and consumer issues.