GUEST: Budgeting for your family

SEATTLE -- Raising a family is rewarding, but expensive.  Recent studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows it costs $241,080.

As parents we know every penny is worth it, but, where do we start?   Janice Phillips, senior vice president of Columbia Bank says start with a budget and break down expenses."That number can be a little daunting, but, you have to realize that the quarter of a million dollars is not all in one lump sum, it's spread out over a 17 year period.  So, you have to know you have to break down your income v. expenses.  A great tool is provided by the USDA.  They have an online calculator to help you budget."

The biggest expense, according to the USDA, is housing, 30%, followed by child care and education (18%), food (16%), and transportation (14%).  "Live with your means.  The more kids you have the bigger the house.  Don't buy or rent over what you need.  Same goes for child care.  Studies show the more income you make the more you spend on child care or education.  It's a tough task defining what is quality v. what you may only need.  Food, buy in bulk, shop for deals and eat at home more than going out.  Going out is fun and good family bonding, but it can cost you a lot of money."