By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s no surprise to parents—but, that little bundle of joy can be a real budget buster!  According to its annual report on family expenditures, the USDA found that middle income parents with a child born in 2010 will spend nearly $287,000 to raise that child from birth to age 17.  Families who earn more will spend more.  At the $100,000 income bracket, the report found that the per child expenditure is nearly $377,000.

“That’s insane!” says mother of six Melissa Graham.  “You don’t have to go buy everything new for each kid.  You can pass down clothes, they can share rooms, you don’t have to have a bigger house because we have six kids, now, instead of the four (we had) when we moved in here.”

The report does acknowledge the ‘economies of scale’—saying families with three or more children actually spend 22% less per child than families with two children.

“Kids do cost money,” says Graham, “they’re not free. But, it’s a gradual cost.  It’s not like you’ve got to write the check before they let you take the baby home from the hospital!”

Increasing costs for childcare, healthcare and groceries are part of the reason behind the surge in expense.

But, Haylee Macon says she and her fiancée have agreed to wait before starting a family—and the expense is a factor.  Macon says she’s not shocked at the high sticker price that accompanies parenting.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m a twin, and my Mom had to deal with both of us at the same time and it was extremely hard,” says Macon.  “You have to make sure that you’re ready for them, because if you’re not, you’re going to have that struggle for the rest of your life, just paying for it.”

But, the Graham’s say they’ll have plenty of time to acquire more things—and a small window to become parents and enjoy their children.

“Both of us feel like the best things in life aren’t things.  They’re the people around us and having our children, because that’s something that we’re going to have with us forever.  So we can’t really say that we’re going to miss out, or we feel we’re missing out on something because of the sacrifices we make to have a larger family.”

By now, four-month-old Sarah is sleeping like a sweet-faced angel on her shoulder.  “You can’t put a price on it, you just really can’t.”