How Does Having Kids Affect Your Debt and Credit?

Father helping daughter use coloring book

Having children is a serious decision that can have lasting effects on many aspects of your life—including your finances. So it may come as no surprise that the number of Americans having children declined by 2% in 2017, marking the third year in a row the birth rate declined, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Regardless of why people are having fewer children, starting a family can be expensive—and Americans have the debt to show for it. U.S. consumers with children have anywhere from 14% to 51% more total debt than the national average, and their credit scores are also lower than the national average.

To find out more about how having children affects consumer debt and credit characteristics, Experian analyzed consumer credit data from the fourth quarter of 2018 to see how parents matched up with their peers. Read on for our insights and analysis.

Consumers With Four or More Children Carry 51% More Debt

When broken out by number of children, consumers with four or more kids had the highest level of total average debt, with an average balance of $141,086. That's 51% more than the national average and $34,881 more than those with only one child.

Balances declined as the number of children decreased: Consumers with only one child had an average total debt balance of $106,205.

National Average1 Child2 Children2 to 4 Children4 or More Children
Average Total Debt$93,446$106,205$119,701$125,505$141,086

Consumers With Children Had Lower Student Loan Balances

Compared with the national averages, consumers with children had more debt across nearly every credit product—except student loans. Starting with consumers who had one child (whose credit balances were already above the national average), balances across different products—like credit cards and auto loans—continued to increase as families added more children. The one category in which balances didn't increase was student loans.

"Student loan debt is slightly lower than the national average for families with kids, but is still a high amount that takes a big chunk of monthly income to pay every month," says Susan Henson, director of community engagement for Experian.

National Average1 Child2 Children2 to 4 Children4 or More Children
Average Credit Card Debt$6,445$7,298$8,025$8,299$9,099
Average Student Loan Debt$34,906$33,436$33,520$33,470$33,498
Average Personal Loan Debt$16,249$16,468$16,946$17,480$19,105

Americans With Four or More Kids Had Highest Average Credit Scores of All Parents

While consumers with children had consistently below average credit scores, Americans with four or more kids actually topped the group, with the highest average FICO® Score of 698—three points below the national average of 701.

Consumers with only one child had the second-highest average FICO® Score, at 695. People with two to four children came next, with an average score of 693, and consumers with only two children were at the bottom, with an average of 692.

National Average1 Child2 Children2 to 4 Children4 or More Children
Average FICO® Score701695692693698

No matter how many kids you have—if you have any at all—it's important to know where your credit stands to help you make financially sound decisions. To get more information about what's in your credit file, consider getting a free copy of your credit report from Experian.

Footnote:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr67/nvsr67_08-508.pdf

Methodology: The analysis results provided are based on an Experian-created statistically relevant aggregate sampling of our consumer credit database that may include use of the FICO® Score 8 version. Different sampling parameters may generate different findings compared with other similar analysis. Analyzed credit data did not contain personal identification information. Metro areas group counties and cities into specific geographic areas for population censuses and compilations of related statistical data.

FICO® is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.

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