So, are you thinking about starting a family? Taking the leap from being childfree to being a parent is a huge decision and finances can play an important part in helping you decide when the time is right for you to start a family.
Take a deep breath now. Sitting down? The latest figures show that it costs around £231,843 to raise a child up to the age of 21. This is an eyewatering increase of 65% since 2003. This figure is assuming you send your child to a state school. If you are thinking about private education, you can add another £373,000 to that figure, bringing the total to around £500,000.
So just where does all the money go? The vast majority goes on education related expenses, such as uniforms and trips (not fees). It makes up for £73,000 of the total. The next large slice goes on childcare. A whopping £70,000 on childcare and babysitters combined. This figure shows the most significant increase, with childcare costs rising by 4.3%, while wages were only rising by 0.2% in the same period up to 2016. As families are increasingly living long distances apart, many who would have relied on grandparents for childcare are now forced to use other arrangements, sending the price tag sky high.
However, there is some good news. Although the total figure may appear daunting, the reality is that these figures are spread over 21 years. A big spend occurs in the first year of a child’s life - £11, 498 at the last survey. Much of this will be on baby equipment, such as a buggy or a cot, as well as clothes (babies grow very fast!). From 1 to 4 years old the spend rises to £15, 806 per year. Much of this is down to childcare, with parents returning to work and needing reliable childcare to do so. There is some respite after the child starts school, with the annual cost dropping to £8,640 up until the age of 17. Costs rise again as children go off to university.
Looking at these figures, the more aware you are of the substantial costs at the beginning of a child’s life, the easier it will be to prepare and plan ahead. Babies don’t care what they are wearing, or if the buggy is the very latest model. The second-hand market in baby equipment is thriving and it is well worth doing your research for nearly new bargains. Friends and family are also a great source of hand me down clothes and equipment.
Many families are struggling with the costs of raising children. A quick rule of thumb is that parents will spend around a third of their income on child related expenses. For most people, this will mean a hard look at the budget and trying to cut costs where ever possible.
On a more cheerful note, people have been having babies for centuries and most manage to muddle through somehow. While it is good to be aware of the figures, our advice is not to get too hung up on them. The one thing children really do need is tons of love and that, the last time we checked, is absolutely free.