The average cost of raising a child has risen to more than £200,000. Parenting journalist Olivia Gordon meets three mums to find out how much you really have to spend – and how to save for your family.
According to research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the cost of raising a child from birth until the age of 21 has risen by 65% since 2003 to an incredible £230,000.
£70,000 goes towards childcare and babysitting with education-related costs, including uniforms, school trips and textbooks totaling £74,000.
The costliest period is when your child is aged between one and four: £63,224 is the average spend, primarily for childcare during these important early years.
It’s no wonder people need to save-up and work out a family budget before starting one.
I asked three parents how much having children has cost them - and their advice on family money savers.
The cost of having a baby
Martha Moss, from Oxford, is mum to baby Samuel, two months, and Toby, four
“The costs of pregnancy can be huge: I spent £120 attending pregnancy yoga. I also bought maternity clothes, a breast pump, pregnancy pillows and a cot that attaches to the bed. Anything that promises more sleep is priceless.
To save money, my husband researches nappy prices using price comparison websites and we’ve borrowed things babies only use for a short time, like a Moses basket, and a buggy board. We bought a buggy from a second-hand shop, which more than halved the cost.
My husband received childcare vouchers from work, which helped pay for Toby’s pre-school, but we noticed a difference when I stopped work to have a baby. Sending Samuel to nursery for just a couple of mornings, when he is one, will cost £60-£100 per week.”
Martha’s top tip: “Having just had my second baby, I only buy something now if I’m sure it will be useful: baby goods have a short lifespan.”
The cost of raising a toddler
Kerri Walker, from Canterbury, is mum to Joseph, who is two-and-a-half
“The main cost for me is childcare - I work part-time from home so Joseph goes to nursery two mornings a week.
But [Joseph being] more grown-up makes outgoings higher – for instance, needing an additional bedroom means having a bigger house…in a more expensive area to get into catchment for a good state school.
Luckily, my costs are minimal. Family members buy Joseph toys and clothes regularly and I probably spend around £100 per month entertaining us both. The main costs are activities like playgroups, classes, zoo trips, lunches out and cafe visits. I don’t mind spending money on having fun!”
Kerri’s top tip: “Create an Amazon wish list including everything the household needs and send it to family and friends for birthdays and Christmas - that way you get things you need, not ‘just for the sake of it’ gifts.”
The cost of raising a child
Ursula Hirschkorn, from London, is mum to twins Jonah and Zachary, seven, Max, 11, and Jacob, 12
“Our twins do football, street dance, ballet and violin, and these after-school activities alone add up to several hundred pounds per term. We’re lucky to have generous grandparents who help us out.
Luxury holidays are out for us - instead we drive and stay in self-catering villas to keep costs down.
Buying the boys school shoes is like buying for a centipede - we need so many, plus smart footwear, trainers and shoes to wear at the weekend. Cheap, low quality shoes just fall apart, so we shop in Clarks Outlet stores where you can get good quality shoes at a lower price. We also pass down clothes and shoes from the older boys to the younger ones.”
Ursula’s top tip:“Look out for ‘nearly new’ uniform sales at school and discounts at uniform shops at the beginning of summer. You can also can hire musical instruments while your child is at primary school.”
Money saving tips for families
- Start a babysitting/childcare exchange with other local families
- Join the library – it’s a free afternoon out, as well as saving on book-buying costs
- Consider shopping secondhand, particularly for babies/kids clothes
- Baths use lots of water and energy – encourage the kids to get their goggles on and jump in the shower
- Prepare for sales by listing products you need, then being ready to swoop when the next sale cycle starts
- Get a Family & Friends Railcard to save on travel
- Holiday with friends: sharing an apartment halves accommodation costs
- Start a blog! Parent bloggers can become hugely popular – as well as monetising your site, you may be offered useful freebies, too.
Thinking ahead to their university days? Find out how to save for university