What’s the average cost of having a child in the UK?

It can be expensive to raise a child, but just how much does it cost?
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Whether you’re planning on having your first child, want to know how much adding another kid to your family would cost, or you simply want a ballpark figure on how much being a parent can be – knowing how much a child can cost could be pretty useful!

But you may have noticed that children aren’t born with price tags. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not just because they’re born instead of bought. There are so many variables when it comes to raising a child that it’s almost impossible to know for sure how much it’ll end up costing you.

That’s not to say that you can’t get a rough idea of what to expect though. There’s been a lot of research done into it, and the general consensus is that the cost of raising a child is increasing – and it’s not exactly cheap in the first place.

Cost of raising a child: The big number

If you’re umming and ahhing over having children because you’re not sure if you can afford it, then you’ll probably have seen this a big scary number thrown at you. It’s often used as a headline figure, or banded about by some friend or family member when you announce you’re having a child, but it’s a figure that’s been thoroughly researched by the Child Poverty Action Group[1], so it’s worth taking into consideration.

According to them, having a child in the UK will cost you:

  • £152,747 for a family with two parents or guardians
  • £185,413 for a single-parent family

That’s the ‘big ticket’ price of raising a child, which considers everything from food to housing and childcare. However, £152,747/£185,413 is the very basic cost of raising your child, which means that it doesn’t factor in luxuries like trips abroad or lots of birthday and Christmas presents, or if they pick up an expensive hobby at an early age.

Remember, this is an average.

Obviously, this is not a small amount of money. But it’s also an average – some areas of the UK may be more expensive (such as London) while others are cheaper. It’ll also depend on things like your lifestyle and salary, as if you’re used to a certain standard of living then you’ll likely carry this on with your child – for example, regularly going out for dinner or to the cinema, or taking long-haul holidays abroad.

These figures are also averages across the first and second child – so it may be more expensive if you just have the one!

Thinking about it logically, a second or third child is likely to be cheaper thanks to things like hand-me-downs, as you’ll already have things like baby seats and prams, and you’ll know which things not to buy as you never used them with the first child.   

Having a girl costs more

This feels like a really outdated thing to say, but research has shown that it costs more to raise a girl than it does a boy – and it’s a £29,708 difference too!

According to MoneySupermarket[2], this is how much your baby could cost you depending on their sex:

  • £108,884 for a girl
  • £79,176 for a boy

When you break it down into categories, the data shows that boys may cost more in toys and technology, but girls cost more in clothes, footwear, toiletries, and jewellery.

Kids cost more at different stages of their life

It makes sense when you think about it, but your children won’t always cost you the same amount – in fact, when they’re all grown up they might even pay for some things you want!

Newborn

Whether you think newborns are the cutest thing ever or that all babies look the same at that age, there’s no denying that the first few months of your baby’s life are going to be life-changing. Say goodbye to sleep, peace and quiet, and being able to leave the house in under 30 minutes!

But it’s probably worth financially preparing to have a baby, as you’ll likely be spending an average of around £500 on their first few months[3]. Here’s why:

  • £23.52 on nappies
  • £243 on clothing
  • £53.51 on feeding equipment
  • £183.51 on toys and furniture

To add to that, there’s also the cost of things like cots, prams, car seats, Moses baskets and baby monitors, which can easily run up into the thousands.

Pre-3

One of the biggest costs of having young children comes down to childcare – especially if you plan on sending your child to nursery before they are three years old.

Why three? Because that’s when free pre-school educations starts in the UK. Before that, you’ll have to pay for it out of your own pocket, and it’s not cheap. According to one survey, parents are paying an average of £138 per week - over £7,000 per year - for a part-time nursery place for their child.[3]

And as we mentioned variables, if you were living in inner London, this cost is significantly higher at £179.86 a week, while in Wales you would pay just £114.76 in comparison.[3]

Once they’re in free education, you shouldn’t have to spend quite so much, which means you could tuck it away into a Junior ISA to help pay for their university fees or anything else they may want in future (if they think university is worth the cost, that is!).

3 to 12

Being in free education may help reduce some of your daily costs, but there’s still plenty of expenses involved in raising a toddler to a child. You’ve got to think about school uniforms, toys, playgroups, family-friendly holidays, afterschool clubs, and so much more!

It’s worth saying that this is the point where you probably have the most control over how much you spend on your children. Their needs are relatively simple, and you can find lots of ways to do fun activities on the cheap or even for free. This could be a great time to save for your children, as you should be able to have more control over how much you spend on them.

13 to 19

Teenagers. They want independence, but they also want you to be their taxi – it’s a conflicting time for them. It’s also the time they start developing social lives and pick up hobbies and activities - and during these years they’re likely to start driving too. All of this adds up. According to a report that was released back in 2016, the average teenager costs £28,767 during these years.[4]

It’s worth pointing out that this figure doesn’t include household costs like food shopping and utility costs. And if you’ve ever lived with a teenager, then you’ll know that they eat everything and spend far too long in the bathroom.

The most expensive year, statistically, is when they’re 16 – costing parents an average of £4,800 that year. Luckily, however, this is when their cost starts to trend downwards – which is great news for being able to increase your pension contributions, right? Hold your horses…

20 to 25

You might think, “they’re 20 now, they can’t still be costing me money?” But that’s where you’re wrong! According to data, parents still spend a lot of money on their children when they’re 22 – and the culprit? Family holidays and cars. Parents will spend an average of £666 to take their 22-year-old on holiday with them and give them up to £279 towards their motoring expenses.[5]

You might be glad to hear that this cost drops off again after 22, and typically sits at around £2,000 a year after that – paying for things like birthdays and special occasions.

You have the ability to control your spending

Kids don’t have to be expensive, although a third of parents feel that they spend too much on theirs and sacrifice their future savings as a result.[5]

But this doesn’t have to be the case. Yes, there are lots of costs associated with having children but there also are plenty of things that you can do to reduce this cost too.

For a start, budgeting is important. Not only will it let you know exactly how much you’ve been spending on your children, but you’ll also be able to easily spot where you’ve overspent or see where you could save money in future.

And when it comes to the things you buy, it doesn’t have to be new. Second-hand purchases are great – not only are they more eco-friendly, but they can also be cheaper too. As children grow out of things so quickly, it may be worth having a quick look around the popular selling sites to see if you can pick up a bargain.

Another thing you can do is get help from your friends and family. Chances are, you’ll have people who want to help – that could be grandparents wanting to save for your children’s future, friends looking to lend a hand, or even colleagues or neighbours wanting to give your child something special. Why not look for something like a Junior ISA account that allows others to pay in too? This could be a great way to take the pressure off building up your child’s finances.

Finally, talk to your children about money. It may not be very British to talk about money, but it’s incredibly important for your children to understand how it all works. If you’re not sure where to start, then here are five money lessons your children will thank you for

Can I afford to have a child?

Although a large number of people cite money as a reason for why they aren’t having children, it shouldn’t put you off having them if you really want them. If you’re already researching the cost of having a child, then you’re working along the right lines, and here are some things you could do to make things easier for yourself:

  • Talk about money – with your children, with your friends, your parents, whoever. Being able to have an open conversation about money could help you avoid getting into hardship.
  • Start saving – it’s always a good idea to have an emergency fund and having a child could increase the importance of this as you never know what you might need money for.
  • Plan ahead – you now know the rough cost of raising a child, so it could be worth setting yourself goals to help cover these costs.
  • Budget – having a child is only as expensive as you make it. There’s plenty of things you can do to keep costs down and still give your child all the wonderful experiences you want them to have.
  • Invest early – a Stocks & Shares Junior ISA gives you a chance to invest tax-free for your child, and the earlier you start the more value you could get from compounding – which is when the profits on their investments are reinvested and able to make profits of their own.

 

With investing, your capital is at risk, so the value of your investments can go down as well as up, which means you could get back less than you initially invested.

If you’re unsure about investing, please seek financial advice.

 

  1. https://cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/policypost/CostofaChild2020_web.pdf
  2. https://www.moneysupermarket.com/life-insurance/cost-of-raising-a-child/
  3. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/what-is-the-average-cost-to-have-a-baby
  4. https://www.familyandchildcaretrust.org/childcare-2021-press-release
  5. https://www.aviva.com/content/dam/aviva-corporate/documents/newsroom/pdfs/reports/6835_Aviva_Cost_of_Youth_Report_24-08-16_SECURED.pdf

 

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