Children are expensive. Fact. We know that we’re constantly staring into our empty wallets with puzzled expressions, but have you ever wondered how much we actually spend on our little money guzzlers?
The latest figures from Liverpool Victoria suggest that the total amount we will spend on each child from cradle to college is an astonishing £218,024, a massive 55 per cent increase since their first report in 2003. That’s £10,382 per year and £865 per month.
Now I’m not suggesting I would wish to trade my only child in for bricks and mortar, but when you compare the average cost of bringing up a child to the average house price in the UK at the moment (currently £226,887), there is not a huge difference. Having a child is literally like having a second mortgage.
At the top of the shopping list is education, which is set to cost us £71,780 – and that’s not even including private schooling, which would add a further £105,336 to the bill.
It’s a shocking figure, especially considering that state schooling in this country is supposedly free; at least it is if you ignore all the tax that comes out of your pay packet each month.
They say the older they get the more expensive they become and your children are set to cost you the most during the ages of 18-21, with university fees due to rise to a whopping £9,000 per year this September.
In fact, we will spend just over seven times more on educating and providing childcare for our children than we will on actually feeding them.
But of course it doesn’t just stop at 21 – even if your child does move out when they hit adulthood it’s likely they will still be partially financially reliant on you, from mortgage deposits and car loans to the children they may go on to produce.
We’re living in an age of consumables and many of us are facing financial meltdown on a daily basis. There is so much ‘stuff’ available to buy and the internet provides us and our children with an endless supply of options at the swipe of a touchscreen.
A trip to the shop inevitably means enduring an hour of ‘can I have this’ at everything they spot that is remotely interesting.
My son loves magazines but when he picked one up recently I was stunned to notice the price was £4.50. It left me stuttering ‘How much?!’ like the miserly Albert Arkwright from Open All Hours. You could get a w-w-whole book for that.
We would love to be able to give our children everything they want and sometimes I find myself feeling guilty that I can’t. But I have to remind myself that if I did open my purse at every request I wouldn’t be teaching him anything about the real world, or how to be responsible with money.
It’s more important than ever for them to learn the value of money; that it has to be earned and then spent carefully, not on everything that catches their eye. As adults we can’t buy everything that we’d like, so they shouldn’t grow up thinking they can.
And anyway, how else are we going to save up for those university fees?