Deciding to start a family is obviously a huge commitment in lots of different ways. It means becoming responsible for a life beyond your own in way you may never have experienced before having children. But aside from the clear emotional and lifestyle commitments that it entails, it’s also one of the most financially straining things that you can do. Every year the cost of raising children increases, and the most recent figures from the Guardian newspaper (January 2013) show that bringing up a child to the age of 21 now costs on average £222,000. A pretty hefty sum!
The associated costs include increased budgets for food, clothes (including school uniforms), education costs, buying or renting a home with additional rooms, family holidays and day trips and all the other bits that keep a family ticking over. On top of those essential costs, having kids prompts many new parents to consider additional security for their family through life insurance and other precautions. Finding life insurance policies isn’t complicated. Sure it’s an extra expense, but one that ensures that parents’ next of kin are financially secure.
On top of all these costs, becoming a parent often meaning saving more than ever before. Not only are potential rainy days a much greater threat, but parents have to think about whether they’ll end up helping to finance the ever increasing cost of higher education. Additionally, in two parent households one of the parents may not be working for the early years of the child’s life which means your family may be living on a reduced income.
According to the study mentioned above, one of the big financial strains on parents at the moment is the cost of technology – parents are buying their kids mobile phones, laptops and tablets and many report feeling a pressure to stay on top of the latest developments in this area. The study also reports that most parents cut back by buying cheaper food and using more vouchers and discount services. That some parents would cut back on the quality of food before the cost of the latest gadgets may well be telling of the social pressure to keep up with what’s hot in culture and technology.
Indeed, this may partially explain the continuing rise in the cost of having children – greater visibility around what is fashionable and how your lifestyle should appear to others, even the lifestyle of a whole family unit, can significantly increase the pressure to spend money on non-essential items like technology.
For sure, starting a family is becoming more of a challenge in many ways and it involves a lot of responsibilities to juggle. But people are still choosing to have children, and many women are waiting until later in life to have them. This suggests that despite the financial and other strains of having a family, better healthcare and more options around family planning are counterbalancing the increased costs of raising children.