The cost of having kids – and how to save money

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  • Having kids is one of the great joys of life but it’s also one of the most expensive. A study published in 2016 found that a typical aprent can expect to spend £231,843 raising a child born that year until they reach 21. 

    The study also estimated that parents would spend £70,000 for childcare and babysitting and an additional £74,000 on education-related items like uniforms and school lunches.

    So there’s no question that having children is expensive, but don’t worry because we’ve got some great tips on how you can save money – and they won’t even notice.

    Where does all the money go?

    The largest amount of money is spent on education and childcare, such as babysitters, nurseries and nannies.

    The study, conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research calculated that £19,004 goes on food, £16,882 on holidays, £10,942 on clothing and around £9,307 on hobbies and toys.

    The cost of having kids – babies and toddlers

    How to save: The early years

    There are lots of easy ways to cut costs if you’re clever.


    • It might sound obvious but breastfeeding is cheaper than buying formula milk
    • For all those baby toiletries don’t buy branded goods, get the cheaper version from the supermarket or big high street chemists. The products are usually exactly the same as the branded items.
    • Look for National Childbirth Trust sales – They have a wide range of nearly new items and charity shops are a good shout too
    • Buy clothes that are a bit too big, it doesn’t matter if they don’t fit, your child will grow into them – and you might be able to take advantage of a bargain
    • Make your own baby food – it’s much cheaper than buying jars of ready-made food and you know exactly what’s in it


    • They grow so quickly and it’s pretty common to buy shoes that they hardly wear. So if you’ve got some kids’ shoes that don’t fit anymore and are still in a reasonable condition you could try selling them at a car boot sale, online or having a shoe swap party with friends
    • Buy toys in the sale and stock up so when it comes to birthdays you’ve always got something and you haven’t had to spend loads at the last minute. You could join a toy library or host a toy swap with friends – that way the kids will never get bored of their own toys!
    • Instead of spending money at the playcentre set up a room the with a few games and a soft obstacle course made of cushions. Or make a tent out of blankets over a couple of chairs. There are lots of cheap ways to entertain your kids for free

    The cost of having kids – primary school to teens

    Primary school

    • This is when school uniforms and P.E. kits can get expensive. Check out the large supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco for cheap basics and Aldi have even launched a uniform for £5! Your local charity shop may also have second-hand uniforms which are still in great condition
    • This is often when kids start talking about pocket money but just because they’ve started asking for it doesn’t mean you have to give it. You might prefer to set an age limit, for example when they’re 10 or 12 or when they complete certain tasks
    • If they’ve joined a group or club where they need kit or sub money you might find that there’s an alternative group that costs less to join or that is closer to your home so you save travel costs. You may also find a good deal on the web on uniforms or sports kit. You might want to think about getting them to earn money so they can contribute to the costs.
    •  If you can start saving it’s worth setting up an education fund to pay for extra school books, private lessons for GCSEs and foreign school trips
    • If they’ve started to get pocket money make sure you teach them to budget and save – that way some of the regular items that they want such as stickers, books, magazine, club membership, they might be able to pay for themselves.
    •  Search online for competitions and coupons especially for some of the expensive items such as video games and MP3 players. Shop around and look at price comparison sites for the expensive items..


    • Reward them for babysitting or cleaning the car or housework with a free favour, such as letting them have their friends over for a movie night or letting them stay up later than usual on a Friday or Saturday
    • This is a good time to teach them independence so encourage them to get a part-time job if they are old enough to work (14 or over) then they can buy their own clothes
    • If they’re constantly on the phone or texting and you have to pay the bill, now is the time to put your foot down. You can look for better deals with your phone provider or you can ask them to pay their share

    Do you have any other tips on how to save money? Let us know by heading over to our Facebook page and joining the conversation!

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