A NEW report has revealed the average cost of raising a child, to the age of 21, now stands at a staggering £222,000, or more than £10,000 every year.
Despite the economic belt tightening most of us have endured recently, spending on the nation’s youngsters is up two per cent up on last year and a massive 58 per cent from £140,000 10 years ago.
Education, including university costs, remains the highest outlay for parents –not counting private school fees – closely followed by essentials like childcare, food and clothing.
But treats, such as hobbies, toys, days out and pocket money, have also spiked as parents are expected to fork out for a range of evening and weekend activities, the latest gadgets and fashions.
The increase can be a guide to analysing how things have changed in recent years. The LV= report identifies that the cost of Christmas and birthdays has gone up as the price of toys increases, for example demand for more grown up gadgets such as laptops, tablets and smart phones.
And parents on Grange Park today agreed it was getting more costly to bring up children.
“They use computers and tablets at school so they expect to have them at home,” said Tina Maycock, 35, mum to Ruby, five, and Senna, four-and-a-half-months.
“Then there’s the toys. We used to have one or two dolls each when I was younger, now there’s a new Barbie every year.
“I try to get away with just buying the new outfits rather than the new doll because they’re so expensive.
“It’s hard to say no but sometimes you have to.”
Stacey Elliott, 23, of Brook Street, South Shore, and mum to Martyn, four, Kieron, two, and Cole, five weeks, agrees.
“I think £222,000 is a bit over the top but it’s definitely expensive having kids, especially when they get old enough to start asking for presents. We got our eldest a console for Christmas that we saved up for. He’s played with it once, he’d prefer to be colouring in or outside with a ball, so that’s not exactly value for money.”
John Duckett, 36, admits Tyler, seven, and Porsha, four, can prove expensive, but says people shouldn’t spend beyond their means.
“I saved up for Christmas so I knew how much I’d be spending. They got a lot of gifts but it was all paid off. You have to budget and plan ahead.
“The most expensive thing is shoes. I bought my son and I some boots, mine lasted a year, his a month! As for my daughter, she goes through shoes like they’re going out of fashion.”
Interestingly, the only item on the shopping list to have gone down over the last 10 years is the cost of clothes, possibly due to the rise of supermarket ranges, but it still accounts for a huge investment every year for cash-strapped parents.
Mum-of-two Jennifer Carter, of Wensleydale Avenue, said: “It’s the biggest everyday expense, obviously they’re always growing and it can be £100 a month for the two. Prices are only going in one direction so it’s only going to get more expensive.
“But you don’t think of children in those terms, you just want to do your best for your kids. I can’t imagine the cost of university but if it is something they want to do then we would have to find the money some way.”
The impact of this continual rise is being felt by families’ savings.
Around 40 per cent of parents admit they are setting aside less and less in their rainy day fund. If the trend continues and prices rise at the same rate, the cost could exceed £350,000 by 2023.
That doesn’t surprise Kerry Pollitt, 25, mum of five-year-old Willow. She said: “I think £222,000 seems high but when you think about it, it will probably end up being a lot more by the time our kids have grown up.”
HOW THE COST BREAKS DOWN
THE LV= survey shows how much children cost until they reach the age of 21. The survey breaks the cost down into six key areas:
>> Education £72,832
>> Childcare £63,738
>> Food £19, 270
>> Clothing £10,770
>> Hobbies and toys £9,316
>> Pocket money £4,458