Can you afford to have children these days?

Can you afford to have children these days?

What a question to ask, you may say. But our research shows parents are spending an average of £35,000* on their children by the time they get to five years old – and that’s not a small amount, by anyone’s calculations. On average, that works out at around £6,990 a year or £586 a month.

We ran our detailed study to help parents understand how much it may cost to raise a family, so they can see if they've got enough protection in place during those early years. Costs do mount up, and it’s not always easy to see where or how they could be covered if something untoward happened.  Take a look at our online Cost of Having a Child Calculator to see how your costs compare.

What do parents spend most money on?

The 2,002 parents we spoke to spend more on childcare than anything else: in the region of £1,140 a year, or £95 a month. By comparison, money spent on things like entertainment, food, and clothes tended to average out at considerably less: you can see how much parents with children under 5 are spending on average, on what, in this table:

  Monthly costs Annual costs
Toys and games £53.30 £639.60
Clothes £58 £696
Essential baby / child equipment £62.30 £747.60
Leisure / family trips out £56.20 £647.40
Entertainment e.g. DVDs, books, tablets etc £37.30 £447.60
Classes for children e.g soccer tots, baby ballet £38.80 £465.60
Special foods for children / formula £41.90 £502.80
Childcare / baby-sitting £95 £1,140
Nappies £47.70 £572.40
Extra holiday costs (additional costs for children) £55.90 £670.80
Equipment for school / pre-school e.g. uniforms £39.10 £469.20
TOTAL £585.50 £6,990

We used mean averages, and obviously people in some parts of the country pay considerably more for some things than others, but four things became very clear:

  • Mums and Dads like keeping up with the Joneses;
  • the North-South divide has a significant effect on spending power;
  • there’s some good news – parents are thinking wisely about the future;

and with those costs on the increase, it’s becoming more important to have life insurance in place.

Mums and Dads like keeping up with the Joneses

One in five of the parents (18%) we spoke to said they’d spend money just to feel they’re keeping up with other families. And about a third (36%) knew other Mums and Dads who boasted about how much they were spending. Although, only one in seven (14%) admitted they’d given in to children’s demands and bought things they don’t really need.

The North-South divide has a significant effect on spending power

Not surprisingly, London is the most expensive place to raise a child (although the North-East and the Midlands aren’t far behind). Wales is the least expensive area: costing less than half as much in places like Holyhead (£352 a month or £4,220 annually) as it does in areas like Holburn (£809 per month or £9,712 per year). If you’d like to see how your costs compare, take a look at our online Cost of Having a Child Calculator.

Region: Monthly costs: Annual costs:
London £809.30 £9,711.60
West Midlands £636 £7,632
North East £589.20 £7,070.40
East Midlands £580.40 £6,964.80
Yorkshire £545.40 £6,544.80
Scotland £497.50 £5,970
Northern Ireland £455.60 £5,467.20
East £442.90 £5,314.80
South East £434.90 £5,218.80
South West £422.60 £5,071.20
North West £380.20 £4,562.40
Wales £351.70 £4,220.40

Amount parents are spending on children under 5 by region, based on mean averages.

There’s good news: some parents are thinking wisely about the future

Are you one of them? Perhaps you’re like many of the Mums and Dads we spoke to: over half (52%) had opened a savings account in their children’s names; while a forward-thinking 8% had started saving for a house deposit. And 42% had taken out life insurance already, while one in five (20%) had made a will.

We asked Louise Colley, protection director for Aviva and a Mum herself, what she thought about this research. She said: “We all know having children can be expensive, but it’s staggering to see how costs mount up over the years. This is why it’s so important to think about how you’ll pay for things if your family loses income through illness or even worse, bereavement.”

See how much your spending compares to other parents try our Cost of Having a Child Calculator.


*Research carried out by ICM, surveying 2,002 parents with children aged 0-5 in November 2014. Figure compiled by multiplying the number of children aged under five in the UK, according to ONS mid 2013 data (4,013,861) by the average annual cost spent by parents on under fives annually (£6,990).

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