In 2014, reports showed that the cost of raising a child through to the age of 21 exceeded £220,000. The study, carried out by the Centre of Economic and Business Research (CEBR), also confirmed that (unsurprisingly) 71% of people had to make cutbacks after becoming parents; and that the fastest rising cost of bringing up a baby is childcare.
The Money Advice Service offers free, impartial information on a range of money matters, including planning for a baby and coping financially with becoming parents. The site also has a number of budgeting tools, including calculators, to help you cope with life changes such as becoming a parent for the first time, or extending your family.
Check the basics
There are a number of practical things you can do to cut the costs of parenting. Firstly, check you’re accessing all the benefits and maternity pay you’re entitled to. Free, online benefits checkers are widely available, including on the www.gov.uk website. As an expectant or new mum there are also free treatments and prescriptions available to you and your children – research carefully what’s available and make sure you’re not paying for things you shouldn’t.
Get advice from people going through the same thing as you
The website www.moneysavingexpert.com has forums for mums and dads which contain a whole load of tips from real parents about managing on a budget, and the range of subjects being discussed at any one time is vast. At this very moment there are discussions going on about how to decide whether to stay at home or go back to work after having a baby; which equipment you really need for your new baby; and managing maintenance payments – and if nobody’s talking about the subject you’re interested in, it’s easy to start a conversation.
Raising a child alone
If you’re raising a child alone, financial pressure can be even more intense and studies show that single parents have been the most impacted by the current squeeze on household incomes. Organisations such as Gingerbread provide advice and practical support and networks of other people in the same situation as you. There’s a free helpline and downloadable factsheets on issues facing single parents, including managing finances.
Make a will
Finally, although nobody likes to think about the subject, make sure you have arrangements in place to support your family if you are not around. A will and life insurance can help to support your family financially if the unthinkable happens – and you can get the best deal on insurance products by using any of the comparison websites.