Kids cost over £500 per month

The cost of having a child now stands at over £500 per month, according to research by Santander - equivalent to the cost of renting a two-bedroom flat in some professional locations around the country - and that is putting some parents under so much pressure that they would not have had children, if they had been aware of the cost.

More than two fifths (41%) of those surveyed by Santander said that it is almost impossible to prepare yourself financially for having a child to raise; and 5%, equivalent to one in 20 parents nationwide, added that they would not have had their child if they had fully recognised how much it was going to stretch their budget.

Unsurprisingly, childcare costs top the list of outgoings, with the typical parent spending a massive £186 per month on this, trumping even food and drink at £129 per month, while child maintenance payments - for those who pay them - rank third on average at £118 per month.

Further down the list at between £55 and £60 each are: transportation; education costs (such as school trips); entertainment and leisure; hobbies and sports. Clothing, at just under £52, is the only other monthly expenditure to break through the £50 threshold, with smaller amounts going on toys, gifts, health and baby products, and mobile phone bills.v Richard Al-Dabbagh of Santander Insurance says: "Parents can spend hundreds of pounds every month on their children, and it's easy to forget the level of reliance children have on them financially as well as emotionally."

However, while children represent a substantial cost, they can also offer the possibility of an additional revenue stream, as they grow out of clothing, bedding, furniture and toys, all of which can be sold on as second-hand, placed on auction sites, or recycled at a paid collection service.

Although you might find it difficult to cover the full £500 monthly cost of raising a child, you could achieve a substantial contribution towards your outgoings in this way - and a conservative approach to childcare could also help you to cut down on the single greatest area of expenditure faced by the typical parent.

If you do not have to pay child maintenance, you can knock a further £118 off of the monthly total, while if your child is not yet school-aged, the £60 of education expenses should not apply either.

This does not mean, of course, that raising a baby is less costly than raising an older child, as anybody coping with a newborn on a tight budget will be aware; however, it is worth recognising that the figures quoted in research tend to be broad averages, whereas your unique circumstances may allow you to make substantial savings by managing your budget effectively.

About Geri Muirfield

I blog about children's issues and how they impact on parents, as well as related issues that can help with parenting, such as clothing recycling where garments are sold for cash as a way to support household budgets.