parenting, children, and money saving tips,

7 Simple, Instant Money Saving Parents Tip - without selling your child for the £30 per day it costs to raise them

12 Apr 2015

7 Simple, Instant Money Saving Parents Tips - without selling your child for the £30 per day it costs to raise them

Let's get the silliness over first. Tips on saving on child-rearing costs:

  1. Spend it all on a one-bedroom flat in Harrow
  2. Spend it all on a three-bedroom cottage in 6-acres of land in Wales
  3. Spend it all on your own, private, deserted island in Florida
  4. Spend it all on a 52-ft yacht
  5. Spend it all on a second-hand Ferrari FF Coupe, Rolls-Royce Phantom, or Lamborghini Aventador
  6. Spend it all on getting Cheryl Cole to sing for you for 35 minutes…
  7. Spend it all on one-heck-of-a stupid tie

Because you could, seriously.

With £227,266 (yes, you did read that right: two hundred and twenty six thousand pounds), this is what you could buy, as that's how much it now costs to raise a child to the age of 21, according to finance protection specialist, LV= (you can view the full report here)

£10,822 per year. £901 per month. £30 per day.

So yes, there's no getting away from the fact that children are expensive, but let's get away from the sensationalism for a second. For a start, it is not a lump-sum purchase. You don't suddenly need to find the best part of quarter of a million pounds the moment you get pregnant. It is spread over 21 years, kinda like a mortgage except that, at the end of it, you don't get to keep the house.

And we also need to focus on what exactly it is that we're buying, too. You're not buying a child, you're paying for that child's protection, comfort, safety and (sometimes) happiness (this isn't going to some neo-puritanical rant on "buying happiness" for children - I'm not advocating that the more gifts you buy then the more happy your child will be but, let's face it, sometimes we love buying gifts for our kids, right?).

A child will give you more company than a one-bedroom flat in Harrow, more comfort than a Rolls Royce, more excitement than a 52-ft yacht, more pride that a diamond encrusted tie, and significantly less pain than half an hour of Cheryl Cole's singing.

But you still have to support them.

So, let's look at ways of saving a penny or two in the process.

1. Don't pay full price

There are many online discount vouchers - Groupon, Wowcher, KGB Deals, Living Social, to name just a few - but there are loads of others that pop up sporadically. Many shops offer coupons that you can either redeem online or print off to take in to the store yourself. Some shops and supermarket chains also offer vouchers if you sign up to their site. It might be worth using an alias email to catch the inevitable spam, but where there are savings…

2. Buy second hand

Especially when the kids are young. I know that there will come a time when you child will want all new items, and they have to come in the original shiny box to prove it, but until then make the most of second hand shopping (either that, or use the opportunity to teach your child about money matters and explain that new isn't always an option). You're not alone in doing this; according to LV=, "close to four in 10 (38%) of those parents who cut back bought items second-hand last year". Social media makes this even easier. My wife and I use a number of locally organised facebook groups to look for new toys and clothes. Find yours.

3. Don't buy designer

It's easy to feel as if we're letting our kids down if we downscale to a 'lesser' brand for shoes or clothes, but that's just not true. Children, especially younger children, grow out of clothes far quicker than they wear them out, so longevity isn't often going to be an issue. Let's face it, a little boy is going to scrape through the knees on a pair of supermarket jeans just as easily as a pair of mini-levis!

4. Recall favours

With grandparents reportedly saving UK parents £11bn in childcare savings each year, this might look like an easy saving. I don't mean to appear mercenary - I'm not suggesting that we should abuse their love and support for free labour - but if they want to help, and if they are in a position to help, then everyone can benefit; they get to enjoy their grandchildren, your kids get to cultivate deep and personal relationships with the wider family and, also, you save some money. And where that's not always possible - and, often, it isn't - are there other parents in the area who might have childcare issues? Can you arrange a mutually beneficial time-swap around your work shifts? It's worth looking into. And do it with clothes and toys, too. My wife and I were lucky when we started a family - we had extended family who already had older children; we benefitted hugely from their generosity with hand-me-downs.

5. Stock up on sale items

There are certain essential items - nappies, cream, wet wipes, certain over-the-counter medicine, bath wash, etc - that either never perish or at least takes a long time. So, when it is on sale, buy shed-loads of it! You're going to need nappies for a long time, and they might not be 8p per nappy like this for ages, so get loads and loads and loads of them!

6. Spend Less Money

"And the award for 'Most Obvious Advice In A Blog Post' goes to!" But seriously, you will find that some expenses (such as evenings out, treats, etc) will naturally lessen with a youngling in toe. The money that might have gone to the local cinema or wine bar might now be redirected to nappies and baby cream. In fact, it might be good parent-preparation to pop down to your local supermarket and arrange to have the difference in your salary paid directly their head office. If you still have time to go to the cinema then - for the love of all things good - please tell me how you're doing it.

7. Focus on attention rather than toys

Ah, here it is - the last, little nod to "money isn't love" that we're all expecting from these advice blogs. But the biggest thing that your child needs is love and, when they're small, love is spelled T.I.M.E. I'm sure that they will enjoy the big toys, the grand days out, the special treats, but mostly they will enjoy sharing them with you. So take the time to do free activities (national museums, home-based craft activities, trips to the park, treasure hunts around the neighbourhood, tickle fights). Be creative. Baby catalogues convince new parents that infants need much more than they really do. Ignore these must-buy lists. With our firstborn, my wife and I would leave with most of the contents of 'Mothercare' in our car. I'm not saying that we're necessarily better parents now but, with three kids, we often leave house with barely a nappy change and a snack between them and, so far as I can tell, the world hasn't ended because of it. Be realistic.

Add your own suggestions to the comments below.

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