How does the average couple afford children?

I've lived by myself for 4 years and managed comfortably. Now bf and I are buying a house together and times are changing.

However in order to afford this new house, just a average 3 bed semi, we are having to budget quite seriously because:-

1. Bf has some debts, which he is paying off but will take a further 2.5 years.
2. I will take on the mortgage for the first year, until the bulk of debts are paid.

So my disposable income will decrease and he will have a budget of £65 p/w for his own spends. He never had a budget before, he just spent and worried about it later. I suggested he take out £130 cash fortnightly, put half in a tin by his bedside and use cash weekly for personal spending, as its more accountable to see what's in your wallet, than what's on yr credit card.

Anyway, due to this, we won't be able to afford to have children for at least 18 months. Even then I will have to work part-time. I feel sad about this as I have been broody since I was 28, I am now 30. I feel by the time I am 32, going on 33, I might find it hard to conceive (due to other problems this is a possibility). I feel time will pass me by. Bf isn't ready yet to have children, he "hasn't reached that broody bit yet". But he does want kids, just not yet.

Anyway, today i went into town and how many people did i see with children and babies? - just because its something I would like for myself :( I think to myself, how do these people afford a 3 bed house, have 2 or 3 children and still have a life? Surely not every family is in debt?

My brother is 32, has 2 children and his wife hasn't worked, been a SAHM. He has managed it but him and my bf have very different views about money. My brother is a planner, saver, budgeter and can always get a deal on anything. My bf has also spent everything he earned, despite being on good money and never really saved or worried about it. Now he's learnt its come back to bite him on the bum and wished he had learnt more about money when he first started work.

I'm sorry for the ramble, guess I had to get that off my chest. I would love a family, but only when bf is ready, but i don't want to be in debt because of it and I dont want to feel I'm forever worrying about money either.

So how much do kids cost and how do people manage?

Answers on a postcard please.......


Btw, I am doing all the recommended things here, going for best mortgage deal for us, using 18866, haggle and hassle for utilities, house bills, insurances etc. I know how to budget and cook from scratch. I am a MSE addict, hence the fact I am not in debt and up until this house move have done comfortably. So whilst I appreciate the thoughts, please do not suggest these things, as i don't think I could scrimp back much more on them.

How expensive is the first baby? How much per month extra did parents need?

Thank you very much.


  • John_M_Business
    John_M_Business Forumite Posts: 565 Forumite
    OK. Firstly, yes, the time when you have a family and perhaps the mother considers downsizing / discontinuing work is the hardest financial time for any family.

    The first problem you have is the decision you are about to take. If you do take a property with a mortgage on, say, 3-3.5 x joint income then you are already making it hard for yourselves to have the options that you would like come baby time - because although it is all well and good to save money on telecoms etc. (like 18866), your biggest individual outgoing will almost certainly be your mortgage and associated costs. If you can get a mortgage on 3x HIS income then this will make a marked difference.

    The second problem is there are two parts to the budgeting process - one which is setting budgets, but the other that I would suggest should take place before budgeting is finding exactly where the money goes... for at least a month (preferable two) measure any spend over £1 (both of you) and then meet up to discuss at the end of the first and second months. Split the spend into different areas: fixed essentials (i.e. mortgage/rent, fuel bills), variable essentials (i.e. telephone bills, food shopping), variable non-essentials (clothes , dining out, gifts). Seek to grind down the variable essentials and cut out the variable non-essentials that you don't consider that important.

    The third problem is 'incidentals'. It can sometimes be reasonably easy to set up a budget and monthly spend that you can keep BUT the problem is that there are other things that cost money - a blown boiler, a holiday, a birthday present, etc. You need to set up a direct debit to a savings account to cater for these things (probably £300 a month or so - but you can decide how much it should be) and agree that this money will only be touched if the need is agreed by both of you.

    Then, I guess, there are some suggestions - some are more radical than others:
    - Cut up your Credit Cards, use debit cards only, and only on purchases you've jointly agreed
    - Agree a limit after which you'll discuss spending (i.e. £30 or similiar)

    Finally, just be sensible. If you have take-aways twice a week, make it once (as a treat). If you get waxed frequently, think about getting an epilator (or similar). If he likes gadgets, then make sure that he uses them before replacing.

    Cost of the first baby? Again this is a piece of string. Our son, I reckon 'cost' about £250 per month for the first year and is now on about £120 a month, but we use re-usable nappies. Mum home-cooks all his food. We have generous friends and relatives and look to share toys and clothes with them. We get good equipment, but are not seduced by the expensive. We shop online and shop around.
    CarQuake / Ergo Digital
  • Lillibet_2
    Lillibet_2 Forumite Posts: 3,364
    1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    Hi Bailey

    I was going through very simiiar to you 2 years ago. I am now 30 & almost 8 months pregnant & giving up work tomorrow!!

    Take heart it can be done but it takes a lot of sacrafices.

    We didn't have any debt but I woudln't have considered going into this with debt, that might just be me 'cos I am a bit anal about it though!!

    My big thing was that I wanted to be a SAHM, at least for the first few years & hubby only earns just over £20K, almost exactly the same as me so we were looking at a 50% drop in income & we were already on good mortgage deals, insurance deals etc so not much room to cut big outgoings. I worked out that by cutting things to the bone but still giving ourselves a standard of living that (hopefullyl) won't drive us into the divorce courts in a few years, Hubbys take home salary is about £250 per month to low for us to live on, however beacuase he loves his career (not current job which he is looking to change but the profession which is a low paid one) a significent salary increase is unlikey. So we started living on the planned post-baby budget & stashing the balance away every month, this has a 2-fold benefit : It proved to us that we can live on a bare bones budget for an extened period of time & we now have a fund to draw on which wil make up the £250 shortfall each month for a couple of years (not as long as I would like but we have to compromise somewhere, plus we can't see into the future anyway so no point in getting too hung up about it)

    But it does take sacrafice, for example our monthly descretionary spending allowance is less than your weekly allowance (we allow ourselves £60 per month each & this will be the first thing to be cut in hard times). We weigh up how necessary car journeys are to eek out the petrol budget (which never seems to go as far this month as it did last month!) and we have dowgraded to one car. I don't have a mobile phone (which has been soooo liberating, I love not being at the beck & call of everyone else!) and we don't plan to holiday abroad for at least the next 5 years. We did save up for a last big pre-baby holiday last year which we will cherish the memories of.

    Hubby wasn't sure about having a baby, we had always assumed we wouldn't as we weren't really "children people", however he agreed we could try the budget thing in case his feelings changed, and lo & behold! they did!

    I was concerend about leaving pregnancy too late, like you for various medical reasons, how wrong could I have been?? With the help of ovulation predictors (buy them on ebay, much cheaper than boots!) I conceived on the first cycle!!

    We know the next few eyars aren't going to be at all easy but we are both committed to the plan & are now really looking forward to Spud arriving. I guess what I'm trying to say is approch it with an open mind, be aware it will be hard & have faith that it will all be worth while when you're depressed about passing up those lucnhes out & designer dresses and even when you have to delay the decorating or only go on holiday for one week insted of 2. It can be done:D (I hope, or I'm about to fall really flat on my face in the next few weeks:rolleyes: )

    Good luck & kepe your chin up;)
    Post Natal Depression is the worst part of giving birth:p

    In England we have Mothering Sunday & Father Christmas, Mothers day & Santa Clause are American merchandising tricks:mad: Demonstrate pride in your heirtage by getting it right please people!
  • Spendless
    Spendless Forumite Posts: 23,619
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    Well we could afford kids because we never got used to having a dual income.We both owned a property, so there were 2 wages supporting 2 houses. We only sold one shortly before birth of eldest.

    We had a lot of stuff given to us,cot,steriliser,bedding, clothes etc the pram was a present from my parents, the car seat pressie from SIL.

    If you breastfed that would be free. Nappies there are several threads about re-usables.

    You would receive £17 a week child benefit (for eldest, is lower amount for subsequent babies). Also depending on your income you would be eligible for Child Tax Credit, possibly Working Tax credit if on a low income. You get CTC upto an income of around £50,000 but it's higher amount for newborn around £60,000. For salaries of around £25,000 upwards you get £545 p.a roughly £10 but for first year of babies life you get an additional £545.(ie £20 a week).

    So assuming you only received the family element of CTC you'd get a weekly amount

    Child Benefit £17
    CTC £10
    Baby element£10 = £37 a week going down to £27 after babies 1st year.

    There is a website called 'entitled to' where you could play about with amounts.

    I worked part-time when I had eldest on an evening.Then became a SAHM, for nearly 3 years. In recent weeks I've been working as a relief lunchtime supervisor at nearby school. My eldest is in full-time school and my daughter goes to her nans for lunch whilst I work.

    Re- boyfriend not being ready yet. Have you talked about when you do want to start a family? What if he's still not ready in 2 years time? I ask because a relative wanted to start trying for 2nd baby so it'd be born as her eldest goes to school Sept next year. Her husband has only just told her that he doesn't want a 2nd.

    I understand what you mean about other peoples babies, though I've always conceived easily, I lost my first at 17 weeks and there were several reasons why we couldn't try again straight away,I found it very hard to be round pregnant women and babies in between loosing 1st and conceiving 2nd.

    Best wishes
  • skylight
    skylight Forumite Posts: 10,716
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Combo Breaker Home Insurance Hacker!
    I had exactly the same worry when I was pregnant with my first.

    I was told that if you saved and saved before you had children, you still would never have enough money - but if you have children now you find it anyway.

    Which is right I suppose - says she who is now massively in debt. We went on and had 4 kids - spent rather than saved and after job losses found ourselves tottering on the edge. Digging out now, but as your a hardline MSE'r, you know already!

    If you were serious about kids, how about selling up and moving out of the area into a cheaper house? You dont need a 3 bed house, and you can fit 2 kids into a good sized room. Personally lodgers are not the way to go with babies/children - but if you dont fancy moving, perhaps getting in a lodger for a few years in the spare rooms before baby comes??

    And you can have kids on the cheap - take advantage of second hand stuff (check over first to make sure its safe). Most people buy new baby stuff and its used for a matter of months.
    Car boots, Ebay or the local paper is good if you dont know anyone you can use stuff from.

    At least your BF is learning his lesson - those hardest learnt are the best (don't I know it!) I know that you are already busy, but have you thought about a second job?? Working cash in hand in the local shop or pub for a few months will help to clear/save some money

    I cant pretend that kids are cheap - they are not, but they don't have to cost the earth either. Junior at 3 months old is not going to care whether he/she is in Next/ Jasper clothes. I actually by my babies clothes in bulk lots from Ebay. My 12/18month last bundle cost me £22.50 for 50 items (Inc Delivery) and is stuffed with Next clothes anyway - its sorted her out all through spring and summer. I do this a lot with all the kids.

    And grandparents help out a lot! Perhaps you could ask them to contribute to the bulkier items. Also, at work, they are bound to do a collection (most always do for babies) - have a quiet word and ask for vouchers instead of presents.

    The big issue will not be affording a baby but affording childcare........

    Oh and as my postcard is getting rather big (!) Baby will love mummy and daddy and not the money. He/she wont care as long as he/she is warm, fed and loved back.
  • Thank you for such a detailed reply. I will try to respond to each of your point.

    Firstly the mortgage, we are not over stretching, in fact the idea is that I can afford the mortgage on my own, just in case we split up. I am putting down the fully equity of my house (no mortgage) and just getting a £50,000 one. This works out to be just short of £300 p/m as we are going fixed rate. We want the security.

    Yes budgeting, I know exactly what i am spending and where it goes. Bf isn't quite as diligent as me. His attitute to money has always been spend now, worry about it later. I have tried to explain things to him and he now appreciates what needs to be done. But as far as itemised spends over £1, I think he would definately not go for that. Not at this stage anyway. Good idea though.

    I have to keep in mind that our approaches to money are different and that is due to our parents and different upbringings.

    I have a maintenance budget which currently holds £350 and we will be putting away £100 every month for that. Boiler in new house is 4 years old and everything seems to be in good repair, so hopefully not too many maintenance bills for a while.

    I dont' use credit cards, never have done, prefer debit cards. I just dont want to get myself into debt and feel credit cards can make that happen quite easily. However bf has 4 and although he is now starting to pay them off, I don't think he would want to cut them up and switch. I guess the crunch thing for him is he is already having to make a lot of changes to his lifestyle and if i suggested to change more elements in his life, it would make him unhappy. I would like these changes to come from him. But I will go with the softly softly approach. Let him get used to it before i suggest more.

    I can't remember the last time we had a takeaway, I don't do waxing, the most pampering i do is a £7 home haircut and clothes, well they are always budget ones.

    Thanks for your baby figures. I reckon it might be doable in 18 months then. If bf takes over the mortgage by then and we can get his parents to babysit my shifts, my take home would be about £700. So would cover my share of bills/food, petrol, gym and of course BABY.

    And I know I would only ever get the best deals and second hand anything is fine, as they grow so quick its usually very good quality.

    Thank you very much for your help and ideas.
  • Charlotte thanks for your comments too. I saw it come in as I was replying to the earlier poster.

    At the moment I am living in a 2 bed terraced house and mortgage free, hence the position of comfortability i am in. Bf is living with his parents and not left home. We are buying this 3 bed semi together as:-

    1. We would like a larger house before kids come along.

    2. This is still my marital home and we want to start afresh.

    3. His parents are both in wheelchairs and find it impossible to accesss my house unless bf is around and then its a struggle, not good if we would like them to babysit.

    4. I would like to move closer to my parents and a nicer area.

    As I said its doable now and would be even more doable if bf didn't have debts, but hey, hindsight is a wonderful thing eh?

    Oh and I intend to be a more regular ebay user when it comes to baby stuff, i read so much about it here, how could I not?

  • Once moved into the house I am also going to try to save £50-£100 every month for a baby fund, i forgot to say that earlier.
  • skylight
    skylight Forumite Posts: 10,716
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Combo Breaker Home Insurance Hacker!
    Its only cos I'm jealous Bailey!!

    6 in this family in a 2bed house - we are in the process of putting in a partition in the larger room to fit us in better! It leaves hubby and me with a bed and 1 chest of drawers and a built in cupboard for our personal space!

    We owe too much to consider moving.

    But you do these things when you have kids - you make do, so dont ever worry about affording one!

    Best of luck
  • Charlotte, thank you again. I know I would be prepared to make sacrifices, I'm willing to make them now. But I have to keep in mind bf's feelings too.

    Oh and btw, I love your signature, its sooo true!!
  • daveboy
    daveboy Forumite Posts: 1,400
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    I've always thought that a lot of families can have kids because years ago property prices were much lower - whilst they would have a mortgage to pay it wouldn't be as huge as it would be to purchase a house nowadays - for instance my parents would be in a good position but I wouldn't be.

    I am kind of broody and I am 25 in January - must be an early starter!

    I've given up on owning a house in the current climate as I can only see it being a mistake - prices will come down one day and there is no way I'm buying (if I could that is) at the top of the market.
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