How does the average couple afford children?



  • Lucie_2
    Lucie_2 Posts: 1,482
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I can't afford to have kids. That is I can't afford to have kids & maintain my current lifestyle, so I don't want to afford them (if that makes sense).
    One of my best friends spends over £600 a month on childcare to enable her to work part time - probably the same £600 I spend on holidays, cars, clothes, eating out & generally enjoying myself.
    I watched my sister scrimp & save when her kids were small & I guess I'm just not prepared to make the same sacrifices.
  • s@sha
    s@sha Posts: 583
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Being 7 months pregnant with my first the grand old age of 37...I have found this thread really interesting & would agree with a lot of the advice given.

    I would agree that there is not much point in waiting until things are 'perfect' financially & materially to try for children, because it never will be ideal. If both people are ready emotionally for children then don't never know what's round the corner or how long you will take to conceive. I was 27 when we first decided we'd like to have children....we never dreamed it would take 10 years & an IVF attempt to concieve. As long as you are not living in dire circumstances, then it really doesn't matter if you have a little house, only one income or whatever, as long as you know you can give love & care to the child.

    As for needing a 3-bed semi..yes, that is probably better than a two bed-house when you're starting a family(which is what we have as well)...but then people in 3-bed semis probably would say they 'ideally' would like a 4-bed house, and so's all relative. If I'd waited until we had a bigger house, more money etc before trying to conceive at 27, I'd now be facing a childless future..because I never knew it would take me this long to become pregnant & I would have been too old by now for IVF.

    Also, I agree with the advice that children are only as expensive as you make them. You might WANT to have, but you don't HAVE to have the brand new fully-coordinated nursery that all the shops would have you think is isn't going to care as long he gets fed & loved.You can get lots of baby stuff second hand, either from friends donating their own children's things, or from the the places other people here have mentioned. I've got my cot from Ebay (hardly used), bags of second-hand baby clothes, baby towels & bedding from a friend & my sister, a swinging crib from another friend...I think the only 'big' thing that's been bought new is my pushchair & car seat...and we were lucky in that my parents paid for that!

    I'm also finding that I don't feel I'm 'giving things up' in terms of spending money, as it gives me as much pleasure to buy things in a sale or second hand to prepare for the baby as it normally would to go & buy new clothes/ shoes etc for myself. I still feel I'm spending for myself because I chose to have this baby so I enjoy doing it & don't feel I'm missing out. I know we probably won't be able to afford holidays abroad in the near future, but I don't care because little children are just as happy grubbing about in the sand in Devon as they are anywhere else.
    I think some of it comes down to what sort of lifestyle you have anyway as to how much a child will change it. If you're used to a busy social life & spending money on nights out, or spending a lot of money on clothes, holidays & treats for yourself,then obviously you would notice a big difference. But if you really want a child, when it finally happens you might be suprised that you don't feel you are 'giving up' things, you are only 'changing' things & gaining a lot more in the long run.
  • flikkerty
    flikkerty Posts: 145 Forumite
    Thanks everyone for the advice, I feel much better about the whole situation and will go down the jobcentre and find out more. You are all very generous with your wisdom!
  • Yes I agree, I can't believe I woke up to find this thread spun out onto a third page. All your advice is reassuring. I guess it will be ok, I just have to wait for bf to catch me up emotionally. I am hoping that by moving into house that will be jointly ours, he will be more inclined to think like me over time and will want to start filling up the bedrooms.

    Living at home until the age of 36 has not helped him learn about household responsibility. Although he is very independent and not reliant on his parents at all, he just has never be expected to do anything around the house or contribute significantly enough to require him to budget and manage his money. This he is going to have to start doing and its going to be hard on him. Me, i've been doing this for the last 10 years and actually get a sense of satisfaction about saving money, getting a bargain/best deal, being a competitive consumer.

    Its swings and roundabouts.

    Thank you everyone for your kind words and for not judging my boyfriend. We are too very different people about to merge our lifestyles.

  • bethscott1970
    bethscott1970 Posts: 200 Forumite
    I hit a different problem, we had budgeted and made sure we could afford to have a child, DS1 was born and I managed to fall pregnant when he was 4 months old with twins :eek: I can honestly say you manage, it doesn't make a blind bit of difference to a young child whether their clothes come from Next, Primark or a bag of stuff that someone else has given you. My children are now 12 & 11 and they still love getting bags from their cousins and the boys often fight over stuff in there but ask them to go shopping for clothes :confused:
    The main thing I learnt is the same as any MSE addict will tell you, you don't have to have every gadget that the shops would like to convince you to get. Breast feed if you can (saves on milk costs and gym fees ;) ), but most of all make sure you have a holiday before you start because it'll be a while before relaxing by the pool is an option again.
  • mini
    mini Posts: 833
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I gave up work over 7 years ago, almost halving our income, not working in itself saves money! There were so many collections for so many people, travel expenses & allsorts of things you only realise when you stop paying them! We managed with 1 car for a while until we settled into our new income. Children aren't as expensive as I thought they would be initially, more expenses seem to arrive when they start school, uniforms, school trips, after school activities which aren't compulsory but I don't want them to miss out & I think their young enthusiastic age is an ideal time to be trying different things. But we have managed, even when mr mini took redundancy, looking back I can't believe how little we managed on, but you do, if you are aware of your spending & know the downward spiral of debt then you are in a strong position not to go that way & think you have to buy everything.

    We still now have trips to the library & park, & if I ask our children what they want to do for a day out, the answer is overwhelming picnic, amazing how much fun is provided on a short drive, packaged lunch & a walk round somewhere :)

  • katglasgow
    katglasgow Posts: 404
    First Post First Anniversary
    I have to agree that babies dont cost as much as you think and you will jsut manage because you have to! When I was off on maternity leave I hardly spent anything. Got so much equipment given to me as well and most of clothes up to 18 months have been given as brithday/christmas presents.
    The biggest expense is if you need to go back to work. We are £400 short or being able to manage on h2b's salary (neither of us are huge earners). I dont have any family nearby that can child mind so I pay for a private nursery so in order to net £400 I have to work full time at half my salary goes on childcare! However, this is only until my son hits 3 and then I will get some money off. Then when he turns 5, childcare stops as I can reduce my working hours - yeah!
    My son wasnt planned. We h2b would probably never have been ready, but it was the best thing that ever happended to us!
    Good luck x
    Me debt free thanks to MSE :T
  • KK
    KK Posts: 212 Forumite
    Wow - you have been given some smart advice here. We waited until we were living in a house before we tried for a baby and lo and behold it took 3.5 years. We did want to make sure that we could afford it, but by that I mean that we could afford all the expenses like mortgage and bills on one salary.

    As soon as I was pregnant I set up a savings plan and paid all my spare money into it - you soon stop spending money on things you don't need if you have a goal ahead of you e.g. having some fun money for maternity leave! We really cut back on going out and socialising, we had both given up smoking, I stopped drinking anyway, we went out less because I felt like it, my hubby carried on going out but was more sensible. You don't spend money on clothes except maternity outfits. I think the 9 months of pregnancy helps you adjust to the change that will happen in your life when baby arrives. We just focused on spending money on absolute necessities. As many other posters here have said, other people are incredibly generous - I borrowed a lot of stuff (clothes, bouncy chair, steriliser etc), got bought quite a lot - cot, buggy (chose carefully so that I have only ever had one), first car seat and later a highchair. Other mothers are delighted to pass on stuff or lend things to you and it is amazing how little you do really need.

    NCT sales and e-bay are brilliant sources of bargains. My daughter's backpack (for walking), bouncy chair (better than the one I was lent), playpen and fireguard (which is still round our barbecue now) were all from here and all have been sold or lent to other people. Our cot was second hand and was passed on to friends.

    I have chosen to have only one child (yes finances are part of the reason, plus age and many others) who is just five years and we have drastically altered our lives compared to how we lived before she was born. I took 7 months maternity leave (just statutory) but my incentive to go back to work in London full time (nearly £200 per month in fares!) was that they paid me half pay for the whole of my maternity leave in a lump sum. This was great as we had learned to live without the money so it came as a bonus and put a new kitchen in the house the week of my daughter's first birthday. I was very lucky in that I had family who cared for my daughter while I went back to work, but I Knew it would be short lived as the company were moving too far for me to carry on working there - I went back for 5 months, took the money and ran...

    We have certainly had to be careful with our money since the little one arrived and I had no car while I was on maternity leave, which was not easy as I live in a country town. We walked a lot. You don't go out in the evenings because it's not so convenient, and you are tired, and you have to get a babysitter. The only indulgence I had on maternity leave was gym membership and I put my daughter in a creche. I wish I had used washable nappies, but I did breastfeed and make all her food from scratch. I don't reckon except for nappies, the odd bit of clothing and piece of equipment she cost me anything much in the first year or so.

    I got a part time job when she was 15 months which was a drastic drop in salary for me, but I only put her in nursery for one day per week and my family covered the rest of the time and I have to say my earnings pay for the luxuries and holidays and any clubs and classes she goes to.

    I agree that there is never an ideal time to have a baby, but a bit of advance planning never did any harm. Several of my friends said it didn't occur to them to work out whether they could afford a baby, and others like me worked it out to the penny. One friend had twins then another one 11 months later which she certainly didn't budget for! Your perspective changes most of all. Good luck. Child Tax Credit and Family Allowance are worth about £100 per month for us, which we try and save for my daughter's future.
  • chrisw
    chrisw Posts: 3,365
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    Are you sure you should be having a baby? Boyfriend has debts, spends money without thinking, doesn't want children yet, you're buying a house on one income in case you split up...??!!
    Are the two of you likely to survive the additional 'burden' of a child, both financially and restrictions on lifestyle? Doesn't sound like the ideal situation to bring up a child to me.
  • margaretclare
    margaretclare Posts: 10,789 Forumite
    There are 2 opposite ends of the spectrum in 2 of the posts above. Caixta says that children need not cost you much when they're little, and hers remembered the fun things they did - home was the place they crashed out between adventures! What a wonderful childhood they must have had.

    Lucie, by contrast, watched her sister 'scrimp and save' (what does that phrase actually mean?) and this colours her own thinking - having children would prevent her following her preferred lifestyle of holidays, cars and eating out. Well, if you really put that kind of a lifestyle at the top of your agenda then of course, you shouldn't consider having children because not only would they cost you money, they would mainly cost you in terms of time, commitment and lack of freedom.

    Of course, you can argue that 'scrimping and saving' simply means being money-savvy, living within your means rather than above it and making realistic choices, understanding that none of us can have everything at once. Some people find that they do enjoy having a budget and living within it, not paying large sums in interest to the banks! A lot of people have this cars, holidays, going out type of lifestyle which is funded by the credit card companies.

    However, children's sole company can be a bit limiting - some of us do feel the need to get out and do something different, which is why Lucie's friend finds it worthwhile to pay for child-care so that she can go to a part-time job. I can understand that kind of thinking better than I can understand Lucie's lifestyle, which is not one that would ever have grabbed me, not in a million years.

    Aunty Margaret
    [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Æ[/FONT]r ic wisdom funde, [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]æ[/FONT]r wear[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ð[/FONT] ic eald.
    Before I found wisdom, I became old.
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