But what are parents spending on their children?
To find out simply enter the age of your child or children below and using the figures from our 2013 research into the average annual cost of raising a child, we'll calculate the cost of raising them until the age of 21.
One mum, Hattie Garlick, has faced the issue head-on and cut spending on her toddler to almost nothing. After being made redundant at the end of 2012, Hattie decided to try and cut costs and really examine why parents feel the need to spend so much money on their children. We spoke to Hattie and you can find out more about her inspiring story by watching the video below.
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Heidi: According to the latest cost of a child report from LV=, it now costs parents more than £227,000 to bring up a child from birth until the age of 21. Now the question is does it really need to cost this much? We’re about to meet Hattie Garlick, founder of freeourkids.co.uk, who has spent the last year bringing up her two year old son Jonny…for free.
Hattie: So this is Jonny, say hi!
Hattie: A year ago I decided to see if we could go a whole year without spending any money at all on kiddie products. We’re pitted against an enormous industry that puts a huge amount of power and research and creativity into selling this idea that we need to spend lots of money on our kids. And often it makes us feel as though we’re not good parents without these props, and it’s just not true. If you’re a loving parent, you’re good enough on your own; you don’t need all this kit.
And the supermarket was quite a strange experience once we decided not to spend any money on kiddie things, we suddenly realised that there are aisles and aisles devoted to kiddie products, which suddenly we weren’t allowed to buy anymore!
Well we had to change the way we ate as much as we changed the way Jonny ate. So instead of cooking one impressive meal for me and my husband, and then scrabbling together something else for Jonny, I’m just making one meal in the evening, that I know all three of us can eat and it’s so much cheaper and it’s freed up so much time as well. Because I know that I’m doing one meal instead of two, which gives me more time to focus on more important things.
When I’m making my meal for myself, I know it’s also a meal for Jonny, and that means it’s got to have the right stuff in it, it’s got to be healthy for him. So actually, I think I’m eating healthier as well.
I spent a lot of time on free-cycle and community swapping sites. At the beginning of the year, our neighbourhood was full of strangers to us, we hardly knew anybody around us. And all of a sudden, they’re not strangers anymore, they’re our friends, they’re our community. And it means that Jonny can go to the playground and he doesn’t really need an expensive play session somewhere because the playground is full of his friends, and the games they come up with are far more creative than anything that would be in some prescriptive class.
Whereas all the toys here have been swapped by people online or in our local community, and we’ve been making a few too! So this is the play kitchen, which I made him Christmas. So the fire-engines he’s got at the moment used to belong to a neighbour of ours who out-grew them, and we got a whole bag of little toys like that which have really kept him going, pretty much all year! So some people out-grew their toys and gave them to us, some people swapped the toys that they didn’t want any more for toys that Jonny had grown bored of. And before we knew it we had more toys than we would have done if we’d actually been paying for them ourselves! So then we had to cut back all over again, but it’s been brilliant and it’s been really satisfying seeing all of our old things being re-used by other families, who get real joy out of them.
I think we need to get over this idea that they have to be looking right or playing with the newest toys, because deep down we know that they’re brilliant whatever they’re playing with, as long as they’re happy that’s all that matters.
It turns out that everybody else’s kid was growing fast too, which meant that it was incredibly easy to find clothes in the right age range on free-cycle or local swapping sites. What it meant though was that I didn’t really get to choose what they look like as much as I had before. And I had to reconcile myself to that, which was quite interesting I think because I realised that of course he didn’t care what he looks like at all, as long as he’s warm and they fit, then he’s happy.
We’ve been keeping a rough tab, and I hope that by the end of the year we’ll have saved about £2,500, which includes all of the things that we managed to get for free or through swaps for the new baby as well because obviously that would have been a huge cost if we’d had to buy everything new. So it’s a really, really substantial amount of money for us this year.
I’d hope that people aren’t scared by those statistics, and they know that if they don’t have huge amounts of money they can still be brilliant parents; because of course it’s true!
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