The NatWest Child Cost Calculator (http://personal.natwest.com/personal/savings/tools-for-savings/cost-of-raising-achildcalculator.html ) is an interactive tool with collective data revealing the cost of raising a child from the when they are born right up to their late teens.
Mum and Baby – by Shutterstock
My children are currently 11 and 9 – right in the middle of the 4-12 age bracket and about half way through their childhood. Thankfully we do not have to pay much in the way of school fees (apart from the interminable fundraising requests!), and my childcare costs are restricted to one babysitter a week, while I go off to sing with my choir and recover my sanity.
But as for books, and toys, and clothes. And technology……it really does all mount up – when you put in how much you spend on an average month and the calculator tots up 9 years worth it is very scary indeed.
And then of course there is food – is it just me or is it quite hard to keep active 9 and 11 year olds full? Mine are like baby birds in the nest at the moment – ever open mouths…
Food, clothers, technology, books…. image by Shutterstock
The calculator reckons an average spend of £40 per child per week, which I think may be a little bit low for our family…. The school dinners at our school cost £10/week and that is only five meals out of 21 meals for the whole week. And as for drinks, snacks fruit etc… – don’t get me started.
Thankfully we are fortunate right now – I don’t generally think about the cost of our shopping. I buy what we want to eat and spend what I like. However this week I was given some vouchers and asked to hit the shops and consider how easy it would be to stay within a food budget for my children. So I went food shopping with my money saving hat on.
Musical Instruments – extra expense? – image by Shutterstock
The first place I went to look was all the special offer areas – the ends of aisles where all the BOGOF and bulk buy discounts are offered. I was reasonably pleased and surprised that Sainsbury’s had some seasonal fruit and veg on special offer – I bought strawberries, kale, cucumbers and apples on special offer, then moved to the meat section and bought chicken fillets, sausages, salmon and fishcakes, all on special deals.
However when you move away from the fruit and veg section it’s amazing how many of the items on offer are sweets, crisps, biscuits and the sugar laden cereals. If I did ever have to live on a budget I can see how easy it would be to be tempted away from healthy eating as the processed food appears to be so much cheaper, if you trust the marketing.
But I dragged myself away from those aisles and instead went in search of the basic ranges of what I normally buy. I’m quite fond of buying brands normally, but I managed to buy own brand products in many areas more cheaply than I normally pay. I stocked up with rice, pasta, tinned sweetcorn, couscous, tinned tomatoes, yogurts and some own brand olive oil, then paid full price for some of our staples – Quorn, Heinz ketchup and Coffee (we have tried substitutes in these areas and can’t stand them…)
I bought some strong bread flour and yeast to make my own bread (not sure if this is cheaper but it is yummy) and bought own brand breakfast cereals, plus some spinach and some of the cheaper fruit for making green smoothies which we all love. Then (because we are not total saints) I went back to the cheap aisles and bought one or two of the sweet junk products to top us up after the healthy food was all purchased.
How much does it all cost? Image by Shutterstock
In the end, I spent quite a bit less in the supermarket than the £40/child average. However I know that despite my best intentions we will top up on stuff from the convenience store over the road during the week, and it would also be a very odd week if I didn’t find myself in a café or coffee shop at least once with at least one of the kids – usually waiting for the other one to finish some activity or other.
The children will probably demolish the fruit mountain before the week is out and I will have to buy more. And if the weather stays hot we will probably buy ice cream or cold drinks at some point too.
Realistically when I am faced with it, I probably do spend more than £40/week per child on food – maybe nearer £50
So putting that into the calculator along with my other estimates, it is still going to cost us over £120,000 to raise each of them, even without school fees and childcare. I’d better get on with my work then x