Raising a child can be one of the most expensive things that people end up doing in life and, when you look at everything it involves, you can quickly see why.
As well as providing home, food and all the other necessary items until they begin to earn their own money, parents are also often called on to lend financial support after that for things such as further education and home buying.
That’s why it can be a real financial strain for those working through debt management plans to have to support their children as well, but there are things that people can do to ensure they don’t overstretch themselves.
Arguably the most important thing that parents or potential parents can do is to plan ahead and consider whether or not they can afford to add a child to their family.
It’s often a very emotive decision to have a child but there needs to be a colder financial sense to things as well, because having a child you can’t afford can quickly lead to money worries which can get serious very quickly.
To highlight just how costly raising a kid can be, a recent survey by the insurance company LV= found that looking after a child until the age of 21 will set parents back an average of $222,458.
This is 58 per cent more than what it was a decade ago with Mark Jones, head of protection at LV= saying that parents are increasingly becoming financially stretched.
“The cost of raising a child continues to soar and is now at a ten year high,” he said at the time.
“Everyone wants the best for their children, but the rising cost of living is pushing parent’s finances to the limit. There seems to be no sign of this trend reversing. If the costs associated with bringing up children continue to rise at the same pace, parents could face a bill of over $350,000 in ten years’ time.”
This can be quite a daunting figure but, provided you take it one step at a time and budget properly for what you will need to finance it can be done.
Failure to plan ahead is what could end up costing big in the future, potentially even more than the quoted $222,458 figure if it sees you end up in debt.
When the child is born, and right through their teens, it’s vital that you buy products for them cleverly and remain savvy with your money.
Being wise with your finances is essential but it’s even more important when you have to provide clothes, food and toys for your children too.
If you have a larger family, be sure to buy items like school uniform and other products in bulk if possible and consider passing clothes down from older to younger children.
It may not prove popular but it will save money, as will being clever in terms of food buying. Only buy what you require and plan carefully throughout the week as to what meals you will have and what ingredients you need.
These all take time and effort but they will also go some way to ensure you stave off debt and future financial difficulties.
Also, try and go to supermarkets later at night, if you can, as this can often mean you are able to pick up plenty of reduced goods. Then you can freeze them before they go off and use them later.
Also, don’t forget that you aren’t on your own when it comes to caring for your family financially.
There are government benefits as well as childcare vouchers available, provided you fulfill the relevant criteria, to help the parents who need it.
Indeed, in the recent budget it was announced that such vouchers were to be made available to those parents who wished to get back into the world of work but couldn’t afford childcare costs.
Investigate what is out there and whether or not you qualify because these benefits are not only there to help you but could provide a genuine financial boost from day-to-day.
Ultimately, it’s wise to take the emotion and excitement of potentially having a child out of the equation for a little bit and take a look at the accounts.
Consider whether or not you can afford to have a child just yet before pressing ahead, otherwise your bank balance may not end up looking too rosy.