There is no doubt that being a parent is expensive – even those who don’t have children themselves can see that providing the essentials for a small being continually growing out of everything is going to take its toll on bank accounts and savings. However, what you may not have realised, is that the cost of raising a child to the age of 21 now outstrips the cost of buying a house – by about £13,000.


Experts from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) have estimated that the cost of raising a child, from the first nappies and dummies, through to funding a child through university, is in the region of £231,843 – per child – while the average UK semi detached house in now £219,255. So, parenting is very expensive but what are the biggest costs involved and are there any steps that can be taken to reduce them?


According to the report from the CEBR the biggest cost hands down is childcare, which amounts to an eye-watering £70,466 per child. As terrifying as that figure is, childcare has become a necessary part of life for families in need of more flexible lifestyles. For those looking to cut the cost of childcare, moving close to family is often cited as the number one way to get some help with this expense. Shared nannies and carers are also another option and many workplaces are now introducing on-site childcare for parents, at a reduced cost.


Kids eat, that’s a fact, and some kids eat a hell of a lot over the course of a lifetime. In fact, £19,004’s worth of food. This phenomenal figure comes in close as one of the biggest costs of parenting and one that is inevitable if you want to make sure that your growing family get the right nutrients to keep on growing. Luckily, there are plenty of savings that can be made when it comes to cutting down on food costs and many of them involve switching to a healthier lifestyle too. Fruit and vegetables are some of the cheapest foods available and bulk-buying items such as pasta, wholegrains and pulses can provide low cost meals that are also nutritious. If you want to keep family food costs down then stay away from pre-prepared meals – which are generally high in sugar and fat and expensive too.

Going on holiday

Childhood holidays create many of our most wonderful memories but the cost of those memories comes in at around £16,882 per child. Whether you’re travelling to the Costa Blanca or Cuba, you still have to factor in travel, accommodation, food, fun and spending money for everyone in the family and that can be expensive if you’re doing it on a yearly basis. The most obvious way to cut holiday costs is with a ‘staycation’ i.e. holiday at home in the UK. There are some great British destinations for holidays – from the beaches of Cornwall to walking in the Lake District – and so many different ways to enjoy your trip, from low cost camping, to finding a good deal on short term rentals listing site AirBnB.


When it comes to keeping kids warm and dry these days, it’s not simply a matter of hand me downs through the generations. The average family spends £10,942 per child on clothes and if you’ve got a fashion savvy teen with a way of getting what they want then you could find yourself spending even more. Charity shops are a great way to find clothes for kids who are just going to grow out of them – if you have a fussy teen then simply call it ‘vintage.’ Many families now look to share their cast offs – browse sites such as Freecycle or Mumsnet or look for local meet up groups where other members are looking to pass on what they no longer need.

Other Costs

Of the other costs that the CEBR uncovered, education was one of the most substantial, costing around £74,430 (including university fees). Hobbies and toys can cost the average family around £9,307 per child and paying for all those extra curricular activities and leisure time fun, £7,464. Finally, the average pocket money spend for families comes in at £4,614. Of course there are many ways to cut these costs and not all families will spend the same when it comes to the ‘luxuries’ of childhood, such as holidays and fashion. However, regardless of how frugal you’re able to be, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a costly business and one that is worth planning for.

If your budget can afford it and you need to borrow to cover some of your current costs or to fund future activities such as education then use our QuickStart tool to help narrow down your options.