When Daisy hit a year old, I started to get questioned a lot about whether or not I was planning to have more children. A natural assumption I guess, that I would, at some point, want to think about extending the family. It’s often something I talk about with the Mum Mafia – and with recent events at Peachy HQ, I can’t help but think about the financial investment any child you bring into the world becomes.
Recently, I was sent an interesting report from LVE Insurance, who had put together a detailed analysis of how much a child is likely to cost – from birth, right through to University. The results are staggering – an average cost of a child until the age of 21 is almost £228,000! And what’s even more scary? It seems to be growing every year! the report is available here for you to feast your eyes on – costs have been averaged, explained and even mapped across different parts of the country. In my Midlands dwellngs, it appears Miss D may well cost me £223,388 over the next 20 years which, if you consider the costs of University fees, school uniforms, trips and childcare, spread over the years, seems a fair amount – averaging £30 per day. So imagine if that number was doubled or tripled with more than one child? Do we all bank on just one of our children wanting to go to Uni? How do we even begin to save for a secure future for our children, a future that offers the very best of choices for them? Luckily for me, I’m not really a fan of averages – and I pride myself on not falling between the lines of average in pretty much any walk of life! Rather than worry Miss D’s childhood away whittling about uncapped tuition fees, I prefer to be proactive with what little we have, in order to save for our future.
Babies are expensive, so they say – just a glance at the report details areas of expense such as furniture and hobbies, that I believe can provide real areas of financial growth – with a bit of creative thinking (what else would I be suggesting?!) and bargain hunting! I can’t really comment on the school years or readying funds whilst your eldest is busy filling out their UCAS applications; but I can tell you that you CAN save during that first, tempestuous year of becoming a parent…here are my top tips to get saving for your child’s future during their first year.
1. Save a Little, Whenever You Can
You know that age-old saying, ‘Look After The Pennies And The Pounds Look After Themselves?’ I’ve come to learn there is a whole lot of truth to this and never more prevalent than when you’re adjusting to a new financial setting, with a new baby.
At the end of last month, I introduced a ‘Joy Jar’ into my home; a little jar of shrapnel, loose change and little bits I’d saved from our weekly budget, to act as a physical reminder of what we CAN save when we put our minds to it! Well, month one brought us a fabulous £16 – saved without even thinking about it and ready to be put towards something special at the end of the year. If you can’t put huge chunks of money aside each month, something like a Joy Jar serves as a great way to start saving just a little, whenever you can – no added pressure from direct debits and a great way to save for the future.
The most boring, but essential tip of all! Nobody likes sitting down with spreadsheets and calculators – well nobody I know anyway, but in order to start saving in a year in which you have to adapt so readily to a new way of life, you need to know where every precious penny is going and how you can be continually making your money work for you. I’m no Martin Lewis, but I like to sit down at least once a month and work out what I’m spending, where I’m spending it and how I can spend less – easily done for someone who is doing a year without the High Streets – but even food shopping can be made a little cheaper if you take the convenience out of it.
Equally, if you have a little debt to pay off, make sure you are taking the time, each month, to work out how much you have already paid off and what’s left to go – this can be so motivational to see how much of a dent you might have made already and can even encourage a bit of extra ‘thrift’ in your purse habits to get things paid off a little quicker!
I’m not suggesting you make best friends with your Excel program (unless you want to), but regular financial checks will help to keep you on top of your money management and will work better for you long-term.
3. New Parent? Check Out What’s On Offer For You
As much as I detest the amount of junk mail that comes sailing through my letterbox on a weekly basis, as a new parent who (probably) sleepily signed up to Bounty and all sorts, whilst doing their rounds on the Maternity Wards, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to sift through and take advantage of some of the great deals that are on offer to you.
I’m not talking sale shopping here (I’m living without the High Street – it would be wrong of me to endorse that), but it’s worth tapping into the great Parenting events that are on offer at Supermarkets, which often offer fantastic deals on every day essentials – not to mention local events such as Tabletop and Jumble sales, which may really help stock up on clothing and toys, for a fraction of the full cost.
4. Thrifting and Sharing = Caring (For Your Bank Balance)
If you’re a regular reader of Frugally Peachy, you’ll know that I’m all about leading a creative and thrifty lifestyle – no High Street shopping, a unique approach to the word ‘savvy’ and I try to post as much handmade and homemade inspiration for your family, your home, your meal times and your own lifestyle as I can muster. Being of the creative ilk has its benefits, but even if you’re not cut from that cloth, there are plenty of places you can look to save money when buying for your home and for your baby.
Whilst ‘kiddy consumerism’ denotes and displays the latest ‘must-have items’, simply checking your nearest computer for Gumtree and eBay can knock off huge amounts of money for life-saving instruments, such as the classic Jumperoo. I’ve been very lucky to be given some fantastic traditional toys for Miss D that need little more than a quick wash and brush up with soapy water, before they are returned to their former glory. Ultimately, D also doesn’t care where they come from, or how many children have loved and used them before – she sleeps with a stuffed cow that is visible in early photos of my birth, after all! Aside from the over-loved, bare-furred cuddly toys of old, most ‘must-have’ toys are something of a short term novelty for any child during their first year – is it really worth piling hundreds into something that’s likely to be kicked around (by you – probably) for two months before it heads off to the great toy cemetery to rest in nearly-new, wasteful peace?
5. Curb Your Coffee Enthusiasm
Getting coffee has become something of a second nature in modern society and, truth be told, there is nothing better than sipping a piping hot, creamy Chai Latte on a Sunday stroll. But, if you are looking to save money – this is one of the simplest ways to start. Say no to the endless coffee dates – tempting as they may be and invest in a decent Thermos!
Back in my previous life in London, I confess to indulging in at least three Skinny White Mochas per week – that worked out to be a WHOPPING £33 a month I was shelling out for the comfort of a milky drink on a cold (or warm) day. I decided to test the psychology of ‘getting coffee’, by purchasing a thermos flask and bringing my own drink to work. Such a simple trick not only worked in the short term, but has served to save me almost £400 over a year – when you add up the annual cost, is it a habit really worth keeping?
6. Invest In a Little Second-Hand Karma
Just before D’s Birthday – I had a big sort out of old clothes that I had accumulated over the past year. A whole 3 small cases later, I am about to invest in some second-hand karma with blog sales, eBay loving and a bit of charity thrown in too.
Aside from a few unfortunate items of clothing, children rarely over-use their clothes in the first year of life. For 6 months they are almost immobile and for the other 6, you are trying to fathom how and where you managed to grow a wardrobe the size of the Theatre Royal’s costume department for your tiny child. As a great believer in second-hand karma; what you put into the second-hand world, you will get back, threefold, I am constantly checking our local charity shops for bargains and projects for me, D and our home – why not sift through the teeny tiny baby clothes you’ve been clinging on to and get funding your little one’s next size wardrobe? Better still, sift out your old maternity wear and make way for some fab eBay purchases for yourself!
So there we have it, not rocket science and clearly not avoiding some of the unavoidable costs of raising a young child. But hopefully these tips are a great way to start managing your money differently and thinking about how you will fund the next twenty years – providing a little chink in that £228,000 you’ll be needing handy in future!
Stay Peachy x