Having kids is a waste of money

Sleepless nights, University fees, pocket money - are kids just a waste of money?

“What a waste of money.”

It’s a sentence you’ll hear everywhere, from couples having a domestic in the supermarket aisles, to the football terraces, and even the Treasury (perhaps when looking at the Defence Secretary’s latest bill for an overseas trip with his chums).

If there’s one segment of society never shy of sharing their wisdom about what constitutes a waste of money, it’s older people. Which is probably why Aviva decided to survey the over-55s on what money-saving tips they would pass on to the youth of today.

Weddings, designer labels and cars

The respondents to Aviva’s survey highlighted a number of ways younger people could spend less than they had. Here’s the five most popular suggestions


Percentage of respondents making suggestion

Spend less on your wedding


Shop around with every penny


Drop designer labels


Don’t use credit


Spend less on cars


It’s difficult to argue with too much of that. I had no idea how much weddings could cost until I got down on one knee, but despite the best efforts of the many wedding magazines my bride-to-be brought home, it was obvious that you could have a cracking day without forking out the £18,500 the average wedding supposedly costs these days.

And it’s not exactly rocket science to suggest that shopping around, ditching expensive brands, sticking to value-for-money cars and not relying on credit cards is a decent strategy for financial happiness.

However, it was a suggestion further down the list, with 25% of respondents putting it forward, that caught my eye – that they would advise the younger generation to have fewer children.

So is having kids really such a big waste of money?

Unexpectedly expensive

When my son Finley was born nine months ago, I knew I was in for an expensive time of it. However, I genuinely had no idea just how expensive.

From the Moses basket to the cot, the pram, the buggy, the car seat, the little vests and sleepsuits that fit them for about half an hour, you’re never short of something to spend your money on. And that’s before you even think about food – if, like my son, your baby decides that they are not a big fan of breastfeeding, you end up forking out a small fortune on milk too!

Undoubtedly, there are ways to cut this spend, by relying on family members for hand-me-downs, or making use of sites like Freecycle and Freegle, but the fact is you’ll still be shelling out a decent amount of cash, on a seemingly never-ending basis.

And it’s getting worse...

What’s more, the cost of having children is not only getting more expensive, but the financial responsibilities of being a parent are becoming even longer term. Not only are there the additional costs of putting a child through University to consider, but if your child stands any chance of getting onto the property ladder, there’s a decent chance you’ll need to help to foot the bill.

According to research by LV=, the cost of raising a child until their 21st birthday is now almost £211,000, compared to £140,398 back in 2003 when the firm first looked into the subject.

Here’s how LV= has broken down those costs, which was put together with the help of the Centre of Economic and Business Research:


Total cost in 2010

Total cost in 2009

Total cost in 2003 (first year of report)

Childcare & Babysitting




















Hobbies & Toys




Leisure and Recreation




Pocket Money








Personal care




Other (includes driving lessons, first car, birthday and Christmas presents)








If nothing else, the one thing I’m taking from this table is that Finley is going to have to work damn hard to earn his pocket money!

The joy of kids

However, with all that taken into account, to suggest to younger people that they should have fewer children, simply so that they have a little extra cash in retirement strikes me as a little soulless. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer than you should only have as many kids as you can afford – Finley has convinced my wife and me that any potential expansion of our brood will have to wait a while.

But equally, I know that faced with the choice between another child and a few extra quid during retirement, it’s no contest.

I just can’t imagine reaching my later years, looking at my family and thinking to myself: “I am fairly fond of my third child, but given the choice, I’d rather have the money.”

It’s all just a bit heartless, isn’t it?

Your biggest waste of money

So what do you think? What tips would you give young people about life’s biggest wastes of money? Let us know your views in the comment box below.

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